Master of Natural Resource Dev. (MNRD): Distance-based

The distance-based MNRD degree (non-thesis) is designed for working natural resource professionals who want graduate training in natural resources and environmental science with a management orientation. It aims to develop an understanding of the interrelationships among ecology, economics, policy and culture as factors that influence natural resource conservation and management.

The distance-based MNRD degree is offered through two departments: Ecosystem Science and Management (ESSM) and Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences (WFSC).

The research and academic programs in ESSM center on ecosystem science, ecosystem management, genetics and systematics, and spatial science. ESSM has a diverse faculty and active research programs in eco-hydrology of managed ecosystems, ecological restoration of terrestrial and wetland ecosystems, forest and rangeland ecology and management, genetics and genomics research within an ecosystem framework, global change ecology, human dimensions of ecosystem management, spatial science research focused on ecological and natural resource issues, and urban forestry and broader urban ecosystem issues.

WFSC similarly has a diverse faculty engaged in research from molecular genetics and evolutionary biology, to applied ecological studies of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems and their management. Research and academic programs in WFSC center on the biology, ecology and conservation of wild vertebrates (fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals), complementing the habitat- and vegetation-oriented programs of ESSM. In addition, WFSC's focus extends beyond the shoreline into the aquatic realm, both inland and marine.

Program objectives

Provide working or in-service natural resource professionals with:

  • additional academic training that supplements their understanding of the full range of considerations in natural resources conservation and management;
  • a rigorous graduate degree program that supplements job-skill requirements; and
  • a program delivery strategy that accommodates on-the-job obligations.

Admissions requirements

  • a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA
  • competitive GRE scores (> 50 percentile)
  • Admission decisions may also be influenced by consideration of research experiences or professional training and achievements beyond undergraduate study that demonstrate potential for success in a graduate program.

Application deadlines

  • for summer or fall semester admission: March 15
  • for spring semester admission: October 15

Application process

For more information please contact:

Department of Ecosystem Science and Management
Dr. Georgianne Moore, 979.845.3765,
Amanda Ray, 979.862.6470,

Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences
Dr. Delbert Gatlin, 979.847.9333,
Lindsay Hutchins, 979.845.5704,

Credit requirement

  • 36 credit hours, minimum
  • 24 hours normally will be from courses in your home department (ESSM or WFSC) and selected courses from other TAMU departments.
  • You may apply 6 unrestricted elective credits toward the degree.
  • You will earn up to 6 credits for a professional paper.
  • You may include up to 9 credits of upper-level undergraduate (300- or 400-level) courses.
  • Transfer credit: Up to 12 credit hours (of the required 36) for courses taken with a grade of B or better from another accredited U.S. institution may be considered for transfer credit. Any transfer work is subject to review and approval by your graduate advisory committee, department head and the Office of Graduate Studies.
  • Maintain a minimum 3.0 GPR on the degree plan and cumulatively, with no grade lower than C in any course on the degree plan.

Distance-based courses

All distance-based courses are offered online. Explore the list of online courses on the MNRD course offerings page.

Advisory committee

You will work with your advisor to form an advisory committee that consists of at least three members of the graduate faculty who represent your fields of study. The committee chair (i.e., your advisor) must be from the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, and at least one committee member must be from outside the department.

Student resources

As a distance student, you have access to many of the same resources available to on-campus students—library, writing center, career center, etc. Please refer to our student resources page for links to these services.

View more information on progress through degree

Degree plan

You will work with your advisor to develop a plan for the course work and other credits you will take, based on your academic needs. This is called the "degree plan." The degree plan also formally declares your degree objective and advisory committee membership. You must submit your degree plan to the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies for approval. This is done through the online document processing submission system.

DEADLINE: As an MNRD student in Ecosystem Science and Management you must submit your degree plan by the end of your second long semester.

Professional paper

You must prepare a professional paper in a relevant area of ecosystem science and management. This paper is formulated in consultation with your advisory committee and may be based on literature reviews, surveys and other sources.  See recent MNRD professional papers.

Final comprehensive examination

As a non-thesis student you are required to pass a final comprehensive examination administered by your advisory committee. The exam will be based on your formal coursework as well as the content of your professional paper. This exam may be written or oral or both.


A master's degree generally requires at least two years of full time work beyond a bachelor's degree.

Refer to the ESSM Graduate Programs Manual for a guide to key steps in your graduate program and key resources, student life and professional development opportunities.

View the Texas A&M Catalog page for the ESSM MNRD program

Contact Us

headshot copy.jpg

Amanda Ray
Academic Advisor for Graduate Programs

979.862.6470 |






Dr. Georgianne Moore
Associate Department Head for Graduate Programs

979.845.3765 |


Contact Us

We have moved! After a restructuring that occurred in January 2020, our department and the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences disbanded. From the restructuring, two new departments were formed. Visit the new departmental sites for up-to-date information. 

Learn More:
Ecology and Conservation Biology
Rangeland Wildlife and Fisheries Management

Advising for ESSM:
Advising for students in the legacy ESSM programs is now situated under AGLS Advising Center 7

Undergraduate Advising | Ann Pool
Graduate Advising | Amanda Ray

Department Resources

College of Ag and Life Sciences

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