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ms in environmental science

Master of Science Degree in Environmental Science

The Master of Science Degree in Environmental Science prepares students for environmental science research, doctoral study, community college teaching, and technical positions in universities, industry, or governmental agencies. The degree offers three options: Environmental Biology, Environmental Engineering Science, and Environmental Hydrology. The Environmental Biology Option emphasizes basic research into such areas as conservation, pollution, and global change. Environmental Engineering Science Option treats similar issues (i.e., air, soil, and water pollution and sustainability) from the perspective of engineering solutions. The Environmental Hydrology Option emphasizes fundamental problems of the hydrologic cycle, including water pollution issues, wetlands and watershed hydrology, and hydrologic modeling.

The degree offers two training experiences:

The Professional Experience is designed for students who want to conclude graduate studies with a master's degree and immediately seek employment in government agencies or industry.

The Research Experience is designed for students who want to continue on to a doctoral program for further preparation for work in academia, agencies or industry.

Admission to the Program

Applicants must possess a BA or BS degree from an accredited institution in biology, chemistry, civil engineering, environmental engineering, environmental science, geography, geology, or a related field. Applicants with a minimum GPA of 2.75 in the last 90 quarter (60 semester) units who are admitted by the Environmental Science Program are admitted to the degree program in Conditionally Classified standing. Promising applicants with GPAs in the last 90 quarter (60 semester) units between 2.5 and 2.74 may be admitted as Special Action students. Special Action students must achieve an overall grade point average of a B (3.0) for four qualifying courses (approved in advance by the student's graduate advisor). The qualifying courses should be completed by the end of the second quarter of graduate study. Students accepted with a BA degree may, at the discretion of the Program Director and Primary Advisor, be required to take additional background courses in their first two quarters.

Application Procedures

Separate applications to the University and the Environmental Science program are required. For University application procedures and deadlines, students should follow published guidelines available in the University catalog and on the University website. Applications to the Environmental Science program (available in the Biological Sciences Department office) together with transcripts of all previous college work and three letters of recommendation must be received by the Department of Biological Sciences prior to the following deadline:

Applications will be reviewed by University Admissions and the Environmental Science Program.

Admission to the University does not guarantee admission to the program.

Requirements for the Degree (46 units)

A minimum of 46 units are required for the degree with at least 50% from 500-level courses. A grade pint average of 3.0 (grade of B) or better is required in all courses taken to satisfy the requirements for the degree. For Professional Experience students, at least one course must be selected from all four of the foundation areas listed below; for Research Experience students, at least one course must be selected from three of the four foundation areas. Courses used to satisfy the foundation requirement cannot be used to satisfy the option requirement (see below). A student may substitute equivalent courses as foundation courses upon approval from the Primary Advisor, the student's graduate committee, and the Program Director.

Foundation Areas: (12 or 16 units)

1. Written and Oral Communication:
    a. BIOL 561 Professional Development in Environmental Science (4)
2. Spatial Information and Computer Actuated Databases:
    a. GEOG 469 Geographic Information Systems Applications (4)
3. Statistical Analyses and Experimental Design:
    a. BIOL 408
    b. MATH 474
Experimental Design and Advanced Biometry (4)
Theory of Probability (4)
4. Public Policy and Environmental Management:
    a. POLS 585
    b. SOC 487
Regulation, the Environment and California Public Policy (4)
Environmental Policy, Law, and Society (4)

Students must then choose one of three options:

Option 1: Environmental Biology (16 units)

Provides preparation for a career within academics or agencies in specific research areas such as conservation, pollution, and global change. Professional Experience and Research Experience students must take a minimum of 16 units. Select courses from the list below:

Required Course:
BIOL 560 Workshop in Environmental Science (4)
Elective Courses:
BIOL 415 Population Genetics (4)
BIOL 420 Population Genetics (4)
BIOL 415 Global Change (4)
BIOL 432 Fundamentals of Toxicology (4)
BIOL 470 Conservation Biology (4)
BIOL 472 Marine Ecology (4)
BIOL 473 Molecular Ecology (4)
BIOL 540 Biological Systematics (3)
BIOL 559 Seminar: Foundations in Ecology (3)
BIOL 562 Advanced Topics in Plant Ecology (3)
HS 526 Seminar in Health Effects of Environmental Contaminants (3)
HS 581 Environmental Toxicology (4.5)

Option 2: Environmental Engineering Science (16 units)

Provides preparation for a career in engineering research or applications. Professional Experience and Research Experience students must take a minimum of 16 units, 8 of which must be in Civil Engineering. Select courses from the list below:

Required Course:
CE 486 Groundwater Contamination and Remediation (4)
Elective Courses:
CE 484 Sewerage and Sewage Treatment (4)
CE 579 Environmental Mass Transport (4)
CE 580 Environmental Transport (4)
CHEM 411 Fundamentals of Physical Chemistry (4)
CHEM 462 Instrumental Analysis (6)
GEOG 560 Seminar: Methods & Techniques in Geography (4)
GEOL 485 Groundwater Management and Models (4)
GEOL 561 Vadose Zone Hydrology (4.5)
GEOL 562 Contaminant Hydrogeology (4.5)
GEOL 563 Water Quality Seminar (4.5)

Option 3: Environmental Hydrology (16 units)

Provides preparation for a career in hydrology and water quality. Professional Experience and Research Experience students must take a minimum of 16 units. Select courses from the list below:

Required Courses:
GEOL 484 Hydrogeology (4)
GEOL 487 Watershed Analysis (4)
Select additional hydrology courses from the list below:
CE 486 Groundwater Contamination and Remediation (4)
CE 579 Environmental Mass Transport (4)
CE 580 Environmental Transport (4)
CHEM 462 Instrumental Analysis (6)
GEOG 422 Environmental and Forensic Geochemistry (4)
GEOG 468 Computer Cartography (4)
GEOG 485 Groundwater Management and Models (4)
GEOL 561 Vadose Zone Hydrology (4.5)
GEOL 562 Contaminant Hydrogeology (4.5)
GEOL 563 Water Quality Seminar (4.5)

Culminating Experiences: Thesis, Reports, Presentations, Exams (14 or 18 units)

Professional Experience students must complete the two courses listed below (10 units). For ENVS 595, the student must complete a part- or full-time internship experience of at least one and a maximum of three quarters. Professional Experience students also are expected to present a seminar, either in ENVS 511 or a departmental seminar of a participating department following completion of their internship.

ENVS 511 Environmental Science Seminar (1 ,1) (also listed as BIOL 511)
ENVS 595 Directed Field Work (8)

Research Experience students must complete the three courses listed below (10 units). As part of their culminating experience, students are expected to present a seminar, either in ENVS 511 or a departmental seminar of a participating department, upon the conclusion of their research.

ENVS 511 Environmental Science Seminar (1 ,1) (also listed as BIOL 511)
ENVS 597 Graduate Research (6)
ENVS 598 Graduate Directed Study (2)

Both Research and Professional Experience students have to complete the following course:

ENVS 599 Thesis (8) or Project (4)

Research Experience students will enroll in eight (8) units of ENVS 599 during which time they must prepare a Masters Thesis for submission to their Advisory Committee for approval. They must also pass an oral exam given by their Advisory Committee based upon their Master's thesis research. Research Experience students will complete eighteen (18) units as part of their culminating experience.

Professional Experience students will enroll in four (4) units of ENVS 599: Thesis or Project. Based on their internship experience, Professional students will be required to submit a written report. This report will be approved by their Advisory Committee, which consists of their primary advisor, graduate committee members, and internship advisor(s). They must also pass an oral exam given by their Advisory Committee. The content of the exam will be based on the student's course of study and topics relevant to the internship experience. Professional Experience students will complete fourteen (14) units as part of their culminating experience.

Note: This information was taken from the University Catalog.

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Last Update: 09/13/2011