Land Management Degree Program Information and Requirements
Students interested in a career in land management have a variety of educational opportunities available to them. Programs are available at the associate's, bachelor's and master's levels.
Degrees in the field of land management include majors such as land and energy management, ecology, natural resource management, and forestry. Degree programs range from the associate's level through to the doctoral level, and are offered both at colleges and universities, as well as online.
Admission to these programs requires a high school diploma at the undergraduate level, and a bachelor's degree in a related field at the graduate level. Applicants should have an aptitude for the natural sciences. Some programs will include internships as part of the curriculum.
- Program Levels in Land Management: Associate in Natural Resource Management; Bachelor of Science in Natural Resource Management; Master of Science in Natural Resource Management
- Prerequisites: A high school diploma or its equivalent is required for entry into an associate's or bachelor's program; a bachelor's degree in a related field and GRE scores are required for entry into a master's program.
- Online Availability: Online programs are commonly available.
- Other Requirements: Internships may be required.
Associate in Natural Resource Management
Schools may offer Associate of Arts (A.A.) or Associate of Science (A.S.) programs in natural resource management. The A.S. program's structure prepares students of natural resource management for entry-level work in ecology, forestry, or wildlife management, while the A.A. degree usually prepares students to enroll in a 4-year bachelor's program. Both programs provide a foundation in the basic sciences, which allows students to protect natural resources and ensure sustainable practices are used in natural settings.
Requirements for admission to community colleges and technical schools generally include a high school diploma or its equivalent. Schools may require various admissions or other testing procedures to determine course placement.
A natural resource management curriculum includes a combination of classroom-based work and laboratory experiences. Specific courses may include:
- Agricultural management
- Natural resources
- Crop production
- Forage production
- Ecology and evolution
Bachelor of Science in Natural Resource Management
A bachelor's degree in the field of natural resource management provides students with a broad overview of the biological, economic and social components of managing natural resources and environmental impacts. Students then specialize in a specific area such as physical resources or the social sciences. Students are prepared to use knowledge of scientific principles to effectively manage grasslands and wetlands, aggro forestry, sustainable agriculture and other ecosystems.
Baccalaureate degrees, normally awarded by 4-year colleges or universities, are generally open to those who have completed their high school diplomas and meet general admissions standards of the institution. Schools have varying requirements on grade point averages and college admissions examinations. Prior coursework in biology and the natural sciences is often helpful.
A combination of lab and didactic coursework is incorporated into the baccalaureate curriculum. Course topics include:
- Environmental history
- Soil science
- Natural resources measurement
- Natural resource economics
Master of Science in Natural Resource Management
A master's program in the field of natural resources management is appropriate for professionals seeking additional training in management, research or policy development. Master's programs are available in a variety of formats and the curricula vary according to program objectives and goals. Most programs require the master's candidate to complete a thesis or final project and defend the work during an oral exam.
A baccalaureate degree in a related field is generally required for admissions into natural resource management graduate programs. Preferred areas of study include science, engineering or agriculture. Most schools require a satisfactory score on the GRE. Students may be required to take additional coursework in order to fulfill specific requirements.
Master's degree programs are often tailored to a student's specific interests; therefore classes vary. However the following areas of study are commonly available:
- Research methods
- Ecosystems and markets
- Terrestrial ecosystems
- Restoration ecology
- Urban wildlife
- Ecological modeling
Popular Career Options
Associate's degree graduates are prepared for entry-level positions in the field of natural resource management. Specific roles include:
- Environmental scientist
- Park manager
- Agricultural business associate
- Forest technician
- Wildlife technician
A variety of career opportunities are available in the field of natural resource management. Positions for bachelor's graduates may include:
- Land use planner
- Natural resource manager
- Park administrator
- Watershed manager
- Conservation biologist
Graduates of master's degree programs are equipped to lead teams of scientists and policy makers in a variety of government and private roles, including:
- Fisheries manager
- Geographic information scientist
- Water conflict manager
- Sustainable natural resource specialist
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that employment for conservation scientists will grow three percent for the decade 2012-2022 (www.bls.gov). In May 2014, the BLS reported that the median annual wage for conservation scientists was $61,860.
Students interested in seeking further education in the field of natural resource management may pursue certification in an area such as watershed management, aquaculture or geographic information systems. Additionally, a research-based doctoral degree is available.