The ENVS Masters of Science program provides advanced training in a setting that prioritizes cross-disciplinary perspectives and problem-oriented scholarship. Our goal is to deliver the knowledge and skills needed to confront 21st century environmental challenges. MS students complete coursework that spans the natural and social sciences, values and ethics, and policy. Students gain specialized research skills by writing and defending an original master’s thesis.

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To earn an MS in Environmental Studies, students must complete 36 hours of coursework and successfully defend an original master’s thesis in front of a committee of three faculty members. The masters degree must be completed within four years. Most students complete the MS degree in two years. The major milestones are as follows.

  1. Guidance Committee Meeting - During the first six weeks of a student’s first semester, a guidance committee of at least three faculty members will examine a student’s past academic and professional record and recommend a program of coursework for that student. In addition to the courses recommended by their guidance committee, students will complete the following required courses: ENVS 5000 - Science Policy and Values ENVS 5003 - Theory and Methods in Environmental Studies
  2. Thesis proposal meeting – Students must assemble a thesis committee of three faculty members and propose an original research project that will form the basis of the student’s thesis. The thesis proposal meeting is typically held at the end of the student’s first academic year.
  3. Thesis defense meeting – The student will present the findings from their thesis project and respond to questions from the committee. The thesis defense meeting is typically held at the end of the student’s fourth semester.

What can you do with a masters degree in Environmental Studies?

Many of our graduating MS students go on to pursue a PhD or advanced degrees in law and business. Others transition into professional settings after completing their degrees. Some of our recent MS graduates have accepted positions in both academic and private sectors.

Admissions Requirements

  • A Personal Statement
  • 3 Letters of Recommendation 
  • Unofficial Transcripts (official transcripts required after admissions)  
  • TOEFL scores for international students
  • Application Fee ($60 domestic application/$80 international) along with the application

In the online application you will be asked to name one or more faculty members of interest. Please list the faculty member that you have been in contact with so that they will read and evaluate your application.


  • Fall Application Deadline: December 1, 9:59 p.m. MST. 
    Letters of Recommendation must be received by December 14.
  • For more information about courses and program requirements, visit the CU Boulder Course Catalog