Environmental Sciences Ph.D. Program


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Degree Requirements

You are required to master a series of core courses, advanced elective courses, seminars, and laboratory rotations. These serve as an interdisciplinary base for the development of dissertation research and usually occupy the bulk of the first two years in the program. Dissertation research (including data analysis and writing) typically requires an additional three years to complete. Your degree will be awarded upon satisfactory completion of all credit requirements and acceptance of your written dissertation by your committee. 

Waiver of Program Requirements

You may petition to be exempted from part of the curriculum, usually by scoring a passing grade on an appropriate proficiency examination. If you have earned a master's degree in a relevant field of study, you will be exempted from appropriate course requirements. 

You may also petition for waiver of credit for previous graduate courses taken in another accredited program. Advanced course credit of up to 6 credit hours may be waived providing all of the following conditions are met: 

  • The grade attained in each course is a B or better. 
  • The course was taken within four years of the actual waiver. 
  • The course relates to the area of concentration chosen in this program. 

Petitions for obtaining credit for laboratory experiences may be made, subject to the same credit hour limitations and time constraints as for courses.

Petitions for exemption or waiver should be submitted to the program director. Acceptability of course waivers will be determined by the Interdisciplinary Review Committee.


The following is an example of a program of study for an Environmental Sciences Ph.D. student. You will establish the details of your program of study in conjunction with your supervisory committee. 

Course Number Course Title Credit Hours
  Foundation Courses  
ES 7140 Environmental Statistics 3
ES 7090 Perspectives in Environmental Science Seminars 1 (2 total)
  (Choice of two of the following core courses)  
ES 7120 Environmental Biology: Genes, Organisms, and Ecosystems 3
ES 7160 Complexity in Environmental Systems 4
ES 7180 Environmental Chemistry 3
ES 7020 Biogeochemical Cycles 3
  Subtotal 11 or 12
  Advanced Electives 10 (minimum)
  Course Total 21 or 22
ES 7990 Independent Topics & Research variable
ES 8080 Internship Option 10 (minimum)
ES 8130 Dissertation Research 30 (minimum)
  Total 90

Requirements are subject to change. Check with the Program Director.

Environmental Sciences Ph.D. Curriculum (PDF)

View Environmental Sciences, Ph.D. program information and degree requirements in the Academic Catalog.


A Ph.D. is a research degree. You must produce a dissertation that represents a substantial contribution to environmental science. For most students, completing the Ph.D. is a full time occupation that requires at least five years to complete.

In addition to the primary dissertation advisor, a dissertation committee is formed to periodically review your progress. The relationship between you, the faculty advisor, and the committee is central to the program. The committee determines when the research may be considered complete and must approve the written dissertation, as well as the student's public defense of it. The committee certifies to the program director the competency and achievement of the dissertation.