Advanced study is offered in land rehabilitation with the opportunity to conduct graduate research. Both graduate thesis research (Plan A) and professional paper (Plan B) options are available. Course work in land rehabilitation is designed to serve students new to the rehabilitation field, as well as individuals already working in government and industry who desire further education. Montana State University offers core courses in land rehabilitation sciences and a wide range of supporting courses in applied science fields. These courses are integrated with the core curriculum to add breadth and depth to the program and to make specialization possible in a given aspect of land rehabilitation. Site revegetation, soil remediation, riparian zone restoration, stream channel restoration, remediation of contaminated sites, and management of invasive plants are areas of study. Emphasis is placed on developing a broad understanding of soil, plant and hydrologic processes. With the exception of required core courses, course sequences will be designed to correspond with the specific needs, interests and educational goals of the individual student. This program emphasizes soil and vegetation sciences, and graduates are expected to be well versed in both areas in addition to the students particular area of interest.
The following courses are required of all students pursuing a M.S. degree in Land Rehabilitation:
LRES 594: Seminar, 1 credit
LRES 563: Restoration Ecology, 3 credits
ENSC 460: Soil Remediation, 3 credits
Additional coursework required for the degree program will be determined based on the student's area of specialization; however, students are encouraged to develop a strong academic background in plant ecology, soil sciences and water resources.
Public awareness, governmental insistence and a national need to conserve the health and integrity of ecosystems have created a need for trained personnel in a wide variety of interrelated, challenging fields. Qualified personnel are needed in the areas of administration, consulting, education, enforcement and research for land rehabilitation related problems.
Land rehabilitation scientists attain employment with energy-related industries (mining, drilling, power and fuel generation), and with environmental consulting and engineering companies to develop reclamation plans. Federal agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management, Office of Surface Mining, Forest Service and National Park Service employ land rehabilitation specialists. State government programs responsible for active or abandoned mines, highway revegetation, control of invasive plant species, stream restoration and pollution prevention employ reclamation scientists.
Research at universities, state and federal agencies, or consulting, engineering or mining firms are expanding the field of employment for those with graduate training.
As demands for energy, raw materials, essential services and desire to conserve the environment expand, an increase in land surfaces affected by severe types of disruption is inescapable. The growing number of surface land disturbances and their increasing severity thrust unprecedented challenges upon land resource management. Heightened public awareness and concern for the protection of our environment has resulted in passage of significant legislation both at state and federal levels, including stringent requirements for rehabilitation of many new categories of land disturbance.
In response to the demand for academic training programs, Montana State University presents an integrated and interdisciplinary program dedicated to the education of land rehabilitation specialists. Highly experienced faculty have provided leadership for several decades in the land rehabilitation sciences both regionally and nationally. This foundation of knowledge is provided to students within the academic program.