Wilderness and Civilization


The Wilderness and Civilization program is an interdisciplinary, experiential academic semester grounded in field-based learning and interactive classroom courses. Offered each fall, it is the only program in Montana where students earn a Wilderness Studies minor. 


• Experience the ecology, land management, and natural and human history of some of the most beautiful landscapes in the lower 48.

• Examine human-wilderness relationships through study in policy, ecology, arts, and literature.

• Learn backcountry travel and expedition planning skills, including wilderness medicine and Leave No Trace training.

• Explore Montana's wildlands during a backpacking trip, a river trip, and 1-2 day field trips.

• All coursework for the minor must be completed in its entirety during a single fall semester. Unlike other minors, Wilderness & Civilization cannot be completed by taking a course or two each semester.

• Each cohort is limited to 25 students, ensuring close interaction with faculty and peers.

• Program fee is $450 in addition to normal University tuition.


  • NRSM 373: Wilderness and Civilization (Honors), 2 credits
  • NRSM 271N: Conservation Ecology (Honors), 3 credits
  • LIT 280L: Ecology of Literature (Honors), 3 credits
  • ARTZ 314A: Environmental Drawing, 3 credits
  • NRSM 273: Wilderness & Civilization Field Studies, 4 credits
  • NRSM 345: Watershed Dynamics and Management Issues, 3 credits

    Total: 18 credits for the semester

View degree requirements in UM catalog.



How to Apply

The Wilderness and Civilization Program accepts applications on a rolling basis until the program fills, usually by mid-April. This means each application will be reviewed on its own merits as it arrives. Students are encouraged to apply early and may apply a full year or two in advance to secure a space and to facilitate academic planning.


The program admits sophomores, juniors, and seniors with an average GPA of 3.0 or greater in the last academic year. Students who are admitted to the program will need to maintain their 3.0 GPA in order to retain their admitted status. That said, we consider every aspect of a student’s application, especially the personal interview and academic references.

Out-of-state students may participate through the National Student Exchange Program (NSE). NSE students should apply to Wilderness and Civilization first and, if accepted, will then apply to the University of Montana.