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Natural Resources Stewardship M.N.R.S.

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Degree Overview Open Accordion

Online Master of Natural Resources Stewardship from CSU

Add your name to the legacy of graduates who have become effective managers for some of the nation's largest and most prominent natural resources management organizations, including:

  • USDA
  • Forest Service
  • Bureau of Land Management
  • National Park Service
  • Other state and federal agencies

What you learn

CSU's online Master of Natural Resources Stewardship was designed for professionals seeking the necessary skills and knowledge to advance in the field of natural resources. The program provides a broad education, with the opportunity to further specialize in one of three areas:

  • Ecological Restoration
  • Forest Sciences
  • Rangeland Ecology and Management

You will finish this program as a well-rounded leader, equipped with an understanding of the interconnectedness of natural resource management systems and how that lends itself to solving real-world problems from a holistic viewpoint. The curriculum is immediately applicable to current issues within the industry, with natural resources management courses that cover topics such as:

  • Natural environmental processes and how they interact with human systems
  • Degraded landscape restoration principles
  • Natural resource management systems and how various subsystems affect one another
  • The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and how to ensure compliance

Elective credits allow you to tailor your natural resources degree to encompass a wide range of skills to suit your career path.

Where your master's degree will take you

As any environmental steward knows, our world has finite resources, but is experiencing increased demands as our population grows. Qualified natural resource planners, managers, and conservationists are needed to generate innovative solutions for managing our natural resources.

Thousands of jobs in environmental and renewable natural resource fields are expected to open in the next few years, according to the USDA, but there currently are not enough college grads to fill them. CSU's online Master of Natural Resources Stewardship prepares you for a variety of positions, including:

  • Environmental planner or coordinator
  • Stewardship coordinator
  • Environmental program manager
  • Forester
  • Range conservationist
  • Land manager
  • Restoration ecologist
  • Fire management officer
  • Soil conservationist
  • Wildland manager
  • Land steward within the non-profit sector

Prepare to meet the challenges of the future as you learn about the interaction between humans and the environment, and the complexity of natural resource management systems.

Explore Careers Open Accordion

Ideal for professionals who have experience with natural resources and have built a network within the industry, the Master of Natural Resources Stewardship prepares you to be a leader in roles such as:

  • Environmental planner or coordinator
  • Stewardship coordinator
  • Environmental program manager
  • Forester
  • Range conservationist
  • Land manager
  • Restoration ecologist
  • Fire management officer
  • Soil conservationist
  • Wildland manager
  • Land steward within the non-profit sector

Employment within this industry is projected to grow faster than the average over the next decade according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Heightened public interest in the hazards facing the environment, as well as the increasing demands placed on the environment by population growth, is expected to spur demand for highly educated natural resource planners, managers, and conservationists. This degree is designed to prepare students to lead projects and programs that answer big-picture challenges associated with human interaction with the environment.

Connect with Alumni

The table lists some recent alumni of the MNRS program. Visit their LinkedIn profile to see what skills and experiences they brought to their current position in addition to their graduate degree. You can also use LinkedIn to connect with and reach out to these individuals with questions about the industry.

Note: You will need a LinkedIn account to connect with alumni.

Name Degree Earned Job Title Employer/Organization LinkedIn
Cidney Handy MNRS Ecological Restoration Stewardship Coordinator Wyoming Stock Growers Land Trust LinkedIn
Kirsten Lyons MNRS Ecological Restoration Stewardship Director Friends of the St. Clair River LinkedIn
Bradley Shoemaker MNRS Ecological Restoration Chief Air Force Wildland Fire Branch LinkedIn
Carter Oliver MNRS Ecological Restoration Harrison County Extension Director Iowa State University Extension and Outreach LinkedIn
Chrissy Remein MNRS Forest Sciences Hudson River Watershed Project Manager Riverkeeper LinkedIn
Ericka Buckreis MNRS Ecological Restoration Natural Resources Specialist US Navy LinkedIn
Mary Young MNRS Ecological Restoration Physical Scientist/ Project Manager Office of Legacy Management, Department of Energy LinkedIn
Hear from Our Students Open Accordion
Sean L

Sean L.

"I liked that I could earn this degree online without needing to change locations, work situations, or uproot family to attend graduate coursework. The flexibility combined with top-notch faculty and research sold me on the value of this program."

"Each course runs parallel to real-world scenarios I could immediately apply to current work projects. I am more confident approaching restoration work and capable of addressing complex projects. This has led to interesting work, new opportunities, and a fresh approach to what career choices I could take."

"I had an excellent experience with the MNRS program and would surely recommend this to others in search of quality, affordable, and relevant coursework in Natural Resources. Having a program that can bridge knowledge gaps for working and non-traditional students is unique and a great option for those holding down other life commitments such as work or family."

Ecological Restoration Specialization Open Accordion

Why ecological restoration matters

The goal of ecological restoration is a stable and functioning ecosystem that can withstand stresses and provide ecosystem services, such as clean water, wildlife habitat, biodiversity, and more. Students who have the skills to evaluate and manage these issues can help maintain and improve our natural resource environments, help prevent extinction of species, and maintain healthy hunting and fishing environments.

What you learn

Ecological restoration uses human intervention to direct and/or accelerate secondary succession following a disturbance. Students in the program learn how to influence the type of vegetation that re-establishes itself and the speed with which recovery occurs.

Students in the ecological restoration specialization will:
  • Gain an understanding of how to use ecological and management principles and how to use appropriate tools for designing and implementing ecological restoration projects.
  • Know how to evaluate successful vs. failed ecological restoration projects.
  • Be able to articulate the role that restoration can serve in the future stewardship of natural resources.
  • Understand and engage various stakeholder groups in restoring disturbed lands. Gain relationship management skills applied to working with individuals, agencies, communities, or mixes of all of these.
  • Be able to identify common stressors to ecosystems (changing climate, arrival of a non-native species, disease outbreaks, etc. and the relationship between multiple stressors) and human disturbances.


The natural resource stewardship degree requires completion of 30 credits, including 11 credits of required core coursework, 10 credits in the focus area (ecological restoration), and 9 credits of electives. This is a coursework-intensive degree and does not require completion of a thesis.

Required Courses

Specialization Courses: Ecological Restoration


To further diversify your curriculum, choose a minimum of 9 elective credits. These courses can be from any of the specialization areas or from other credit courses that pertain to your professional and education goals. Electives must be above the 300 level and be approved by an academic advisor.

The following course is also available as an elective:
NR 565 – Principles of Natural Resource Ecology (3 cr.)
NR 565 is a required course for students who have not taken a college-level ecology course.

Forest Sciences Specialization Open Accordion

Online forestry degree specialization for natural resource experts

The M.N.R.S. degree in forest science explores an interdisciplinary field that addresses resource management challenges related to forests around the world. According to the USDA Forest Service's Forest Inventory and Analysis National Program (2012), forests cover 766 million acres of land in the United States. As well as providing a sense of place and natural beauty, forests provide a myriad of tangible benefits to society; e.g., raw materials, places for recreation, oxygen production, and a sink for carbon. Additionally they can reduce erosion, enhance aquifer recharge, filter out pollutants, and provide habitats for wildlife.

This online forestry degree applies the physical, social, and biological sciences to the field of forest sciences, a methodology that allows individuals to make fact-based decisions in managing these environments. Proper resource management can help reduce the impacts of wildfires, insect and disease attacks, and deforestation, which pose threats to forests and the communities they benefit.

Gain applicable skills in forest management and a foundation in theory

CSU's faculty take an applied and broad-based approach to education, covering the technical and human dimensions aspects of forestry. This means you learn theory, as well as complete coursework and assignments that prepare you to immediately apply what you learn to the actual situations you'll face at work.

Take forestry courses online in a flexible format that lets you study from wherever you are. Knowledge gained applies to forests all over the world, which means you'll be trained to work globally, wherever you find yourself.

Study in a forestry graduate program with a legacy

Colorado State University was one of the first forestry schools in the nation, dating back to 1904. This long tenure and accomplished history has elevated CSU's reputation in this field as an authority throughout the world. With this comes an ability to recruit some of the nation’s top forestry scientists to inform curriculum, as well as an opportunity for students to become a part of a large professional network.

Gain practical skills in forest management

Within the context of forestry, you will gain technical skills in:

  • Inventory and monitoring
  • Assessment of ecosystem health
  • Environmental impact assessment
  • Forest planning
  • Policy analysis
  • Forest and fire ecology
  • Developing appropriate goals and objectives for forest ecosystems
  • Forest management practices (silviculture)
  • Accounting for change over time (modeling)

Additionally, you will learn about topics such as scarcity, the aesthetic benefits of forests, biological diversity, and gain foundational skills that will prepare you to work in any forest environment.


The natural resource stewardship degree requires completion of 30 credits, including 11 credits of required core coursework, 9 credits in the focus area (forest sciences), and 10 credits of electives. This is a coursework-intensive degree and does not require completion of a thesis.

Required Courses

Specialization Courses: Forest Sciences


To further diversify your curriculum, choose a minimum of 10 elective credits. These courses can be from any of the specialization areas or from other credit courses that pertain to your professional and education goals. Electives must be above the 300 level and be approved by an academic advisor.

The following course is also available as an elective:
NR 565 – Principles of Natural Resource Ecology (3 cr.)
NR 565 is a required course for students who have not taken a college-level ecology course.

Rangeland Ecology and Mgmt Specialization Open Accordion

The rangeland ecology and management area of specialization focuses on linking bio-physical and human systems to ensure sustainable practices.

Students in the program learn how to classify and manage rangelands based on:

  • community type
  • animal habitat needs
  • feeding ecologies
  • ecosystem potential

Concepts covered pertain to both domestic and wild grazing animals, include a variety of grassland and shrubland types, and emphasize adaptive management techniques.


The natural resource stewardship degree requires completion of 30 credits, including 11 credits of required core coursework, 9 credits in the focus area (rangeland ecology and management), and 10 credits of electives. This is a coursework-intensive degree and does not require completion of a thesis.

Required Courses

Specialization Courses: Rangeland Ecology and Management


To further diversify your curriculum, choose a minimum of 10 elective credits. These courses can be from any of the specialization areas or from other credit courses that pertain to your professional and education goals. Electives must be above the 300 level and be approved by an academic advisor.

The following courses are also available as electives:

Course Descriptions Open Accordion

Core Courses

NR 566 – Natural Resource Inventory, Monitoring and Data Analysis

This course provides an introduction to sampling designs and their implementation and analysis for inventory and monitoring of forests, rangelands, wetlands and streams. Students will develop a solid understanding of the basic concepts of quantitative analysis and their application to the management of natural resources; design sampling strategies to characterize various natural resources (e.g., forests, rangelands, watersheds, streams); strengthen their ability to frame and formulate management decision problems based on information obtained from sampling; and interpret and evaluate data that relates natural resources management and processes. Development of computing skills for data entry, storage and analysis and the application of statistical techniques to answer questions relating to natural resource issues will also be addressed.

NR 567 – Analysis of Environmental Impacts

The national governments in the U.S. and globally are major sponsors of economic development projects that have significant impacts on the environment. The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 mandates that all federally---sponsored projects that significantly impact the quality of the human Environment must go through a detailed analysis of those impacts. The NEPA model has been replicated in many state and local policies, and around the world. At the core of NEPA is the analysis of environmental impacts, using certain analytical standards and requirements. The purpose of this class is to examine in detail the purpose, goals, and results of NEPA, and the analytical requirements and standards of environmental impact analysis. The course will incorporate real---world case studies, including local projects. An underlying theme is the role of science in environmental policy, with a special focus on renewable natural resource management settings.

F 575 – Monitoring for Advanced Silviculture

Best practices and principles for evaluating forest management effectiveness at various scales across the landscape.

NR 578 – Ecology of Disturbed Lands

Analysis of basic and applied ecological principles involved in the restoration of drastically disturbed lands.

F 592 – Advanced Silviculture Seminar

Forestry professionals and faculty present different aspects of advanced silviculture skills to prepare students for the rigor of online, graduate-level courses and to create a plan and portfolio for their final project at the culmination of the certificate.

NR 693 – Natural Resources Stewardship Seminar

This seminar begins with a review of tools needed to succeed in online academia and quickly segues into a forum for exploring current natural resource stewardship issues. Students will investigate issues of professional ethics in academia and in natural resources management, build their professional networks, and be exposed to different professions and opportunities within the natural resources field.

Specialization Courses

F 571 – Applied Forest Ecology

Concepts and theory of stand dynamics in relation to advanced ecological concepts within the Rocky Mountain Region and Intermountain West and applications of these concepts to natural disturbance-based management.

F 572 – Advanced Silviculture Practices

Application of forest ecology principles and silvicultural techniques to meet a wide range of desired conditions and resource objectives.

F 574 – Climate Adaptive Forest Management

Application of climate science and adaptive silviculture strategies to real-world forest management scenarios. This course fosters skills in evaluating and applying climate adaptation principles within a forest management context and communicating a range of climate change impacts and adaptation responses with diverse audiences.

F 624 – Fire Ecology

Fire in forest and range ecosystems; principles and techniques for evaluating fire effects on vegetation, soils, watersheds, and wildlife.

NR 552 – Ecology of Military Lands

Landscape ecology of military lands with emphasis on ecological processes and principles as related to militarily-induced disturbances.

NR 577 – Wetland Ecology and Restoration

Wetland hydrology, ecology and soils; assessing conditions and identifying common disturbances; restoration techniques, planning and implementation.

NR 678 – Advanced Ecological Restoration

Analysis of environmental factors influencing restoration of disturbed lands and practices for successful restoration of disturbed ecosystems.

RS 452 – Rangeland Herbivore Ecology and Management

Ecology and management of large ungulate herbivores including consumer functions at organismal and ecosystem levels.

RS 500 – Advanced Rangeland Management

Rangeland management concepts including the ecology and management of soils, plants, water, wildlife, fisheries, timber, recreation, and grazing.

RS 630 – Ecology of Grasslands and Shrublands

Distributions and climatic controls on grassland and shrubland plant communities.


NR 565 – Principles of Natural Resources Ecology

Overview of ecological fundamentals examined from the perspective of forest, rangeland, wildlife and fisheries science and management.

RS 329 – Rangeland Assessment

This week-long, face-to-face intensive field course is designed to build students' field skills in identification and mapping land classification units (ecological sites), assessment of soil and vegetation relative to reference conditions for a particular site, and use of state and transition models to interpret current and potential conditions.

Learning Experience Open Accordion

This program's holistic approach to providing a comprehensive understanding of the natural resource management system further affords the opportunity to hone your skills in ecological restoration or rangeland ecosystem science.

This natural resources management degree is a product of the Department of Forest and Rangeland Stewardship's rich history and long-standing reputation that has flourished at CSU since the turn of the 20th century. At the time, the university was responding to societal needs and pressures regarding the conservation and sustainable management of natural resources and the rising concerns for managing them. Those same concerns exist today, perhaps now more than ever.

This program, and the faculty behind it, share the common goal of connecting prospective students with the growing demand for highly educated professionals with a passion for making long-lasting impacts in natural resource management.

Strong interdisciplinary faculty who have direct experience with the economic, social, political, and ecological impacts of land degradation bring real-world information to the program. Currently working on natural resource initiatives with federal, state, local, and nonprofit agency partners, our faculty are researchers who bring their inside perspective and first-hand knowledge to the classroom, preparing you to be a leader in the industry.

Why Choose CSU

As a student in CSU's online Natural Resources Stewardship program, you receive the same education, learn from the same faculty, and earn the same regionally accredited degree as students on campus. Additionally, you can expect:

  • A Program with a Strong Legacy: Our program is offered by CSU's Department of Forest and Rangeland Stewardship — an academic entity that has thrived for more than a century and produced respected natural resource managers for some of the nation's leading organizations.
  • A Customizable Degree Plan: In addition to learning about broad natural resource systems, you can specialize in one of three areas: ecological restoration or rangeland ecology and management. You can also select additional elective credits to further focus or broaden your knowledge.
  • Instruction from Expert Faculty: Learn from faculty with a wealth of research and industry knowledge in topics like wildland fire economics, watershed service programs, and climate influences on landscape diseases.
  • Training to Meet Growing Future Demands: As our population grows, there will be a greater need for qualified professionals who can manage and conserve our natural resources. Prepare to meet the challenges of the future as you learn about the interaction between humans and the environment, and the complexity of natural resource management systems.
  • A Focus on Agency Interconnectedness: Central to this program is an emphasis on how regulatory for-profit and non-profit agencies interact as a system to manage environmental resources. Gain an understanding of the dynamics involved with multi-agency systems so you can be more successful operating within them.
  • A Curriculum Based in Responsible Practices: Learn to sustainably manage the relationship between human and environmental systems with courses in degraded landscape restoration, National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) compliance, and economic implications of natural resource management.

Learn more about CSU's rankings and accolades.

Faculty Open Accordion

Sonya Le Febre

Sonya Le Febre is an assistant professor in the Department of Forest and Rangeland Stewardship where she advises students in the Master of Natural Resources Stewardship program and serves as the department graduate program coordinator. She holds an M.S. and Ph.D. in Rangeland Ecosystem Science from Colorado State University, and a B.S. in Biology from the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology.

Casey Matney

Casey Matney is an Assistant Professor and Agriculture/Horticulture Extension Agent within the School of Natural Resources and Extension at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. In Alaska, Casey’s program responsibilities span the spectrum from livestock and range to soils and horticulture. He is a primary investigator and collaborator on a number of research and outreach projects investigating: forage production, soil health, integrated pest management, and produce safety. Prior to his position in Alaska, Casey was a Rangeland Extension Specialist in Colorado for five years. Casey has been instructing college courses in rangeland management since 2006. In 2010, he received a Ph.D. from Oregon State University for his research studying winterfat and grazing ecology in the Catlow Valley of Oregon.

Wilfred Previant

Wilfred Previant is an Assistant Professor of Forestry in the Forest and Rangeland Stewardship Department at CSU, where he teaches courses in forest management and measurements. His research includes forest inventory and analysis, monitoring, adaptive forest management, silviculture, and carbon management. Wilfred received his PhD in Forest Science from Michigan Technological University.

Robin Rothfeder

Robin Rothfeder is an Assistant Professor of Natural Resource Policy in the Forest and Rangeland Stewardship Department at CSU. Robin's classes use social-ecological challenges and opportunities as the focal point for engaged, interactive learning experiences. His teaching in the MNRS program focuses on environmental impact analysis as governed by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). His research covers two broad topics: (a) collaboration in social-ecological systems, and (b) water resource planning, policy, and management. In both areas, he takes an interdisciplinary and mixed methods approach aimed at meeting real-world community needs.

Robin has a diverse interdisciplinary background, including undergraduate degrees in Environmental Science and Environmental Economics from the University of California-Berkeley, as well as a master’s degree in Environmental Humanities and a PhD in Ecological Planning from the University of Utah.

Jeremy Sueltenfuss

Jeremy Sueltenfuss is an Assistant Professor of Ecology in the Forest and Rangeland Stewardship Department at CSU. He is generally interested in the ecological impacts humans have on the natural world, and how to effectively restore ecological integrity and ecosystem functions. He collaborates with local, state, and federal agencies on wetland and floodplain restoration projects, although his interests in increasing the efficacy of ecological restoration encompass all ecosystem types. He holds a PhD in Ecology from Colorado State University.

How to Apply Open Accordion

Application Deadlines

Fall semester May 31
Spring semester September 15

Applications will be reviewed and decided upon within 2-4 weeks following each application deadline.

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

Apply Now

1Review Admission Requirements

The Master of Natural Resources Stewardship requires that students have the following:

  • Bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution
  • A 3.0 GPA on all undergraduate coursework
    • Exceptions to this are made on a case-by-case basis
    • No specific prior coursework is required. Coursework in ecology and statistics is recommended
    • Applications are reviewed holistically
  • Some natural resources experience is required. All types of experiences (volunteer, paid, etc.) over any length of time are considered

2 Prepare Application Materials

Prepare the materials below and upload when you apply online:

Three letters of recommendation: 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. Request letters from at least two of the following:

  • Previous or current college/university instructors
  • Previous or current immediate professional supervisors
  • Observers other than supervisors who can verify the professional or intellectual expertise of the applicant

    Note: Letters from friends, relatives or character witnesses are considered only supplemental to the three required reference letters

Resume: Outline the professional employment, collegiate work, and any publications, exhibitions, service activities, prizes, awards and other recognitions.

Statement of purpose: Compose a short response (250 words or less) to each of the four prompts below. Your narrative and written communication skills will be evaluated by faculty in the Master of Natural Resources Stewardship program.

  • Describe your motivation for completing this degree. How will this coursework-intensive degree program contribute to achieving your goals?
  • How will your past experiences benefit and inform the specialization to which you are applying?
  • Success in graduate school takes commitment, time management, the ability to collaborate with others, and the ability to self-reflect on your own performance. Describe your strengths and weaknesses in these areas, how you would apply these in graduate school, and what steps you plan to take to help you grow in these areas.
  • Describe your commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, including your past learning and contributions and/or future plans to support the CSU community commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. We encourage you to share specific example(s) of how you have helped create an environment where differences are valued, encouraged and supported.

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. When applying, select the program of study you’re applying to:

  • "Natural Resources Stewardship / Ecological Restoration (M.N.R.S.) - Distance"
  • "Natural Resources Stewardship / Forest Sciences (M.N.R.S.) - Distance"
  • "Natural Resources Stewardship / Rangeland Ecology and Management (M.N.R.S.) - Distance"

4 Request Official Transcripts

Request one official transcript of all collegiate work completed from all institutions attended. Transcripts from Colorado State University are not required. Transcripts must be received directly from the originating institution to be considered official.

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.

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
Natural Resources Stewardship M.N.R.S.
Prospective Student Support Coach
Schedule Time to Talk

Program Details

$705 per credit
Degree Awarded
Master of Natural Resources Stewardship (M.N.R.S.)
Time Frame
May vary based on intensity of study and previous coursework
Admission Reqs.
  • A bachelor's degree from regionally accredited institution
  • 3.0 GPA on all undergraduate coursework

Application Dates

Fall semester
May 31
Spring semester
September 15

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