Natural Resources M.S. (Ithaca)

Field of Study

Natural Resources and the Environment

Program Description

A student who wants to undertake a one to two year research project to enhance their professional credentials or “test the waters” for the longer Ph.D. should apply for the M.S. degree. MS students generally conduct a research project after two semesters of classes and complete a research thesis within two to three years. After completing their degree, they commonly take jobs in the nonprofit or government sector or go on for a Ph.D.

Individual mentoring by faculty is fundamental to our philosophy of individualized graduate education and the success of our students. There are no course requirements other than those agreed to with your advisor and other members of your graduate advisory committee. For a student to be considered for admission, a faculty member must be willing to supervise and ensure funding for the prospective student. Therefore, you must correspond with and obtain sponsorship from a faculty advisor before applying. 

If you have questions about application procedures, please review the NRE Field Manual. If you have questions regarding your application status, contact the Graduate Field Assistant, at 

Contact Information

Phone: 1+ 607 255-2809

321 Fernow Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY  14853

Concentrations by Subject

  • applied ecology
  • community-based natural resources management
  • conservation biology
  • ecosystem biology and biogeochemistry
  • fishery and aquatic science
  • forest science
  • human dimensions of natural resources management
  • policy and institutional analysis
  • program development and evaluation
  • quantitative ecology
  • risk analysis and management
  • wildlife science


Note that all MS and PhD students need to have a funding plan in place prior to being admitted. This is generally a combination of fellowships that the student has been awarded before admission (e.g., NSF, Fulbright), fellowships awarded by the university, research assistantships awarded by their graduate advisor, and teaching assistantships. This graduate student support covers tuition, stipend, and health insurance for five years for PhD students and two years for MS students. 

Application Requirements and Deadlines

Application Deadlines:

The Natural Resources and Environment graduate field has a rolling admissions policy and will accept applications through March 2025. Students wishing to enter during January 2025 should apply by November 1. 

To be considered for Cornell Graduate Fellowships and other University-sponsored fellowships Ph.D. applicants should apply by December 1st.  Most decisions regarding admission and associated Cornell Fellowships are made in January.

Requirements Summary:

  • All Graduate School Requirements, including the English Language Proficiency Requirement for all applicants
  • Three letters of recommendations
  • A faculty member must sponsor your application for review by the Admissions Committee. Therefore, it is essential that you correspond with and obtain sponsorship from a faculty advisor during the application process. If you are not able to gain sponsorship from a faculty advisor, it is unlikely you will be admitted.

Learning Outcomes

Candidates for an M.S. degree in Natural Resources and the Environment demonstrate mastery of knowledge in an environmental, natural resources, and/or climate field and the ability to conduct research in the field.  

  • Demonstrate broad knowledge of the intersection between biophysical and social sciences in addressing environmental, natural resources, and climate problems, and in-depth knowledge related to one’s research topic.
  • Make an original research contribution that contributes to environmental or natural resource management practice.
  • Demonstrate research skills.
    • Conduct observational, ethnographic, experimental, modeling, spatial analysis, and/or other methods required for one’s MS research.
    • Interpret and evaluate research findings using rigorous analytical techniques.
    • Communicate research findings through oral presentations and written publications.
  • Develop teaching and professional skills.
    • Use traditional and cutting-edge educational approaches in helping others understand environmental, natural resources, and climate science and related issues.  
    • Participate in and contribute to Field activities through the department seminar, Graduate Student Association activities and leadership positions, department DEI Council, and/or service days. 
  • Apply research and other knowledge to addressing environmental problems.
    • Collaborate with research partners and stakeholders to explore how one’s research can be applied to addressing environmental problems.
    • Participate in outreach, student clubs, and other activities that involve sharing one’s knowledge with the public.