Graduate Students

Meeting the challenge

Meeting environmental challenges of the 21st century requires research, education and training that spans traditional disciplinary boundaries and emphasizes the interconnections of science and decision making. Drawing on the resources of the entire University of Colorado system, we have designed a truly interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Environmental Studies that awards two degrees: Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy.  Two dual degree programs with other departments are offered.  The new Masters of the Environment (MENV) professional degree program prepares students for a wide range of professional careers in the environment, energy, and natural resources.  ENVS offers an interdisciplinary Certificate in Environment, Policy and Society for non-ENVS graduate students.  The university offers many other certificate programs suitable to ENVS graduate students.

Areas of emphasis

New MS and PhD graduate students choose from three core areas: Sciences, Policy, and Values & Theory. Other programs of study may be designed based on available courses and faculty support and expertise.

Please see New Graduate Curriculum Effective Fall 2012 for more information.

Decision making

The University of Colorado has a commitment to contribute useful knowledge to decision makers who grapple with environmental challenges. Whether an international agreement negotiated through the United Nations, a local land use decision made by a municipality or a reinsurance contract purchased by a business, scientific information permeates environmental decision-making. It is often the case that such decisions are highly charged with political tensions. Even so, in such cases, information matters. With numerous projects and research centers focused on the inter-connections of science and decision-making, the University of Colorado provides considerable resources for those seeking to contribute to and participate in policy making.

Program size & admissions

The graduate program admits 10-20 MS and PhD students each year. Explore the current student directory and alumni directory for listings of research topics and post-CU activities. See the How to Apply page for details on admissions.

Opportunity for underrepresented students

The Colorado Advantage Graduate Preview Weekend provides an opportunity for underrepresented students to preview the doctoral programs of ENVS and other CU Boulder Science, Technology, Engineering and Math departments.  Two-day programs are held in the fall of each year. 

Application details may be found by clicking here.

Highly ranked in environmental science research and education

In U.S. News & World Report's 2013 edition of America's Best Graduate Schools, our environmental sciences graduate program was ranked 5th in the country. The University of Colorado at Boulder is one of the nation's leaders in environmental research. For a number of years, CU received more support for research in the environmental sciences than any other university in the nation. In the National Science Foundation's latest rankings (January 2010), CU was sixth in research and development expenditures in environmental sciences among the 480 universities ranked. Much of this research involves collaboration amongst and between disciplines. CU-Boulder provides a fertile environment for gaining interdisciplinary research experience. Organizations include the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR), the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research within the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), and the Institute of Behavioral Science (IBS).

International students

We encourage applications from international prospective students. Be sure to note that the deadline is earlier and requirements are different from the standard domestic application. Please contact the International Admission Team for more information.


Located in beautiful Boulder, Colorado, the Environmental Studies Graduate Program allows students to take advantage of abundant resources including university research and lectures as well as our outdoor laboratory in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Students engage with researchers at nearby national organizations including the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.