College of Natural Resources

Dennis Becker, Dean; Eva Strand, Associate Dean; (202 College of Natural Resources Bldg.; 208-885-5779).

The College of Natural Resources (CNR) began by offering a forestry degree in 1909. Since then, the college has expanded to offer degrees in forest & sustainable products (1914), rangeland ecology and management (1917), wildlife sciences (1942), fishery sciences (1951), ecology & ecosystems science (1999), conservation biology (1999), fire ecology and management (2007), forest nursery management & technology (2022), forest operations and technology (2022), and wildland fuel and fire technology.  

CNR prepares our students to be competent, responsible, and fulfilled individuals ready for careers in natural resources science and management across the world. Our curriculum combines physical, biological, and social sciences with essential humanities skills to empower students to make informed natural resource management decisions. We value experiential training in Idaho’s real-life, outdoor “classrooms” as we equip new generations to lead the way to a sustainable future.


The college’s departments are Fish and Wildlife Sciences; Forest, Rangeland and Fire Sciences; and Natural Resources and Society. Although these departments are separate entities, they integrate teaching, research, and service missions and are led by a shared philosophy of interdisciplinary resource management. Often, faculty hold joint appointments in more than one department, and degree programs include courses from multiple departments. 


The Bachelor of Science (B.S.) is offered in conservation biology, ecology and ecosystem science, environmental science, fire ecology and management, fishery sciences, forest and sustainable products, forestry, natural resource enterprise management, rangeland ecology and management, and wildlife sciences. 

The Associate of Science (A.S.) is offered in forest nursery management and technology, forest operations and technology, and wildland fuel and fire technology. 

Undergraduate minors include aquaculture, ecology, environmental communication, fire ecology and management, fishery resources, forest operations, forest resources, natural resource conservation, rangeland ecology and management, renewable materials, and wildlife resources. 

Graduate degrees include Master of Natural Resources (M.N.R.), Master of Science (M.S.) in natural resources, Master of Science (M.S., thesis and nonthesis options) in environmental science, joint Master of Science (M.S.) in environmental science and Juris Doctorate (J.D.), Ph.D. in environmental science, and Ph.D. in natural resources.  

Location Advantages

From ponderosa pines in southern Idaho to mixed coniferous forest in northern Idaho, the state’s forests and rangelands are an ideal place to learn about natural resources. Rangelands include sagebrush-grass and bunchgrass zones, and hundreds of lakes, streams, and boundless wilderness areas provide habitat for wildlife and fish as well as offering opportunities for wildland recreation. In Idaho, wood products, cattle, sheep, wildlife of all species, world renowned game fish, and water are just a few of the resources that enhance students’ learning experiences.  


Idaho's 37 million acres of public forest and range lands constitute a vast natural laboratory for students to experience "hands-on" training for logging, surveying, planting, and working in controlled burning crews. 

The Frank Pitkin Forest Nursery in Moscow consists of 40 acres and three greenhouses that produce 700,000 seedlings annually for student training and research purposes. The University of Idaho Experimental Forest (UIEF), located 25 miles from the Moscow campus, includes over 8,000 acres of forest lands managed by the College. 

Other field facilities are the McCall Field Campus located on Payette Lake in the mountains of west-central Idaho, the Taylor Wilderness Research Station in the heart of the Frank Church River-of-No-Return Wilderness, and the Rinker Rock Creek Ranch near Hailey, Idaho. 

On campus, the natural resources building incorporates classrooms, laboratories, scientific equipment, plant and animal collections, computer access, and other support functions into an ideal environment for natural resources education and research. The Shattuck Arboretum, with over 60 species of trees, also provides an outdoor classroom for studies in dendrology. 

Idaho Forest, Wildlife and Range Experiment Station

Closely tied with the college’s graduate programs, the Experiment Station’s staff consist of college faculty, full-time research associates and technicians, and graduate student appointees. Staff conduct interdisciplinary research on a wide variety of renewable natural resource management topics in forestry, forest products, range, resource-based recreation, resource-based tourism, wildlife, and fisheries. Funds are provided by the university, Idaho state departments, and federal, state and private grants.  


General Admission

For a statement of undergraduate and graduate admission requirements, see the admissions portion of the catalog.

Transfer Students 

Students who complete a portion of their undergraduate studies elsewhere should follow the U of I curricula for their chosen department and degree as closely as possible. Students whose program does not align closely or who transfer after sophomore year may not be able to graduate in four years. Correspondence with the dean of the college should be initiated at least three months before the student’s planned enrollment date. 

Undergraduate Program 

The first two years provide students with foundational skills in the biological, physical, and social sciences as well as written and oral communication. The college’s integrated approach incorporates a common 8-credit set of core courses, including Exploring Natural Resources; Principles of Ecology; and Society and Natural Resources. The curricula of each degree program provide flexibility and individuality by offering many courses and opportunities in common with other programs, all while ensuring that specific professional and educational requirements are met. 

Graduate Program

Each department offers research-based thesis and non-thesis tracks. Research is supported by specialized facilities and is organized through the Idaho Forest, Wildlife and Range Experiment Station. Research is also supported by the Idaho Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and various state, federal, and private organizations. Assistantships and fellowships are available to assist students. More information on available specializations and current projects can be obtained by contacting the College of Natural Resources or the dean of the College of Graduate Studies.  

Internships and Employment 

Students in conservation biology, ecology and ecosystem sciences, fishery sciences, and wildlife sciences complete either a senior thesis, senior project, or relevant summer employment as part of their degree requirements.