Conservation Agriculture Specialization

Conservation Agriculture specialization is a non-thesis, interdisciplinary program available for University of Nebraska Masters of Applied Science (MAS) students. The specialization works synergistically with the MAS program to provide an educational experience for students who need post-baccalaureate systems-based training related to global models of ecosystem design, ecosystem services, and soil, water, and biodiversity conservation in the context of highly productive agricultural systems. If you wish to distinguish yourself in the workforce with an advanced degree, the Conservation Agriculture specialization may be for you.

Note, some courses are available online but this specialization is primarily available to residential students only.

Learning Objectives

  • Describe and apply physical science, ecological and natural science, social, legal, and economic principles to the design and management of natural resource systems used to produce food.
  • Compare and contrast global models designed to promote conservation of natural resources, agricultural system sustainability and resilience, and productivity.
  • Develop decision-making frameworks and leadership plans for implementation of systems-science based, integrated conservation strategies in agricultural systems.

Career Outlook

With increasing global population and food production, the demand for the development, planning, and application of land conservation practices has and will continue to increase to meet production needs while enhancing biodiversity and natural biological processes to aid in increased water and nutrient use efficiency to improve and sustain crop production.

According to statistics provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, current production and market indicators suggest that the sustainable agriculture industry will continue to experience substantial growth).

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in fields supported by a degree in Conservation Agriculture such as environmental science (8% growth), conservation science (3%), and environmental planning (11%) will experience growth in the next 10 years.

Why choose the MAS program?

The program offers:

  • A professional degree in agricultural science and natural resources at the master’s level
  • Flexibility that allows you to design an area of study that addresses your educational goals
  • Online courses allowing you to earn the degree remotely

As a college-wide degree program, there is flexibility in the selection of course work to create a personalized program built around the specialization. You will work with an advisor and examining committee to customize a program of study best fitting your educational objective(s). The degree project is intended for you to gain immediate value to apply to your workplace or for career advancement.

Admission and Requirements

Students will select an adviser with expertise in the sciences of natural resources, agriculture, or biological systems engineering, and student will be accepted into the MAS program.

Student will fulfill the requirements of the MAS program in CASNR:

  • 30 credit hours required for the MAS degree
    • 15 credit hours must be in the major (area of concentration)
    • 15 credits of graduate-only coursework
  • The 18 credit hours required by the MAS degree will be fulfilled through the Conservation Agriculture specialization (see Course Requirements below).
  • A secondary emphasis of 9 credit hours required by the MAS program.
  • The credit hours required by the MAS degree will be fulfilled through the Conservation Agriculture specialization (see Course Requirements below).
  • A secondary emphasis or minor of 9 credit hours required by the MAS program.
  • A project that integrates conservation and agriculture.
  • Other MAS program requirements for comprehensive exams and final examination over the Degree Project apply to this specialization.
Option B
  • Minimum 30 credit hours
  • No thesis required.
  • 15 credit hours must be in the major (area of concentration)
  • 15 credit hours must be graduate-only courses
  • May include a minor of at least 9 credit hours

Course Requirements:

  • Agroecology (AGRO 835; 3 credits) online section

Select one of the following human dimensions courses: (3 credits)

  • Environmental Leadership (NRES 813) online section
  • Human Dimensions of Natural Resource Management (NRES 829)
  • Human Dimensions of Climate Change (NRES 832) online section

Select TWO of the following environmental design or environmental management courses: (6 credits)

  • Cover Crops in Agroecosystems (AGRO 825)
  • Great Plains Ecosystem (AGRO 840)
  • Animal Waste Management (AGEN 841)
  • Watershed Management in Grasslands (AGRO 849)
  • Grazing Ecology and Management (AGRO 852)
  • Soil Microbial Ecology (AGRO 860)
  • Water Quality Strategy (AGRO 875)
  • Urbanization of Rural Landscapes (AGRO 889)
  • Pollution Prevention: Principles and Practices (BSEN 822)
  • Wetlands (BSEN/NRES 868)
  • Biological Control of Pests (ENTO 813)
  • IPM in Sensitive Environments (ENTO 837) online section
  • Landscape Ecology (NRES 810)
  • Environmental Leadership (NRES 813) online section
  • Human Dimensions of Natural Resource Management (NRES 829)
  • Natural Resource Systems (NRES 814)online section
  • Agroforestry Systems in Sustainable Agriculture (NRES 817)
  • Invasive Plants (NRES 826)
  • Wildlife Management Techniques(NRES 833)
  • Adaptive Natural Resource Management (NRES 837)
  • Grassland Conservation: Planning and Management (NRES 838)
  • Green Space and Urban Forest Management (NRES 857)
  • Conservation Biology (NRES 862)
  • Lake and Reservoir Restoration (NRES 870)
  • Managed Aquatic Systems (NRES 965)
  • Soil Carbon and Nitrogen Dynamics (SOIL 985)
  • GPIDEA: Rangeland Resources Watershed Management online section
  • GPIDEA: Grazing Ecology and Management online section
  • GPIDEA: Community and Natural Resource Management online section

Complete a project on a topic that integrates conservation and agriculture:

  • Master of Applied Science Project (NRES/AGRI/AGRO 897; 3 credits)

The secondary area of emphasis includes electives (and minor if Option B) - 15 credits

For more information or questions contact:

Service you expect from a leading University

  • Access the same student services available to on-campus students
  • An academic adviser will guide you along your journey
  • Career services are available when you are ready to take your next step


  • Combine a number of disciplines to create a unique degree
  • Choose more than 50% of the courses you take as electives
  • Complete coursework during the time of day that works best for you within a select timeframe

Quality learning experience

  • The University of Nebraska has offered distance education courses for more than 100 years
  • Interact with faculty and students through e-mail, discussion forums and chat groups
  • Direct access to world-class faculty – researchers who are experts in their fields or practitioners with real-world experience

To be accepted to this program

  1. A bachelor's degree
    Degree should be in the life sciences, education or an undergraduate degree (or higher) in a related area.
  2. Taken the TOEFL or IELTS
    (Only required if English is not your native language)
  3. A written personal statement
    Submit a letter of intent outlining the following: Explain why you want to pursue a Master of Applied Science degree. Elucidate how obtaining this degree will help your personal, career, and/or professional goals. Describe what you are you doing now that relates to this degree. Describe your level of commitment to successful completion of the degree.
  4. 3 letters of recommendation
  5. Official/Unofficial transcripts from all previous schools
NOTE: If you reside in state(s) KY, please contact a program adviser before applying.

Application Deadlines

Rolling admissions. Application review will begin upon receipt of all required application materials.

Questions? Please Contact

Matthew Douglass

Assistant Professor of Practice / Chair, Master of Applied Science Graduate Committee

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