This Area of Specialization provides broad but comprehensive training in the environmental sciences. It is clear that some students do not wish to specialize to the extent the other areas of specialization require, but would like to gain experience and take courses in a variety of scientific, economic, and social disciplines related to the environment. This AOS provides students the opportunity to formulate their program of study to best fit their expansive interests by taking courses in the disciples listed below (see masters and doctoral requirements for specific information). Training in these distribution areas are also extremely appropriate for students wishing to specialize in environmental management.

The relevant graduate training will provide advanced courses in four distribution areas:

  1. Biology - Courses in the biological sciences in which the emphasis is on ecology, especially at the population, community, and ecosystem levels.
  2. Chemistry - Courses in chemistry as applied to organisms or to the environment, with an emphasis on pollution/environmental toxicology courses.
  3. Physical Sciences and Technology - Courses dealing with the physical world or with the application of physical principles or technology to biological or environmental problems. 
  4. Management, Economics, and Policy - Courses dealing with the interaction of economic, legal, political, and/or social institutions with the biological, chemical, or physical environment.

Graduates from the interdisciplinary Environmental Sciences AOS often find positions in various government sectors (federal, state, and local), academic institutions, consulting, international and non-profit organizations.  


An undergraduate 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 Introductory Chemistry
3. Two semesters of Introductory Physics
4. Two semesters of Introductory Biology
5. Ecology and other advanced Environmental Science courses are recommended

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

1. One approved 3-4 credit course from three of the four distribution areas (biology, chemistry, physical science, management) for M.S. students; and from each of the four distribution areas for Ph.D. students. One of these courses can be at the 400 level, the others will be at the 600 level or above.
2. One 3 - 4 credit course in Statistics/Biostatistics (600 level for the Ph.D., 400 level for the M.S.)
3. One graduate level seminar (MEES 608 or equivalent) for each year in residence (on average) up to cap
4. One or more courses in computer science or computer applications are strongly recommended 
5. Courses in Experimental Design and Analysis and in Scientific Writing are also recommended.

The AOS suggests 7 areas of examination:

  • General Ecology/General Environmental Science
  • Natural Resource Management
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Statistics and Modeling
  • Environmental Management, Economics, and Policy
  • Environmental Technology and Physical Science
  • Pollution Ecology and Environmental Toxicity

Ph.D. students should be examined in 5 of these 7 areas, with General Ecology/General Environmental Science required to be one of the 5. In terms of exam format, we suggest that a five day written comprehensive exam be administered, followed by a 2-hour oral examination. These are only general guidelines and the student's advisory committee should have much input into the format. For example, individual committee members might specify whether their written questions are open or closed book.