Main Navigation
Apply Now Request Info


Communications for Conservation Graduate Certificate

Credits to Earn Your Certificate
CSU Online Grad Students Secured Plans Related to Their Career
Grad Students Would Choose CSU Online Again
Investment in research in FY21
Certificate Overview Open Accordion
Online Certificate in Environmental Communication

Earn your conservation communications certificate online

Communicating effectively with a wide variety of audiences is an essential skill for professionals working in conservation-related fields. Creating the right strategy requires careful planning, from messaging to media selection. This program gives you proven tools for developing successful conservation messages, media-relations programs, strategic communication and social media plans, and engaging with leaders and decision-makers.

In a time when information can be rapidly disseminated across dozens of different channels, this program provides much needed environmental communication training for natural resource managers, scientists, researchers, and other practitioners working in the conservation field.

Learn to build communication plans that make an impact

As competition for people’s attention continues to grow, the effectiveness of many conservation initiatives relies heavily on targeted and strategic communications and compelling, relevant messaging. In this program, you will learn how to use approaches rooted in social science and contemporary media communications research and practice to achieve greater success.

Enhance your knowledge and extend your influence. By learning to analyze audiences, create clear and persuasive messaging, and use channels and strategies that will reach the right people at the right time, your communication efforts will be much more productive.

As a student in this program, you will explore:

  • Conservation social science and communications theory
  • Audience analysis
  • Media relations
  • New media communications
  • Strategies for effective crisis communication
  • Social marketing and conservation marketing
  • Political and leadership communications

Who should enroll in this program?

This graduate certificate is well-suited for natural resource managers, conservation scientists, nonprofit conservation professionals, environmental communication specialists, environmental educators and other practitioners who are responsible for conservation-related projects but also face increasing demand to explain and substantiate their work to stakeholders, funders, policymakers, the media, and the public.

Course Descriptions Open Accordion

NR 569 – Conservation Communication Fundamentals

Communications theory and conservation social science are explained. Roles for communicators in conservation organizations are examined. Students are introduced to behavior change theory and conservation psychology. Audience analysis and diversity are emphasized for achieving goals in conservation communications.

NR 570 – Conservation Managers – Media Communications

Conservation media literacy and media activities and practices are examined and analyzed. Students learn techniques and practices for developing written and visual media and gaining earned media attention. New directions and strategies in conservation communications are analyzed.

NR 571 – New Media Communications for Conservation

Fundamentals of digital and social media, and strategic online communications are explained and examined. New and emerging digital media platforms for conservation outreach and engagement are discussed and evaluated. Conservation organizations and practitioners’ use of social media, podcasting and video are analyzed.

NR 572 – Strategic Communications for Conservation

Strategic communications planning and messaging for conservation are examined and evaluated, including case studies of specific plans and strategies. Students develop strategic content and materials and evaluation programs using research and best practices.

NR 573 – Conservation Crisis Communications

Examining and developing appropriate conservation communication strategies for conservation/environmental crisis response and recovery. Media, personal and other communications during near- and long-term planning scenarios are examined. Conservation management organizations’ and practitioners’ use of different messages and media platforms are also analyzed.

NR 574 – Advanced Communications for Conservation

Social marketing and conservation marketing principles and projects are explained and evaluated. Students learn political and leadership communications techniques and tactics, including public speaking skills, governmental outreach and testimony and collaborative communications planning.

Faculty Open Accordion

Faculty for the Communications in Conservation graduate certificate have both academic knowledge and real-world, practical experiences in communications and media engagement. They have also worked closely with communications researchers and specialists, conservation practitioners and scientists, and communications experts from industry, government, and other fields to develop and deliver a holistic program that reflects established and emerging ideas and practices in communications for conservation.

Joshua Zaffos

Joshua Zaffos, M.E.M.

Josh is faculty in the Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources and program director for the online Graduate Certificate in Communications for Conservation. He is also the Communications Specialist for the Department of Anthropology and Geography and an instructor in the Department of Journalism & Media Communication. Josh has also worked as an environmental and science writer and journalist, with experience reporting on water, energy development, public lands, climate change and other topics. His work has appeared in High Country News, Audubon, Yale Environment 360, Scientific American, Slate, Wired, and many other digital and print publications.

Industry and agency contributors to the program:

  • Audubon Rockies
  • CSU Forest and Rangeland Stewardship
  • CSU Journalism & Media Communication
  • International Crane Foundation
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service (Colorado office)
  • New Bridge Strategy
  • The Nature Conservancy of Colorado
  • U.S. Department of Interior
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Production and Conservation Business Center
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • U.S. Forest Service, Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests & Pawnee National Grassland
  • U.S. Forest Service, Region 2 (Rocky Mountain)
  • U.S. Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station
  • University of Idaho
  • Virginia Tech
Curriculum Open Accordion


Communications for Conservation is a flexible, online graduate certificate tailored for professionals working in conservation-related career fields who are required to communicate on technical, scientific, and policy information, from media relations to public outreach to social and digital media engagement.

The program consists of six, two-credit courses. Each course features an accelerated, eight-week program of study. The curriculum encompasses content, resources, and activities informed by researchers and experts in conservation social science, environmental and science journalism, strategic communications, social media, marketing, and public relations. Students who complete the program will be able to:

  • Write effectively on conservation and apply storytelling techniques for conservation presentations
  • Produce media relations campaigns and materials, and prepare for interviews
  • Plan social media strategies for conservation engagement
  • Create communications strategies for conservation activities
  • Implement crisis communications plans
  • Develop conservation marketing messages and programs
  • Prepare for and deliver political communications for conservation

Up to six credits from this program may be applied to the online Master of Tourism Management degree.

Note: You must be admitted to this program for the certificate to appear on your official University transcript.

Required Courses

Course Schedule

How to Apply Open Accordion

Application Deadlines

Fall semester July 15
Spring semester December 1

Start your application online and upload materials directly into the online system. You can save your progress and return any time.

Apply Now

1 Review Admission Requirements

The Communication for Conservation graduate certificate requires that students have a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution.

2 Prepare Application Materials

While it is not required, it is recommended that you contact us in advance of submitting application materials. Prepare the materials below and upload when you apply online.

  • Two letters of recommendation (professional and/or academic)
    You will provide information about your recommenders in the online application. CSU will contact them with instructions and a link to a secure form they will submit on your behalf.
  • Statement of purpose
    • Your purpose for pursuing graduate education and how it will contribute to your long-term goals and career plans,
    • Why you have selected Colorado State University as the place to pursue your graduate studies, and
    • A description of teaching, research/creative, or other academic work you have engaged in relevant to the qualifications.

3 Complete Online Application

Complete the online graduate application and pay the nonrefundable application processing fee (payable online). As soon as you have completed the required information, please submit your application. Your application will not be reviewed until it is complete and all required materials have been received.

  • Choose "Communications for Conservation (Certificate) – Distance" when choosing the Program of Study. (Note: You must first select "Certificate" at the top.)

4 Request Transcripts

Request one official transcript from the institution where you earned your bachelor’s degree. Transcripts must be received directly from the originating institution to be considered official. Transcripts from Colorado State University are not required.

Electronic (preferred):
Digital Transcripts must be submitted by the originating institution using a secure service such as parchment, eScrip-Safe, the National Student Clearinghouse, or e-Quals. Transcripts received via emails are considered unofficial.

Use institution code 4075 for Colorado State University or if the secure service requires an email address.

Mail (if necessary):
Graduate Admissions
Colorado State University – Office of Admissions
1062 Campus Delivery
Fort Collins, CO 80523-1062

Check Your Application Status

View your application status at any time to ensure your application checklist is complete or to check on updates.

Once your complete application, including supporting materials, is received, the department admission committee will review your application and notify you of their decision.

For International Applicants

Proof of English language proficiency is required for applicants from countries or United States territories where there are official languages other than (or in addition to) English. This includes the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rico.

Learn more about English language proficiency requirements.


We love learning about your goals and answering any questions you have.

Morgan Parsley
Communications for Conservation Graduate Certificate
Prospective Student Support Coach
Schedule Time to Talk

Program Details

12 credits
$794 per credit
Degree Awarded
Graduate Certificate in Communications for Conservation
Time Frame
Can be completed in 1 year
Admission Reqs.
  • Undergraduate degree from an accredited four-year institution.

Application Dates

Fall semester
July 15
Spring semester
December 1

Request Information

By providing your information, you consent to receive calls, emails, and/or text messages from CSU Online. Consent not required to purchase goods or services. For more info, call 1-970-491-5288. We respect your privacy. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.