Online Master of Natural Resources (Online MNR) in Global Sustainability

Designed for maximum flexibility to accommodate busy schedules, the Online Master of Natural Resources (Online MNR) is a 30-credit hour, asynchronously delivered virtual degree program that prepares students for careers in environmental sustainability.

The program combines online coursework and participation in a 10-day, face-to-face Global Study that takes the place of the typical professional graduate degree capstone project. This interdisciplinary program instills the conceptual and critical thinking skills necessary for lifelong learning and career development. MNR graduates are prepared to succeed on a truly global stage as natural resource, environmental, and sustainability professionals.

Climate change has the potential to disrupt human civilization, reduce economic growth, harm human health, and degrade environmental functions. Students examine the causes, consequences, and responses to climate change, and consider the benefits and drawbacks of various approaches and strategies for adaptation and resilience.

Pulling a billion people out of energy poverty and meeting the needs of a growing middle class may require several doublings of energy demand. Students compare energy systems’ returns on investment and social/environmental impact and consider the relationship of energy to social, economic, water, and climate systems.

Meeting the demand of a more prosperous and populous humanity may require a doubling of food supply, yet current agricultural practices are the leading cause of water stress, biodiversity loss, carbon emissions, and other sustainability challenges. Students explore how we can meet future food demand, with a focus on our agricultural systems and their relationship to climate, water, and ecological systems and biodiversity. Food waste, farming production intensity (local, organic, industrial), technology, and diets are also examined.

Abundant but finite, water is critical to human health, food, energy, and economic production. Students learn how to prioritize managing our water systems, and consider factors that affect the supply and demand for water in agriculture/food, energy, public health, economic development, and industry.

Students review major sustainable development frameworks, such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Green Circular Economy, Malthusian models, and more. Specific cases are explored in detail, particularly during the Global Study module.

Rapid urbanization means that, between now and 2050, 1 million people per week will be moving or born into cities. Students examine how to accommodate this new population while ensuring sustainable development in a manner that fuels economic growth, pulls people out of poverty, increases human rights, lowers per-person environmental impacts, fuels innovation, and supports good governance.

Students explore how to supply the material needs of a more prosperous and populous humanity by transitioning to a circular economy. Supply chains, markets, production-consumption, technological design and development, consumer behavior, service-dominated corporate behavior, economic opportunity, regulation, and corporate risk reduction are considered.

Human development has an adverse effect on biodiversity, but future development could lessen the pressure. Students examine strategies for reducing poverty, meeting the global demand for food, accommodating urban development, and countering the impact of climate change on biodiversity.

Major elements of the Online MNR program include:

  • 5 required “core” courses
  • 5 elective courses chosen by the student in consultation with their graduate advisor
  • Flexible course-loads based on each student’s  time and financial budget
  • Peer-to-peer learning and mentoring
  • Global Study (an international trip)

The Online MNR program accepts new students three times each academic year:  Fall, Spring, and Summer-I terms.

  • Coursework completed 100% online
  • Asynchronous course delivery provides both flexibility and accountability
  • Students may enroll part-time, half-time, or full-time
  • Required in-person 10-day Global Study
  • Professional career coaching included with tuition

Requirements for admission include:

  • Undergraduate degree (minimum GPA of 3.0*)
  • Virginia Tech Application for Admission
  • $75 non-refundable application fee
  • Current resume/CV
  • Two Letters of Recommendation
  • Official copies of relevant academic transcripts

No GRE required; TOEFL may be required for international students per Graduate School requirements.

*Talk to an advisor if your undergraduate GPA is below 3.0.

Application Deadlines

Admissions are processed on a rolling basis. The application process takes approximately two to three weeks. We encourage you to apply as soon as possible, as Online MNR courses tend to fill up quickly.

Program costs include:

  • Tuition – $900 per credit hour, regardless of residency
  • Fees
    • Library:  $25-$50/semester
    • Technology: $19-$38/semester
  • Books, supplies, course materials
  • Global Study ($3,300 + round-trip airfare)
Seth Brown
Selma Elouradighi
International Fellow
Bruce Hull
Senior Fellow; Faculty
Courtney Kimmel
Fellow, Faculty
Kieran Lindsey
Fellow; OMNR Director, Assoc. Director of Online Programs
Daniel Marcucci
Fellow, Faculty
David Robertson
Senior Fellow, XMNR Director, CLiGS Associate Director
Marc Stearn
Fellow, Faculty
Emily Talley
Senior Fellow; Faculty
Paul Wagner
Fellow, Faculty
Holly Wise
Senior Fellow, Faculty