Master's Program

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The Department of NRES provides an interdisciplinary graduate education. Consequently, students who succeed in our programs come from a variety of backgrounds. There are certain standards that apply to all applicants, regardless of their proposed area of focus.

In order to be admitted to the NRES online M.S. program, applicants:

  • Must have at least a 3.0 grade point average for the last 60 hours of their undergraduate coursework (or the last two years if the undergraduate institution used a system other than semester hours). The minimum GPA for any graduate coursework must be at least 3.5. Students who do not meet this requirement may occasionally be admitted on "limited status," so please contact NRES Student Services (217-333-5824 or to discuss the possibility.
  • Must have earned a baccalaureate degree and should have adequate preparation in the fundamental sciences and courses appropriate to their proposed field of study in natural resources and environmental sciences. In general, this will require coursework in the biological and/or physical sciences from an accredited University or College. Prerequisite coursework should include, at minimum, two or three classes in biological or physical sciences, a course in mathematics, and routine communication courses, all at the college level. Students with deficiencies may still be accepted conditionally, but they may be asked to make up undergraduate level coursework from an accredited college, university, or community college or to successfully complete (B or higher grade) two or three upper level University of Illinois classes before admission is granted to the M.S. degree program.
  • Students whose native language is not English are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System. Test scores must be less than two (2) years old from date of enrollment. Check the Grad College's minimum score requirements.

The GRE is not required for admission to the online M.S. program.

Please note that admission into this program is competitive. In many semesters, we receive more applications meeting the minimum qualifications than we are able to accept. Consequently, not all students who meet these minimum standards will be admitted into the program. Students who need to strengthen their academic background are welcome to take NRES courses as a non-degree student, but succeeding in them does not guarantee admission. Up to 12 hours taken as a non-degree seeking student may be counted toward the degree if admitted.

Degree Requirements

The NRES M.S. curriculum is designed to maximize flexibility and allow you, with the help of your adviser and committee, to craft the education most appropriate to your goals. At Illinois, graduate courses are those at the 400- and 500-level.

All online students are admitted into the non-thesis program. If you wish to consider completing a thesis, you should contact NRES Students Services at or (217) 333-5824 for more information.

Required Courses Non-thesis - Required Hours Thesis - Required Hours
Total Hours 32 32
Minimum 500-level Hours Required Overall 12 12
NRES 594 1 1
Capstone requirement, choose one of
  • NRES 503 Capstone Research Project
  • NRES 505 Capstone Internship Experience
  • NRES 507 Capstone Group Res Project
Thesis Hours Required   4-12
Minimum GPA 3.0 3.0
Other Requirements Written final examination; preparation, presentation, oral exam, and approval of a capstone project report. A departmental petition must be submitted and approved in order to pursue this option.
Completion, defense, and deposit of thesis.