M.S. Resource Conservation

Master's degree in Resource Conservation

Choose the M.S. in Resource Conservation if you are interested in studying topics like community-based conservation, natural resource policy, social, political and economic aspects of conservation, or want to pursue the option in International Conservation & Development. As with all three of our master's degrees, you must be accepted to study with a faculty advisor before you can be admitted to our graduate programs. That faculty member will help you choose a plan of study to get the degree that fits you.



The specific courses (program of study) that a graduate student enrolls in will be tailored to each individual, based on their academic background, professional interests, and the focus of their thesis work.  However, the minimum requirements for the M.S. Degree include:

  • 30 graduate semester credits beyond the Bachelor’s degree.
  • At least 20 of the total credits must be taken within the major discipline. 
  • At least 20 of the total credits must be in coursework and at least half of the coursework credits (minimum 10 credits) must be at the 500 level or above.  Courses below the 400 level do not count towards the M.S. course requirements.
  • Up to 10 of the 30 credits may be taken as research (699) and/or thesis (697).
  • Enroll in one credit of graduate seminar per year.  (Requirement may be waived by faculty advisor in favor of a different course/seminar if there is a time conflict.)
  • Complete a research methods course related to their field of study, and at least one course in graduate level statistics (or comparable analytical course) at the university. 

In addition to these specific requirements, a list of required/suggested coursework must be approved by the committee no later than the second semester in residence, but earlier if possible.  Other suitable courses (e.g., emphasizing analytical skills) can be substituted at the discretion of the student’s committee.

Application Procedures

To apply to a graduate program in the W.A. Franke College of Forestry & Conservation (FCFC), applicants should first identify an area of study in which they are interested.  In addition, it is recommended that applicants reach out to individual faculty members to discuss potential available opportunities for graduate study in that area.

To complete your application: 

  • Fill out UM Graduate School application and pay fee.
  • Submit the following to the online application portal, unless otherwise noted:
    • A statement of interest that describes the intended area of study.  The statement of interest should include the name(s) of at least one FCFC faculty member whose research interests most closely align with the applicant’s, and briefly describe how/why.  When relevant, applicants should note whether they have spoken with any faculty in FCFC about graduate work, and especially if any faculty have invited application.
    • A resume or Curriculum Vitae.
    • E-mail addresses for three (3) references who have agreed to provide letters of recommendation.  (Please be sure to check the box to indicate that your references receive the automated email from CollegeNet.)
    • Unofficial transcripts uploaded into CollegeNet or by email to request@cfc.umt.edu.
    • Official English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores if English is not your first language.

The GRE will no longer be required as part of our application materials.

Additional application information:

  • The statement of interest (approx. 2 pages) should outline the applicant’s desired area of study and must include the name(s) of at least one faculty member whose interests align with the applicant, and/or the names of any faculty members the applicant has contacted regarding graduate study opportunities, or who have encouraged the applicant to apply.
  • Applicants must provide transcripts of all previous college work.  Unofficial transcripts can be submitted for application review.  Accepted applicants will be asked to provide an official transcript showing all degrees received.  Applicants already enrolled in or who have received a degree from UM do not need to submit a transcript.
  • Applicants may email electronic transcripts to request@cfc.umt.edu or mail physical copies to the W.A. Franke College of Forestry & Conservation, Attn: Grad Applications, 32 Campus Drive, University of Montana, Missoula, MT, 59812.
  • The W.A. Franke College of Forestry & Conservation does not require a writing sample as part of the application process, but in some cases, individual faculty may request a writing sample for evaluation.
  • Applicants can check application status by logging into the CollegeNet account created prior to submission.

We do not accept applications by fax.  Please note that it typically takes four to six weeks from the date of the TOEFL examination for the scores to be reported.  We will check application files periodically and inform applicants of missing files.  We will not take action on incomplete application files.


January 31 for admission to the fall semester of that same calendar year.

August 31 for admission to the spring semester of the following calendar year.


The W.A. Franke College of Forestry & Conservation welcomes applications from people of all backgrounds who seek an intellectually challenging education.  All students must be familiar with the requirements and procedures established by the Graduate School for their particular graduate degree. These requirements are available at the UM Graduate School.

Preliminary decisions regarding acceptance will be made by the FCFC Graduate Committee using the following minimum criteria:

  • Minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 in undergraduate work for M.S. programs and 3.5 in graduate work for PhD programs.
  • For applicants whose native language is not English, the applicant must have a minimum TOEFL score of 79 or an IELTS score of 6.5.

Applicants who do not meet these minimums may still be considered for provisional admission if other aspects of the application show substantial professional experience or other qualifications.

Final decisions regarding acceptance will be made by individual faculty members using the following criteria:

Applicants who meet the minimum criteria will be further evaluated by faculty members based on all or some of the following criteria:  1) references; 2) previous experience, including relevant knowledge, skills, and abilities; 3) writing proficiency; 4) overall GPA versus GPA during the most recent two years or in specific coursework; 5) results of an on campus and/or remote interview.  In some cases, admission decisions may also be based on the availability of funding.  Finally, applicants will not be accepted without the approval of a faculty member who agrees to serve as the major professor.  Lack of faculty endorsement is the primary reason applicants are not accepted.  We strongly suggest all applicants directly contact one or more faculty members before submitting a graduate application.

Accepted applicants must enroll in the semester stated in their acceptance letter or in the subsequent semester.  Outside of this enrollment window, admission may be deferred for one year with approval from the major professor.  Accepted applicants seeking deferral should contact the Graduate School for all required deferment paperwork.  There is a $20 deferment fee.  Accepted applicants who do not have an approved deferral or not start their degree work within the acceptance timeframe must reapply for admission.