M.Sc in Conservation Practice

The MSc Environmental Studies course in Conservation Practice jointly offered by ATREE and The University of Trans-Disciplinary Health Sciences and Technology (TDU), equips natural and social science students with interdisciplinary knowledge, perspectives, and skills to understand and address conservation challenges. This course is curated to create young environmental leaders whose interdisciplinary skills will add value to corporate social responsibility and sustainability offices, development and conservation NGOs, and government line departments dealing with environment and development portfolios. In academic institutions, these leaders will lend a practical edge.

Is Conservation Practice just another environmental course?  

No, it isn't. It is the environmental course that walks the interdisciplinary talk. Even as environment and ecology degrees in conventional and new liberal arts and science universities experiment with interdisciplinarity, they continue to be research-oriented.  Ahead of its time, but just in time, this programme focuses on conservation-skilling backed by rigorous socio-ecological knowledge. What you study matters; but where you study, and practice it, matters more. This course offers students the novel opportunity to interact with faculty who have shunned disciplinary silos over two decades and mixed natural and social science theories and methods to generate conservation and sustainability knowledge for policy and practice stakeholders. 

ATREE is India’s pioneer in interdisciplinary conservation and sustainability studies, and has consistently ranked in the top 20 environmental policy think tanks since 2014, by the University of Pennsylvania. ATREE has also received the 2019 UNESCO Sultan Qaboos Prize that recognizes its contributions to participatory approaches in conservation and sustainability. The degree will be awarded by TDU, a Karnataka Government and UGC-recognised university in health and plant sciences. TDU is a National Centre of Excellence of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (GOI) and aims to transcend academic boundaries and engage with traditional knowledge. The Conservation Practice program is a product of this combination of ‘inter’ and ‘trans’ disciplinary pioneering, novelty and legacy.  

What is practical about this interdisciplinary course?

The Conservation Practice Masters program offers undergraduates a novel, career-centric and practice-oriented post-graduation degree. The 80 credit program comprises 62 credits from three classroom semesters and 18 credits from one project semester. Our ‘classrooms’ are indoor and outdoor spaces in campuses, and in urban and rural field sites. Experiential and immersive group learning is a practical thread that runs through these three knowledge, perspectives and skills semesters. Student groups will pursue ‘mini projects’ or sectoral immersions in these semesters that apply or test concepts, frameworks and methods in the field. The final semester ‘project’ involves an internship with partner organizations, or fieldwork leading to a thesis.  For details on the courses offered, visit ‘Coursework’.


Is this the right course for me?

The Conservation Practice course transcends disciplinary boundaries.  It  enables equitable and sustainable  conservation solutions. The course offers an exceptional opportunity for students who are driven and dedicated towards conservation  and  human wellbeing efforts,  as part of corporate institutions, NGOs,  government agencies, think tanks, and academia.  Students who are enthusiastic about tackling   biodiversity loss, climate change, urban water quality or sustainable farming will particularly appreciate the practical proficiencies offered by this program that combines academic expertise and vital field skills.

What are the career opportunities?

The Conservation Practice program equips students for diverse careers in NGOs, social responsibility and sustainability offices, environment and sustainability branches of the government, environmental management and consulting organisations, and academia. Graduates of the program can thus be gainfully employed at private and public sector organisations that engage with conservation and sustainability. For more information on career opportunities for graduates of the Conservation Practice Master, visit our ‘Careers’.

What is the application process?

We welcome applicants from diverse backgrounds. We value diversity, gender equity and the representation of minority communities; women and persons from underprivileged groups are especially encouraged to apply. We are also accepting applications from international students.

At minimum, students must have secured an average of 55% in their bachelor’s degree done in a related field (details on our admissions page). To apply, you must include the following documents: academic transcripts of your bachelor’s degree, grade XII and X board marksheets, your CV, other certificates or diplomas you would like to include, and a statement of purpose (SoP) written by you motivating why you would like to participate in the course. An entrance exam will also be conducted. Shortlisted applicants will be invited for a personal interview before the Admissions Committee.

You can find more details on the eligibility criteria and application process on our admissions page.

Important Dates and Deadlines for Phase 1 Applicants:

Stage Deadline
Last date to apply 30th July
Entrance exam 18th August
Personal Interview 19th August
Commencement of course 1st October

Phase 2 Applicants: For those who have missed the first deadline, we are accepting a second round of applications from 31st July, 2021 to 27th August, 2021. Please send us your applications before the new deadline (27th August, 2021) and refer to the table below for important dates.

Important Dates and Deadlines for Phase 2 Applicants

Stage Deadline
Last date to apply 27th August
Entrance exam 8th September
Personal Interview 9th September
Commencement of course 1st October


The total fee for the Masters programme is 3,50,000 INR for Indian students. Students from SAARC countries and developed countries have a different fee structure. A breakup of the fees can be accessed here.

The fees to apply for the programme is 500 INR. More details on the application process can be found on the admissions page.

Do you have any questions? Feel free to contact us at masters@atree.org or admissions@tdu.edu.in.

The Conservation Practice course comprises 80 credits in total, of which 18 are from the project semester and the remaining are from field and practice oriented classroom semesters. The first classroom semester comprises interdisciplinary foundation courses including ecology, sociology for conservation and sustainability ,environmental science, environmental economics theory of change, philosophy of science, philosophy of practice, research methodologies, and scientific communication. The second classroom semester comprises domain knowledge courses on biodiversity, food systems, and ecosystem services as well as perspectives courses on conservation ethics, impact assessment, political ecology, and social-ecological systems. The third and final semester includes practice-oriented domain skills courses  on landscape restoration, conservation technologies, decision science, approaches to conservation, climate change, and conservation psychology. In addition, during this third semester students are offered a range of electives on project cycle management, adaptive learning, effective advocacy, ethnobotany, transdisciplinarity, environmental humanities, and medicinal plants to choose from based on their interests. A tentative list of courses can be downloaded here.

The fourth semester of the course is a project semester and students choose between undertaking a thesis under a supervisor from ATREE or TDU based on mutual interests and faculty expertise, or participating in an internship with a partner organization. The ‘thesis stream’ will involve conducting research at ATREE’s Community Conservation centres (CCCs) in the Western Ghats, Western Coast, and the Eastern Himalayas. ATREE set up the CCCs to aid the production of research that is pertinent to and usable by local communities in their conservation efforts. Furthermore, they provide a space for communities to interact with researchers and support conservation education programmes, collaboration in conservation efforts as well as long term socio-ecological monitoring. The ‘internship stream’ will enable students to learn from the expertise of partner organizations in NGO, corporate, government or academic sectors by undertaking an internship at a chosen organisation. Whether a student chooses the ‘thesis stream’ or the ‘internship stream,’ they will be given the opportunity to apply classroom learning to real world situations and partake in experiential learning.

The Ecoinformatics, Biosystematics, Conservation Genetics and Water and Science Lab at ATREE and the Research Hospital at TDU  offer world class facilities for research in conservation and sustainability. You can know more about these facilities here and here.


Students have the opportunity to interact with highly experienced faculty from both ATREE and TDU. A list of all faculty members along with links to their profiles can be accessed below. National and international scholars and practitioners from ATREE and TDU’s networks will also be invited to teach and mentor.

Students and faculty pose after the completion of the first Student Annual Seminar (SAS) 2019. Photo by Kruthika Rao

Besides foundational knowledge in social and natural sciences, our graduates will accumulate domain knowledge and skills across a spectrum of conservation and sustainability themes and sectors ranging from forests and farms; biodiversity, ecosystems services and human well-being; environmental ethics and social justice; policy, governance and impact assessment; ecological restoration and landscaping; climate change; and field and machine learning technologies. A wide range of competencies in these fields makes our graduates competitive and sought-after candidates for roles in conservation and sustainability initiatives across the country. These include,

  • State and non-state institutions implementing, or investing in, rural and urban conservation programs and schemes can valuably employ graduates of the Conservation Practice Masters.
  • Corporate social responsibility departments and sustainability offices will value the knowledge and skills that graduates of this program will be equipped with. 
  • Entrepreneurship in conservation and sustainability would inspire, benefit, and boost conservation and sustainability activities at various scales. Graduates of our program will be well-equipped for such initiatives.
  • Graduates of our program can contribute to global, national and local endeavours by NGOs and think tanks to further the cause of conservation and sustainability.
  • Environmental management or consulting organisations appreciate the range of knowledge and skills that graduates of the Conservation Practice program have.
  • The practical skills offered by the program advance the competencies and lend an “applied” perspective to  graduates who wish to continue in research oriented jobs.

ATREE and TDU are in the process of formalising partnerships with corporate, NGO, government and academic networks; campus placements will be initiated through them.