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Geospatial & Environmental Analysis

Note: MSU's programs in the biological sciences are distributed across multiple departments.  MSU does not have a single Department of Biology.  For additional options see   Biological Sciences at MSU.

Department of Land Resources & Environmental Sciences (LRES)

Effective management of agricultural and other managed land resources requires individuals to have sound fundamental understanding of the processes and relationships in land systems, combined with excellent skills in modern land inventory and analysis techniques including geographic information systems (GIS), global positioning systems (GPS), remote sensing, and an appreciation for the intricacies of land resources and land use practices. The Land Resource Sciences curricula are designed to provide classroom, laboratory, and field training. Graduates of this program will: (i) possess a broad knowledge of land processes, (ii) be able to critically analyze and solve land resource problems, and (iii) work in teams to develop and implement effective land management strategies. They will be the premier land resource users and managers in the 21st century.

The Geospatial & Environmental Analysis degree program is administered by the Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences.

Geospatial & Environmental Analysis

This degree is for students interested in land resources and their management at landscape scales. All human activities depend on the world's land and water resource base. The air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat all depend upon activities occurring and interacting across broad extents of the Earth's land surface. This curriculum is based on the philosophy that our well being requires knowledge-based decision making involving land and natural resources across these large areas. Students build on knowledge of the basic natural sciences with course work in geology, biology, geography, soils, and ecology. Then, courses in remote sensing, geographic information systems, global positioning and statistics provide tools for gathering, processing, analyzing, and displaying information about land resources across large areas. Finally, students learn how to integrate land resource information with social and financial realities to support balanced management decisions. Throughout the program, students are encouraged to gain hands-on experience with land, people and information through field trips, internships, and the capstone field course. The knowledge and skills of land resource analysis and management are needed wherever there are land resources. Graduates in the Geospatial & Environmental Analysis major can be the environmental scientists and managers most capable of providing information for sound management of the land resource base.

Career Opportunities: Careers in natural resource management, environmental consulting, precision agriculture, watershed management, and land mapping, requiring professionals who can work outdoors on the land and indoors with data and computer applications dealing with geographic information systems and remote sensing. Employment with federal government land management agencies, such as the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Bureau of Reclamation; state agencies, such as departments of natural resources; local and regional planning organizations; private organizations which own and manage land (timber companies, ranches, farms, recreation areas); consulting firms; conservation organizations such as land trusts; and Congressional staffs. Graduate training leading to independent research in remote sensing, ecological processes, and soil and water science.

Curricula in Geospatial & Environmental Analysis


Freshman Year Credits
ENSC 110 --Land Resources & Environmental Sciences 3
BIOB 170IN--Principles of Biological Diversity 4
BIOB 160--Principles of Living Systems 4
CHMY 141--College Chemistry I 4
CHMY 143--College Chemistry II 4
WRIT 101W--College Writing I 3
Choose one Math/Stats Sequence: A or B
Option A: M 161Q--Survey of Calculus 4
                  STAT 216Q--Introduction to Statistics 3
                  STAT217Q--Interm Statistical Concepts 3
                         (Sophomore Year)
Option B: M 171Q--Calculus I 4
                 M 172Q--Calculus II 4
                 STAT 332--Stat for Scientists & Engin 3
                         (Sophomore Year)
University Core and Electives 1
Sophomore Year Credits
WRIT 201--College Writing II 3
GEO 101IN--Intro to Physical Geology 4
GPHY 111CS--Intro to Physical Geography 4
PHSX 205--College Physics I 4
ENSC 245IN--Soils 3
GPHY 284--Intro to GIS Science & Cartog 3
University Core and Electives 5-6
Junior Year Credits
Take one of the following:
     NRSM 240--Natural Resource Ecology 3
     BIOE 370--General Ecology 3
GPHY 384--Adv GIS and Spatial Analysis 3
ENSC 310--Environ Sciences Prof Preparation 1
ENSC 499R--Seminar/Capstone 1
Take one of the following:
     PSCI 362--Natural Resource Policy 3
     NRSM 430--Natural Resource Law 3
Univ Core and Electives From Junior and
Senior List Below
Senior Year Credits
GPHY 357--Fundamentals & Application in Mapping 3
GPHY 426IN--Remote Sensing & Digital Image Proc 3
GPHY 484R--Applied GIS & Spatial Analysis 3
ENSC 444--Watershed Hydrology 3
ENSC 445--Watershed Analysis 3
ENSC 499R--Seminar/Capstone 3
ENSC 454--Landscape Pedology 3
Univ Core and Electives From Junior and
Senior List Below

Junior and Senior Electives

Complete a minimum of 20 credits of listed electives below, meeting the following requirements:

  1. No more than four (4) credits from Human System electives count toward the 20 credit requirement.
  2. Up to three (3) elective credits may be received for advisor approved ENSC 490 or ENSC 492.
  3. At least fourteen (14) credits at the 300-level or above.
Ecology Electives (at least 2 courses):      
BIOM 415--Micro Diversity, Ecol & Evol 3
AGSC 428--Cropping Systems 3
ENSC 443--Weed Ecology & Management 3
ENSC 448--Stream Restoration Ecology 3
ENSC 461--Restoration Ecology 3
NRSM 455--Riparian Ecology & Management 3
NRSM 453-- Habitat Inventory & Analysis 3
BIOE 408--Rocky Mtn Vegetation 2
BIOE 416--Alpine Ecology 3
BIOE 428--Freshwater Ecology 3

Soil and Water Electives (at least 2 courses):      
ENSC 370--Water Quality 3
ENSC 351--Nutrient Cycling 3
ENSC 345--Soil & Environ Chemistry 3
BIOM 452--Soil & Environmental Microbiology 3
ENSC 453--Soil & Environ Physics 3
ENSC 460--Soil Remediation 3
ERTH 307--Principles of Geomorphology 4
ERTH 432--Surface Water Resources 3
GEO 420--Hydrogeology 3
Technical Electives:      
CE 201--Intro to Surveying 3
CE 463--Photogrammetry 2
STAT 410--Methods for Data Analys I 3
Human Systems Electives (no more than 6 credits):      
NRSM 421--Holistic Thought & Management 4
ECNS 332--Econ of Natural Resources 3
GPHY 121D--Human Geography 3
SOCI 470--Environmental Sociology 3
Other Electives:      
BIOO 433--Plant Physiology 3
BIOO 435--Plant Systematics 3

Because some of our courses are offered during alternate years, the proposed scheduling of courses in junior and senior years may be need to be modified. Work with your advisor for your individual schedule.

A minimum of 120 credits is required for graduation; at least 42 of these credits must be in courses numbered 300 and above.


ENSC 245IN--Soils 3
ENSC 351--Nutrient Cycling 3
ENSC 345--Soil & Environ Chemistry 3
BIOM 452--Soil & Environmental Microbiology 3
ENSC 453--Soil & Environ Physics 3
ENSC 454--Landscape Pedology 3
3 or 6 credits from the following:
ENSC 444--Watershed Hydrology 3
ENSC 460--Soil Remediation 3
ENSC 461--Restoration Ecology 3

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