Academic Programs


Utah State University was the first university in the country to offer an academic course on managing outdoor recreation opportunities. Since our first classes were offered in the 1930s, USU has trained professionals who go on to careers with federal and state land management agencies, city and county governments, non-profit organizations, and private outfitting and guiding companies.

Undergraduate and graduate students working out of the Institute are equipped with the knowledge and skills to manage public and private lands for the sustainable supply of high-quality outdoor recreation experiences. Students learn how to monitor visitor use in outdoor recreation settings, understand the ecological impacts of outdoor recreation use, understand how large-scale environmental changes influence outdoor recreation participation, and develop theoretically-grounded communication strategies focused on achieving conservation outcomes.

Degrees Offered Through the Department of Environment and Society


Recreation Resource Management (BS, MS)

Outdoor recreation plays a critical role in how society interacts with ecological systems. This perspective is reflected in our diverse array of undergraduate and graduate courses and ongoing research projects. Students will become familiar with a variety of resource management issues and proficient in the research methods and statistical analyses that can be used to address those issues. Broadly, our students focus on the behavioral, psychological, and social aspects of outdoor recreation.


Environment and Society (MS, PhD)

The Environment and Society curriculum produces students who are able to integrate human and biophysical aspects of ecosystems, and better analyze policies and decisions that encourage both community and ecosystem sustainability. The Environment and Society degrees will train students for professional positions with local, state, national, and international resource management agencies, private consulting and environmental analysis firms, and non-governmental environmental organizations.


Ecology (MS, PhD)

Ecology is increasingly interdisciplinary, and ecologists have diverse training backgrounds. The Ecology program at Utah State University includes affiliated faculty from 11 departments in 5 colleges and fellow students with many different interests. The Ecology curriculum is research-based and includes a common but flexible core of seminars and courses, along with specific departmental degree requirements and a research thesis or dissertation.