Master of Ecological Restoration

Our Program

The Master of Ecological Restoration (MoER) degree empowers students to jump start their career in ecological and watershed restoration. Our comprehensive program combines rigorous coursework, hands-on internships, and practical design exercises to equip graduates with the skills and knowledge needed to excel in the field of ecosystem restoration. A master’s degree has become the preferred entry point for aquatic ecosystem professionals, and our program offers the unique opportunity to earn a master’s in just one year.

By leveraging the research and teaching excellence of our esteemed faculty from WATS, QCNR, and USU, who are internationally recognized leaders in ecosystem restoration, the MoER program provides an applied educational experience. The carefully crafted curriculum and professional development opportunities give our graduates a competitive edge when pursuing careers in restoration and ecosystem management.

Admission Requirements

Admission Requirements

  • A bachelor's degree in natural resources, biology, ecology, geology or a closely related field with a GPA ≥3.0 on your last 60 semester credits
  • Three letters of recommendation (one from an academic source)
  • Statement of Purpose: Describe how your past experience and education have prepared you for the MoER program, and how the MoER program will help you meet your future professional goals (500 word limit).
  • Resume/CV
  • A writing sample (report from class or job, article, class essay)

Please contact Dominique Shore, or Patrick Belmont, if you have any questions about your eligibility.

Important Deadlines

Applications should be submitted by the following deadlines:

  • Fall Semester: July 1st
  • Spring Semester: October 1st


Tuition costs for graduate students are based on USU's tuition and fees table.

Course Requirements

Program participants are required to take a total of 30 credits. Twelve credits of courses that comprise the core curriculum of the program. The remaining 18 credits will be selected from the four blocks (Ecology, GIS and Remote Sensing, Quantitative Methods, Design) of elective credits. Elective credits require a minimum of two credits per block. Through advising, students will be encouraged to develop depth (e.g., ten credits in one block and two to three credits in each of the other blocks), but the electives are intended to be flexible so students can tailor their education to the topics and skill sets that will be most marketable for their specific job and career goals. Not all elective courses will be offered every year. 


Required Courses (10-11 Credits)

  • WATS 5620 - Introduction to Low-Tech Process-Based Restoration of Riverscapes  (1 credit)
  • WATS 5625 - Adaptive Management and Monitoring of Low-Tech Process-Based Restoration of Riverscapes (1 credit)
  • WATS 6240 - Graduate Internship/Co-op (4 credits)
  • WATS 6350 - Capstone Mentoring (1 credits)
  • WATS 6700 - Restoration Ecology (4 credits) OR
  • WATS 6310 - Wetland Ecology & Management (3 credits)


Elective Courses (19-20 Credits)

General elective courses are intended to be flexible so students can tailor their experience to the knowledge base and skill sets they need for their desired career path. Courses not found on this list can be used for elective credit upon approval by the Department Head. Not all electives are offered every year.

  • WATS 5200 - Fish Habitats (2 credits)
  • WATS 5310 - Ecology and Restoration of Wetland and Riparian Plants (3 credits)
  • WATS 6840 - Fluvial Hydraulics and Ecohydraulics (3 credits)
  • WATS 6540 - Ichthyology (4 credits)

  • AV 3560 - UAS Aerial Photography (3 credits)
  • NR 6920 - Python Programming for GIS (3 credits)
  • NR 6930 - Advanced GIS for Natural Resource Applications  (3 credits)
  • NR 6940 - Principles of Remote Sensing of Natural Resources  (3 credits)
  • NR 6950 - Geospatial Analysis (3 credits)

  • CEE 6110 - Hydroinformatics (3 credits)
  • CEE 6740 - Surface Water Quality Modeling (4 credits)
  • CEE 6930 - Visual Sensing Applications in the Natural and Built Environment (3 credits)
  • NR 6580 - Data Analysis and Programming for Natural Resource Managers  (3 credits)
  • WATS 6150 - Fluvial Geomorphology (3 credits)
  • WATS 6900 - Sediment Transport in Stream Assessment and Design  (1 credit)
  • WATS 6110 - Biogeochemistry: Tracking Environmental Processes and Change (3 credits)
  • WATS 6580 - Base R  (1 credit)
  • WILD 6900  Applied Bayesian Analysis of Ecological Data (3 credits)

  • WATS 5621 - Science and Case Studies of Low-Tech Process-Based Restoration  (1 credit)
  • WATS 5622 - Planning Low-Tech Process-Based Restoration (1 credit)
  • WATS 5623 - Designing Low-Tech Process-Based Restoration  (1 credit)
  • WATS 5624 - Implementing Low-Tech Process-Based Restoration  (1 credit)
  • LAEP 6100 - Regional Landscape Analysis and Planning (5 credits)
  • LAEP 6110 - Landscape Ecology for Planning (3 credits)

Job Shadowing & Internship

The goal of the MoER program's job shadowing and internship requirement is for students to graduate with real-world aquatic restoration experience, grow their professional network, expose them to different restoration career tracts, reinforce and apply new techniques, and build skills that are difficult to develop in the classroom.

Requirements for the MoER Internship:

The MoER internship requirement is typically fulfilled by doing an aquatic- or wetland-oriented restoration summer internship off-campus. MoER students are encouraged to complete the internship during the summer between their senior year and the start of the MoER program, but students are permitted to complete the internship at any time during their MoER year, including during the summer at the end of their one-year MoER program.  Internships can be performed at local, state, or federal agencies, consulting firms, or non-profit organizations that are external to Utah State University. Internships with USU as the employer are not eligible.

For internship credit towards the 30-credit MoER program requirements, prior to initiation of the internship students must submit a completed MoER Internship form to their internship, students should create a personal portfolio website that pulls together projects from their applied internship and coursework into one publicly available and professional webpage.  

Work that is counted towards the MoER internship requirement should meet the following requirements:

  • MoER students are required to complete a minimum of 4 credits of WATS 6420 - Graduate Internship/Co-op. Generally, USU defines one credit hour as equal to 45 hours of work. Thus, 4 credits of internship translates to 180 active work hours.
  • A maximum of 8 internship credits can count towards the 30 credit requirement for the MoER.
  • Students are welcome to complete job shadowing opportunities by observing a professional in their work environment for a day. These hours can be included in your internship hours if they are formally documented.

Contact Information
Program Coordinator: Dominique Shore
Department Head: Patrick Belmont
Location: BNR169
Phone: (435) 797-2459