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Full-time Master of Science m400msc

Master of Science in Ecological Restoration

Fall 2020 Delivery Mode: BLENDED

  • This program will be delivered for the fall semester as a combination of online and on-campus learning.
  • Faculty will notify students of when their attendance on campus will be required.
  • We are putting measures in place for your safety and well-being, ensuring that all safety protocols are addressed. Please see BCIT COVID-19 Return to Operations for details on the mandatory procedures that have been implemented.
  • Your education is our priority and we will continue to deliver the applied instruction, collaborative experience, and industry connections that you expect from BCIT.

This is Canada’s first master’s program specializing in Ecological Restoration and is offered as a joint program between British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) and Simon Fraser University (SFU).  The MSc in Ecological Restoration combines the strong technical and applied (experiential) knowledge at BCIT with SFU’s fundamental (contextual) basic science and community engagement expertise. The product is a unique joint-degree program that will fundamentally advance both the practice and science of ecological restoration.

Ecological Restoration (ER) is a scientific discipline that has recently emerged due to the increasing need to restore degraded and damaged ecosystems. Many ecosystem goods, services, and natural habitats have been severely impacted due to the cumulative impacts of previous and ongoing anthropogenic influences, including for example: urban sprawl, industrial expansion, invasive species, and contamination of soils and water resources. These impacts, and the need to remediate, rehabilitate, and restore habitat for threatened and endangered species, have led to the requirement for ecosystem restoration work across the province, Canada, and internationally.  Ecological Restoration is an intentional activity that initiates or accelerates recovery of an ecosystem with respect to its health, integrity, and sustainability.

This five-term, two-year (36 credits (BCIT)/units (SFU) - inclusive of a 6-credit/unit capstone project) program will produce graduates capable of using critical thinking, adaptive management, and applied research within an applied problem-solving framework. This combination of skills will be applied to the identification of factors responsible for degraded ecosystems and to the rehabilitation and restoration of ecosystem functions, while advancing the scientific knowledge of this rapidly emerging discipline.

Graduates will have the critical and theoretical skills needed to set priorities, develop a structured approach to restoring degraded ecosystems, and critically assess their success in highly complex and unpredictable environments with significant uncertainties.

Inherent in the program are development of essential skills for program management, communication, and respectful community consultation. The program will leverage expertise at both institutions, and local experts and case studies, to understand how to approach ecological restoration in diverse sociocultural and biophysical settings.


  • Is a unique interdisciplinary & inter-institutional curriculum;
  • Is at the leading edge of this new, and rapidly growing, environmental discipline;
  • Courses have been specifically designed to offer advanced, specialized training in ecological restoration;
  • Entails an interdisciplinary, hands-on approach to addressing pressing practical problems;
  • Permits specialization in restoration of aquatic or terrestrial ecosystems;
  • Focuses on using applied research to provide solutions to government, institutional, and industry problems;
  • Has strong industry connections via client-based research projects; and
  • Is a unique program in Canada, and is among very few similar programs in North America.


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, inter-institutional curriculum will produce graduates with an integrated body of knowledge and skills for advancing the theory and practice of restoring degraded ecosystems.


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, this program will advance the knowledge and practice of ecological restoration in Canada and internationally.

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

  • Critically assess degraded ecosystems at different temporal and spatial 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 target sites and project goals) by integrating ecological principles (theoretical) and physical processes with applied restoration techniques.
  • 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 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.
  • Communicate effectively with all stakeholders 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 that reflects integrity, responsibility, and the values and ethics of professional restoration practitioners.

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The program is a unique joint degree in full partnership between BCIT and SFU, both located in Burnaby, BC.  Of the 36 credits/units needed to graduate, 18 credits will be taught at BCIT’s Burnaby Campus and 18 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.

Program Entry

Application processing

Applications for are open from October 9th to March 31st for the next academic year.

Application processing will be conducted by Simon Fraser University (SFU) and the Graduate Program Committee.

Note: Applications will be assessed by the Graduate Program Committee during two review dates, early January and again following the closing of the application process. To enhance your opportunity for a seat in the program, we encourage you to apply before January 1st as all seats may be filled following the first review of applicants. Email for help, if needed.

Entrance requirements

Applicants applying for entry into the program require:

  • A four-year bachelor’s degree in ecological restoration, ecology, plant science, animal science, soil science, environmental science, resource science (land, water, fish and wildlife, forestry), physical geography, environmental engineering, or a related program from a recognized post-secondary institution.

  • A cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0/4.33 (70%; B average), or a grade point average of at least 3.33/4.33 (77%; B+ average) based on the last 60 credits/units of undergraduate courses. In exceptional circumstances, a student may be admitted with lower academic qualifications when there is significant professional experience relevant to the proposed area of study (as evaluated through a review of the applicant’s resume and letters of reference).

  • One introductory course each in ecology and statistics.

  • Two upper-level courses in any combination of: biology, ecology (plant, fish, wildlife, restoration/reclamation, etc.), statistics, plant science, soil science, physical geography (hydrology, geomorphology, limnology, etc.), forest science, natural resource management, environmental science, or related courses.

  • If an applicant has not studied in an English-speaking country, the applicant will need to demonstrate skills in reading, writing, speaking, and listening by completing one of the following options: IELTS, TOEFL, or PTE (Academic) (described below). For more information about these tests, please see:

    Applicants are required to:

    • Achieve a minimum score of 7.0 on the International English Language Test System (IELTS—the academic, NOT the general test) with a minimum of 6.5 in all sections,

    • Achieve 93 or higher on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) with a minimum of 20 in each section (TOEFL-internet based exam), or TOEFL 580 and the Test of Written English (TWE) 5.0 (paper-based),

    • Achieve a minimum overall score of 63, and a minimum of 65 in speaking and writing for the PTE (Pearson Test of English) Academic Test.
    • Note: Any equivalent test must include a writing component and all test scores are valid for a period of two years from the date of the test.

  • Provide names and e-mail addresses for three references (academic or professional). The referees will each receive an e-mail with instructions on how to log into SFU’s application system and complete an electronic reference. At least two references should come from faculty members at universities. This requirement may be waived for mid-career applicants with professional experience. In this case, references from employers may be substituted for references from university faculty.

  • Resume and official transcripts:
    • The transcripts will be used to confirm grade point averages and the strength of the academic background of applicants.

    • The proposed program has been designed both for applicants just entering the ecological restoration (ER) workforce and for experienced restoration practitioners wanting to upgrade their academic credentials. Applicants with extensive experience in ecological restoration but with lower academic qualifications will also have their work experience assessed, through a review of their resume and letters of reference. In some circumstances, an applicant may be accepted into the program based upon their academic performance in combination with their work experience.

    • Applicants may be required to complete bridging courses to strengthen their academic background prior to admittance into the master’s program.

    • Applicants that have completed post-secondary studies outside of Canada, the United States, or England should refer to our minimum equivalent qualifications and academic standing page. This site provides general guidelines, by country, for minimum entry requirements for graduate programs at SFU and BCIT. Applicants will also require a comprehensive evaluation of their credentials by the International Credential Evaluation Service (ICES). Credential evaluation reports from other Canadian services may be considered. These reports must include course-by-course evaluations and GPA calculations.

    Applicants with previous courses in ecological restoration would be classified as strong candidates for entry into the master’s program.

Apply to program

BCIT's Registrar's Office in collaboration with SFU’s Office of Graduate Studies administers the program.

The unique qualifications of applicants will be assessed individually by the Graduate Program Committee (a six-member committee comprised of BCIT & SFU faculty). All applicants meeting the minimum entry requirements will be assessed by the Graduate Program Committee. Most applicants will be contacted with our decision within three weeks following the review process. In some cases it can take longer to make a final decision. Please be patient. All applicants will be contacted via e-mail as soon as a decision is made.

All documents must be uploaded into SFU’s online application system. Only those applicants who have been offered admission into the program will be required to submit original paper transcripts.

SFU has some great resources about asking for reference letters. Please see their Award Application Resources for some helpful suggestions.

Application Summary:

  • Step 1: Fill out SFU's Online Application Form & pay the application fee
  • Step 2: Upload all transcripts and resume into the application system
  • Step 3: Provide names and e-mails for three referees. They will receive an e-mail which will allow them to log into SFU’s application system and complete an electronic reference.

Application Fees: There is an application fee of CA$90 (CA$125 for applicants submitting any transcripts from a non-Canadian University) which needs to be paid by credit card (MasterCard or Visa) to complete the online application. Applicants without access to a credit card can pay these fees in person, through online banking or by wire transfer. It is very important that the applicant's name and student number is received with the wire transfer. Review How to pay your fees for details.

English Requirements: Applicants whose native language is not English must arrange to have IELTS, TOEFL, or PTE test completed prior to applying and submit your test scores with your application (see entry requirements above).

International Students: Send ICES, IELTS, PTE or TOEFL results to SFU. For more information see SFU's English language requirements and International Student Services.

All information provided for application to the M.Sc. in Ecological Restoration will be held in a file in the applicant’s name. All documents submitted will remain on file and will not be returned to successful or unsuccessful applicants.

Through this assessment by the Graduate Program Committee, the committee will identify areas of strength and weaknesses. If weaknesses have been identified, applicants may have the opportunity to strengthen their application through bridging courses or by completing a qualifying semester or year. Bridging courses may require completion prior to entry into the program.

Scheduled intakes

September each year.

All applicants starting the program in September will move through the program as a cohort.

Prior Learning Assessment & Recognition (PLAR)

Prior Learning Assessment Recognition (PLAR) lets you use knowledge and skills learned outside recognized programs—including volunteer work, hobbies, on-the-job experience, or independent study—to gain exemption for particular courses in the program of your choice.

Your knowledge and skills will be assessed, course by course, by the Applied Research Committee and the associated faculty members. In general, applicants should be prepared to demonstrate working knowledge of the majority (>80%) of the material within a course. The Applied Research Committee will assess the applicant’s level of knowledge (conceptual and applied) and provide details of the evaluation criterion (e.g., challenge an exam, demonstrate working knowledge of applied concepts, or complete an assignment).

Please see BCIT's Prior Learning Assessment & Recognition page for further details.

Costs & Supplies

Tuition fees

For students entering in Fall 2020, the cost of tuition fees is $21,011.95 for Domestic students or $29,052.60 for international students. All fees will be paid using SFU's online system over five terms*.

Domestic Students $4,202.39 (per term)*
International Students $5,810.52 (per term)*

*A term fee will be charged for the first five terms; a $900 continuing fee will be applied for each term for the remainder of the program.

Ancillary fees and other institutional fees are not included in tuition.

Financial assistance

Applications for student loans will be processed through SFU. Please see SFU's Bursaries and Loans page for details.

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

Refund policy

Refunds will be offered as outlined by SFU’s refund policy.

View SFU's deadlines for refunds


Course Requirements

This program consists of 36 credits or 12 courses. The courses are divided into core and elective courses. Core courses are built into the program, while elective courses are chosen by the student with approval from the Supervisor for program relevance. Students should take two elective courses: a BCIT specialty elective course or an SFU or Western Dean's Agreement course, and an SFU elective graduate course.

The elective graduate course at SFU is necessary to fulfill the 50% residency requirement to receive a M.Sc. degree from SFU.

Class hours

For in-class courses, classes will be scheduled as 3-hour sessions, one day a week for 15 weeks. Most classes will be scheduled on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays (subject to change). Exceptions are the electives, which will be delivered according to their specific 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 matrix

Level 1 Credits
  ECOR 9100 Concepts of Ecological Restoration and the Physical Environment 3.0
  ECOR 9110 Planning and Monitoring for Ecological Restoration 3.0
Complete an additional 6.0 credits at SFU:

ECO 611 - Concepts of Ecological Restoration and the Biological Environment*

ECO 621 - Graduate Seminars in Research Methods*

Level 2 Credits
  ECOR 9210 Restoration of Terrestrial Ecosystems 3.0
  ECOR 9220 Restoration of Aquatic Ecosystems 3.0
Complete and additional 3.0 credits at SFU:

ECO 622 - Project Management & Policy for Ecological Restoration*

Level 3 Credits
  ECOR 9101 Applied Research Project Development Part 1 0.0
  ECOR 9200 Field Applications of Restoration Principles 3.0
Level 4 Credits
  ECOR 9300 Applied Research Project I 3.0
Level 5 Credits
  ECOR 9400 Applied Research Project II 3.0
Complete an additional 3.0 credits at SFU:

ECO 641 - First Nations & Social Perspectives of Ecological Restoration*

Electives Credits

Complete 3.0 to 5.0 credits/units at SFU to fulfill 50% residency and a minimum of 3.0 to 5.0 credits/units at BCIT or SFU through Western Dean's agreement. Elective courses may be completed in Levels 2, 3, and/or 4.

BCIT Specialty Electives:

BCIT offers the following specialty electives, which will vary depending on the needs of the program and industry. Offerings will be determined by the department, and are predominantly offered in Level 4 of the program.

  ECOR 9301 Wetland and Estuary Restoration 5.0
  ECOR 9302 Restoring Wildlife Populations 5.0
  ECOR 9304 Restoration of Freshwater Aquatic Ecosystems 5.0
  ECOR 9500 Directed Studies 3.0

SFU Specialty Electives:

For information on courses offered at SFU, visit SFU's Master of Science in Ecological Restoration.*

Total Credits: 36.0
*For information on courses offered at SFU, visit SFU's Master of Science in Ecological Restoration.

Transfer credit

Do you have credits from another BC/Yukon post-secondary school? Do you want to know if they transfer to courses here at BCIT? Check out BCIT's Transfer Equivalency Database to find out.

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

The maximum time to complete this program is 9 terms.


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.

Program location

BCIT Burnaby Campus
3700 Willingdon Avenue
Burnaby, BC

SFU Burnaby Campus
8888 University Drive
Burnaby, BC

British Columbia Institute of Technology is located less than 20 minutes away (12 km) from Simon Fraser University.

Graduating & Jobs

Job opportunities

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.

Faculty, Advisors & Staff

Advisory committee

  • Darcy Pickard, ESSA Technologies
  • Brian Titaro, Stanley Park Ecology Society
  • Pontus Lindgren, Westpark Electric
  • Bruce Blackwell, BA Blackwell
  • Jennifer McGuire, Ministry of Environment
  • Gillian Donald, Applied Ecology
  • Mel Sheng, DFO
  • Edith Tobe, EB Enterprises, Chairperson
  • Monica Pearson, Balance Ecological
  • Craig Whitman, BC Conservation Foundation
  • Bridget Doyle, Environmental Stewardship Coordinator, Tseil Wauthuth Nation
  • Marc Gaboury, Senior Fisheries Biologist, LGL Limited
  • Alan Martin, retired

Contact Us

Giti Abouhamzeh
Program Assistant for Ecological Restoration
BCIT School of Construction & the Environment
T: 778-331-1392

Questions or comments?

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Ecological Restoration students taking part in the Glenrose Tidal Marsh Project working in partnership with Port Metro Vancouver.