Graduate Degree in Natural Resource Sciences

Student Sampling at Cedar Point

The School of Natural Resources combines interdisciplinary approaches and disciplinary excellence to foster an integrated, systems approach to address complex natural resource, environmental, and human issues. We provide quality academic experiences for students to develop innovative approaches toward fundamental research in natural resource systems. Further, we promote a comprehensive conservation ethic for the effective and appropriate management of natural resources.

Degree Summary

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Optional Specializations

Many students focus their studies in one of our numerous specializations. These specializations are optional, well-defined areas of study that have been approved by the Graduate Council and appear on transcripts alongside degrees and majors. Each specialization has an unique set of requirements that must be met for a program to be considered completed.

Advising Faculty

Choosing an advisor whose interests match your research goals is critical for the success of your work. SNR emphasizes the cooperative exchange between students and advisors in research programs while still giving advisors the overall responsibility for the direction and course of the student's research.

Locate faculty who can advise:


Master of Science in Natural Resource Sciences

Credit Hours:

  • 30 total graduate credit hours
  • 15 in major credit hours (including thesis)
  • 20-24 total course work
  • 6-10 hours of thesis work (a maximum of 10 hours can be listed on the Memorandum of Courses)
  • 8 hours of Grad-only courses (without 400 or lower counterpart)
  • Optional minor
  • Once admitted to Candidacy by filing a Memorandum of Courses, you may not change options

Oral Presentations:

Graduate students are required to present two seminars:

  • A research prospectus seminar (presented either late in your first semester or early in your second semester of residency)
  • A final results seminar (before your final oral exam)


The School holds regular departmental and special seminars to which all graduate students are expected to attend. These seminars are presented by students and faculty in the School, by faculty in other departments, and by visiting scholars from other universities or agencies.

Scholastic Grade Requirements:

Scholastic Grade Requirements are set by UNL Graduate Studies and are described here.


Comprehensive Examination

  • Optional
  • Covers the student's approved program of study
  • Taken approximately 10 months before graduation, typically during the semester prior to graduation
  • Administered by the advisor, as directed by the student's committee

Final oral examination (Final Defense) of the Thesis

  • Conducted in the semester of graduation
  • Consists of two parts, generally held on the same day:
    • a seminar on the thesis topic (described above)
    • a formal oral examination
  • Thesis examinations are open to all Graduate Faculty; active participation in the examination process (other than at the seminar) is at the discretion of the advisor and the student's advisory committee.

Doctorate of Philosophy in Natural Resource Sciences

PhD candidates in Natural Resource Sciences must:

  • Complete 90 semester hours of graduate credit (including a dissertation); previous credit earned during the completion of a master’s degree may be counted towards this total if approved by your graduate advisor. Scholastic Grade Requirements are set by UNL Graduate Studies and are described here.
  • At least half of the graduate work (45 hours), including the dissertation, will be completed in the student's major.
  • Write a dissertation
  • Pass written and oral comprehensive exams
  • Demonstrate proficiency in one research tool
  • Present two formal seminar presentations – one generally covering the topic of your research prospectus, the other discussing your final research results.

Completing a program for the PhD degree normally requires a minimum of three full years of graduate study. The time limit for finishing the PhD degree is eight years from the time of filing your program of studies in the graduate studies office.

For more information about UNL’s PhD requirements, please see the University’s bulletin.

Minor Option in Natural Resource Sciences

A minor in Natural Resource Sciences consists of at least 9 graduate credit hours for the Master of Science program and 15 hours for the Doctorate of Philosophy program.


Graduates can find work at a wide range of positions in both the public and private sectors that are engaged in natural resource management. Alumni of the program have secured positions in a wide array of government agencies as well as non-government organizations and private businesses that range in scope and location from local to international scales.

Come join us. Follow your passion, and change the world!

How to Apply

Follow the steps at our "How to Apply" webpage.

Questions ?

Christine Steggs

Christine Steggs

SNR Graduate Admissions Coordinator (Interim)

Location icon908 South Hardin Hall
3310 Holdrege Street
Lincoln NE 68583-0989

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