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The University of Tennessee | Institute of Agriculture

Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics

Frequently Used Tools:

Natural Resource & Environmental Economics (NREE) Major

Students majoring in natural resource and environmental economics are prepared for a variety of careers in both the private and public sectors. With increasing competition for limited land, water and other natural resources in the U.S. and throughout the world, as well as growing concern about environmental degradation of various sorts, there is a growing need for professionals who can assist in the process of balancing economic and environmental tradeoffs. Private firms face serious challenges in meeting stricter environmental regulations and achieving self-imposed environmental goals. Public agencies must continually seek to design policies so that society's resource conservation or environmental quality goals are achieved in a cost-effective manner.

Find answers to your questions about our program, scholarships, and potential career opportunities below.

What kinds of career options would be open to me? x

Students graduating with this major may find employment in private firms with environmental compliance activities or conservation initiatives directed toward energy or other natural resources. Opportunities also exist with consulting firms that assist clients in meeting environmental objectives. Many nonprofit environmental organizations seek to employ staff with economic training. Several federal government agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency and the departments of Agriculture, Interior and Energy, employ natural resource and environmental economists. State and local government agencies also provide opportunities for employment.

The major provides a strong background for graduate studies in natural resource and environmental economics, leading to career opportunities in teaching and/or research, as well as high-level policy positions. Students would also be well prepared to pursue a professional program in environmental law.

What salary could I expect in my first job? x

Because of the variety of career options available, the range on starting salaries is rather wide.  The median is somewhere around $35,000 per year with the range extending from around $30,000 to as high as $45,000.


Would I be prepared to pursue a graduate or professional program? x

This major provides a strong background for graduate studies in natural resource and environmental economics, leading to career opportunities in teaching and/or research, as well as high-level policy positions. Students would also be well prepared to pursue a professional program in environmental law.


How is academic advising handled? x

The department has a long-standing reputation for providing students with dedicated, personalized advising.

Students meet with one of the faculty advisors in the Department during freshman or transfer orientation and typically meet with that advisor on a regular basis throughout their academic program.  These faculty advisors are also actively involved in the Department’s undergraduate teaching program.  This extended interaction allows for very personalized advising with regard to course planning, scholarships, internships, extracurricular activities, graduate or professional studies and career placement.  Working closely with a student over a period of years, the advisor can be a valuable advocate if issues or problems arise and provide a letter of reference or recommendation when requested.

Advisors also initiate requests for course substitutions, provide referrals to campus resources. (e.g. Student Success Center), and write reference letters for students when appropriate.

Advisors have an open door policy, however, it is best to make contact ahead of time and make an appointment.

Although UT requires students to meet with an advisor only once per year, the department strongly encourages visits at least once per semester, and more often as needed.

What kinds of courses would I take? x

The curriculum builds upon the university-wide general education requirements with a set of core courses in business and economics. Students then take advanced and specialized course work that focuses on the economic foundations for policies designed to foster natural resource conservation or enhance environmental quality. The curriculum is highly interdisciplinary. Courses are required in the physical and environmental sciences covering subject matter such as conservation, ecology and forestry, as well as soil and water resource issues. Course work is required in environmental ethics, environmental law and other social science disciplines such as sociology. Students gain skills using tools such as geographic information systems for analysis of spatially-referenced data.

Students may choose to follow the curriculum requirements from the catalogue for any fall semester in which they are enrolled at UT.

The Curriculum Requirements and Advising Work Sheets are listed below for the most recent fall semesters. The Curriculum Requirements include course requirements by year while the Advising Work Sheet includes course requirements organized by category (General Education, Business, Agricultural Economics, etc.) with columns to keep track of progress.

Major in Natural Resource & Environmental Economics

Fall 2012 Curriculum Requirements and Advising Work Sheet
Fall 2013 Curriculum Requirements and Advising Work Sheet
Fall 2014 Curriculum Requirements and Advising Work Sheet
Fall 2015 Curriculum Requirements and Advising Work Sheet
Fall 2016 Curriculum Requirements and Advising Work Sheet

Complete course listing

Would I be able to do an internship? x

An internship experience is encouraged for every student to gain practical experience, to enhance knowledge, and to further define career interests. An internship is a 10-12 week work experience usually done between the student's junior and senior academic years.

Opportunities for internships are available with private companies, public agencies and non-profit organizations. 

Examples of potential internship hosts include:

  • The environmental compliance section of a company
  • an environmental consulting firm
  • a local government
  • recycling department
  • a non-profit organization, such as The Nature Conservancy
  • The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation
  • The Tennessee Valley Authority

As part of the internship, students complete a project agreed upon by their internship supervisor and faculty advisor. The project requires an in-depth analysis of a problem or challenge faced by the host company or organization. The report is presented to the internship supervisor. The student also makes a written and oral presentation of the project and internship upon returning to his or her college studies.

Internships are typically done during the summer, though some take place during the fall or spring semester.  Participation in an internship commonly leads to an offer of full-time employment upon graduation.

Interns generally receive compensation during the internship period. The amount varies depending on the internship host. The student can also receive 3 hours of academic credit towards the degree program.

Internship Program Guidelines

Internship Opportunities

Would I be eligible for departmental scholarships? x

Approximately half of our majors each year receive scholarships from departmental or college sources, averaging about $2,000 per student.  This is in addition to the Hope Tennessee Lottery Scholarship and any guaranteed UT scholarships a student may receive.  Students must submit an application by February 1 for the following academic year.  Both merit and need are considered in the process of awarding scholarships.  For general information, click on Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships.


What sorts of extracurricular activities are available? x

Many of the clubs and organizations within the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources are open to students from any major, and several are focused on natural resources or the environment. There is also a very active University-wide student organization called SPEAK (Students Promoting Environmental Action in Knoxville).

Are there opportunities to study abroad? x

Students in agriculture and natural resources can participate in UT study abroad programs throughout the world. These experiences can include courses and other activities during the summer, mini-term and an entire semester or academic year. Find your path and begin your journey now by searching CASNR's Study Abroad site and then contact your advisor, and/or Dr. Dayton Lambert, departmental contact, and/or David Ostermeier, CASNR Study Abroad Coordinator.


What requirements must I meet to be accepted? x

Students can declare the major as freshmen or when they decide to transfer from a community college or different major at UT.  There are no minimum GPA requirements or prerequisite course requirements that must be met to associate with the major.

To learn more about the admission requirements and process check out the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

How easy is it to transfer from a community college or another major? x

A faculty advisor works carefully with any student looking to transfer into the major and seeks to be as flexible as possible in assessing how previous credits can count toward meeting curriculum requirements.  The advisor takes the initiative in submitting substitution or waiver requests when appropriate.  The Department has developed articulation agreements with several community colleges which provide guidance on courses to be taken in preparation for transferring into the major.

From community colleges

Students who plan to transfer into one of our majors after one or two years at a community college should consult with a faculty advisor in our Department as early as possible. Students should review the current articulation agreement between the community college and UT for guidance in choosing appropriate courses.

To learn more about how to apply as a transfer student check out the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

From other majors at UT

Students transferring from other majors at UT should consult a faculty advisor to discuss how previous academic work will apply to our major requirements. The advisor will be as flexible as possible in seeking to assure that a maximum number of credit hours from previous academic work are applied toward meeting specific requirements in our majors.

How and when should I apply to UT? x

For incoming freshmen, apply early in your senior year of high school, anytime after August 1 but no later than the December 1 deadline.  For transfer students, apply by June 1 for fall semester enrollment and November 1 for spring semester enrollment.  For more information on procedures and deadlines check out the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

Once admitted to UT students may declare either of the Departmental majors, concentration or minor immediately. No minimum GPA or prerequisite course requirements must be met.

How do I contact an advisor to learn more? x

You can email or call Dr. Bill Park, Undergraduate Coordinator, or our department to ask more questions and to setup a time to meet with an advisor.

Dr. Bill Park
Undergraduate Coordinator
321A Morgan Hall
(865) 974-7413

Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics
2621 Morgan Circle
302 Morgan Hall
Knoxville, Tennessee 37996-4815

Phone (865) 974-7231
Fax (865) 974-7484


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