Graduate Programs in Environmental Studies

Meeting the environmental challenges of the 21st century requires research, education, and training that spans traditional disciplinary boundaries and emphasizes the interconnections of social and natural sciences, policy, and the ethics and other social underpinnings of decision-making. With numerous focal areas and connections to research centers both in and out of the academic world, ENVS provides the resources and experiences needed by students seeking to contribute to environmental research and problem-solving.

The Graduate Program in Environmental Studies awards three graduate degrees:

The Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy are academic degrees with an emphasis on research and academic training. The course work in these degrees is individually-tailored to fit each student’s research interests, ranging from primary emphases in physical or biological sciences, to policy, economic, or psychological approaches to environmental issues, to environmental philosophy. The M.S. and Ph.D. programs are designed for students wishing to gain expertise needed for multiple fields of environmental work, including academic, government, business and NGO positions.

The Masters of the Environment (MENV) graduate program is a 17-month, 42-credit hour, cohort-based professional degree designed for new and early career professionals. The MENV program equips students to solve real world environmental and natural resource problems, and prepares them for a wide range of careers in the public, private, and non-profit sectors. MENV students apply interdisciplinary knowledge and professional skills to achieve fair and effective solutions to environmental and social problems, and promote thriving human and natural communities that balance concerns for environmental health, economic well-being, and social equity. Students may choose to focus in one of five topical specialization areas: Policy & Management, Renewable & Sustainable Energy, Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Sustainable Food Systems, and Sustainability Planning and Management.

Additionally, dual degree M.S. programs with the Law and Business schools at CU Boulder are offered through ENVS, as are interdisciplinary certificates in Environment, Policy, and SocietyScience, Technology, and Policy; Environmental Justice and Hydrologic Sciences. Many ENVS students work also closely with faculty and students in one of the many other departments and programs on the Boulder campus.

Highly ranked in environmental research and education

CU Boulder is one of the nation's leaders in environmental research. U.S. News and World Report ranks CU Boulder at 32 for the Best Global Universities for work in the Environment and Ecology. In the National Science Foundation's latest rankings (2014), CU Boulder was ranked second in the country in research and development expenditures in environmental sciences. Much of this research involves collaboration amongst and between disciplines and provides a stimulating environment for students who wish to gain multi-faceted research experiences. Collaborative institutes within CU Boulder include the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR), the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research (CSTPR) within the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), and the Institute of Behavioral Science (IBS). Departments with close ties to ENVS include Geological Sciences, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Geography, Economics, Political Science, and Philosophy.

A Commitment to Solving Environmental Problems

The ENVS program is committed to generating knowledge that in either the long or the short term is needed to improve the environment. Whether an international climate agreement negotiated through the United Nations, a local land use decision made by a municipality, an endangered species recovery plan, or a reinsurance contract purchased by a business, objective information and recognition of when and how information is used to make decisions permeates environmental problem-solving. The ENVS graduate program seeks to train students to have the depth of understanding in one or more fields, and also the breadth of perspectives, to contribute most productively to thorny problems in the environment and sustainability.


Located in Boulder, Colorado, CU Boulder allows students to take advantage of abundant natural and cultural resources of the Front Range metropolitan area and the Rockies. These include research opportunities and lectures at both our own and nearby campuses, as well as access to the varied ecosystems and recreational opportunities of the Rocky Mountains. Boulder is also a hub for government facilities doing pioneering environmental research, and many of our students form critical collaborations 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.  ENVS is also housed in the new Sustainability, Energy, and Environment Complex (SEEC), a facility that is also home to multiple other CU and outside organizations investing in environmental work. These include Future Earth, INSTAAT, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, and the Sustainability Innovation Lab at Colorado (SILC).