The Program

Why Ecological Restoration?

A highly qualified talent pool is urgently needed in Canada’s ecological restoration industry.  This master’s program will provide students with the critical thinking and experiential skills to be leaders and educators in the rapidly developing ecological restoration industry.  The unique, shared institutional curriculum will produce graduates with an integrated body of knowledge, methods, and tools for advancing the practice and science of restoring degraded ecosystems.

The time to act is now. The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed 2021-2030 as the Decade of Ecosystem Restoration. 

According to the United Nations, "There has never been a more urgent need to revive damaged ecosystems than now. Ecosystems support all life on Earth. The healthier our ecosystems are, the healthier the planet - and its people".

What will I learn? 

The program will establish a unique interdisciplinary and inter-institutional curriculum that provides students with an integrated science-based body of knowledge and skills necessary to meet the challenge of delivering effective and successful restoration programs.  Given that there are so few graduate programs with this specialization in North America, the proposed program will advance the knowledge and practice of ecosystem restoration in Canada and internationally. 

The goals of the program are to provide students with the knowledge and skills to:

  • Critically assess degraded ecosystems within different scales and locations (local to international) and identify primary causal factors contributing to the declining state of target ecosystems.
  • Design a restoration prescription (unique to the target site and project goals) by integrating ecological principles (theoretical) and physical processes with applied restoration techniques and approaches.
  • Develop and initiate detailed monitoring programs needed to assess the success of restoration programs and to identify approaches to guide the restoration process.
  • Adapt and modify the restoration approach as deemed appropriate based on monitoring results within an adaptive management framework.
  • Establish strong scientifically-based approaches (research skills) to enhance “reliable knowledge” (reduce uncertainties) in the field of restoration ecology (the scientific foundation of ecological restoration).
  • Act as a team leader and engage in respectful community engagement and planning of ecological restoration projects.
  • Operate with a historically informed and policy sensitive understanding of the cultural practices and protocols of First Nations peoples.
  • Communicate effectively with all levels internal and external to their organization as required to successfully initiate and conduct restoration programs.
  • Develop and apply project management guidelines for each stage of a restoration project.
  • Display and encourage behaviour and comportment that reflects integrity, responsibility, and the values and ethics of professional restoration practitioners.

What courses will I take?

Level 1

  • ECO 611: Concepts of ER & the Biological Environment
  • ECO 621: Graduate Seminars in Research Methods
  • ECOR 9110: Planning and Monitoring for Ecological Restoration; 

Level 2

  • ECOR 9100: Concepts of ER & the Physical Environment
  • ECOR 9210: Restoration of Terrestrial Ecosystems OR ECOR 9220: Restoration of Aquatic Ecosystems
  • ECO 622: Project Management & Policy for Ecological Restoration
  • Elective 1 

Level 3

  • ECOR 9101: Applied Research Project Development Part 1
  • ECOR 9200: Field Applications of Restoration Principles (2-week field course)

Level 4

  • Elective 1 or 2
  • ECOR 9300: Applied Research Project 1

Level 5

  • ECO 641: First Nations & Social Perspectives of Ecological Restoration
  • ECOR 9400: Applied Research Project 2

Orientation: Will occur at both instutions during the first week of classes in your first year.

Schedule is subject to change without notice - please use the schedule of classes in or for the most up to date schedule

Where will I learn? 

The program is a unique, joint degree in full partnership between BCIT and SFU, both located in Burnaby, B.C. Of the 36 credits/units needed to graduate, at least 18 credits/units will be taught at BCIT’s Burnaby Campus and at least 15 credit/units will be taught at SFU’s Burnaby Campus. Students will be fully enrolled in both institutions and have full student access to each institute’s resources and facilities. Graduates can attend convocation ceremonies at both institutions as well. The Institutions are less than a 20-minute drive apart and both are easily accessible via public transit, too.

Program Details 

Class hours

The program consists of 36 credits / units or 12 courses. For in-class courses, classes will be scheduled as 3-hour sessions, one day a week for 15 weeks at BCIT, 13 weeks at SFU. Most classes will be scheduled on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Exceptions are the electives, which will be delivered according to their regular schedule. Specific times when classes are scheduled will vary depending on classroom availability and instructors’ schedules.

Program delivery

The delivery methods for the M.Sc. in Ecological Restoration will be a combination of classroom-based delivery and hands-on field applications and distributed learning modes. Instruction will include group and individual projects, group activities, case studies, class presentations, guest lectures by active restoration specialists, laboratory sessions, field labs and exercises, and field research.

Program Details

The program consists of both coursework and applied components. The use of experiential learning is a major strength of the program, with many courses offered in-class at BCIT or SFU (Burnaby) or in the field.

Through experiential learning, students integrate and apply theories, concepts, and observations firsthand.  Through experiential learning, students will experience the variability and uniqueness of ecosystems, and the difficulty of applying the same concepts to all sites.

A case-based learning methodology will also be used throughout the program to provide students exposure to restoring ecosystems in other areas of the world. Case studies will illustrate how concepts can be integrated and applied to complex ecological systems. Students will be actively engaged in discussion of specific problems in complex, real-world situations. This method is student-centered and involves the exchange of ideas among participants. The instructor’s role will be that of a facilitator, while students address problems collaboratively.

A key component of the Ecological Restoration degree will be the field visits to active restoration projects in the Lower Mainland and other parts of the province. The extensive ecological disturbance and damage that has occurred throughout the Lower Mainland provides real-world opportunities to apply skills in a broad range of restoration activities. Real-world scenarios in ecological restoration will be presented through assignments and team-based projects within courses. These projects will allow students to apply their knowledge from classroom and lab sessions.

Program length

Two years, full-time, five semesters. 

The maximum time to complete this program is 3 years.


Each student is required to maintain a cumulative grade point average (CGPA) of at least 3.0 out of 4.0 (75%).

The overall progress of students in the program will be monitored and evaluated by The Applied Research Committee, and a report on each student’s progress will be sent to the Graduate Program Committee once a year. If the student’s progress is deemed to be unsatisfactory by the Graduate Program Committee, the student may be required to withdraw, or improve in specific ways within a defined period of time.


To practice as a professional biologist in British Columbia, one must be a member of the College of Applied Biology (the College).

To qualify for certification by the College, applicants require 25 courses (15 of which have a biology focus), three years of work experience, and completion of a professional report. For many students, the course work they completed in their undergraduate studies (if their major is strongly focused on biology), coupled with biology-based courses in this M.Sc. program, may satisfy all academic requirements for accreditation. In addition, graduates from the M.Sc. in ER program can use their time in the program to fulfill 12 months of the three-year work-experience period needed for accreditation. Similarly, the final report for their applied research project will be considered as meeting the professional report requirements of the College of Applied Biology, if:

  • it is strongly focused on the biotic components of ecological restoration,
  • the student is responsible for the substantive content of the research project, and
  • it meets one of the three report evaluation criteria listed by the College

Please see the College’s website for more details.

Graduation and Careers 

There is currently a shortage of qualified restoration biologists and practitioners trained in the techniques needed to restore terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems in British Columbia and other jurisdictions in Canada and abroad. Similarly, there are few opportunities to complete a graduate-level program in Ecological restoration in North America. This program will provide a solid foundation for students wishing to embark upon a career involving the conservation, maintenance and restoration of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.

Graduates will be qualified for employment with organizations whose mandates involve the restoration of natural ecosystems, particularly fish and wildlife habitats. Upon graduation, students will have the skills and knowledge to qualify for existing positions and develop rewarding careers with municipal, regional, provincial and federal government agencies, private industry, stewardship groups and other NGOs as restoration practitioners, intermediate biologists, and habitat restoration specialists.

Tuition Fees

For students entering in Fall 2022, the cost of the tuition fees is below. Ancillary fess are extra. All fees will be paid using SFU’s on-line system over five terms*.  

Domestic Students

(per term)*

International Students

(per term)*

*A term fee will be charged for the first five terms, and then a $900 continuing fee per term will be applied for the remainder of the program.

The ancillary fees or other institutional fees are extra.

To facilitate efficiency and simplicity for applicants, payment for the program will be through SFU’s on-line system.  Students will be fully enrolled in both institutions and have full student access to each institute’s resources and facilities. Tuition does not include ancillary fees, or related fees, for both institutions.  Since students are attending both institutions, these institutional fees have been modified to avoid redundancy between institutions (i.e., Upass, dental & medical, etc.).  General information on tuition and fees can be found here.

Approximately $1,500.00 (general estimated cost and subject to change) will be needed for books, field-trips, and field gear.

Application for student loans will be processed through SFU.  Click here for details on SFU’s Financial Aid and Awards.

For student awards, other than government loans programs, at BCIT, please check out BCIT’s Student Financial Aid and Awards site.

Refund Policy

Refunds will be offered as outlined by SFU’s refund policy. (Please note the deadlines for refunds.)