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:

  • 36 credit hours required for the MAS degree
    • 12 credits of graduate-only coursework if an Option II (includes a minor)
    • 18 credits of graduate-only coursework if an Option 3 (no minor)
  • 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.
  • 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.

This can be accomplished through one of the two following options.

Option II
  • Minimum 36 cr, a major and one or two minors.
  • No thesis required.
  • Minor required, at least 9 cr.
  • At least 12 of the 36 cr must be in graduate-only courses.
Option III
  • Minimum 36 cr.
  • No thesis required.
  • No minor available.
  • At least 18 of the 36 cr must be in graduate-only courses.

Course Requirements:

  • Topics in Applied Ecology (NRES 801; 2 credits)
  • Water Resources Seminar (NRES/AGRO/WATS 884; 1 credit)
  • Human Dimensions of Natural Resource Management (NRES 829; 3 credits)

Select one of the following systems science courses: (3 credits)

  • Conservation Biology (NRES 862)
  • Agroecology (AGRO 835)
  • Great Plains Ecosystem (AGRO 840)
  • Natural Resource Systems (NRES 814)
  • Landscape Ecology (NRES 810)
  • Agroforestry Systems in Sustainable Agriculture (NRES 817)

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

  • Animal Waste Management (AGEN 841)
  • Watershed Management in Grasslands (AGRO 849)
  • Grazing Ecology and Management (AGRO 852)
  • Water Quality Strategy (AGRO 875)
  • Urbanization of Rural Landscapes (AGRO 889)
  • Pollution Prevention: Principles and Practices (BSEN 822)
  • Wetlands (BSEN/NRES 868)
  • 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)
  • Lake and Reservoir Restoration (NRES 870)
  • Managed Aquatic Systems (NRES 965)

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 II) - 18 credits

For more information or questions contact: