Applied Ecology and Environmental Science Bachelor's Degree

Protect and improve our world's natural resources with other stewards just like you. Be what tomorrow needs with a Bachelor of Science in applied ecology and environmental science at Michigan Tech.

Other schools own forests—but ours is right out the back door at the Ford Center and Forest. There isn't a better place to study natural resources than the wild Keweenaw Peninsula, bordered by Lake Superior, blanketed with forests and wetlands (and 218+ inches of snow each winter). First-year students have two outdoor field labs and are all eligible to participate and be paid as Earn and Learn students, acquiring the hands-on knowledge and experience to land a summer job or internship after their first year.

Upon graduation, students will have obtained hundreds of hours in the field, from classroom labs, to research. This experience puts our students a step above the rest when it comes to working for government agencies, non-profits, consulting firms, and others.

What is Applied Ecology and Environmental Science?

Environmental Science in the study of ecological systems and how they interconnect to each other. Applied Ecology is the application of environmental science to real world problems.

Applied Ecology and Environmental Science is about understanding, analyzing, communicating and managing ecosystems in a scientific and sustainable way to benefit the coexisting relationships that humans have with the natural environment. Investigate vegetation, soil, and amphibians in the vernal pools of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Analyze glacial retreat in Peru or post-fire plant communities in the Alaskan Interior. Survey grazed land in northern Patagonia. Your studies take you to the places where ecological, social, and biotechnological aspects of natural resources combine, from stream restoration, to invasive species mitigation, to the properties of soil. Applied Ecology and Environmental Science is about managing ecosystems for tomorrow.

What Will I Study?

If you love to be outside and are interested in studying ecological systems and how land-use management decisions are made to improve natural resources, you will feel at home in our applied ecology and environmental science program - home to endless opportunities for research. 

Study soil science, biotechnology, insect ecology, landscape hydrology, and forest genetics. Fieldwork, teamwork, leadership, and professional development prepare you to model, analyze, compare, communicate, and deploy tools and techniques used to understand biodiversity, human effects on soils, hydrological development, and climate change. 

  • Explore, measure, document, and analyze the terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems of the Keweenaw Peninsula. Bordered by Lake Superior, blanketed with forest and wetlands, our backyard is an ideal living lab.
  • Make land-use decisions to enhance ecosystem composition, structure, and function.
  • Collaborate with leading scientists to solve ecological and environmental problems.
  • Learn how to use Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and be proficient in GPS, land measurement and remote sensing skills.
  • Put your newfound skills and knowledge to work ASAP. After the first year of classes you'll be qualified to find a summer job in your field and start building your future career.

arial image of the ford center in the fall

"Camp" at the Ford Center and Forest

Spend a semester outdoors at our 3,500 acre forest just 40 miles away from main campus in Alberta, MI. During student's third year, they will live, eat, sleep, and study with peers while living in dorms located right on the property. Get out in the field Monday through Friday for classes such as survey of silviculture, forest health, and wildlife habitat to collect samples, study natural ecosystems, and learn the necessities that will help you attain your natural resource career. Learn more about "camp" - or integrated field practicum - here. 

Be Career Ready

As humans continue to depend on ecosystems for a variety of values, tomorrow’s ecologists will need to understand how to manage our lands in an era of climate change and sustainability.

Each year, the College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science hosts its own Natural Resource Career Fair. ~20 companies from across the US travel to the college in late fall to educate and recruit employees.

Our applied ecology and environmental science graduates go on to work at government agencies, non-profits, and even create their own consulting companies.

Career Opportunities for Applied Ecology and Environmental Science

  • Field Ecologist

  • Research Technician

  • Environmental Analyst

  • Field Naturalist

  • Research Scientist

  • Environmental Consultant

  • Invasive Plant Technician

  • Entomologist

Michigan Tech Applied Ecology and Environmental Science Majors Have Been Hired By

  • Environmental Protection Agency

  • US Fish and Wildlife Service

  • National Park Service

  • Department of Transportation

  • Environmental and restoration consulting firms

  • State DNR

  • US Forest Service

Ready to take the next step?

Learn more about studying applied ecology and environmental science at Michigan's flagship technological university.

  • 8:1
    student-to-faculty ratio
  • 25
    typical lab size
  • 3.5K
    acres to explore at our residential field camp

Huskies Battle Invasive Species With the Fungus Among Us

Study how a native fungus can be used as an alternative to chemical herbicides in our forest microbiology lab. 

Student Learning Goals

Students in the College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science can expect to achieve the following learning goals—which also align with the University's Undergraduate Student Learning Goals:

  1. Develop in depth knowledge of the field of applied ecology and environmental science.

  2. Develop a strong set of field skills related to the management of natural resources.

  3. Effectively identify and evaluate sources of information relating to applied ecology and environmental science.

  4. Provide alternative solutions to situations or problems in applied ecology and environmental science.

  5. Communicate effectively (orally and in writing) about issues related to applied ecology and environmental science.

  6. Develop skills that ensure they behave with a high level of professionalism.

  7. Develop the ability to work effectively in teams.

Why Research Matters

Researcher holding red oak seeding in his hands

Our strong passion for research creates professionals who have the hands-on experience needed to sustainably manage our ecosystems. From soil types, to stream elements, to fungus that spreads to trees—there is a research topic that is sure to help you find your passions.

Diverse Ecosystem of Environmental Stewardship

If you have a love for the woods, and a desire to sustain resources for the future, you will feel at home in the College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science (CFRES). Our College is a community on a first-name basis, connected by a shared passion for study, research, and work centered on forest health and ecosystem integrity. Similar to Keweenaw’s biodiverse ecosystems, CFRES is a community of undergraduates, graduates, faculty, staff, and alumni who learn, lead, and thrive in the unique environment the college has to offer. You’ll notice flags from countries around the world when you step into the door of our atrium. We are a safe space for all who love natural resources, with a commitment to a sense of belonging

3,650 Acres of Research Forest

Michigan Tech’s Ford Center is home to our 3,650-acre forest. Located just over 40 miles from campus, students in their third year get to live, learn, and play in the woods for a whole semester. Learn how to navigate among the trees, count board feet, identify forest pests and diseases, and explore ways to mitigate them. Take a swim in the Sturgeon River while taking water samples, quantify woody and herbaceous plants, design maps, and learn to mark timber.  Spend a couple of hours in the classroom, and the rest of the day outdoors. Work closely with your peers and professors to create management plans that best suit the environment for the changing climate.

Integrated Field Practicum at the Ford Center

The Integrated Field Practicum (IFP) is the cornerstone of natural resource management at Michigan Tech, and stands out among the rest as the only off-campus, semester-long field practicum in the United States. Offered in the Fall and Summer.

Master of Science in Applied Ecology

Earn a master’s degree and build upon research from your undergrad. The Master of Science in Applied Ecology provides greater opportunity for career advancement and a higher starting salary. Study ecological services in managed landscapes - from nutrient cycling to fish habitat, and the impact management has on ecosystem functions.

Tomorrow Needs Stewards for Ecology and the Environment

Join a community that believes in renewable resources, protecting wildlife, and multiple use forests in a sustainably-driven society at a flagship public research university powered by science, technology, sustainability, and passion. Graduate with a foundation of knowledge and real-world experience in natural resource management.

Undergraduate Majors

Analyzing the DNA of red oak trees. Studying one of the worlds largest insect collections. Testing turbidity of the Sturgeon River. Protecting woodland streams. As a research institution, we offer far reaching ecological programs with global impact. 

Or, start with our General Forestry option and give yourself time to decide.