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Recreation Resource Management: MS

Recreation Resource Management

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. 

The recreation resource management program is a professional degree aimed at students interested in managing outdoor recreation settings, such as public forests and rangelands, state and national parks, and wilderness areas. An understanding of both the land itself and the people who visit these areas is critical in recreation professionals. The goal of the program is to train people to manage public land to provide high-quality experiences for visitors while protecting and preserving the land at the same time.

Recreation resource management graduates are familiar with a variety of land and water management issues, are grounded in social science, and are familiar with research methods and statistical analyses. USU is located within half a day’s drive of six national parks, putting students in close proximity with field study opportunities at some of the most beautiful and most commonly visited recreation sites in the world.

Graduates in recreation resource management can pursue the following careers:

  • Environmental interpreters
  • Recreation planners
  • Park rangers
  • Monitors of environmental quality
  • Tourism management and development
  • Environmental visitor education
  • Sustainability in nature-based tourism
  • Trail crew supervisors
  • Ski area employees
  • Visitor center directors
  • Wilderness rangers

Admission Requirements

Applicants from various undergraduate backgrounds may be considered. Depending on the student’s desired area of research, 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
  • Score at or above the 40th percentile on in the GRE
  • 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.

Admission Deadlines

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.

Master's Degree Plan Option(s)

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 thesis.
  • The Plan B option requires the production of a paper or creative work of art and is expected to reflect equivalent scholarship standards as a thesis.

Financial Assistance

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.

Mark Brunson, PhD, Oregon State University
Professor, director of the NREE program
Area: Environmental knowledge, attitudes, and behavior
Office: NR 216
Phone: (435) 797-2458

Steven Burr, PhD, Pennsylvania State University
Associate Professor
Area: Outdoor recreation and nature-based tourism
Office: BNR 289
Phone: (435) 797-7094

Layne Coppock, PhD, Colorado State University
Area: Range ecology and management, international development, systems analysis
Office: NR 140
Phone: (435) 797-1262

Joanna Endter-Wada, PhD, University of California – Irvine
Area: Natural resource and environmental policy, interdisciplinary social sciences, water management and planning
Office: BNR 270 A
Phone: (435) 797-2487

Zhao Ma, PhD, University of Minnesota
Assistant Professor
Area: Natural resources and environmental policy
Office: NR 138
Phone: (435) 797-9180

Christopher Monz, PhD, Colorado State University
Assistant Professor
Area: Recreation ecology, outdoor recreation, wilderness management
Office: NR 318
Phone: (435) 797-2773

Claudia Radel, PhD, Clark University
Assistant Professor
Area: Human-environment geography, cultural/political ecology, feminist geography
Office: NR 232
Phone: (435) 797-0516

Charles Romesburg, PhD, University of Pittsburgh
Area: Environmental decision making, natural resource research methods and survey sampling, bioethics
Office: NR 316
Phone: (435) 797-2418

Robert Schmidt, PhD, University of California – Davis
Associate Professor
Area: Wildlife policy and human dimensions, wildlife damage management
Office: NR 348
Phone: (435) 797-2536

Joseph Tainter, PhD, Northwestern University
Area: Anthropology, evolution of complexity, conflict, sustainability
Office: NR 238
Phone: (435) 797-0842

Richard Toth, MLA, Harvard University
Area: Bioregional planning, water resources management
Office: NR 336
Phone: (435) 797-0694

Professional Organizations, Honor Societies, and Clubs

International Association for Society and Natural Resources: IASNR is an interdisciplinary professional association open to individuals who bring a variety of social science and natural science backgrounds to bear on research pertaining to the environment and natural resource issues.

National Recreation and Park Association: NRPA is the leading advocacy organization dedicated to the advancement of public parks and recreation opportunities.

Labs, Centers, Research

Institute for Outdoor Recreation and Tourism: The IORT conducts a program of research to improve understanding of the relationships between outdoor recreation and tourism, natural resources management, community economic vitality, and quality of life.

S.J. and Jessie E. Quinney Natural Resources Research Library: The Quinney Library maintains collections of materials pertaining to natural resources and the environment in a number of formats that support the programs of study and research in the College of Natural Resources and several partnering centers. The library has more than 60,000 items, both print and electronic, as well as videos, images, and more.



Academic Advising

Becky Hirst
Environment and Society Staff Assistant
Office: NR 201
Phone: (435) 797-3781

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