VCU Bulletins

Environmental Studies, Master of Science (M.S.)

Graduate program director
J. Clifford Fox, J.D., Ph.D.
Associate Director, Center for Environmental Studies
(804) 828-7202

Program website:

Refer to the program search function of the online VCU Bulletins for a complete listing of all programs, concentrations and related curricular options.

Environmental Studies, Master of (M.Envs.)
Environmental Studies, Master of (M.Envs.), accelerated Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies (B.S.) to master’s

Apply online at

Admission requirements

Environmental Studies, Master of Science (M.S.)
Semester(s) of entry:
Deadline dates:

Jul 1
Dec 1
May 1
Test requirements:

International students require TOEFL
Special requirements:
For students seeking fall admission, preference is given to applications received before March 15. Students wishing to be considered for funding must apply by April 1. See program website.

In addition to the general admission requirements of the VCU Graduate School, applicants must have successfully completed undergraduate training and hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution reflecting ability to perform at the graduate level.

While qualified students from any baccalaureate program will be considered for admission to the Master of Science in Environmental Studies (M.S.) program, due to the program goal of linking science and policy, students with narrow training in one field or the other may be required to complete some basic education in the alternate field prior to full admission. Moreover, admission to the M.S. program requires a sponsoring faculty adviser, who will function as a thesis adviser for the admitted student. Students without such sponsorship will be considered for admission to the Master of Environmental Studies (M.Envs.) degree program. If an appropriate adviser is identified following admission, the student’s program may be changed to the M.S. program.

Students admitted to the program are generally drawn from applicants with a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale or equivalent) and satisfactory scores on a current standardized graduate admissions test (normally the GRE). Applicants holding an undergraduate degree from recognized foreign institutions should display an acceptable level of English proficiency by achieving a minimum score of 600 on the TOEFL paper-based examination or 100 on the Internet-based examination.

VCU Graduate Bulletin, VCU Graduate School and general academic policies and regulations for all graduate students in all graduate programs

The VCU Graduate Bulletin website documents the official admission and academic rules and regulations that govern graduate education for all graduate programs at the university.  These policies are established by the graduate faculty of the university through their elected representatives to the University Graduate Council.

It is the responsibility of all graduate students, both on- and off-campus, to be familiar with the VCU Graduate Bulletin as well as the Graduate School website and academic regulations in individual school and department publications and on program websites. However, in all cases, the official policies and procedures of the University Graduate Council, as published on the VCU Graduate Bulletin and Graduate School websites, take precedence over individual program policies and guidelines.

General academic regulations for
all graduate students in all graduate programs at VCU

Program goal

The goal of the M.S. in Environmental Studies is to provide an interdisciplinary master’s degree program in environmental studies that emphasizes the critical links between environmental life sciences and public policy. This goal necessitates training that crosses disciplinary boundaries. Through a program of study combining environmental science, environmental technology and environmental policy, the successful graduate will gain a range of skills designed to facilitate a science-based understanding of the natural world and human interactions with it. The M.S. is specifically designed to prepare students for careers involving science and policy research through the completion of a culminating thesis project.

Student learning outcomes

  1. Graduates will be able to use emerging environmental technologies and apply them under real-world conditions.
  2. Graduates will be able to conduct objective research and/or interpret research findings, and apply scientific concepts and information to the decision-making process for environmental regulations and policies.
  3. Graduates will be able to effectively bridge the realms of policy and science on critical environmental issues and be able to make significant contributions in an interdisciplinary professional and academic environment.
  4. Graduates will possess a sophisticated and practical understanding of methods for collection, analysis, presentation and critical interpretation of environmental data using appropriate statistical and quantitative tools.

Degree requirements

In addition to general VCU Graduate School graduation requirements, students must:

  1. Complete a minimum of 33 graduate credit hours, approved by the program director, with an overall minimum GPA of 3.0 on all graduate course work attempted after acceptance into the program (At least one-half of required course work must be at the 600 level or higher).
  2. Complete three required core courses (9 credit hours)
  3. Complete an additional 18 credit hours of approved graduate electives
  4. Develop a research proposal approved by a committee of three faculty members
  5. Qualify for degree candidacy based upon satisfactory completion of the above requirements
  6. Complete the proposed research culminating in a publication-quality thesis (6 research credit hours)
  7. Successfully defend the research thesis

Curriculum requirements

Courses Credit hours
Core requirements 9
ENVS 601 Survey in Environmental Studies 3
ENVS 603 Environmental Research Methods 3
STAT 543 Statistical Methods I (or equivalent) 3
Thesis (maximum of 6 credit hours; M.S. degree only) 6
ENVS 697 Research 3
ENVS 698 Thesis 3
Electives (Courses must represent at least two of the disciplines below. Listed courses are options and are not comprehensive of all electives. Other electives may be allowed with prior permission of the major adviser and program director.) 18
Note: Students may not apply more than 3 credit hours (total) of ENVS 692 and/or ENVS 693 to the degree without prior approval of the major adviser and program director.  
Environmental studies  
ENVS 550 Ecological Risk Assessment 3
ENVS/ANTH 556 Historical and Cultural Landscapes 3
ENVS 692 Independent Study 1-3
ENVS 693 Internship in Environmental Studies 1-3
Environmental policy and administration  
ENVS/PADM 628 Environmental Policy and Administration 3
ENVS/GVPA 640 River Policy 3
ENVS 660 Virginia Environmental Law 3
PADM 601 Principles of Public Administration 3
URSP 650 Natural Resources and Environmental Planning 3
URSP 652 Environmental Analysis 3
Environmental science/health  
BIOL 510 Conservation Biology 3
BIOL 514 Stream Ecology 4
BIOL/ENVS 532 Water Pollution Biology 3
BIOL 591 Special Topics in Biology (applied and environmental microbiology) 1-4
ENVS 650 Pesticides, Health and the Environment 3
ENVS 655 Hydrogeology 3
ENVS 670 Pollution Physiology 3
Environmental technology  
ENVS/URSP/GEOG 521 Introduction to Geographic Information Systems 3
ENVS 602 Environmental Technology 3
ENVS/URSP/GEOG 654 Environmental Remote Sensing 3
ENVS 691 Topics in Environmental Studies (environmental applications of geographic information systems) 3
Total number of graduate credit hours required (minimum) 33

Degree candidacy requirements

A graduate student admitted to a program or concentration requiring a final research project, work of art, thesis or dissertation, must qualify for continuing master’s or doctoral status according to the degree candidacy requirements of the student’s graduate program. Admission to degree candidacy, if applicable, is a formal statement by the graduate student’s faculty regarding the student’s academic achievements and the student’s readiness to proceed to the final research phase of the degree program.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following degree candidacy policy as published in the VCU Graduate Bulletin for complete information and instructions.

Degree candidacy requirements

Graduation requirements

As graduate students approach the end of their academic programs and the final semester of matriculation, they must make formal application to graduate. No degrees will be conferred until the application to graduate has been finalized.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following graduation requirements as published in the Graduate Bulletin for a complete list of instructions and a graduation checklist.

Graduation requirements

Other information

Student handbook:



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