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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
J. Azuma, PhD—remote sensing of global vegetation
*L. J. Cox, PhD—community economic development
D. Cram, PhD—wildfire science and management
*S. E. Crow, PhD—soil ecology and biogeochemistry
*C. I. Evensen, PhD—natural resource management, environmental quality
*A. Fares, PhD—tropical soil/watershed hydrology
*J. B. Friday, PhD—tropical forestry/agroforestry extension
*P. V. Garrod, PhD—marketing and production economics
*S. A. Gray, PhD—social-ecological modeling, collaborative resource management
*T. W. Idol, PhD—tropical forestry/agroforestry
*J. J. K. Leary, PhD—invasive species control
*C. Lepczyk, PhD—ecosystem management, wildlife ecology, landscape ecology
*P. S. Leung, PhD—production, fisheries, and aquaculture economics
*C. M. Litton, PhD—forest ecology and management, biogeochemistry
*T. Miura, PhD—geospatial analysis, remote sensing
S. Y. Nagano, MS—4-H youth program, county extension
*K. L. Oleson, PhD—ecosystem service valuation, environmental ethics, policy analysis
A. Pierce, PhD—wildfire science and management
P. C. Selmants, PhD—forest ecology
A. Strauch, PhD—aquatic ecology
*J. F. Yanagida, PhD—production economics, price analysis, international trade

Cooperating Graduate Faculty

K. M. Burnett, PhD (SSRI)—invasive species assessment and management
J. Cusick, PhD (Environmental Center)—sustainable tourism
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
Q. Li, PhD (MBBE)—environmental chemistry
Y. Li, (UH Hilo)—tropical forest ecology and management
T. Radovich, PhD (TPSS)—sustainable farming
C. Ray, PhD (CEE)—ground water hydrology and chemistry
H. Valenzuela, PhD (TPSS)—vegetation physiology and management

Affiliate Graduate Faculty

G. Bruland, PhD (Principia College)—soil and water conservation
J. Fox, PhD (East-West Center)—social forestry
C. Giardina (USDA)—forest ecology
S. Hess (USGS)—wildlife ecology
R. Mackenzie (USDA Forest Service)—aquatic ecology
M. Pan (NOAA Fisheries)—fishery economics
S. Pooley, PhD (NMFS)— marine resource economics

Degrees and Certificates Offered: BS, MS, and PhD in natural resources and environmental management.

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 120 credit hours, with at least 45 credits in upper division (i.e. 300+ level). 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:

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

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 492/492L 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
  • 18 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).

For information on a Bachelor Degree Program Sheet, go to www.manoa.hawaii.edu/ovcaa/programsheets/.

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 NREM/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, COMG, JOUR)
  • 9 upper division credits in specific natural resource area(s) or field study methods

For information on a Bachelor Degree Program Sheet, go to www.manoa.hawaii.edu/ovcaa/programsheets/.

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

NREM offers the following graduate degrees: MS (Plans A, B, and C), and PhD degrees in Natural Resources and Environmental Management. Several NREM faculty also participate in a campus-wide graduate degree specialization in Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology, to which incoming or continuing students may apply.

The NREM graduate program brings together natural and social scientists to offer an integrative and interdisciplinary program to understand and manage tropical and sub-tropical terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Emphasis is placed on island settings and their relevance to managing land and seascapes. Studies in NREM incorporate the various components and scales (spatial and temporal) that determine ecosystem structure and function, and that bear upon the social and economic welfare of residents in diverse communities and environmental settings. The NREM curriculum emphasizes the application of physical, biological, and social sciences to the conservation and sustainable management of natural, environmental, and economic resources. The program also provides a science-based foundation to assess the processes that control the structure and function of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, and the human behaviors and policies that impact those processes.

Students are expected to acquire quantitative reasoning, critical thinking, and other advanced skills that enable them to solve contemporary resource use and environmental problems and to assist in sound policy development and implementation. NREM graduates should be skilled in addressing natural resources and environmental policy and management issues of the competing needs of diverse clientele and communities. NREM graduates are expected to serve as professional leaders in natural resources and environmental management and policy, academic teaching and research, and applied research and extension in educational and governmental institutions, international, national, and state technical assistance and policy agencies, agricultural and forestry industries, consulting firms, and private nonprofit and non-governmental organizations.

Natural resources and environmental management issues are attracting considerable national and global attention, as well as growing donor interest, especially in the Asia-Pacific and tropical and subtropical regions. Graduate training, therefore, features collaboration with national and international institutions to foster programs that provide students with opportunities to learn about the ways in which people from other countries and cultures manage their natural resources and interact with their environments. As such, NREM has a diverse mix of domestic and international graduate students.

To underscore its integrative and global nature, the NREM Graduate Program features strong collaboration with other academic departments within and outside of CTAHR, as well as collaborating institutions in and outside of Hawai'i such as transitional economies in Asia, eastern Europe, and the Middle East. In addition, cooperating and affiliate graduate faculty in NREM complement and supplement departmental expertise.

Specialization Areas

NREM is an interdisciplinary department that offers integrative graduate curricula necessary for quality decision-making and solution-oriented natural resource and environmental management. As a foundation for graduate training, all NREM students are expected to acquire a common base of knowledge embodied in a set of core courses. Beyond that, students are expected to develop knowledge and skills within a chosen specialization area. This helps to ensure that students have the real-world skills needed to perform specific tasks, analyze resource management and policy issues, carry out original and meaningful research, and effectively perform outreach and educational activities.

Examples of specialization areas include, but are not limited to: aquaculture economics and management; coastal watershed management; contaminant hydrology; contaminant sources and transport in watersheds; ecological and environmental economics; economics of sustainable resource utilization; fishery economics and management; forest economics; forest ecosystem management; integrated resource management; irrigation and water management; land and water use policy assessment; land degradation processes and models; land resource inventory and interpretation; land, soil, and water conservation reclamation and remediation; landscape ecology; natural resource and environmental non-market valuation; restoration ecology; remote sensing and geospatial analysis; sustainable community economic development; sustainable land and resource management; tropical forestry and agroforestry; water quality; watershed hydrology; and wildlife.

The student's advisor and thesis/dissertation committee will assist in choosing appropriate coursework and research, or other activities, to develop a specialization area. Students are expected to declare a specialization area by the completion of their first year in the department.

Admission and Deficiencies

Regular, probationary, and conditional status is determined based on student's academic performance at the time of application. If you are admitted as regular status, you may start your formal graduate program immediately. If you are admitted as probationary or conditional status, you have specific criteria that must be fulfilled such as a BS or MS degree, course deficiencies, expected minimum GRE score of 302-308 combined Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning (equivalent to 1,100-1,200 on the prior scale), or other documents. These criteria are specified in your letter of acceptance, and should be discussed immediately with your advisor upon matriculation. It is expected that a student will move from probationary and/or conditional status to regular status by the end of their first year by completing Form I. Applicants for the MS degree are required to have a BS or equivalent degree and applicants for the PhD degree are required to have an MS or equivalent degree (but see below for admission to the PhD degree without a BS degree).

The minimum required TOEFL score (for foreign applicants only) is: (a) MS student: 550, 213, or 80 for paper-based, computer-based, or internet-based examinations, respectively; and (b) PhD student: 600, 250, or 100 for paper-based, computer-based, or internet-based examinations, respectively. The TOEFL requirement applies to all foreign students, except those who are native speakers of English from Australia, U.K., Canada, New Zealand, or Singapore. In addition, students who have received a bachelor's degree or an advanced degree from an accredited/recognized college within the last five years in the U.S., U.K., Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, or Australia are exempt from the TOEFL requirement. Students with low TOEFL scores are required to enroll in remedial ELI (English Language Institute, www.hawaii.edu/eli/index.html) courses.

NREM requires prior completed coursework (with a grade of C or higher) that is equivalent to or higher than NREM 203, 220 (or ECON 130), 310, CHEM 151, and BIOL 171. Students who do not have coursework in one or more of these areas may be accepted into the program, but will be expected to make up course deficiencies within their first 1-2 semesters on campus and complete Form 1.

Students Applying to PhD Program

(1) Admission to PhD After Finishing NREM MS

An NREM PhD student who also completed his or her MS in NREM and has subsequently been accepted into the NREM PhD program has the option to take directed reading (NREM 699) for half of the required elective credits (12 of the 24) if NREM courses that are applicable to the student's degree have already been taken as part of the MS degree plan. At least 6 of the non-NREM 699 credits must be for graduate research methods courses. Also, the student is still required to take all 7 credits of NREM PhD core classes. In the case where a student took some/all of these core credits as electives during their MS degree program, an equivalent number of 600-level credits (but not NREM 699) must be taken.

(2) Admission to PhD Without Finishing NREM MS

A currently enrolled NREM MS student can be admitted into NREM's PhD program prior to completing their MS degree if ALL of the following criteria are met:

  • Unanimous approval by the student's MS committee
  • Record of excellent academic achievement including, at a minimum:
    • Maintaining a GPA >3.5 in the MS NREM program
  • The student has the proven ability to undertake independent research, which can be demonstrated by ALL of the following:
    • Authored/co-authored (student as 1st author) > 1 presentation at a national or international professional conference
    • Authored/co-authored (student as 1st author) > 1 peer reviewed journal article
  • Accrued > 2 years of meaningful research experience at school, jobs etc.

(3) Admission to PhD From BS

A student with a BS degree can be admitted directly into NREM's PhD program if ALL of the following criteria are met:

  • A faculty member agrees to advise the student and commits to at least 3 years of funding
  • Record of excellent academic achievement including, at a minimum:
    • Undergraduate GPA >3.5
    • Average verbal, quantitative and written GRE scores >75th percentile
  • The student has the proven ability to undertake independent research, which can be demonstrated by ALL of the following:
    • Authored/co-authored (student as 1st author) a minimum of 1 presentation at a national or international professional conference
    • Authored/co-authored (student as 1st author) a minimum of 1 peer reviewed journal article
    • Accrued at least 2 years of meaningful research experience at school, jobs, or internships


Admitted students will check in with his or her advisor upon arriving on campus. An advisor has been identified for every student based on the student's stated interest and consent of the advisor. If you do not know who your advisor is, check with the NREM office staff or the graduate chair immediately. The primary responsibilities of the advisor during your first semester are to verify entrance and background deficiencies, prescribe remedial courses as early as possible in the student's program, and provide guidance in course selection. All of these items should be completed by the end of the student's first year. Submit Form I to the graduate chair upon fulfilling all deficiencies. If there are no deficiencies, Form I should be submitted at the beginning of the first semester.

Degree Requirements

A "NREM graduate course" is defined as a NREM course at the 500-level or above. A maximum of six credits of upper-division (400-level) undergraduate course work can be used towards the "other than NREM graduate courses" degree requirement for MS Plan A, Plan C, and PhD students, or towards any of the concentration areas for MS Plan B students. For additional course applicability criteria, refer to: manoa.hawaii.edu/graduate/content/course-applicability.

MS in Natural Resource and Environmental Management

NREM offers three options for the MS degrees: Plan A is a thesis-driven research degree, and a student will be accepted into this plan if a faculty sponsor has agreed to advise the student; Plan B is a course driven, professional degree that also requires an integrating capstone experience; and Plan C is only for students with exceptional prior work experience that requires a minimum of two semesters of full-time resident study at UH Manoa and a final written and oral comprehensive examination.

Once admitted, MS students must select a specialization (Plan A) or concentration (Plan B) area with the approval of their advisor. To meet the integrative, interdisciplinary intent of the NREM program, a set of graduate level courses (the Primary MS Core) will be required of every student, regardless of his or her selected Plan option or specialization/concentration area.

The course requirements for each plan are:

Plan A

In addition to the Primary MS Core, a set of electives and thesis credits are required for a total of 30 credits. Electives provide background in research methods and depth in the student's area of specialization. The remaining credit requirements will be met with thesis credits (NREM 700) for conducting the research project. Once the thesis topic is finalized, a research proposal must be approved by the committee. An oral defense of the proposal in front of the thesis committee is also required for final approval of the thesis topic. A public thesis defense is also required, and an announcement with thesis abstract, defense date, and location must be sent to the graduate program chair, departmental secretary, and Graduate Division at least 2 weeks in advance.

Primary MS Core (9 credits):

NREM 600 (3); 601 (3); 605 (2); 701 (1)

Electives (15 credits):

Course in graduate research methods (3); NREM graduate courses (6); Other graduate courses for specialization from within or outside of NREM (6); a maximum of 6 credits of upper-division undergraduate course credits (400-level) allowed

Thesis Option (6 credits):

NREM 700 Thesis (6)

Plan B

Plan B is a course-driven professional degree that requires a total of 36 credits. Students are required to declare a concentration from one of four possible concentration areas (see below). Courses include the Primary MS Core (9 credits), research methods (3 credits), a minimum of 9 elective credits from the chosen concentration area, a minimum of 3 elective credits from each of the other three concentration areas, and a 6 credit capstone experience. Of the 18 elective credits required: (i) at least 12 credits must be NREM courses; and (ii) a maximum of 6 credits of upper-division undergraduate course credits (400-level) are allowed.

Primary MS Core (9 credits):

Same as Plan A.

Research Methods (3 credits):

course in graduate research methods (3).

Concentration Areas (total 18 credits):

All students must select a concentration area from the following: Geospatial Analysis and Modeling, Natural Resources Economics and Environmental Planning, Land and Water Resource Management, and Applied Terrestrial Ecology. Students are required to take a minimum of 9 credits from their concentration area and 3 credits from each of the other areas. The list is not comprehensive, and substitutions will be considered via a written petition from the faculty advisor to the graduate committee.

Geospatial Analysis & Modeling:

  • NREM 477, 627, 664, 677, NREM/ECON/TPSS 429, GEOG 470, PLAN 673

Natural Resources Economics and Environmental Planning:

  • NREM 420, 458, 611, 637, 671, GEOG 413, 621, 622, PLAN 640, 620, 625, 628

Land & Water Resource Management:

  • NREM 461, 463, 467, 612, 660, 662, 665, ORE 677, LWEV 588

Applied Terrestrial Ecology:

  • NREM 450, 480, 680, 682, 685, NREM/BOT/ZOOL 690, ZOOL 750

Capstone Experience (6 credits):

A capstone experience is required for all Plan B students. The capstone experience consists of: (i) NREM 695 (1 cr), to be taken when the student is preparing their proposal; and (ii) NREM 696 (3 cr) and NREM 699 (2 cr; register with faculty advisor), to be taken when the student has completed their capstone experience and is writing up their final document. All capstone experiences require approval from the Plan B Capstone Panel, which consists of the faculty advisor, the NREM 695 course instructor, and an at-large Panel member.

The Capstone Experience requirement may be fulfilled in a number of ways, based on each individual student's interests. In as much, it will vary from student to student, but typical capstone experiences will involve: (i) an internship/coop/special field experience; (ii) an investigation of a special topic; and/or (iii) development of a project, directed readings/study, or a research project. Each student is expected to take the primary role in identifying and organizing their capstone experience. In meeting this requirement, it will be important for students to demonstrate that they are getting an "integrative" experience in natural resources and environmental management. Each student will be required to give a public proposal and defense presentation, and provide a written proposal and final document on their capstone experience, both of which will be evaluated by the Plan B Capstone Panel.

Plan C

Students with exceptional prior work experience. Requirements include residence for two semesters of full-time study, a minimum of 18 graduate credit hours, and a final examination (written and oral). This option is only available to students who are mid-career professionals, having at least 5 years of relevant work experience in natural resources and environmental management.

Primary MS Core (9 credits):

Same as Plan A.

Electives (9 credits):

NREM graduate courses (with no more than 3 credits of NREM 699)

PhD in Natural Resource and Environmental Management

The PhD degree in NREM is awarded only to students with outstanding scholarly achievement. Applicants for the PhD program with academic records that do not match NREM core requirements will be expected to incorporate these into their PhD program. To meet the integrative, multi-disciplinary intent of this program, a set of graduate level courses (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 are meant to provide background in research methods and 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 credits)

  • NREM 611 (3)
  • NREM 612 (3)
  • NREM 701 (1)

Electives (24 credits)

  • Graduate research methods (6)
  • NREM graduate courses (9)
  • Other graduate courses for specialization from within or outside of NREM (9); a maximum of 6 credits of upper-division undergraduate course credits (400-level) allowed
  • from within or outside of NREM (9)

Dissertation (1 credit)

  • NREM 800 Dissertation Research (1)

Comprehensive Examination

The final outcome of the comprehensive examination is the acceptance of the student to the PhD candidacy in NREM. Based on this examination, the student's committee will determine if the student: (i) is ready, (ii) needs to take more courses to remediate deficiencies in her or his training, or (iii) that the student is not fit for the NREM PhD program. In the process of administering the examination, the committee will test the rigor of the student's training as: (i) a scientist in general (that the student can follow the scientific method and procedure to address a research problem and also has the analytical skills to conduct research), (ii) a scientist in NREM (has in-depth knowledge of what makes her or him unique compared to other graduates of UH that might have similar interests; in other words, a NREM student focusing on hydrology should not only be trained to deal with a hydrology problem but also should be able to address the natural resources and environmental management implications of that problem as compared to a hydrology graduate from Civil and Environmental Engineering, Geology and Geophysics, or Geography), and (iii) a scientist in her or his specialty area (for example, a NREM PhD student with a specialty in hydrology should have more in-depth expertise in hydrology than other NREM PhD students working in other specialty areas).

Based on this understanding, the comprehensive examination questions can cover: (i) his or her specialty (i.e., hydrology, forest ecology and management), (ii) general topics related to NREM (i.e., core courses, background knowledge), (iii) knowledge of general research methods (i.e., statistics, analysis methods, etc.), and (iv) the proposed dissertation research.

NREM Courses