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Recreation Resource Management
Department of Environment and Society
S.J. and Jessie E. Quinney College of Natural Resources
Utah State University

The Department of Environment and Society (ENVS) in the S. J. and Jessie E. Quinney College of Natural Resources offers a M.S. degree in Recreation Resources Management for students interested in the management of outdoor recreation resources. The Department also offers a Ph.D. in Environment and Society for students interested to engage in advanced research addressing emerging challenges in facing parks and protected areas. These degrees prepare students for careers with state or federal agencies that manage outdoor recreation settings, or as scientists ready to enter academic, public, or private careers.

Outdoor recreation plays a critical role in how society interacts with ecological systems. This perspective is reflected in our diverse array of graduate courses and ongoing research projects. Graduate 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.

The M.S. degree requires a minimum of 30 credits beyond the baccalaureate and one of two thesis options. The Plan A option requires students to complete a thesis, demonstrating the ability to conduct high-quality credible  research. The Plan B option does not require a thesis; it is a terminal degree based largely on course work and a professional paper or project. The Ph.D. degree requires a minimum of 60 credit hours beyond the baccalaureate, a comprehensive written and oral examination, and a dissertation, demonstrating the ability to design and conduct independent research.

The Recreation Resources Management curriculum is flexible and designed to be tailored to each student’s individual interests and research projects. Students, in conjunction with their major professor and graduate committee, builds a specific program of study that meet their need. Typically, students take courses in outdoor recreation management as well as ecology, psychology, sociology, policy sciences, research methods, and statistics. 

The Department also offers graduate certificates in the National Environmental Policy Act (through the Natural Resources and Environmental Policy Program) and in Natural Resources and Environmental Education (through the Natural Resources and Environmental Education Program). Completion of these graduate certificates can augment a student’s preparedness for specific career interests.

Courses offered within the RRM graduate degree program include:

ENVS 6000—Theoretical Foundations in Human Dimensions of Natural Resources and the Environment

Focuses on balancing science and social values in ecosystem management and decision-making. Topics include environmental justice, communication and behavior change strategies, landscape perception and attitudes, sociology of resource-dependent communities, and conflict management. (Fall Semester; 3 credits)

ENVS 6130—Policy and Planning Aspects of Wildland Recreation

Examines the historical, legal, political, and economic bases for wildland recreation, and the relationship between outdoor recreation and natural resource-based tourism. Topics include: philosophies of natural resources management; policy formation and implementation; planning aspects, the federal land management agencies; wilderness; state recreation resources; outdoor recreation supply and demand, participation and trends; economic issues; and sustainable development. (Spring Semester; 3 credits)

ENVS 6400—Ecological Aspects of Wildland Recreation

Assesses current knowledge and knowledge gaps concerning impacts of wildland recreation on wildlife, plants, soil, and water resources and processes. Examines strategies for coexistence of recreation visitors and non-human ecosystem elements. (Offered every other Spring Semester; 3 credits)

ENVS 6500—Behavioral Aspects of Wildland Recreation

Social and psychological analysis of visitor behavior in wildland recreation settings. Sources of recreation management problems and practical and theoretical basis for management practices. (Fall Semester; 3 credits)

ENVS 6600—Advanced Natural Resources Interpretation

Examines the planning processes, techniques, and evaluation procedures for using information and education to influence human behavior and increase benefits to visitors in natural settings, and also focuses on the leadership of teams involved in producing interpretive plans and materials. (Fall Semester; 3 credits)

ENVS 6610—Foundations of Environmental Education

Covers teaching about natural resources and the environment, and using the environment and natural world to teach other subjects, with a strong emphasis on participation and on practicing teaching methods in both formal and non-formal settings (Spring Semesters; 3 credits)

ENVS 6580—Sustainable Nature-Based Tourism

Explores how the emerging concept of sustainable nature-based tourism fits into natural resource management by focusing on how nature-based tourism can benefit individuals, communities, society, economies, and the environment. (On-line; Fall Semester; 3 credits)

Proposed General Course of Study:

M.S. Degree


Required Courses: 8
Grad. Intro. Seminar (1) - ENvS 6840  
ENVS Colloquium (1) - ENVS 6800  
Theory (3) - Student & Committee Choice  
Methods/Analysis (3) - Student & Committee Choice  
Thesis/Project Research: 2-6
  Plan A Thesis (6), OR  
  Plan B Paper or Project (2-3)  
TOTAL Credits:  30 (min)


Dr. Wayne Freimund, Professor at Moab Campus

Dr. Chris Monz, Professor

Dr. Jordan Smith, Associate Professor

For further information on Graduate Study in Recreation Resources Management contact any of our faculty listed above or the Department of Environment and Society, Utah State University, 5215 Old Main Hill, Logan, Utah 84322-5215; Telephone (435) 797-1790;
ENVS Website at /envs-dev/