What Are The Top Colleges with Natural Resource Degree Programs?

Review the typical characteristics of a school with a strong natural resources program. Explore three well-regarded schools with programs in this field, and check out their national rankings related to natural resources. Find out what degree programs you could pursue at each school. Schools offering Environmental & Social Sustainability degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Are Some Characteristics of Top Colleges with Natural Resource Degree Programs?

If you're interested in studying a specific animal species, terrestrial ecosystem or aquatic environment, consider schools with laboratory and field station resources that allow you to specialize in your area of interest. You might also want to look at schools with international travel programs to explore a variety of geographical areas. To collaborate with peers and participate in extracurricular activities, you might find relevant student organizations you could join through the school.

What Are Three Top Colleges with Natural Resource Degree Programs?

Iowa State University in Ames

The Chronicle of Higher Education reported Iowa State University faculty ranked ninth in scholarly productivity for natural resources and conservation in 2007 (www.chronicle.com). The U.S. News & World Report rated the university's biological/agricultural programs as fourth best in the country in 2010.

As an undergraduate major in animal ecology or forestry, you can focus your studies on fisheries and wildlife science, forest ecosystem management, community forestry or natural resource conservation. You could also participate in any of seven clubs, including a student chapter of the American Fisheries Society. You might also contribute to the Ames Forester, a student-run, natural resource publication, or go on faculty-led field trips to Antarctica, Costa Rica, Brazil, Tanzania, China or South Korea. If you're pursuing a master's or doctoral degree, you can look into interdepartmental concentrations in biorenewable resources technology, environmental science or sustainable agriculture.

All students can use the Iowa Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and the North Central Regional Aquaculture Center to coordinate research projects. The school also hosts the Landscape Ecology and Sustainable Ecosystem Modeling Lab. Other research sites include a reconstructed prairie and STRIPS, or Science-based Trials of Rowcrops Integrated with Prairies, at the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge. These degrees are offered:

  • Bachelor of Science in Animal Ecology
  • Bachelor of Science in Forestry
  • M.S. in Fisheries Biology
  • M.S. in Wildlife Ecology
  • M.S. in Forestry
  • Ph.D. in Fisheries Biology
  • Ph.D. in Wildlife Ecology
  • Ph.D. in Forestry

University of Arizona in Tucson

The University of Arizona was ranked 78th in the 2010 Academic Ranking of World Universities (www.arwu.org). It was eighth in faculty scholarly productivity for natural resources and conservation, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education in 2007. The U.S. News & World Report rated its Earth sciences education as seventh best in the nation in 2010.

In the School of Natural Resources and the Environment, you can major in natural resources with an emphasis on wildlife conservation and management, landscape assessment and analysis, fisheries conservation and management, rangeland ecology and management, or watershed management and ecohydrology. Natural resources graduate students can pursue concentrations in areas such as ecology and management of rangelands, watershed management or fisheries and wildlife conservation.

The university hosts ARIZ, a herbarium with the greatest assortment of plants native to Arizona and Sonora, Mexico. It also manages Biosphere 2, an enclosed and controlled environment that facilitates the study of ecosystems. The Santa Rita Experimental Range, the Desert Research Unit, the Walnut Gulch Experimental Watershed and the V Bar V Ranch offer other opportunities for research and field study. These degrees are available:

  • Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources
  • Master of Science in Natural Resources
  • Master of Science in Water, Society and Policy
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Natural Resources
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Arid Lands Resource Sciences

University of Montana in Missoula

University of Montana (UM) faculty was ranked seventh in scholarly productivity in natural resources and conservation in 2007, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. It was within the top 200 schools listed in U.S. News & World Report's 2011 rankings of national universities. UM is also home to the Native American Natural Resource Program, which provides Native American students with tutoring and scholarship resources.

If you choose an undergraduate major in resource conservation, you could design your own program or select an established area of study like international conservation or sustainable livelihoods and community conservation. You could also apply for the Alaback and Brewer Melipal Fellowship to continue your field studies in Patagonia and Latin America.

If you choose the resource conservation master's degree program, you could work with the Peace Corps to integrate overseas service into academic studies. UM's interdisciplinary Center for Collaborative Stewardship also offers the nation's only graduate-level certificate program on natural resource conflict resolution. The following degrees are available:

  • B.S. in Forestry
  • B.S. in Recreation Management
  • B.S. in Resource Conservation
  • B.S. in Wildland Restoration
  • Master of Ecosystem Management
  • M.S. in Recreation Management
  • M.S. in Resource Conservation
  • M.S. in Forestry
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Forestry

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
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