Choose your academic path

It’s a great feeling when you know what you want to study. Some people seem to have always known what their academic path will be; others take more time and exploration to find the perfect major. Regardless of how straight or winding your path may be, we’ll help you stick to it and get the most out of your academic journey.

Undergraduate majors

We encourage you to explore the majors that interest you in CNRE. Learn more about what you’ll study and why you should consider pursuing each major at Virginia Tech. If you have questions, contact our Director of Recruitment or sign up for an interest session as part of your campus visit.    

Explore CNRE majors

      • Environmental informatics

        Study the application of big data and information science to sustainability and conservation efforts related to forestry, watersheds, climate, and human-environment interaction. Learn about geospatial technology, mathematical and statistical modeling, remote sensing, and database management.

      • Environmental resources management

        Study all aspects of managing and improving environmental resources and quality to address global challenges. Learn about managing protected areas, influencing economic policy, and forest and soil productivity.

      • Fish conservation

        Study the sustainable management of aquatic animals and ecosystems, including shellfish, endangered species, sport fish, and aquaculture systems.

      • Forestry

        Study various aspects of the sustainable production, management, and utilization of forests for their commercial and social value.

      • Geography

        Study the importance of place and its impact on human development. Learn more about land-use patterns, topography, cartography, cultures, human health, rural-urban interactions, and geospatial analysis, and utilize cutting-edge technology.

      • Meteorology

        Study weather forecasting and atmospheric sciences with a significant focus on using geospatial technology to study how landforms affect weather patterns. Learn to predict severe weather and assess its impacts on both humans and the environment.

      • Natural resources conservation

        Study environmental issues with an emphasis on teaching, training, or leading others in conservation and sustainability efforts. This interdisciplinary major brings together both the natural and social sciences in real-world contexts.

      • Packaging systems and design

        Study the science behind the third largest industry in the world: packaging. Learn about the design, transportation, storage, and delivery of products with an emphasis on “green” packaging and the recycling and reuse of materials.

      • Sustainable biomaterials

        Study how to best utilize renewable resources like wood and other biomaterials to create “greener” products with less environmental impact. This discipline applies science, technology, engineering, and business to sustainable natural resources.

      • Water: resources, policy, and management

        Study how we utilize and protect the most important natural resource of all: water. Learn about water science and policy, while acquiring the interdisciplinary training and knowledge needed to address current and future water quality and access challenges.

      • Wildlife conservation

        Study the sustainable management of terrestrial species and their habitats, including game and nongame birds and mammals, as well as reptiles and amphibians.

Graduate programs

The College of Natural Resources and Environment offers several different types of master’s degrees, as well as doctoral programs. We encourage you to research your options carefully, and to also get in touch with the contact person in your department as soon as you decide that you are interested in pursuing a graduate degree.

Program description: The Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation offers one of the leading programs of its type. The comprehensive curriculum covers fisheries and wildlife biology and ecology, habitat analysis, and human dimensions of natural resource science and management.

Degrees offered: Master of Science (M.S.), Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Contact: Sarah Karpanty, Assistant Department Head, 540-231-4586 or karpanty@vt.edu

Program description: The Department of Sustainable Biomaterials provides educational and research opportunities in the areas of sustainable biomaterials, ranging from nanotechnology and the basic science of wood and other renewable materials, to processing, manufacturing, marketing, management, and competitiveness aspects of the various biomaterials industries.

Degrees offered: Master of Science (M.S.), Master of Forestry (M.F.), Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Contact: Audrey Zink-Sharp, Associate Department Head, 540-231-8820 or agzink@vt.edu

Program description: The Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation is one of the leading programs in natural resource management in the United States. Our teaching and research focus on the latest applications to uncover the science needed to manage forests and other natural resources. Our programs are diverse and approach critical natural resource issues from many disciplinary perspectives.

Degrees offered: Master of Science (M.S.), Master of Forestry (M.F.), Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Contact: Contact a faculty member in your field of study before applying.

Program description: The MS degree in geography develops specialists for academic, agency and industry positions though an emphasis on the appropriate use of methods for geographic inquiry to determine, analyze, and interpret spatial and temporal patterns and processes; to identify debates and gaps in the current literature to define an original research question; and to conduct research by collecting primary or secondary data, defending, and presenting findings in publishable form.

Degrees offered: Master of Science (M.S.)

Contact: Karen Bland, Executive Secretary, 540-231-7557 or kbland@vt.edu

Program description: The interdisciplinary doctoral program in geospatial and environmental analysis focuses on the application of geospatial analysis for improving the science, management, and conservation of natural resources and the environment. Based in the College of Natural Resources and Environment, the program draws upon the expertise of faculty from the college's four departments, and from faculty in departments in other colleges, including Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences, Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Biological Systems Engineering.

Degree offered: Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Contact: Karen Bland, Executive Secretary, 540-231-7557 or kbland@vt.edu

Program description: The Master of Natural Resources degree programs prepare students for employment and career opportunities in environmental conservation and sustainability development, especially for jobs emerging in an increasingly global, urban, and interconnected world.

Degree offered: Master of Natural Resources (MNR), online or executive

Contacts: David Robertson, Associate Director for Executive Programs, 434-258-2236 or davidrobertson@vt.edu, or Kieran Lindsey, Associate Director for Online Programs, 314-605-8820 or klindsey@vt.edu

Virginia Tech also offers a variety of graduate certificate programs within and between disciplines. The following programs may be of particular interest to students who are pursuing a graduate degree in CNRE or who have an interest in natural resources and the environment:

  • Biobased materials
  • Environmental politics and policy
  • Geospatial information technology
  • Global sustainability
  • Interdisciplinary water and health science
  • Natural resources
  • Watershed management