Training conservation leaders in practical interdisciplinary skills to tackle complex decisions in a changing world.

The Nelson Institute offers four interdisciplinary graduate degree programs and two graduate certificate programs for students with exceptional interest in researching and solving the most pressing environmental challenges.

Learn more about our traditional academic programs, Environment and Resources (E&R) MS/PhD, and the Water Resources Management (WRM) MS. Join a community with over 50 years of graduates who research and address a broad range of environmental interest areas and challenges. Students develop a unique curricular path in the research-based E&R MS/PhD program or focus on the management of freshwater resources in the practicum-based WRM MS degree.

Explore our deliberate and focused professional programs, Environmental Conservation (EC) MS and Environmental Observation & Informatics (EOI) MS. These programs have a deep legacy of conservation action and offer opportunities to advance leadership skills and develop expertise in conservation and environmental management or geospatial data synthesis and environmental observation. Students engage in these accelerated, cohort-based programs through campus learning, remote experiences, and an applied project with our global network of partners.

Take a closer look at the graduate certificate programs in Culture, History and Environment and Energy Analysis and Policy to see how students pair their passions and interests with other graduate degrees offered across the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


environment and resources

Ph.D. and M.S.

Environment and Resources is ideal for students who wish to broaden their knowledge of natural resources or who seek special education in the technical, social or management aspects of environmental challenges. The program includes opportunities for customizable, interdisciplinary study not available in more traditional academic departments.  more »
professional programs

M.S. in Environmental Conservation

Two professional master's programs - Environmental Conservation and Environmental Observation and Informatics - equip graduates with the necessary leadership training and environmental knowledge to tackle their next career challenge and meet emerging challenges and demands. Accelerated, 15-month curriculum with on-campus and remote experiences.  more »
water resources management


Water Resources Management prepares students for the complexities of managing this critical natural resource through training in biological and physical sciences, engineering, law and social sciences. Students gain breadth in relevant planning and management areas while developing an in-depth knowledge of an area of specialty.  more »


culture, history and environment
Culture, History and Environment explores environmental and cultural change across the full sweep of human history from diverse perspectives in the humanities and sciences.  more »
energy analysis and policy
Energy, Analysis and Policy considers factors that shape energy policy and decision-making and acquaints students with important analytical and assessment techniques.  more »

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