Environmental Conservation (MS, PhD)

The unrelenting increase in demand for commodities and services from ecosystems raises questions of limits and sustainability. The rapid human modification of Earth’s ecosystems is signaled by the unprecedented decline of thousands of plant and animal species, many of which have become extinct. Coupled with growing concerns about the consequences of global climate change on ecosystems, this biodiversity crisis has stimulated a great deal of interest in environmental conservation. The result has been increasing public involvement in the conservation planning and management process, increasing scrutiny of management decisions affecting natural resources and the environment on both private and public lands, and aggressive court challenges on the interpretation of existing legislative regulations affecting natural resources. At the same time, recent advances in technology have created an explosion in new quantitative approaches to the study and management of natural resources and the environment. Altogether, the study and management of natural resources and the environment has entered a period of unprecedented change. The Graduate Program in Environmental Conservation intends to play a significant role in this transformation.

Recognizing the growing complexity of environmental conservation, the Program has evolved into a broad, multi-faceted degree program. It offers diverse opportunities to emphasize the following concentrations, with options for a thesis (research) or professional (non-thesis) degree in any of these areas.

  • Environmental policy and human dimensions
  • Forest resources and arboriculture
  • Sustainable building systems
  • Water, wetlands, and watersheds
  • Wildlife, fish, and conservation biology

Geographic Information Science and Technology (GIST) (MS)

The Geographic Information Science and Technology (GIST) concentration within the MS-Geography at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is an accelerated, one-year master’s program designed to provide a solid foundation and a useful degree credential in the field of geospatial technologies. Through rigorous coursework in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), remote sensing (RS), and spatial modeling, highly- motivated students and professionals who complete this degree will emerge from the program with applied experience and a broad GIS skillset applicable towards diverse professional opportunities. This MS concentration will provide students with a background in the science, techniques, and application of geospatial skills that will enable them to embark on public and private sector careers or to undertake further studies in geography, planning, public policy, ecology, environmental science, and other fields.

Sustainability Science (MS)

The MS Sustainability Science (MS3) Program prepares students professionally for a broad range of sustainability-focused careers in industry, government, or the non-profit sector.  Students will graduate with: (1) a systems-based foundation for analyzing current environmental challenges; (2) pragmatic training and field experiences; (3) critical thinking and communications skills; and (4) knowledge and understanding of the interrelated scientific, social, economic and political underpinnings of environmental problems, solutions, and practices. Our program is practice/career-based, and students will complete a 4-credit internship with an NGO, government agency or company. Students in the program will select one concentration area from among 4 options: Environmental Quality, Sustainable Food Systems and Agriculture, Water Sustainability, and Urban Sustainability. Because the program combines core classes and a chosen area of concentration, students will build a strong intellectual foundation for analyzing interconnections between social, economic, and ecological systems and will also develop expertise depth within a given domain. The program plays host to students from a wide range of backgrounds and caters to the needs of all through a rigorous and exciting cross-disciplinary set of requirements. The Sustainability Science students often interact with fellow students from other closely-related graduate programs at the University, including Environmental Conservation (Green Building concentration, and Water, Wetlands and Watersheds concentration), Geosciences, Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning, and Architecture, so there are unique opportunities to build a professional network across a wide range of disciplines.