MSc. in Conservation Practice

The MSc. Environmental Studies course in Conservation Practice, jointly offered by ATREE and 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.

The first batch of MSc. ES(Conservation Practice) poses after a field exercise at Doddaballapura| Photo by Anooja

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 learn and practice 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 in recognition of its contribution 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.

The MSc Environmental Studies students pose after an interaction with
Annapurna Kamath (Managing Trustee, Satya Foundation) as part of their Sociology documentary project
| Photo by Aneree Dhebar

 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 55 credits from three classroom semesters and 25 credits from one project semester. Our ‘classrooms’ are indoor and outdoor spaces on 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 the Coursework tab.

Students exploring how people become environmental subjects in Periyar National Park| Photo by Sankaranarayanan R.

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 driven and dedicated to 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 this program's practical proficiencies that combine academic expertise and vital field skills.

PhD Scholar Lakshmikantha NR interacts with students during their Water Resources field trip| Photo by Anooja

 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 the Conservation Practices Master graduates, visit our careers page.

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 a 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 mark sheets, 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.

Students need to write an entrance exam and attend a personal interview before the Admissions Committee if shortlisted.

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

Applications for the first phase are now closed. We are now accepting applications for the second phase.

Stage Deadline
Last date to apply (Phase 2 applicants) 31st May, 2022
Entrance exam (Phase 1 and Phase 2) 9th June, 2022
Announcement of entrance Exam results
(Phase 1 and Phase 2)
13th June, 2022
Personal Interview (Phase 1 and Phase 2) 21st June - 24th June, 2022
Course Commencement 1st August, 2022

Do you have any questions? Feel free to contact us at or

Students can interact with highly experienced faculty from both ATREE and TDU. You can access a list of all faculty members using links to their profiles below. National and international scholars and practitioners from ATREE and TDU’s networks will also contribute to teaching and mentoring.

ATREE Faculty and students pose post the completion of the first Student Annual Seminar 2019| Photo by Kruthika Rao



Dr. Siddhartha Krishnan interacts with students during a Conservation Ethics class| Photo by Jayshree Borgohain


You can read more about the ATREE faculty here -

You can read more about the TDU Faculty here-

The Conservation Practice course comprises 80 credits in total, of which 25 are from the project semester and the remaining are from practice-oriented immersive and experiential classroom semesters. The first semester comprises interdisciplinary foundation courses, including ecology, sociology for conservation and sustainability,  environmental science, environmental economics, and scientific communication. The second semester comprises domain knowledge courses on biodiversity, food systems, and ecosystem services and a perspectives course on interdisciplinary practice. 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 the third-semester, students can take a range of electives on project cycle management, adaptive learning, effective advocacy, ethnobotany, transdisciplinarity, environmental humanities, and medicinal plants based on their interests.

Students interact with Bhargavi Rao (Trustee, ESG)  as part of their Sociology documentary project| Photo by Harshit Mishra

The fourth semester of the course is a project semester. Students choose between doing a thesis under a supervisor or an internship with a partner organisation. The ‘thesis stream’ could involve conducting research at ATREE’s Community Conservation centres (CCCs) in the Western Ghats, Western Coast, and the Eastern Himalayas, or TDU’s Medicinal Plant Conservation Areas network. ATREE set up the CCCs to aid the production of research pertinent to and usable by local communities in their conservation and livelihoods efforts. The CCCs provide a space for communities to interact with researchers and support conservation education programmes, collaboration in conservation efforts, and long-term socio-ecological monitoring. The ‘internship stream’ will enable students to learn from and contribute to the expertise of partner organisations in NGO, corporate, government or academic sectors.  In thesis or internship streams, students can apply classroom learning to real-world situations and partake in experiential learning.

Students pose with documentary filmmaker Arjun Swaminathan post a documentary workshop



The Conservation Practices Masters is open to students from diverse backgrounds. ATREE has an affirmative policy that encourages women and persons from underprivileged groups to apply. We use this affirmative action policy in concert with the Government of Karnataka’s reservation policy when considering student applications. We are also accepting applications from international students. TDU is registered with the Foreigners Regional Registration Officer (FRRO) and will facilitate the registration of international students with the FRRO.

PhD Scholar Lakshmikantha NR showcases basic hydrologic field techniques to students | Photo by Anooja A.


To be eligible to do the Conservation Practice Masters, you must fulfil the below mentioned criteria:

  • For Indian applicants: have a bachelor's degree from a UGC recognised university including but not limited to Traditional Health Sciences, Biomedicine, Life Science, Environmental Science, Design, Architecture, Performing and Fine Arts, Visual Communication, Economics, Geography, Anthropology, Social Work, Political Science, Mass Communication, Engineering and Management. Applicants with a master’s degree in a related field are also welcome to apply.
  • For international applicants: have a Bachelor's degree from a reputed University in any branch of the humanities, sciences, engineering or traditional health sciences and a score of 6.5 or higher in IELTS / 90 or higher in TOEFL or equivalent qualifying test for English language and proven writing skills.
  • Have secured at least 55% on average in their previous degree (either bachelor's or master's)
  • Applicants must have secured a fellowship, be sponsored for fees and research expenses, or self-finance their study. A limited number of need based merit scholarships are available for students.

 Application Requirements

If you are satisfied that you fulfil the above mentioned criteria, we encourage you to apply! Your application must include the following:

Your application must include the following:

  • A self-attested copy of the following certificates: class X mark sheet, class XII/ higher secondary transcripts
  • Bachelor’s degree certificate
  • Self-attested copy of academic transcripts from your bachelor’s degree in pdf format. Students who have also completed a Master's degree must include the transcripts for that degree as well
  • Statement of Purpose (SoP)
  • Curriculum Vitae (CV)
  • PDF of any other diplomas or certificates you want to share on your application
  • Digital copy of recent passport size photo (JPEG/PDF/TIFF of size <1Mb)
  • Completed application form

The Statement of Purpose (SoP) details the student’s interest and motivations, relevance of recent and current activities to the programme and academic interests and background. The SoP will be assessed for (a) relevance (b) originality and (c) clarity of understanding. The SoP assesses an applicant's environmental interests and enthusiasm, and their analytical and practical inclinations in engaging with conservation and sustainability questions and challenges. The SoP can be submitted in the form of an essay (750 - 1000 words).

The SoP must answer these questions.

  • Why do you want to enroll in the conservation practice programme?
  • What are your concerns, interests and aspirations around the field of environmental conservation?
  • Which of your experiences and interests matter for consideration and qualification to the programme?
  • Does your degree and its prospects align with your career and life interests? How?
  • Have you been involved in any campus and off-campus activities relating to conservation and sustainability? Please describe. These could include climate change activism, organic farming practice or consumption, wildlife watching or campaigning, or engaging with indigenous or local cultures.

In answering these questions, please introduce us to your student career, your environmental concerns, interests, aspirations and activities. Finally, tell us why interdisciplinarity appeals to you as a research or practice approach.

Submission of Application

Please submit the above-mentioned documents and the completed application form via email to Ensure your application is submitted by 31st May 2022. You can download the application form from the website or send an email request to Account details for payment of application fees of 500 INR are mentioned in the application form.

After you have submitted your application, and if it clears all eligibility criteria, you will automatically be registered to do an online entrance exam. The multiple-choice exam will consist of the following broad themes/sections:

  • Quantitative-analytical thinking
  • Ecology, environmental science and social science
  • Conservation and sustainability
  • Environment and development

The exam will take place on June 9th, 2022. We will notify applicants.

Click here to download the entrance exam model question papers.

Selection Process

Shortlisted applicants will be invited for a personal interview after the Admissions Committee assesses the student’s application and entrance exam scores. Personal interviews will take place between June 21st to June 24th, 2022.

For fee details, please click here

Do you have any questions? Feel free to contact us at or

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 that 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 will appreciate the range of knowledge and skills that graduates of the Conservation Practices 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 formalising partnerships with corporate, NGO, government and academic networks; campus placements will be initiated through them.

MSc. student, Vidhatri Thakkar interacts with Annapurna Kamath talks about urban commons| Photo by Aneree Dhebar


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