Graduate Degrees in Environmental Science in California

May 12, 2019

California is home to a range of environmental science graduate programs that usually require a culminating research experience. Learn about a few of the schools, the programs they offer, graduation requirements, and how to apply.

Many different institutions throughout California offer diverse graduate degree programs in various areas of environmental science. These programs are available at the master's and doctoral levels, typically include research opportunities, and often provide additional areas of concentration. Examine a handful of California schools and their programs here.

California Schools with Environmental Science Graduate Programs

California State University, Los Angeles

California State University in Los Angeles has a Master of Science (MS) in Environmental Sciences that totals 30 units. Students can choose from concentration options in environmental hydrology, environmental biology, environmental engineering science, or geospatial sciences. The program also offers a research experience for students wishing to pursue study at the doctoral level that includes a final thesis or a professional experience that requires students to complete an internship and final project. Students in the program must maintain a 3.0 GPA, and all students take core courses in subjects like statistics, public policy, and spatial analysis.

University of California, Riverside

The University of California in Riverside offers an MS and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Environmental Sciences. Students can focus their studies on soil and water science, environmental chemistry and ecotoxicology, or environmental microbiology. The MS program typically takes 2 years to complete and offers a thesis and comprehensive exam option. The PhD program can usually be completed in 5 years and requires a dissertation, comprehensive exam, and oral exam.

San Jose State University

San Jose State University in San Jose provides an MS in Environmental Studies that totals 30 units. Students can pursue research in a wide range of areas, including human ecology, environmental education, environmental restoration, environmental policy, coastal environments, and forest ecology and conservation. The program encourages students to participate in internships for hands-on experience and requires students to complete a master's thesis. Students also participate in required seminars that cover various topics in environmental theory, research, and methods.

University of San Diego

The University of San Diego in San Diego has a unique MS in Environmental and Ocean Sciences and a combined Bachelor of Arts (BA)/MS program available to current undergraduates. The MS program requires a thesis and can be completed in 2 years. Students can pursue a variety of research areas, such as marine geochemistry, marine biology, climatology, hydrology, or ecology and population genetics. Coursework consists of core seminars, graduate environmental and marine science courses with labs, and electives.

University of California, Santa Barbara

The University of California in Santa Barbara offers a Master of Environmental Science and Management that can be completed in 2 years and a PhD in the field. Students in the MS can choose from concentrations in areas like energy and climate, corporate environmental management, pollution prevention and remediation, and conservation planning. Students in any of these specializations may also choose to add a special interdisciplinary focus in strategic environmental communication and media, eco-entrepreneurship, or environmental data science. As a culminating experience, MS students either complete a group project in place of a thesis, or students with an eco-entrepreneurship focus can complete an Eco-E Project that creates a business model for an idea that addresses an environmental issue, while PhD students complete a dissertation.

Common Entrance Requirements

Applicants to graduate programs in environmental science in California must have at least a bachelor's degree, and some programs may require that the degree is in an environmental science-related field, such as biology, environmental science, environmental engineering, geology, chemistry, and more. It is fairly common for these degree programs to require a minimum GPA and/or GRE test scores and some programs may recommend that students take a GRE subject test. Applicants may also need to have prior coursework in areas like chemistry, physics, calculus, statistics, and more. Several programs require students to contact faculty members about possibly serving as research mentors prior to admission. Other common application materials for these programs include transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement or statement of purpose.

Students can earn an MS or PhD in the field of environmental science and usually must complete a thesis, dissertation, or other final project, depending on the specific program. Many of these programs provide additional areas of concentration or research.

Next: View Schools

Popular Schools

The listings below may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users.

Find your perfect school

What is your highest level of education?