See the Graduate School's FAQs for additional information.


Admission to our programs are competitive and based on multiple criteria, including undergraduate academic record, scores on exams, letters of recommendation, personal statement, evidence of special accomplishments, and relevant past experience.  Beginning Fall 2021, ENVS no longer requires GRE scores.  CU Boulder as an institution does have minimum admissions requirements for graduate school which can be found on their Admissions page.

You can review this information by going to the following link: Check the status of your submitted application.

Environmental Studies admits somewhere between 10 and 20 students total. The number of applications in recent years has ranged from about 100 to a high of 278.

Environmental Studies only accepts students for Fall admissions. There are no exceptions to this rule.

No -- beginning Fall 2021, ENVS no longer requires applicants to submit GRE scores.

For dual degree applicants, students will need to take the LSAT (JD/MS, JD/PhD as required by the law school) or the GMAT (MBA/MS as required by the school of business). Environmental Studies does not require GRE scores from applicants.

For review and decision purposes you are required to upload an unofficial copy of your transcript(s) in the online application. We require one copy of the scanned transcript from each undergraduate and graduate institution that you attended. This includes community colleges, summer sessions, and extension programs. While credits from one institution may appear on the transcript of a second institution, unofficial transcripts must be submitted from each institution, regardless of the length of attendance, and whether or not courses were completed. Failure to list and submit transcripts from all institutions previously attended is considered to be a violation of academic ethics and may result in the cancellation of your admission or dismissal from the university.

There is no particular format for the letters. Three letters of recommendation are required. Online submission as part of the application is strongly preferred. Once you begin your on-line application, you will be prompted to enter e-mail addresses for your recommenders, and after you submit your application, they will receive instructions about uploading their letters. If you must use a paper letter, have each person submitting a paper recommendation forward the form and letter to the appropriate address by the appropriate deadline: International Applicants: Office of Admissions, University of Colorado at Boulder, Regent Administrative Center 125, 65 UCB, Boulder, CO 80309-0065 U.S.A Domestic Applicants: Graduate Admissions, University of Colorado Boulder, 553 UCB, Boulder, CO 80309-0553. Express/overnight mail: Graduate Admissions, University of Colorado Boulder, 3100 Marine Street, Building RL3, Suite A122, Boulder, CO 80303-1058 See the Coversheet Directions for more information.

The personal statement portion of your application is your opportunity to communicate with the admissions committee directly. An ideal personal statement is one to two pages double spaced, and contains information on your relevant experience (including research), types of courses and projects that you'd like to pursue as a graduate student, and ultimate career plans. An important element is your description of why the Environmental Studies Program at CU-Boulder is a good fit for you and your interests.

Determining a potential advisor is not required at the time of application, but it is extremely helpful if you have contacted faculty whose research interests may be a good match with yours and ascertained if any are interested in accepting students, and accepting you in particular. We recommend that you do this before formally applying, as this will either a) increase your chances of getting accepted, if you are well-matched to someone who wants to take you, or b) allow you to discover if no one with your interests has room to accept you at this time. Please see the faculty and associate faculty pages for more information on faculty interests. Email is the best way to initiate contact with faculty members. Please note that faculty receive numerous queries from prospective graduate students, so it helps to prepare your email carefully and use correct grammar and spelling. You may want to include a few sentences about your research or professional interests, your undergraduate institution and GPA and your c.v. or resume.

Each applicant must have an undergraduate degree. International students must take the TOEFL test. There are no general undergraduate course requirements, but some courses in certain elective cluster options may have requirements. It is not necessary to have an undergraduate degree in environmental studies to pursue an advanced degree with us. People come to the program from a variety of backgrounds. The importance is in the match between undergraduate and graduate study.

International Students

The 2018 deadlines are the same for International and domestic students, but it is imperative that International students submit their materials in a timely manner as they require extra time to evaluate transcripts from non-U.S. universities. The deadline for Environmental Studies is December 1. Additional information is available at the CU International Prospective Students website.

The point of contact for international students is the International Admissions office in every aspect concerning the application itself, paperwork, and financial matters. Transcripts should NOT be sent to our department but directly to the International Admissions Team for review by December 1. Missing this deadline could mean that your application is not processed in time to be reviewed by the ENVS graduate committee. For more information, contact the International Admission Team.

Yes, unless you fit one of two exemptions: 1. your native language is English, or 2. you have completed at least one year of full-time study at a U.S. institution, or at an institution in a country where English is the native language, at the time you apply, and within two years from your desired admission term. The Environmental Studies TOEFL requirements are available on CU's Graduate Schools English Proficiency Requirements page

In general, the University of Colorado at Boulder looks for a four-year bachelor degree or equivalent after 12 years of primary/secondary school. In other words, we look for a total of 16 years of education that builds on the curriculum from year to year (not just any 16 years of education), and within the same country. Many of the Bologna compliant three-year degrees now build on 12 (occasionally fewer) years of primary/secondary school. The International Admissions Team at CU Boulder does not routinely consider these to be equivalent to a US four-year bachelor's degree.


Most MS students finish in two years. The maximum time allowed is four years. A Ph.D. must be completed in six years, although it is possible (but not encouraged) to apply for an extension of time.

We only admit full-time students to the program. The university considers a graduate student taking 5 credits to be full-time.

The majority of ENVS classes are held during the day.

Master’s Degree: The requirement for the master’s degree is 36 credit hours. A student may complete a Plan I - thesis option (30 course credits plus 6 thesis credits). The Plan II - course work plus internship option will not be available beginning Fall 2016 (except for MS/MBA and MS/JD students).  A maximum of 6 credit hours may be completed at the 3000 or 4000 level at the discretion of the academic department. Independent study coursework cannot exceed 25 percent of the coursework required for the master’s degree. Doctoral Degree: The requirement for students matriculating in Fall 2012 or later is 32 hours of course credit. Those students pursuing the Ph.D. shall complete a minimum of 30 credit hours of dissertation work beyond the minimum coursework requirement.

Master’s students: one who is carrying a minimum of 5 credits of graduate-level course work, 8 credits of combined undergraduate and graduate course work plus at least 1 master’s thesis hour or at least 1 hour of “Master’s Candidate for Degree.”  Doctoral students: one who is carrying a minimum of 5 credits of graduate level course work prior to passing the comprehensive exam; 8 credits of combined undergraduate and graduate course work prior to passing the prospectus defense; at least one doctoral dissertation credit prior to passing the prospectus defense; or a minimum of 5 dissertation hours after passing the prospectus defense

Yes. Common Core Requirements (8 credit hours) ENVS 5000 (3): Science Policy and Values ENVS 5003 (3): Theory and Methods in Environment ENVS 5510 (2): ENVS Colloquium – two semesters See the new curriculum for more information.

You may take classes, but admitted students have priority. MS students may transfer only nine (9) credits taken outside the program. PhD students may transfer up to 21 credits. There are no exceptions to these rules. Please see the Continuing Education website for additional information on registering for classes.