The Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources

In the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources (RSENR), excitement for discovery and a commitment to life-long learning are central. Our emphasis on the integration of natural science, social science, and cultural and political perspectives reflects the interdisciplinary context in which ecosystem management, resource planning, and environmental concerns must be addressed. We believe that there is a strong interplay between teaching and scholarship and that each is vital to the other.

The Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources seeks to cultivate an appreciation and enhanced understanding of ecological and social processes and values aimed at maintaining the integrity of natural systems and achieving a sustainable human community. We pursue this goal by generating and broadly disseminating knowledge and by challenging students, colleagues, and citizens to acquire knowledge, skills, and values to become innovative, environmentally responsible, and accountable leaders.

The school is actively committed to diversity-biodiversity in natural communities and social-cultural diversity in human communities. Individual and professional responsibility, as well as scholastic excellence, are emphasized within the school’s supportive atmosphere. Faculty members are conscientious advisors, and students communicate frequently with them for guidance in clarifying educational, career, and personal goals. While these programs prepare students for a variety of positions in natural resources and the environment, graduates are also well prepared to pursue careers or advanced study in other professions.

The Office of the Dean of the school is located in the George D. Aiken Center for Natural Resources.

Aiken Scholars

High achieving, highly motivated first-year students admitted to RSENR may be invited to apply to be an Aiken Scholar. The Aiken Scholars program prepares students to become strong environmental leaders at the University of Vermont and in their future careers. Aiken Scholars live in the GreenHouse Residential Learning Community and participate in enrichment activities, such as the Aiken Scholars Seminar.

Office of Experiential Learning

The Office of Experiential Learning (OEL) helps RSENR students build skills and experience by providing a diversity of learning opportunities. Reflective career development, course work, and co-curricular activities are integrated to foster competencies that will make RSENR graduates highly competitive professionals and engaged, effective citizens.

The OEL takes a holistic approach to career preparation by supporting participation in community-based projects, internships, applied research, and career counseling. Course-based student development is facilitated through support of faculty and community partners as they create and implement community-based courses and research projects. At the heart of our work is a demonstrated commitment to student and faculty development and collaborative problem-solving between the school, the university, and the local, national, and international community.

The OEL works directly with the Community-University Partnerships and Service Learning office and the UVM Career Services office.

The curriculum in RSENR relies heavily on Vermont’s natural landscapes – its mountains, lakes, fields, and forests - to provide students hands-on experience studying ecology and ecosystem processes. In addition, RSENR offers a variety of intensive field courses during vacation breaks and summer session that provide students special opportunities to study outside of Vermont. Past field explorations have included: study of the wildlife of Florida or south Texas, exposure to the arid ecosystems and water resource issues in Israel, participation in environmental research in the Chesapeake Bay region, introduction to ecotourism and environmental interpretation in Costa Rica, experience with regional examples of sustainable forest management and practices, and the study of aquatic ecology in Lake Champlain from the deck of the Melosira, UVM’s research vessel.

Ecological Design CGS
Ecological Economics CGS
Natural Resources M.S.
Natural Resources Ph.D.
Natural Resources: Master of Environmental Law and Policy/Master of Science in Natural Resources (MELP/MSNR)

See the online Graduate Catalogue for more information

Degree Requirements

Students must be matriculated in the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources and in residence at the University of Vermont during the period in which they earn 30 of the last 45 credits applied toward the degree. Students must earn a cumulative grade-point average of 2.00 or above. Students must complete a program of study which includes:

  1. University Degree Requirements for Undergraduates
  2. RSENR Core Curriculum
  3. RSENR General Education Courses
  4. Major Requirements

Core Curriculum

The school’s core curriculum provides a common experience for all students. The innovative eight-course sequence creates an integrated foundation upon which the individual majors in the school are constructed. Core courses focus on the underlying fundamentals from which natural resources disciplines have evolved and the application of these fundamentals to problems or issues in the natural world and society. The core courses also promote development of thinking, communication, problem solving, and analytical skills. Faculty from all undergraduate programs teach in the core. The RSENR core curriculum represents knowledge, skills, and values that are central to the study of natural resources and the environment.

Eight courses are required (23 credits):

NR 001Natural Hist & Field Ecology4
NR 002Nature & Culture3
NR 006D1:Race & Culture in NR 12
NR 103Ecology, Ecosystems & Environ3
NR 104Social Proc & the Environment3
NR 205Ecosys Mgt:Integ Sci,Soc & Pol3
NR 206Env Prob Sol & Impact Assessmt4
NR 207D1: Power, Privilege & Envrnmt 11

 Internal and external transfer students to RSENR may take any 3-credit Category D1 course from the University Approved Diversity courses to substitute for NR 006 and NR 207, and any 3-credit Category D1 or D2 course to complete the University Diversity Requirement.

NR 001 and NR 002 provide an introduction to the study of natural resources and the environment from natural and social science standpoints, respectively. At the completion of these courses, students should:

  1. have a basic understanding of the school’s integrated approach to natural resources and the environment,
  2. be better prepared to make informed decisions about their academic majors, and
  3. be prepared to advance to an intermediate level of study in natural resources.

The intermediate courses in the sequence, NR 103 and NR 104, emphasize ecosystems and social systems, respectively. NR 205 and NR 206 focus directly on integrated and holistic management. In NR 205, students integrate natural and social science to understand environmental management principles and policies. In NR 206, the capstone course taken during their senior year, students are challenged to synthesize and apply the interdisciplinary knowledge, skills, and values they have learned to contemporary natural resources and environmental issues. NR 006 and NR 207 explore how social justice and environmental issues are intertwined, and help students become culturally competent in an increasingly diverse world.

General Education Courses

RSENR general education requirements are designed to enhance a student’s ability to assimilate and analyze information, think and communicate clearly, and respect multiple perspectives. These requirements are flexible in order to encourage creativity in meeting educational goals. All students must complete each of the following general education requirements1:

Writing and Information Literacy 2
ENGS 001Written Expression3
or ENGS 050 Expository Writing
or HCOL 085 Honors College First Year Sem
SPCH 011Effective Speaking2-3
or NR 021 Speaking and Listening
or CALS 183 Communication Methods
Race and Culture 3
NR 006D1:Race & Culture in NR2
NR 207D1: Power, Privilege & Envrnmt1
One additional course from the approved list of University Approved Diversity courses3
MATH 009College Algebra (or higher, but not MATH 017. Individual majors may specify a higher math requirement.)3
NR 140Applied Environ Statistics (Individual majors may be more restrictive)3-4
or STAT 111 Elements of Statistics
or STAT 141 Basic Statistical Methods
or STAT 211 Statistical Methods I
Self-Designed General Education Sequence
Each student defines a personal learning objective and selects at least nine credits from departments outside RSENR to meet that objective. This sequence of courses must be approved in advance. 49

With the exception of the third Race and Culture course chosen from the approved list of University Approved Diversity courses, no single course may be used to satisfy more than one of the above requirements.


This requirement also fulfills the University Writing and Information Literacy Requirement. In addition to ENGS 001, ENGS 050, and HCOL 085 students may use any other course approved to count for the University Requirement.


This requirement also fulfills the University Diversity Requirement. Internal and external transfer students to RSENR may take any 3-credit Category D1 course from the University Approved Diversity courses to substitute for NR 006 and NR 207, and any 3-credit Category D1 or D2 course to complete the University Diversity Requirement.


The Self-Designed General Education Sequence must be approved before completion of four semesters or 60 credits; the time-frame may be extended for transfer students.

Undecided Majors

Students interested in studying the environment and natural resources, but who wish to postpone their decision on a specific major, enroll in Undecided-Environment and Natural Resources.