Natural Resources Degree Programs
Degree programs in natural resources are offered at the associate's through doctoral levels. Read on to find out about careers different degrees prepare you for, as well as common courses and how online learning works.
What Natural Resource Degrees Are Available?
You can earn a degree in natural resources or natural resource management through community colleges and universities. Whether you're just out of high school or already have a degree, there are programs available from the associate's through doctoral degree levels. You may even be able to earn your natural resource degree online or through degree completion programs.
|Program Options||Associate's, bachelor's, master's, doctoral programs|
|Career Options||Conservation, forestry management, research, land use management, environmental law|
|Common Courses||Biology, chemistry, forestry, environmental science, ecology|
|Online Learning||Video instruction, some on-campus learning|
|Median Salary (2018)||$61,340 (Conservation Scientists and Foresters)|
|Job Outlook (2016-2026)||6% growth (Conservation Scientists and Foresters)|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
What Degree Should I Earn?
A natural resources degree prepares you to work in conservation, land use management, waterway preservation and forestry management in both the public and private sectors. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), associate's degree programs in natural resources are sufficient for some entry-level positions, such as nursery work and reforestation programs (www.bls.gov). Advancement or other positions require at least a bachelor's degree, including jobs in forestry and conservation science. You may be able to select a concentration within your bachelor's degree program, such as parks management, water resource management, environmental law enforcement or wildlife management.
You may need to earn a master's degree in natural resources if you want to take on leadership and management roles. A Ph.D. in Natural Resources prepares you to conduct research and shape environmental policy. Master's and doctoral degree programs often require independent research in the form of a project, thesis or dissertation. The BLS reports that jobs are competitive and advanced education may help you secure employment.
What Courses Will I Take?
The core courses in a natural resources degree program typically cover biology, ecology, chemistry, environmental science, soil science, and other earth science courses. You'll also learn about wildlife, forestry, geographic information systems, vegetation management and watershed management. Depending on your program, you might take classes in recreation management, natural resource education or environmental technology.
Many courses in a natural resources degree program include field experiences and lab work. You may also have the opportunity to participate in summer internships and other hands-on experiences. These teach you how to collect samples in the field, take measurements and work on location.
How Do Online Programs Work?
In an online natural resources degree program, you'll take many of your courses entirely through the Internet; however, some on-campus work is almost always required. This often entails taking lab courses, such as biology and field courses, through a school near your home. Your online classes often include video instruction and Internet-based communication.