The objective of the Environmental Chemistry Area of Specialization (AOS) is to train scientists to apply basic chemical principles to the study of the environmental behaviors of natural and anthropogenic chemicals. Environmental chemistry includes interdisciplinary studies which integrate across subjects such as geochemistry, analytical chemistry, transport processes, and toxicology to determine the cycling and impact of chemicals in the natural environment. Excellent research facilities equipped with state-of-the-art analytical instrumentation are available at several of our campuses, including dedicated environmental chemistry laboratories at the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory (CBL) in Solomons, Maryland.

As both the Masters and Ph.D. are research-oriented programs, emphasis is placed on learning and applying the scientific method, employing strong quantitative approaches, and developing effective scientific writing skills. Students graduating from MEES through this AOS will find professional positions in Federal,state, and local government agencies (such as EPA, FDA, NIH), private chemical and manufacturing industries, academic institutions, and consulting firms.

The University System of Maryland has a wide and diverse set of course offerings in environmental chemistry, geochemistry and related areas, making it possible for students in all areas of this AOS to create a unique and rewarding program of study.  


A Bachelor's degree in the natural sciences or engineering, including a grade of C or better in the following courses:
1. Two semesters of Calculus
2. Two semesters of Physics
3. Two semesters of General Chemistry
4. Two semesters of Biology
5. Two semesters of Organic or other Advanced Chemistry (e.g., Biochemistry)

Core Courses and Other Requirements (M.S. and Ph.D.):

1. Two courses (400-700 level, 3-4 credits) in Environmental Chemistry or Geochemistry. For Ph.D. candidates, one course must be at the advanced level (700 level, 3-4 credits)
2. One course in Physical Transport Processes (400 - 700 level, 3-4 credits)
3. One course in Aquatic Toxicology/Ecology (400 or 600 level, 3-4 credits)
4. One 400 - 700 level 3 - 4 credit course from one of the other MEES AOSs (from an approved list)
5. One course or seminar in Environmental Management (a 3-4 credit course can satisfy item 4) (400 or 600 level)
6. One 3 - 4 credit course in Statistics/Biostatistics (600 level for the Ph.D., 400 level for the M.S.)
7. One graduate level seminar (MEES 608 or equivalent) for each year in residence (on average)
8. One or more courses in Physical Chemistry are strongly encouraged (2-4 credits each)
9. Courses in Experimental Design and Analysis and in Scientific Writing are also recommended 



Justin Meschter, MEES M.S. student, taking sediment cores for research on below ground biogeochemistry.  

Ph.D. students in the Environmental Chemistry Area of Specialization will be tested on the depth and breadth of their formal training during the comprehensive examination. The student's Advisory Committee, lead by the Academic Advisor, is responsible for designing, administering, and evaluating the comprehensive examination, following the guidelines detailed below. The structure, format, and content of the comprehensive examination should be discussed at the first meeting of the student's Advisory Committee, and a description of the examination format should provided to the student in writing prior to the examination dates.

The comprehensive examination for Ph.D. students in the MEES Environmental Chemistry AOS should test the student's knowledge in the following areas:

1. Environmental chemistry and geochemistry
2. Physical transport processes
3. Environmental toxicology and/or ecology
4. Experimental design and statistical analysis 
5. Environmental management/applied science 

The student's Academic Advisor is responsible for insuring that the comprehensive examination adequately covers the above topics.

In general, the comprehensive examination administered to Ph.D. students in the MEES Environmental Chemistry AOS will follow the following format:

1. The comprehensive examination may consist of both a written (not to exceed 5 consecutive 6 hour days) and an oral (not to exceed 4 hours) examination.

2. Generally, the written examination is taken first, with scheduling of the subsequent oral examination contingent on successful completion of the written exam. Each Advisory Committee member may submit candidate questions to the student's advisor, who is responsible for collating the questions, checking for excessive overlap and necessary breadth in topics, and insuring that the written examination is of appropriate length. Each question in the written examination may be closed book, open book, or a combination, as decided committee member writing the question. Again, this format must be agreed to by the advisory committee prior to the examination.

3. The student's responses to the written examination are distributed to the Advisory Committee members for evaluation. Generally, the student's responses to the written examination questions are evaluated by the committee as 'unsatisfactory', 'satisfactory but requiring further elaboration', or'satisfactory'. If a majority of the committee rate the responses in the latter two categories, then the oral examination may be scheduled. If the majority rate the responses 'unsatisfactory', the student has failed the written examination and must retake and pass a new written examination at a latter date.

4. The oral portion of the comprehensive examination is generally designed to probe in more detail the student's responses to the written examination. Other topics may also be discussed.

5. The composition of the Advisory Committee and the administration of the Ph.D. comprehensive examination must follow the rules of the MEES program and the institution's Graduate School.