Environmental Studies

The Environmental Studies graduate program is an interdisciplinary program offering MS and PhD degrees. Dual degree options with Law and Business also are available.

The Environmental Studies Department also administers  a professional master’s degree, the Masters of the Environment (MENV) Please note that the MENV application is separate from the MS and PhD ENVS program applications. 

Purpose Statement:
The MS and PhD graduate program in Environmental Studies trains students for careers in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. Graduates will have:

  • The ability to deal with real-world programs.
  • The ability to evaluate policy goals in the context of competing societal objectives.
  • Fundamental knowledge of the relevant environmental sciences to be intelligent users of scientific information.
  • The ability to integrate knowledge from multiple disciplines in the context of complex environmental issues.
  • The ability to think critically, creatively, and holistically about environmental issues.
  • The ability to work in interdisciplinary teams
  • Skill in public speaking and writing for non-specialist audiences.

Website:  Environmental Studies - Prospective Students

Degrees Offered


Degree Details

Please check the ENVS program website for the most up to date information on graduate degree requirements.


The degree requires completion of 36 credit hours as follows including eight hours of a common core. Both a thesis and nonthesis option is offered, although non-thesis option is only available to dual degree MS/MBA and MS/JD students.


This is a dual degree program offered in conjunction with the Leeds School of Business. Requires 36 hours of graduate work in Environmental Studies and 43 hours of MBA course work (with 12 hours of Environmental Studies course work applying towards the required 55 credits for the MBA). The MBA program will be considered the student's primary program.


This is a dual degree program offered in conjunction with the Law School. The Law School will grant credit for acceptable performance in graduate level Environmental Studies courses towards the JD degree for up to nine (for MS students) or 12 (for PhD students) hours of the required 89 credits for the JD degree. Environmental Studies will grant up to nine credits (for MS students) and 12 credit hours (for PhD students) of acceptable performance in law courses. The JD program will be considered the student's primary program.


The degree requires completion of 32 course credit hours as follows: eight hours of a common core and thirty dissertation hours are required, for a total of 62 credit hours. The degree requires passing the comprehensive examination and preparation and successful defense of the doctoral dissertation.


The MENV program is a 17-month, 42-credit hour, cohort-based professional degree program designed for new and early career professionals. The program focuses on applications and problem solving using system-based approaches. The curriculum consists of five components:

  1. The core curriculum (9 hours)
  2. A choice of topical specializations (12 hours) that are supported by
  3. Three skills courses (6 hours)
  4. Electives (6 hours) 
  5. A Capstone project (9 hours)

In Fall of 2017, students may choose from five topical specialization areas: Sustainable Food Systems, Policy & Management, Renewable & Sustainable Energy, Social & Environmental Entrepreneurship and Sustainability Planning and Management.

Admissions Requirements

Please refer to Environmental Studies Program: How to Apply for more information and specific directions. PhD, JD/PhD, MS, and joint MS/MBA or JD/MS applicants must:

  1. Hold a baccalaureate degree or its equivalent from an accredited college or university.
  2. Have an undergraduate grade point average of at least a 3.00.
  3. Provide GRE scores.
  4. Provide three letters of recommendation. All letters of recommendation are due by Tuesday, December 30, 2016.
  5. Provide a personal statement of academic interests (a required part of the online application).
  6. Complete and submit the ENVS Graduate Program Supplemental Information Form with your online application. (form also available within application)

MENV applicants should refer to  the MENV website for the latest updates. They should:

  1. Hold a baccalaureate degree or its equivalent from an accredited college or university.
  2. Provide GRE scores (strongly recommended, but not required).
  3. Provide two letters of recommendation. 
  4. Provide two essays (required as part of the online application). Please note that applicants who apply for the Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation specialization are also required to provide a third essay.
  • Essay 1: Personal Information. Discuss your background, academic or personal achievements, life experiences, etc. that have helped shape who you are today. (750 words)
  • Essay 2: Statement of Purpose: Discuss what your primary interests are what you hope to accomplish. Elaborate on why the MENV can help you achieve your future goals. (500 words)
  • Essay 3: For those applying for the Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation specialization ONLY. Describe your idea. This specialization requires that applicants submit a description of the idea that they wish to develop throughout the 17-month program. The idea must be a project, program, service, product, non-profit, or private venture that addresses social and/or environmental challenges. Applicants must provide a tentative title and a description of their idea, including problem/challenge to be addressed, the proposed approach/potential solution to that problem/challenge; and expected outcomes. The student's idea can be an existing idea, or something brand new that could be implemented by a government or non-profit organization; a new product that will be marketed and sold by a private company; a new non-profit or private enterprise that delivers a specific service or range of services; or a new programmatic effort designed to achieve corporate sustainability. We seek a clear presentation of the idea, the problem or challenge that the idea seeks to address, and the expected outcomes if the idea were to be implemented (750 words).

  1. Complete and submit the ENVS MENV Supplemental Information Form with your online application (form also available within application)

Minimum Standards for Applicants

GRE required with a recommended minimum score of 50% or above for all applicants EXCEPT MENV. MENV applications are strongly recommended, but not required to submit GRE scores. 

Exceptions:  MS/MBA applicants may submit GMAT scores. MS/JD and PhD/JD applicants may submit LSAT scores.

Applicant Instructions

MENV Applicants:

December 1: International priority deadline for full consideration

December 15: Domestic priority deadline for full consideration

Final Deadline: Rolling admissions until May 1, 2017 or cohort is at capacity. (Note we strongly encourage all potential applicants to apply by December 15 for full consideration. Space is limited for this competitive program, and we will prioritize those applications that make the December 15 deadline.)

Fall Domestic Application Deadline

December 16, 2016

Fall International Application Deadline

December 1, 2016

Contact Information 

University of Colorado Boulder
Environmental Studies Program
4401 Discovery Drive
397 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309

MS/PhD Phone 303-735-1043

MENV Phone: (303) 735-8138
Fax 303-492-5207

ENVS Website

MENV Website

MS, MS/MBA, MS/JD and PhD inquiries: envsgrad@colorado.edu

MENV inquiries: menvinfo@colorado.edu