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M.S. Natural Resources (Conservation Social Sciences)

With a Master of Science degree in Natural Resources in the Conservation Social Sciences area of study, your course work will dive deeper into the theory and practice of preserving and managing parks, forests, and open spaces for public use. In addition, your field work, team projects and research activities will give you the opportunity to observe first hand the complex relationship between humans and our basic need to explore.

For example, research projects on nature-based recreation and eco-tourism seek to better understand how access to greater recreational opportunities increase community bonding, resilience, reduce economic vulnerability and improve quality of life. Other examples of research work in this area include the study of economic impacts of travel and tourism in Mount St. Helens, Washington or Glacier National Park in northwest Montana.

If you are interested in the thesis option, you will be required to conduct independent research and present your results. Below are titles of past student projects:
  • Segmentation of Off-Highway Vehicle Recreationists for Off-Highway Vehicle Route System Development: An Application in the Colville National Forest
  • Beliefs about Bear Resistant Food Canister Use Among Backcountry Visitors in Glacier National Park
  • Safety in Wildland Fire: Leadership and Employee Voice

Career Opportunities
Outdoor recreation agencies at the national, state, and local levels all offer career opportunities for individuals with an advanced degree in resource recreation and tourism. Many of our graduates work in outdoor settings, managing parks, forests, conservation districts, wildlife refuges, and other outdoor areas set aside for recreational use.

In private industry, an advanced degree in this area may secure you a position with an agency that conducts research and lobbies to protect lands such as the Nature Conservancy. Private conservatory originations, as well as ecotourism businesses are becoming increasingly important players in conserving the environment and promoting sustainable travel. Career opportunities may include:
  • Ecotourism operators
  • Small cruise companies
  • River and wilderness guides
  • Wild and scenic river manager
  • Expedition leader
  • Park interpreter
  • Park Ranger
  • Zoo interpreter
  • Aquarium interpreter
  • Ski area manager
  • Outdoor recreation planner
  • Wildlife refuge educator
  • Wilderness manager

Checkout our Graduate Degree Programs requirements and class descriptions for more information.

You will learn tailored skills that will give you the ability to help public and private entities properly balance the desire to expand development with the need to sustain our natural environment.

Through course work and projects, you may explore:
  • Conservation and sustainable management techniques
  • Social science research methods
  • Land, forest and river management
  • Conflict resolution
  • Management techniques including budgeting, planning and oversight
  • Recreation and tourism planning
  • Recreation and tourism behavior and attitudes
  • Wild and scenic river management and economic contributions