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Colorado State University - Conservation Leadership Master's Program

About this program

The Conservation Leadership master’s program prepares students to become effective leaders to address complex conservation issues at a local, regional and global scale. Our mission is to train and inspire the next generation of conservation leaders with theoretical and applied knowledge, approaches and skills in conservation disciplines through instruction, field work and research that is experimental and values cross-cultural and inter-disciplinary perspectives.  

The Conservation Leadership program resides in the Human Dimensions of Natural Resources Department in the Warner College of Natural Resources at Colorado State University. It is an 18-month graduate program, which includes two semesters of full-time coursework followed by a Capstone Project. The coursework prepares students to enter the conservation field and apply our core objectives to their future careers:

  1. Analyze conservation issues from multiple disciplines and stakeholder perspectives
  2. Collaborate with diverse stakeholders and individuals
  3. Utilize systems thinking to examine conservation issues
  4. Apply interdisciplinary problem-solving approaches to conservation issues
  5. Apply inquiry tools and methods to address conservation issues
  6. Effectively communicate conservation via varied media, academic outputs and presentations
  7. Demonstrate leadership skills to work effectively in group environments

  • Year partnership began: 2018
  • Fellowships awarded per year (average):

Application requirements

Admissions process

Fellows will follow the Colorado State University application process as follows:

  1. Complete the online graduate school application form
  2. Complete a series of supplemental questions regarding their conservation, cross-cultural and leadership experiences
  3. Submit all application materials
  4. Check application status

Once accepted and enrolled, students will take all of their course on campus for Fall and Spring semester. During the Summer months they will conduct a capstone project (4 months) and the average amount of hours spent is usually 30 hours a week.

Degrees awarded

Up to 3

Benefits and opportunities

In-state Out-of-state
Tuition and fees $20,747 $42,349
Value of fellowship $5,200 $10,600
Net cost $15,547 $31,749

Net cost is equal to tuition/fees minus fellowship value. For some universities, the fellowship value includes non-tuition/fee benefits such as health insurance or housing. See cost savings details for more.

Estimated annual cost of living: $18,142

Cost savings details

Students will receive a tuition discount of 33% from The CSU Graduate School and a scholarship from the program. This discount applies to tuition only (not fees). Both out-of-state and in-state students will receive a waiver of the $60 application fee.


The Academic Director and Program Coordinator will both be involved in working with the Fellows to make these connections and support the partnership-building to develop the internship (Capstone Project). The program will identify local community partners and lead the conversations with the organization to explain the internship and develop the relationship. The Fellows will be presented with details about the various organizations and potential internship project ideas. They will then be able to determine which of the organizations and/or project ideas match their interests best.

The program has worked with a wide variety of domestic partners that have provided opportunities for students to work at the nexus of conservation, development, justice and economic prosperity and more. Some relevant examples include working on conservation education with youth, serving under-served communities, collaborating with local landowners for natural resource use, conducting citizen science efforts, community-based conservation and collaborative conservation with stakeholders for effective decision-making processes.

Some examples of previous capstone project locations include:

Belize, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Chile, Mauritius, Mexico, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Peru and the United States.

Other opportunities

Coverdell Fellows will also be encouraged to apply for CSU General Scholarships and Warner College of Natural Resources Scholarships. They can also apply for paid positions within the Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources or other departments on campus.

Jobs for alumni

Nontraditional options

Contact information

Dawson Metcalf
Program Manager




[email protected]


Colorado State University
1480 Campus Delivery
Fort Collins, CO 80523-1480