Get out of the classroom and into the research.

NRES is a broad and diverse department offering a wide range of options for master's level graduate study. We offer both versatility and depth. NRES research and educational programs can be tailored to suit your interests, whether in agricultural entomology, forestry, horticulture, or soil science. This variety of disciplines provides a systems-level perspective that few departments can offer.

The graduate program develops you into a researcher. Coursework is no longer the primary focus, and you learn how to create, plan, and carry out independent research. On-campus students are admitted to this program.

The thesis option requires that the student satisfactorily complete a minimum of 32 hours of graduate coursework, of which a minimum of 12 graduate hours are 500- level courses. This coursework shall include NRES Seminar (500) each semester, minus one, that the student is enrolled, Professional Orientation (594) and 4 to 12 graduate hours of Thesis Research (599), which culminates in the completion and oral defense of a thesis.

NRES Graduate Handbook

Graduate student using scientific equipment in lab to perform experiment

Participate in affiliated programs

Program in Environmental and Resource Economics

Students involved in the program in Environmental and Resource Economics (pERE) explore the complex relationships between natural resource allocation, environmental quality and economic prosperity. Students and faculty from five other University departments in addition to NRES are using economics to analyze policy toward some of today's most critical environmental and natural resource issues.

Human Dimensions of Environmental Systems

NRES graduate students may participate in HDES, an interdisciplinary program comprised of faculty from six colleges at Illinois. Participants are united in the study of connections between humans and the environment. The program is built on the premise that the best insights are not limited to the domain of a single discipline and is interdisciplinary in all its pursuits.

Graduate Teaching Experience

Although teaching is not a Graduate College requirement, experience in teaching is considered an important part of this graduate program, particularly for Ph.D. students.

M.S. Non-Thesis Option


Students on campus are admitted into the thesis option and, under certain conditions, may be allowed to transfer into the non-thesis option by petitioning the Department.

Non-Thesis option guides students in the acquisition of professional expertise beyond the undergraduate degree. The program requires a culminating/capstone experience, which may be satisfied in one of three ways: an individual investigative project, a collaborative, possibly interdisciplinary, group project, or a professional internship experience.

The Non-Thesis Option may also be appropriate in special cases where a student executes a major special project which is equivalent to a M.S. thesis, but which does not lend itself to the thesis format. All students in the online M.S. program are admitted into the non-thesis option and, under certain conditions, may be allowed to transfer into the thesis option by petitioning the Department.

Master of Science, Online

Online students are admitted to the Non-Thesis Option. The online M. S. graduate program in NRES enables students to continue their education in disciplines related to natural resources and environmental sciences through part-time study at locations away from the Urbana-Champaign campus.

This program meets the needs of persons currently working or wanting to work in the areas of conservation, ecology, restoration ecology, soil science, sustainable development, urban ecology, urban forestry, urban wildlife management, and water resources management.

Students can enroll in individual courses for professional and/or academic advancement, or apply for admission to the M.S. degree program. All online M.S. students are admitted to the non-thesis option, though, under certain conditions, a degree-seeking online student may petition the Department to transfer to the thesis option.

Learn more about the online program.