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Natural Resources and Environmental Management

Sherman Lab 101
1910 East West Road
Honolulu HI 96822
Tel: (808) 956-7530
Fax: (808) 956-6539
Email: nrem@ctahr.hawaii.edu
Web: www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/nrem


*Graduate Faculty

*C. Chan-Halbrendt, PhD (Chair)—agricultural and international development and environmental economics, marketing
*R. L. Bowen, PhD—natural resource policy, economics, sustainable agriculture
*G. L. Bruland, PhD—soil and water conservation, coastal resource management
*C. Ching, PhD—policy and production economics
*L. J. Cox, PhD—community economic development
*S. E. Crow, PhD—soil ecology and biogeochemistry
*C. I. Evensen, PhD—natural resource management, environmental quality
*A. Fares, PhD—tropical soil/watershed hydrology
*C. A. Ferguson, PhD—natural resource and environmental policy
*J. B. Friday, PhD—tropical forestry/agroforestry extension
*P. V. Garrod, PhD—marketing and production economics
*C. Gopalakrishnan, PhD—natural resource and environmental economics and policy
*T. W. Idol, PhD—tropical forestry/agroforestry
J. J. K. Leary, PhD—invasive species control
*C. Lepczyk, PhD—ecosystem management, wildlife ecology, landscape ecology
*C. M. Litton, PhD—forest ecosystem ecology, biogeochemistry
*T. Miura, PhD—geospatial analysis, remote sensing
S. Y. Nagano, MS—4-H youth program, county extension
J. Tsend-Ayush, PhD—remote sensing of global vegetation
*J. F. Yanagida, PhD—production economics, price analysis, international trade

Cooperating Graduate Faculty

K. M. Burnett, PhD (SSRI)—invasive species assessment and management
J. DeFrank, PhD (TPSS)—herbicide management
A. El-Kadi, PhD—groundwater hydrology
T. Giambelluca, PhD—climatology, hydrology
M. Habte, PhD (TPSS)—soil ecology, microbiology
N. V. Hue, PhD (TPSS)—organic cycling
P. S. Leung, PhD—production, fisheries, aquaculture
Q. Li, PhD (MBBE)—environmental chemistry
C. Ray, PhD (CEE)—ground water hydrology and chemistry
T. Radovich, PhD (TPSS)—sustainable farming
G. Uehara, PhD (TPSS)—systems simulation in agriculture
H. Valenzuela, PhD (TPSS)—vegetation physiology and management

Affiliate Graduate Faculty

J. Fox, PhD (East-West Center)—social forestry
R. Mackenzie (USDA Forest Service)—aquatic ecology
M. Pan (NOAA Fisheries)—fishery economics
S. Pooley, PhD (NMFS)— marine resource economics
M. Robotham, PhD (USDA)—conservation technology
C. Smith, PhD (USDA)—soil genesis, survey and classification
M. Walker, PhD (Univ. of Nevada, Reno)—water quality, microbiology

Degrees and Certificates Offered: BS, MS, and PhD in natural resources and environmental management, and Graduate Resource Management Certificate (See the “Interdisciplinary Programs” section within the Catalog)

The Academic Program

The Natural Resources and Environmental Management (NREM) program emphasizes the science and management of natural resources and their interlinks to environmental quality. It provides students with scientific knowledge of the physical, chemical, biological, economic, social, and policy elements of natural resources management and allows them to understand the principles that underpin productive, sustainable natural resource use, and enhanced environmental quality. Graduating students will be able to solve contemporary resource use problems and assist in sound decision making for optimizing land use and managing agricultural and forestry systems, watersheds, coastal ecosystems, and landscapes in an ecologically sound manner. Graduates will also be skilled in addressing resource and environmental policy issues and the needs of diverse stakeholders and communities including policy makers and planners. Scientific objectivity will be emphasized as an important element of environmental planning. Thus, students will be trained in the use of quantitative models and such tools as decision aids for optimizing natural resource management and ecosystem stewardship.

Undergraduate Study

BS in Natural Resources and Environmental Management

The bachelor of science degree in natural resource and environmental management is a science-based interdisciplinary degree emphasizing the management of natural and environmental resources, that is, decision-making and actions to modify the resource base in order to achieve specified goals. The focus is on tropical island ecology and terrestrial and coastal ecosystems, with special consideration given to Hawai‘i’s unique physical and social environment. The program gives students the ability to conceptualize and critically analyze environmental problems, identify management options, implement suitable interventions, and evaluate their effectiveness. Students receive comprehensive training in basic and applied natural and social sciences, management skills and techniques, and real-life problem-solving including community experiences. Students also develop an individual specialization in an upper division study area of their choice. Graduates have challenging and rewarding career opportunities with government agencies, non-profit organizations, and private businesses in resource-based industries and environmental protection. The BS degree also provides solid academic preparation for post-baccalaureate professional training and graduate study in natural resources and related environmental fields.


Undergraduate majors are required to report for advising prior to registration each semester. An entering student must meet with the undergraduate program chair to determine the student’s interest and preparation for the NREM major. The student is then assigned to an advisor, with whom he or she meets every semester to plan courses and chart progress toward graduation. After a student decides on a track specialization, the advisor assists the student in arranging an internship (NREM 492), selection of elective courses, career advising, and his or her professional development.

Entrance Requirements

Freshmen may be admitted directly into the program when they apply to UH Manoa. Students transferring from another program in the UH System or other universities must have a minimum 2.5 GPA for transferable credits.

Degree Requirements

The BS degree requires a total of 128 credit hours, with at least 60 credits in upper division and non-introductory (i.e. 200-level with college-level prerequisite). Regardless of selected specialization, all students must complete a set of basic core courses. Many of these courses also satisfy General Education Core requirements. Required basic courses include:

  • GEOG 101/101L
  • CHEM 151/151L or 161/161L
  • BIOL 171/171L and 172/172L
  • One course from MATH 203, 215, 241, or NREM 203
  • GEOG 370

All students must also complete an applied science program core, which requires the following courses:

  • NREM 210
  • NREM 220 or ECON 130
  • NREM 301/301L, 302, and 310
  • NREM 492 and 494

Specializations and Their Requirements

Students have a choice between two tracks within which to develop an upper-division specialization. Both tracks require a set of specific courses and selected electives totaling 30 credits. Some electives, however, may require additional prerequisite courses and credits.

Specialization in Resource Management and Conservation

This track focuses on the biological/physical and natural science aspects of resource management. Course requirements include:

  • PHYS 151/151L
  • CHEM 162/162L
  • NREM/TPSS 304
  • NREM 477
  • 15 upper division credits in a natural resource specialization area, with at least one course that emphasizes analytical lab, or field research methods (course selection requires advisor approval).

Specialization in Resource Development and Policy

This track emphasizes the social sciences and business/public management skills. Course requirements include:

  • NREM 341 or 351
  • FAMR 352 or NREM 420
  • One course from MBBE/TPSS/ECON 429, NREM 458 or 477, or GEOG 413
  • 12 upper division credits from social science disciplines, such as anthropology, economics, geography, political science, or sociology. At least 9 credits must be in a single discipline with no more than one course from a closely related multidisciplinary social science program (course selection requires advisor approval)
  • 3 upper division credits in social science analytical/field research methods or in advanced communication (COM, JOUR, SP)
  • 6 upper division credits in specific natural resource area(s) or field study methods

Options for Meeting UH Manoa Hawaiian/ Second Language Requirement

As part of the graduation requirements for all undergraduate students at UH Manoa, NREM majors will select one of the following three options for Hawaiian/Second Language study, in consultation with the faculty advisor:

Option 1: Show proficiency in Hawaiian/Second Language at a 202 course level. Native and bilingual speakers of a second language may be granted a waiver for the foreign language requirement by the College of Languages, Linguistics, and Literature.

Option 2: Show proficiency in Hawaiian/Second Language at a 102 course level and take one additional course each in the Social Sciences (3 credits) and in the Natural Sciences (3-4 credits).

Option 3: Take two additional courses each in the Social Sciences (total 6 credits) and in the Natural Sciences, including at least one course with a laboratory (total 7-8 credits). The additional Social and Natural Science courses can be chosen from any 100-200 level UH Manoa courses in the respective area but cannot be used to meet other UH Manoa general education requirements (except focus) or NREM major requirements.

Graduate Study

The NREM graduate program brings together natural and social scientists to offer an integrative and multi-disciplinary program that uses a systems approach to understand and manage tropical and sub-tropical ecosystems. Emphasis is placed on tropical island settings and their relevance to managing landscapes in general. It incorporates the various components and scales (spatial and temporal) that determine ecosystem function and that bear upon the social and economic welfare of residents in different communities and environmental settings. Curricula and courses will emphasize the application of physical, biological, and social sciences to the sustainable management and conservation of natural, environmental, and economic resources. The program will also provide a science-based understanding of the processes that control the performance and function of terrestrial and coastal ecosystems, and the human behaviors and policies that impact, and are impacted by those processes.

Students will be expected to acquire quantitative reasoning, critical thinking, and other advanced skills that enable them to solve contemporary resource use problems and to assist in sound decision-making and policy formation. Graduates will be skilled in addressing policy issues and the competing needs of diverse clientele and communities. Students will be trained in the application of quantitative models to optimize the use and management of natural resources.

Natural resource and environmental management issues are attracting considerable national and global attention, as well as growing donor interest, especially in the Asia/Pacific, tropical, and subtropical regions. Graduate training, therefore, will feature collaboration with national and international institutions to foster programs that provide students with opportunities to learn about the ways that people from other countries and cultures manage their natural, including renewable, resources and interact with their environments.

Graduating students are expected to serve as professionals in resource and environmental management and policy, academic teaching and research, or applied research and outreach in educational and resource institutions, federal and state technical assistance and policy agencies, agricultural and forestry industries, consulting firms, and private nonprofit organizations.

To underscore its integrative nature, the NREM graduate program features strong collaboration with other academic departments within and outside CTAHR, as well as selected collaborating institutions in and out of Hawai‘i. Cooperating and affiliate-graduate faculty with appropriate expertise will complement NREM’s faculty expertise for the benefit of graduate students.

NREM is a partner in offering the multidisciplinary campus-wide Graduate Resource Management Certificate.

Specialization Areas and Their Requirements

NREM is a multidisciplinary department that is uniquely positioned to offer the integrative graduate curricula that are necessary for informed decision-making and action-oriented natural resource and environmental management. As a foundation in graduate training, all NREM students are expected to acquire a common base of knowledge embodied in a core set of courses. Beyond that, students are expected to develop knowledge and skills within a chosen area of specialization. This will insure students have the real-world skills needed to perform specific tasks, analyze resource management and policy issues, and carry out original and meaningful research.

Examples of specialization areas include but are not limited to: land resource inventory and interpretation; tropical forestry and agro-forestry; land, soil and water conservation; ecological and environmental economics; community economic development; water use and environment policy; hydrologic studies and watershed management; environment valuation; coastal resource management, sustainable agricultural systems, and invasive species economics and control. The student’s advisor and thesis/dissertation committee will assist in choosing appropriate coursework and research or other activities to develop a specialization area.

Admission Requirements

Applicants for graduate standing are expected to come from a diversity of academic and professional areas. However, minimum qualifications include a bachelor’s degree with the qualifications necessary to gain admission to the UH Manoa Graduate Division. Those cleared through the Graduate Division will be evaluated by the department based on previous academic record, specific criteria that include the graduation requirements for the BS degree in NREM, general GRE scores, chosen area of specialization (if known), recommendation letters, TOEFL score (if international applicant), and prior research and/or professional experience. The minimum TOEFL score required of international students is 600 and 250 for Type P or Type C examination, respectively. Applicants should show undergraduate credits of prior preparation in the natural, social, and quantitative sciences relevant to their chosen degree program (MS or PhD). Students will be required to make up any recognized deficiencies through appropriate coursework.


Admitted students will be assigned an advisor. The advisor will verify entrance and background deficiencies, prescribe remedial courses, and devise an initial course plan for the student.

During the second year, MS degree students should form their thesis committee. PhD degree students should form their dissertation committee by their third year.

The thesis or dissertation committee will guide the student’s program and assist with the development of a thesis/dissertation research topic that is appropriate for the chosen area of specialization, administer the required Comprehensive and Defense examinations, and oversee the completion of degree requirement.

Degree Requirements

MS in Natural Resource and Environmental Management

It is expected that the course preparation for admitted students with a BS degree will be the same, be equivalent to, or exceed those core areas required for the BS degree in NREM. Plans A, B, and C will be offered. Plan A is the thesis option while Plans B and C are non-thesis options. Plan A is research driven in terms of taking the usual number of 700 thesis credits specified by the Graduate Division. Plan B is primarily course driven and Plan C is available to selected students based on their prior academic records and experiences. For Plan C, either the graduate committee or the student’s thesis committee can recommend students to pursue this option.

Each student will select a specialization area with the approval of either the student’s permanent advisor or the student’s thesis committee as early as possible following enrollment in the graduate program. To meet the integrative, interdisciplinary intent of this program, a set of graduate level courses, a Primary MS Core, will be required of every student, regardless of his or her selected specialization area. In addition, a set of electives will also be required. These electives provide background in research methods and provide depth in the student’s specialization area. The remaining credit requirements will be met by thesis credits (NREM 700).

Primary MS Core (9 Cr)

  • NREM 600 Evaluation of Natural Resources Management (3)
  • NREM 601 Economic Analysis of Natural Resource Management (3)
  • NREM 605 Research Skills (2)
  • NREM 701 Research Seminar (1)

Electives (15 Cr)

  • Course in graduate research methods (3)
  • NREM graduate courses (6)
  • Other graduate courses for specialization (6)

Thesis Option (6 Cr)

  • NREM 700 Thesis (6)

PhD in Natural Resource and Environmental Management

The PhD degree in NREM will be awarded only to students with outstanding scholarly achievement. Applicants for the PhD program are expected to have an MS degree. However, PhD standing may be provisionally granted to applicants with a BS degree if they have a strong academic background and a high GRE scores. These applicants may still be required to obtain an MS degree in NREM before formal admission to PhD candidacy. Those with academic records that do not match the NREM core requirements will be expected to incorporate these core requirements into their PhD program. In addition, to meet the integrative, multi-disciplinary intent of this program, a set of graduate level courses, a Primary PhD Core, will be required of every student, regardless of his or her selected specialization area. In addition, a set of electives will also be required. These electives provide background in research methods and provide depth in the student’s specialization area. The remaining degree requirements will be met by dissertation credits (NREM 800). All PhD students must pass a written and oral Comprehensive Examination (described below) before being advanced to candidacy. The student’s dissertation committee is responsible for designing and administering the Comprehensive Examination.

Primary PhD Core (7 Cr)

  • NREM 611 Resource and Environmental Policy (3)
  • NREM 612 Predicting and Controlling Degradation in Human-Dominated Terrestrial Ecosystems (3)
  • NREM 701 Research Seminar (1)

Electives (24 Cr)

  • Graduate research methods (6)
  • NREM graduate courses (9)
  • Other graduate courses for specialization (9)

Dissertation (1 Cr)

  • NREM 800 Dissertation (1)

Comprehensive Examination

PhD candidates must pass a two-part (written and oral) Comprehensive Examination upon completion of the required core courses and electives and before being advanced to candidacy. The student’s dissertation committee is responsible for designing and carrying out the Comprehensive Examination, which follows the preparation of the dissertation proposal. The examination is to cover all the subjects deemed essential to the selected specialization area, and to verify the student’s preparedness for carrying out the proposed dissertation research. Each member of the dissertation committee will submit a set of questions for the written portion of the examination. Therefore, the number of specific fields represented in these questions is up to the members of the dissertation committee. The oral portion will follow as soon as possible after the written portion of the Comprehensive Examination.

NREM Courses