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Master of Science (M.S.) in Environmental Science

The Master's Degree is designed as a two-year experience. The minimum total credits for the degree is 30. Lists of courses that meet requirements identified in this section have been approved by each area of study.

These lists are not exclusive; courses not on these lists may be taken with the approval of the Major Professor and Steering Committee, as indicated on the Form 3B.

Required credit hours are identified in three categories:

  1. Core: The broad interdepartmental focus of GPES is reflected in the core requirements - A minimum of 9 credit hours distributed in 3 areas: social science, natural or physical science, and methods/tools.
  2. Area of Study: A minimum of 15 credit hours (excluding 898 and 899 courses) in AOS courses are required.
  3. Thesis: A minimum of 6 credit hours of research resulting in a document that clearly demonstrates graduate level accomplishments of the student, followed by a defense examination. Students must have an approved Thesis Proposal.
    1. Guidelines for preparation of the thesis document (PDF)
Concurrent Degree

Concurrent degree students may “double count” 8 credit hours toward their M.S. degree.

Environmental Science Seminar

There is no seminar requirement for the Master of Science.

Advanced Standing

A maximum of 6 graduate credit hours with a grade of B or above that have not been applied to another degree may be transferred via petition. The petition must include an attached syllabus and a justification of how the courses are to be included on the student's Plan Sheet.

Petitions regarding Core requirements may be submitted following matriculation. Petitions regarding Area of Study requirements are to be submitted following the formalization of the student's steering committee (submission of Form 2A establishes the steering committee).


Appendix A

The Student Program Checklist (A1) is useful to track overall progress in the program. Combined with the Program Administration form (A2), progress towards degree completion can be assessed.  Tracking progress on individual courses and credits completed is facilitated by the Student Course Plan Sheet (A3), which can be used to help complete the College's Form 3B. 

Timeline of Important Actions

The Steering Committee, which is comprised of the major professor and at least two faculty members or other qualified persons as detailed in the Graduate School policies†should be appointed (using Form 2A) in the first or second semester of graduate study.

The Steering Committee approves the Course Requirements (Form 3B) before the end of the second semester of graduate study.

The Defense Committee consists of members of the Steering Committee and at least one additional faculty member as Examiner.† The Examiner, who is not a member of the steering committee, is appointed (using Form 5B ) after agreeing to the student’s request to serve in that role. †The Dean of Instruction and Graduate Studies appoints a committee Chair who is not from the student's degree program (see the College Catalog).

The student must inform the Dean's office of the agreed upon date, time, and location for the defense at least two weeks in advance of the defense date.

It is GPES policy that the defense copy of the thesis must be delivered to each member of the Defense Committee, including the Chair, at least 14 days prior to the scheduled defense date.


The Graduate Program in Environmental Science has limited staff, facility, and financial resources. Over the past few years we have developed management approaches for their effective and equitable utilization.

Graduate Program in Environmental Science (GPES) Office
134 Baker Laboratory

The office has two primary segments: Production Staff, Records and Communications.† The Office maintains files (unofficial) of student records, folders of job and research announcements, course syllabi, and internship requests.† It maintains a collection of GPES Theses, Dissertations, Research Proposals, and Internship Reports, which are available for reference.

Most students at some time during their studies encounter problems of a personal or academic nature for which they require assistance. An early full discussion of the situation and options is often the key to their resolution. Major Professors and the GPES Director are all available to facilitate this process.

Office Space

It has been the general practice of the College that graduate students are provided with a desk space as available. Students working as graduate assistants or as research assistants have priority for desk space. Because of limited facilities and the flux of students in residence, the assignment of such space usually takes a few weeks each fall. Students should first ask for space available from their major professor. Office space for GPES students is allocated by the major professorís home department and is not guaranteed.


There are two basic forms of assistantships: Graduate (GA), and Research (RA). GA's are awarded by the College each year based on Faculty recommendations. They are primarily used for Teaching Assistantships in undergraduate and graduate courses.† GPES has 12 semester positions for its approximately 100 graduate students. Each spring students who will be returning in the fall are notified by the GPES Director of the projected GA positions available and are invited to formally apply. Incoming admitted students are also included in the selection process. A faculty committee prioritizes the applications for administrative action.

As a graduate-research college, ESF is involved in numerous externally funded projects most of which involve RA's. Each project is managed by a Principal Investigator who has the responsibility of selecting staff. GPES has no direct involvement in this process. Students interested in RA's should discuss opportunities with their Major Professor.† Throughout the year the Graduate Office and Research Office circulate research, fellowship, and internship announcements. Students should periodically check their mailboxes, the appropriate Environmental Science folders, and the Environmental Science bulletin board.

The Edna Bailey Sussman Fund provides stipends to support graduate student summer internship experiences. The Fund has supported approximately 12 ESF students per year (about one-quarter have been GPES students). Sussman supports a broad range of interest areas, from environmental policy, regulation and communication to various environmental sciences. Sussman applications are treated competitively; awards are usually in the range of $4,800 for full-time internship employment. Applications must be filed by the annual application deadline, usually in early March. Awards are announced in early May.† Detailed requirements, eligibility, and links to past internship reports are available in the web site identified above.