University of Montana Catalog 2023-2024

Resource Conservation M.S. - International Conservation and Development

International Conservation and Development (ICD) is a concentration within the M.S. in Resource Conservation that addresses the ecological and social aspects of environmental change, biodiversity conservation, and rural development.  ICD allows students to pursue independent conservation and development projects through international professional field assignments. The ICD core curriculum and overseas experience integrate biophysical and social dimensions of land and resource management in the context economic development and social justice. Defining features of ICD include:

  • Opportunity to combine graduate coursework with international field research;
  • Flexibility to identify and develop independent projects;
  • Committed, interdisciplinary faculty
  • An integrated core curriculum;
  • Close collaboration among a cohort of graduate students;
  • The M.S. in Resource Conservation with a concentration in International Conservation and Development

ICD students have addressed a wide range of issues around the world, including protected area management in Bhutan, community conservation in Belize, watershed management in Nicaragua, non-timber forest products management in Ethiopia, agroforestry in Zambia, reduced impact logging in Bolivia, and wildlife conservation in Mongolia. Students utilize a variety of approaches and generate diverse products based on their fieldwork, including extension education materials, field guides and peer-reviewed publications. 74 students have completed ICD studies, and program graduates are employed by international and domestic organizations in both the public and private sectors, including Conservation International, WOOF, USAID, the US Forest Service, and international consulting firms, while others have completed doctoral studies and are now university faculty members.

Master of Science - Resource Conservation; International Conservation and Development Concentration

Degree Specific Credits: 30-36 (professional paper option: 30 credits; thesis option: 30 credits; non-thesis option: 36 credits)

Required Cumulative GPA: 3.0

The ICD concentration involves completion of a core curriculum, additional coursework in an area of academic and professional interest, and completion of an international assignment with an international conservation and development organization or the US Peace Corps.

Specialized coursework is available within the College of Forestry and Conservation in broad disciplines of protected area management, environmental sciences, forest management, watershed management, wildlife biology, range management, recreation management, and remote sensing/geographic information systems. In addition, students can complete relevant coursework in any department or program at UM, including Anthropology, Biological Sciences, Conflict Resolution, Environmental Studies, Geography, and Sociology.


  • At least 30 graduate semester credits. Specific courses determined by the student’s graduate committee.
  • At least 20 credits in coursework (not including thesis or research credits), with at least half (minimum 10 credits) of the 20 coursework credits at the 500-level or above. 400-level courses used to fulfil this requirement must be approved for graduate credit.
  • At least 20 credits (including coursework, research, and thesis credits) must be taken within the major discipline.
  • A maximum of 10 credits of research and/or thesis.
NRSM 571International Conservation & Development3
NRSM 575Environment & Development3
Graduatuate Research Methods (quantitative or qualitative)3
1 credit of Graduate Seminar per semester
Graduate Seminar
Conservation and Social Science Seminar
Graduate Seminar in Wildlife Biology
A graduate-level statistics course (or comparable analytical course
  • Thesis or Professional Paper Options:
    • The thesis option includes:
      • A formal research proposal presenting the conceptual and empirical framework of the research.
      • A thesis – written thesis, seminar, and defense. 
    • The professional paper option includes:
      • A formal project proposal presenting the conceptual and empirical framework of the professional paper.
      • A professional paper – written paper, seminar, and defense.