Master's degree (2 years)
Full time

Are you interested in ecology, biological diversity and natural processes? Global environmental challenges such as climate change and species extinction make ecologists and their skills more important than ever.  

Application deadline:

Norwegian, Nordic, EU/EEA and Swiss citizens: 15th of April. 

Students outside EU/EEA/EFTA: 1st of December.

Start of Studies:

Fall semester

Number of students:



A Bachelor’s degree, or its equivalent, in natural sciences, with solid knowledge of ecology and ecological processes.

  • The applicants must have obtained a Bachelor's degree, or its equivalent, in natural sciences, with solid knowledge of ecology, ecological processes and statistics. Applicants must demonstrate English language ability in accordance with NMBU's regulations for programmes taught in English. Applicants must have obtained a minimum grade point average (GPA) of C (in Norwegian scale) or equivalent in their degree. Please note that students with a former master degree from Norway will not be prioritized.
Bildet er tatt i forbindelse med kurs for studenter fra MINA NMBU som lærer seg plantekjennskap
Eurasian eagle owl
Studenter og foreleser på feltkurs ser på planter
Bilde av studenter i felt
Fjellgorilla med unge
Bilde av studenter i felt

Do you want to work with biological monitoring, conservation, and ecosystem health? Climate change, habitat loss, and pollution are straining ecosystems worldwide. Ecologists are needed to help understand these issues and come up with solutions. 

This program focuses on the following:

  • The world's major global ecological challenges, such as biodiversity loss and climate change
  • Mitigation of these effects, for example via restoration ecology
  • Sustainable ecosystem management

Ecologists play a key role in understanding how humans impact the environment. This knowledge is a prerequisite for combatting important environmental challenges of our time. It is also vital when working to reverse land and water degradation through restoration measures.  

NMBU has an extensive course catalogue within ecology and related subjects, which is taught by dedicated teachers and researchers who are experts within their field. 

The master's thesis gives you the opportunity to delve into a scientific topic of your choice. We give our students plenty of freedom when it comes to choosing a topic for the thesis. NMBU's ecology students do their fieldwork in many different countries in some of the most spectacular natural landscapes on the planet. Example of previous thesis topics include: 

  • Carnivore biology and management
  • Forest biology and ecology
  • Freshwater ecology
  • Freshwater fish management
  • Insect ecology
  • Plant ecology
  • Tropical flora and fauna
  • Wildlife conservation and management

Career opportunities

Ecologists work in all parts of society where environmental issues are of concern. You will be qualified for tasks related to environmental monitoring, biological conservation, research, and education. Our alumni work for a variety of employers, ranging from public government, NGOs, research institutions, and the university sector. The programme has a strong research emphasis, and can serve as a foundation for PhD studies.

Here are just some examples of the kinds of jobs our graduates have obtained:

  • Biological researcher. Many of our alumni continue in this direction, either as PhD candidates or research assistants. Previous research projects include carnivore management, entomology, forest biology, fish biology and much more
  • Consultant, working with f.ex impact assessments, habitat restoration and species mapping related to encroachment of nature
  • Urban natural resource manager
  • Fish and wildlife manager (at various levels of government)
  • National park manager

You can read some interviews with finished master's students in ecology here.


Our research

NMBU has long traditions for research within nature and the environment, sustainable use of natural resources, biological and geological processes. Our vision is to be a key player in knowledge production and dissemination, and deliver research of high, international quality and varied and good teaching. Our employees are highly recognized experts in their respective fields, both nationally and internationally.

One research topic is carnivores and animal behaviour. Watch a youtube-video of fox mating behaviour from one of our research projects below:  


  • A candidate who has completed the education is expected to have achieved the following learning outcomes, defined in competence, knowledge and skills:


    Can effectively communicate scientific information to scientists, natural resource management authorities, and the public.  

    Can work collaboratively in a multidisciplinary environment with emphasis on evaluating sustainable solutions from different disciplinary perspectives. 

    Can apply the scientific method and use his/her knowledge to carry out research projects and other advanced tasks related, but not limited, to the field of ecology. 


    Is familiar with ecological processes at multiple scales and levels of biological organization, including individual life histories, population dynamics, and interactions in ecological communities.  

    Has a thorough knowledge of ecological theory and factors that regulate the structure and diversity of ecosystems.  

    Has knowledge of the significance of biodiversity for ecosystems and underlying causes for the loss of biological diversity. 

    Has up-to-date knowledge about global environmental change and its effects on organisms and ecosystems 

    Has up-to-date knowledge about restoration and other measures for mitigating biodiversity loss. 


    Can plan and conduct independent research, as well as evaluate, analyse, and synthesize the resulting data.  

    Can apply new insights and information to address ecological questions.  

    Can use ecological principles and knowledge in an applied context, such as in nature conservation and the management of natural resources.  

  • The course allows for the possibility of studying abroad, provided the student takes the compulsory subjects in the Master's degree programme. These courses can be taken at NMBU or at another college or university abroad, subject to approval. It is also possible to carry out the fieldwork for the master's thesis abroad.

  • The following courses are compulsory for all students: 

    • Ecological Research
    • Conservation Biology
    • Global Change Ecology
    • Restoration Ecology
    • Interdisciplinarity and Expert Disagreement on Sustainability
    • Methods in Natural Sciences

    In addition will the students specialize by choosing at least one of the following 300-level courses: 

    • Ecological Entomology
    • Behavioural and Population Ecology
    • Landscape Ecology
    • Ecology and Management of Rivers and Lakes
    • Environmental Pollutants and Ecotoxicology
    • Ecology and Management of Natural Resources in the Tropics
    • Human Wildlife Interactions
    • Forest Ecology
    • Tropical Rainforest Ecology and Conservation

    You will find an overview of the programmes structure here. 

    • Ecology is the science of interactions between organisms and their environment. Humans are an integral part of ecological systems and are drivers of rapid changes therein. Ecology transcends many facets of human life and enterprise. Meeting human society’s challenges today – whether they concern the rapid conversion of natural habitat, loss of biodiversity heading towards mass-extinction, or growing conflicts over natural resources – requires in-depth knowledge of ecological principles and the drivers of environmental change. In addition, it is required to posses the ability of interdisciplinary cooperation to find sustainable solutions to today's major global environmental challenges, and the competence to contribute to such processes.
    • The students acquire, process, discuss and synthesize advanced knowledge through a combination of lectures, seminars, project reports, term papers, excursions and field work. The study concludes with an independent research project, a master's thesis of 60 ECTS credits.

    • The forms of evaluation are varied and consist of written and oral exams, semester assignments, restauration plans, student presentations, participation in debates as well as participation in and reporting from compulsory activities. The Master`s thesis is defended with an external examiner present.

    • The faculty has a broad spectrum of courses taught in English, either on a permanent basis or on request from the students. The faculty can therefore offer foreign students a normal academic year in English within the area of natural resource management and ecology.

Study advisor(s):

Espen Arestøl

Espen Arestøl

Senior Advisor