Entrance & Degree Requirements

Entrance Requirements to Graduate Program

Graduate Status

To qualify for admission to the Natural Resource Sciences graduate program, you must meet the following requirements:

  1. A bachelor’s degree (for the MS) or graduate degree (for the PhD) in Natural Resources or related field. You must demonstrate experience, knowledge, and course work relevant to your intended field of study, which could include: physical and biological sciences; humans as components of natural resource systems; and natural/human resource information gathering and synthesis.
  2. A minimum GPA of 3.0 (on a 4 point system).
  3. GRE scores with the minimum recommended scores listed below (note: the GRE must be taken within the past 5 years). GRE Test Centers and Dates
    • Verbal: 153
    • Quantitative: 149
    • Written: 4.0
  4. For international applicants for whom English is not the first language, the TOEFL or IELTS exam is required, with a minimum score of:
    • 550 paper-based
    • 213 computer-based
    • 79 web-based
    • 6.5 on IELTS

If you do not meet all of the above requirements, you may be admitted with provisional status.

How to Apply

Follow these steps to help apply to the Natural Resource Sciences program at SNR.

Degree Requirements for Graduate Degrees

Master of Science in Natural Resource Sciences

The School of Natural Resources grants MS degrees in Natural Resource Sciences primarily under Option I (thesis option). However, Option II programs are permitted under special circumstances and are considered terminal degrees designed for those not planning to pursue a PhD. Once admitted to Candidacy by filing a Memorandum of Courses, you may not change options.


The following credit hours must be met:

Option I (Thesis):

  • 30 total graduate credit hours
  • 15 in major credit hours (including thesis)
  • 20-24 total course work
  • 6-10 hours of thesis work
  • 8 hours of Grad-only courses (without 400 or lower counterpart)
  • Optional minor
  • Once admitted to Candidacy by filing a Memorandum of Courses, you may not change options

Additionally, Option I (thesis) graduate students are required to present two seminars: A research prospectus seminar that should be presented either late in your first semester or early in your second semester of residency. You are also required to give a presentation of your final research results before your final oral exam.

Option II (Non-thesis, terminal degree)

  • 36 total graduate credit hours
  • 15 in major credit hours (including thesis)
  • 12 hours of Grad-only courses (without 400 or lower counterpart)
  • No thesis; a research paper is required
  • One or two minors (at least 9 credit hours)
  • Once admitted to Candidacy by filing a Memorandum of Courses, you may not change options

Option II students are required to give one seminar during their program. The content of this seminar will be decided upon through consultations with your major advisor and your advisory committee; however, it should generally relate to your research paper.


The School holds regular departmental and special seminars to which all graduate students are expected to attend. These seminars are presented by students and faculty in the School, by faculty in other departments, and by visiting scholars from other universities or agencies.

Scholastic Grade Requirements

Scholastic Grade Requirements are set by UNL Graduate Studies and are described here.


Comprehensive Examination

  • Optional
  • Covers the student's approved program of study
  • Taken approximately 10 months before graduation, typically during the semester prior to graduation
  • Administered by the advisor, as directed by the student's committee

Final oral examination (Final Defense) of the Thesis (Option I)

  • Conducted in the semester of graduation
  • Consists of two parts, generally held on the same day:
    • a seminar on the thesis topic (described above)
    • a formal oral examination
  • Thesis examinations are open to all Graduate Faculty; active participation in the examination process (other than at the seminar) is at the discretion of the advisor and the student's advisory committee.

Final oral examination (Option II)

  • Conducted in the semester of graduation

Doctorate of Philosophy in Natural Resource Sciences

PhD candidates in Natural Resource Sciences must:

  • Complete 90 semester hours of graduate credit (including a dissertation); previous credit earned during the completion of a master’s degree may be counted towards this total if approved by your graduate advisor. Scholastic Grade Requirements are set by UNL Graduate Studies and are described here.
  • Write a dissertation
  • Pass written and oral comprehensive exams
  • Demonstrate proficiency in one research tool
  • Present two formal seminar presentations – one generally covering the topic of your research prospectus, the other discussing your final research results.

Completing a program for the PhD degree normally requires a minimum of three full years of graduate study. The time limit for finishing the PhD degree is eight years from the time of filing your program of studies in the graduate studies office.

For more information about UNL’s PhD requirements, please see the University’s bulletin.

Minor Options in Natural Resource Sciences

A minor in Natural Resource Sciences consists of at least 9 graduate credit hours for the Master of Science program and 15 hours for the Doctorate of Philosophy program.

Questions ????

If you have particular questions about our graduate programs, we welcome you to contact:

Patty Swanson

Patty Swanson

SNR Graduate Admissions Coordinator

Location icon229D Hardin Hall
3310 Holdrege Street
Lincoln NE 68583-0982

phone icon 402-472-5355

mail icon pswanson2@unl.edu