The Master of Natural Resource program consists of:

  • 31 credits

    • 13 credits of required core courses
    • 18 elective credits
  • Up to 9 credits of natural resource-related graduate coursework may be transferable. 

    • Please note: all credits accepted toward a graduate degree, including transfer credits, must be earned within a seven-year time period. The seven-year clock starts with the beginning of the term in which the first course approved for your program was taken.

  • Per credit tuition cost is $615. (This includes the $50 per credit distance education fee.)

​Core Courses

The following courses are required for all Master of Natural Resources students.

 Natural Resource Policy (NRES 770, 3 credits)

Course Description:

Investigate how the policy development process for public natural resource management agencies is influenced by the federal, state, and local government levels by developing an understanding of social and ecological conditions. Study of specific decision-making techniques is emphasized for both regulatory and resource management action, including an emphasis on methods for working with diverse communities of affected stakeholders in each context.

Learning Outcomes -- By the end of the course students will be able to:

  1. Compare and contrast how municipalities, states, and the federal government approach natural resource policy in the US.
  2. Analyze natural resource policies in terms of social, economic, legal/administrative, and ecological factors.
  3. Explain how politics, power, and public engagement can influence policy-making.
  4. Develop context-specific policy alternatives for real-world natural resource challenges and conflicts, and use qualitative and quantitative methods to evaluate those alternatives.
  5. Demonstrate critical thinking, problem-solving, and multifaceted communication skills.

 Introduction to Natural and Social Science Research (NRES 771, 3 credits)

Course Description:

This course examines how social science and natural science research is used in natural resources decision-making, the experimental designs, and assumptions that underlie this research, and the proper analytical techniques applied to these types of data. This understanding will allow the student to evaluate research findings so as to more effectively interpret and make use of published studies.

Learning Outcomes -- By the end of the course students will be able to:

  1. Evaluate the testability of research hypotheses.
  2. Evaluate and critique experimental design as used in social science and natural science research.
  3. Correctly interpret the various types of statistical analyses commonly used in social science and natural science research.
  4. Identify the limitations and generalizability of published applied research based on the assumptions of common statistical methodologies.
  5. Apply study results in natural resource decision-making.

 Natural Resources Leadership and Communication (NRES 772, 3 credits)

Course Description:

Exploration of conceptual models for organizational capacity analysis, programmatic evaluation, and conflict resolution as they relate to the role of natural resource professionals as leaders within their own organization and among the broader community of stakeholders.  The course places specific emphasis on developing skills in negotiation, facilitation, and strategic planning relevant to professionals working in natural resources organizations.     

Learning Outcomes -- By the end of the course students will be able to:

  1. Assess leadership skills and styles and how approaches might be utilized in natural resource management.
  2. Effectively communicate issues regarding natural resource management for Wisconsin and the U.S. in writing and orally.
  3. Demonstrate approaches to resolving natural resource conflicts.
  4. Appraise previous natural resource managers effectiveness in terms of communication, leadership, and conflict resolution.

 Applied Ecosystem Ecology and Management (NRES 773, 3 credits)

Course Description:

Investigate the flow of matter and energy through ecosystems, particularly focusing on carbon, nutrient, and trophic dynamics. Explore how humans have altered ecological processes and associated ecosystem services.

Learning Outcomes -- By the end of the course students will be able to:

  1. Interpret conceptual models of ecosystem flows.
  2. Define and explain the processes that control ecosystem structure and function.
  3. Examine ecological concepts at the ecosystem scale by discussing and critiquing scientific articles.
  4. Analyze case studies to identify critical ecological interactions and assess management options using ecosystem principles.

 Selected Topics in Natural Resources, Topic: MNR Comprehensive Exam (NRES 775, 1 credit)

After completing these four required MNR Core Courses: NRES 770, NRES 771, NRES 772, and NRES 773, you will need to enroll in NRES 775, Selected Topics in Natural Resources, Topic: MNR Comprehensive Exam (1 credit). In this course, you will write a detailed examination integrating principles from the above classes. You must pass this examination in order to receive your degree. If you fail one or more parts of the examination, you will be allowed one retake.

Elective Courses

This list may not reflect all of the elective courses available. Contact us at if you are interested in taking a course not listed below.

 Readings in Environmental Education (NRES 701, 3 credits)

Course Description:

Readings on history, philosophy, practices, methods, and issues of environmental education. Assignments vary depending on credits.

 Environmental Issues Investigation and Action (NRES 705, 3 credits)

Course Description: 

Examine current theories of behavior change. Use primary and secondary information sources to investigate environmental issues and develop a case study. Explore strategies for issue analysis/resolution.

Learning Outcomes - By the end of the course students will be able to: 

1. Investigate and analyze environmental issues
2. Examine actions that can be taken to address environmental issues
3. Justify reasons for taking actions
4. Assess and describe roles relating to environmental issues 

 Fundamentals of Natural and Cultural Interpretation (NRES 767, 3 credits)

Course Description:

Designed to provide working professionals with core concepts of natural and cultural interpretation and how they can be applied in a professional setting.

Learning Outcomes – By the end of the course students will be able to:

  1. Explain the evolution of interpretation and describe key figures who have contributed to the profession.
  2. Explain pertinent theories and concepts underlying interpretation and apply them in work situations.
  3. Describe and apply the steps in the planning process that are necessary to develop an effective interpretation.

 Model-based Decision Making in Natural Resource Management (NRES 774, 3 credits)

Course Description:

This course introduces the concept of modeling to support decision-making in the field of natural resources management. Decision-making can be a complex process that involves multiple stakeholders with different objectives and exacerbated by information uncertainty. Modeling tools introduced in the course will allow students to evaluate opportunity cost, alternatives, compromises, and determine optimal decisions.

Learning Outcomes – By the end of the course students will be able to:

  1. Explain the complexity of decision-making in natural resources management.
  2. Select the appropriate model to solve a specific problem.
  3. Formulate mathematical programming models to support decision-making.
  4. Extract solutions using a software and be able to interpret the solutions and prepare reports for stakeholders.

 Contaminants in the Environment (NRES 776, 3 credits)

Course Description:

Overview of sources, transport behavior, and environmental fate of conventional and emerging contaminants. Predicting exposure pathways and assessing the risk to human or ecosystem health. Evaluating possible strategies for prevention, mitigation, and remediation of environmental contamination.

Learning Objectives -- By the end of the course students will be able to:

  1. Identify major sources of environmental contaminants.
  2. Explain how different contaminants are cycled and transported in environmental media.
  3. Predict probable exposure pathways to different contaminants based on properties of fate and transport.
  4. Describe the process of assessing the risk to human and ecosystem health from contaminant exposures.
  5. Evaluate possible strategies for prevention, mitigation, and remediation of environmental contamination.

 Geographic Information Systems, Basic Spatial Analysis and Field Tools (NRES 777, 3 credits)

Course Description:

Learn how to use various geographic information systems for natural resource management. Learn to use programs such as ArcMap and Google Earth Pro, prepare various forms of data for use in smartphones or tablets. Collect field data, upload and download data, and analyze the data using various data analysis tools.

Learning Outcomes -- By the end of the course students will be able to:

  1. Use both ArcMap and Google Earth Pro to create projects.
  2. Export data to various smartphone apps for use in the field.
  3. Collect field data using smartphone apps.
  4. Import and process both smartphone collected data as well as tabular data.
  5. Complete basic analysis using tools such as inverse distance weighted (IDW) interpolation and Theisen polygons.
Examples of Completed Projects 

 Water Resources and the Science, Policy, and Politics of Climate Change (WATR 760, 3 credits)

Course Description:

Overview of the underlying theory of climate change on water resources. Discussion of climate change politics and policy.

 Ecology and Management of the Great Lakes (WATR 777, 3 credits)

Course Description:

The Laurentian Great Lakes contain approximately 6 quadrillion gallons of water; one-fifth of all surface freshwater on earth. Hence, the Great Lakes represent one of the most important natural resources in North America. This course will discuss the history, past andcurrent issues, ecology and management of the Great Lakes in an ever-changing environment.

Learning Outcomes -- By the end of the course students will be able to:

  1.  Articulate the effects of invasive species on biodiversity and water quality in the Great Lakes.
  2. Demonstrate the ability to integrate ecological, socio-political, and cultural information into management actions.
  3. Work collaboratively to develop management protocols.
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