Environment and Society - MS, PhD

S.J. & Jessie E. Quinney College of Natural Resources

About This Degree

The human dimensions of ecosystem science and management program was created in response to the growing demand for professionals with the ability to analyze human and biophysical aspects of ecosystems and an ability to evaluate policies and decisions that encourage sustainability.

Formed in 2002, the Department of Environment and Society is the first of its kind in a college of natural resources in this country and has served as a model for the development of similar departments at other institutions of higher learning.

What You Will Learn

The curriculum has its foundations in social science, with infusions of ecology and natural resource management, so that students may learn how to help individuals and organizations operate sustainably and minimize their environmental footprints.

Students in the program learn to describe how human activities interconnect with the natural environments where they occur, explore options for reducing society’s impacts on the natural world, and then help turn those findings into real changes in policy, planning, land management, and human behavior. Students are also able to study topics that fit their specific research and career goals such as: environmental communication and education, sustainability, behavioral science, policy analysis, human impacts on the environment, land and resource management, conflict negotiation, and more.


Climate Adaptation Science (Environment & Society MS & PhD):

The Climate Adaptation Science specialization provides students with experiences in actionable science through internship and research experiences. Program includes interdisciplinary research to identify adaptive responses to changing climate extremes and two-part internships with agency, NGO, and industry partners. In a first internship, students contribute to projects and learn the workplace cultures and science needs of the host. The internship experiences inform interdisciplinary climate adaptation research by student teams. In a second internship, students share science results and tools with the host organization and help put that science into action.


MS: Logan (Main Campus)

PhD: Logan (Main Campus)

Career And Outcomes

Career Opportunities

Graduates have a broad education in environment and society issues that qualify them to work in the following areas:

  • Environmental policy experts
  • Outreach specialists
  • Interpretive specialists
  • Adult  and non-formal educators
  • Extension professionals
  • Natural resource planners and environmental impact specialists
  • Advocates and lobbyists for nonprofit groups or industry

Job Outlook


Becky Hirst

Environment and Society Staff Assistant
Email: becky.hirst@usu.edu
Office: NR 201
Phone: (435) 797-3781


Admission Requirements

Applicants from various undergraduate backgrounds may be considered. Depending on the student’s desired area of research and previous background, certain prerequisite courses may be required.

To be accepted to the program, it is recommended that applicants first contact a specific faculty member with whom they are interested in working. If the faculty member is accepting graduate students and agrees to work with the student, the student can then apply by completing the following application requirements:

Application Requirements:

  • Complete the online application
  • Pay the $55 application fee
  • Have a 3.2 or higher GPA on your last 60 semester or 90 quarter credits
  • Provide transcripts of all college/university credits
  • Provide three contacts for letters of recommendation

International students have additional admissions requirements.


The department has the following deadline:

  • Fall semester – February 15
  • The degree programs in the Department of Environment and Society have rolling admission, meaning the department will continue to consider and accept applications until the program is full. The time it takes to process an application is primarily dependent on the speed with which the School of Graduate Studies receives letters of recommendation, transcripts, and test scores. For most students, this process may take six to eight weeks. Applicants should plan accordingly.

Program Requirements

Students must prepare and submit an article or other written product for publication by the time they graduate.

PhD Qualifying Exams:

PhD students must pass a comprehensive exam after completing their coursework and before submitting their dissertation. The exam will have a written and an oral component based on the student’s area of research.

Plan Options

Students can receive the MS by pursuing one of two options:

  • In the Plan A option, students complete graduate-level coursework and must write a research-based thesis.
  • In the Plan B option, students complete the same graduate-level coursework but must produce a non-research project that reflects equivalent scholarship standards as a thesis.

Financial Aid

The Department of Environment and Society provides funding for most of its graduate students through research assistantships, available through professors having contracts, grants, or other awards.

A variety of funding opportunities are available on the graduate school website.

Take The Next Step

You May Also Be Interested In

Environmental Planning

Prepare for a career helping communities with growth and development in a unique program that focuses on large-scale planning of entire geographic regions.

Geographic Information Science (GIS)

Develop skills and experience applying industry standard GIS and remote sensing tools to natural resource issues.


Earn a degree in geography as you study a wide range of issues like land use, rural development, map making, the social aspects of natural resource management, and more.

Master of Natural Resources

Earn a master’s as a working professional as you take courses to help you become a manager and decision maker in the natural resources field.