Environmental Science

College of Natural and Behavioral Sciences

Department of Earth Sciences and Geography

Master of Science


Ana Pitchon (Anthropology), Program Coordinator

Rodrick A. Hay (Earth Sciences), John Keyantash (Earth Sciences), Terrence McGlynn (Biology), Brendan McNulty (Earth Sciences), John Roberts (Biology), John Thomlinson (Biology), Connie Vadheim (Biology)


Department Office:  LIB C-502, (310) 243-2547

Program Description

The Master in Science in Environmental Science is an interdisciplinary program housed in the College of Natural and Behavioral Science (NBS).  The mission of the program is to prepare the leaders, thinkers and planners necessary to address and solve environmental challenges using interdisciplinary approaches.  Because of our location and internship opportunities, the emphasis of the program is on the unique problems of the urban environment.  The program is appropriate for students with interests in careers in government, urban or environmental planning, environmental education, research, journalism, law, and academia.


The program is interdisciplinary, with core and elective courses drawn from the natural and social sciences.  Core courses introduce the student to the unique problems of the urban environment, to environmental analysis, policy and planning, to mathematical and analytic skills to address environmental problems, and the original research literature in environmental science.  Elective courses allow students the flexibility to tailor their academic programs to meet specific goals.  Students obtain real-world experience in the urban environment through internships in government, non-governmental, or other agencies and organizations.  The academic program culminates with an original research project leading to a thesis.

Career Possibilities

Among the many employment opportunities available for recipients of an M.S. in Environmental Science are government agencies, particularly in the areas of environmental protection and management, water, sewer and power-generation utilities, analytic laboratories, environmental and engineering firms, private industry and management, and non-profit organizations.  Potential areas of employment include forestry, agriculture, fisheries management, environmental education, air quality analysis or control, soil conservation, environmental lobbying, remote sensing, urban and regional planning, soil and water conservation, environmental policy analysis, environmental impact analysis, environmental planning, conservation systems analysis, earth science, oceanography, hydrology, seismology, and environmental social impact analysis.  In addition, the M.S. in Environmental Science is excellent preparation for further academic pursuits, such as a Ph.D. in environmental science or a degree in environmental law.

Admission Requirements

Requirements for admission to classified status are a bachelor's degree in a natural or social science from an accredited university with a minimum grade point average of 3.0 in the last 60 upper division semester (90 quarter) units of upper division course work, completion of the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR) at the graduate level of proficiency, completion of two courses in a field related to environmental science, and a statistics course with grades of "B" or better.

Admission Procedures

Admission to the program involves two applications.  Prospective students must:

1.  Submit an application to the University for admission with graduate standing, and official transcripts of all previous college work following the procedures outlined in the Admission section of the University Catalog.

2.  Submit to the M.S. in Environmental Sciences Program Coordinator:

a.  a letter describing interests, goals and expectations in pursuing the master's degree in environmental science;

b.  two letters of recommendation sent directly from individuals who can evaluate potential for graduate study;

c.  verification of completion of the Graduation Writing
Assessment Requirement (GWAR) at the graduate level of proficiency.

d.  copies of undergraduate transcripts (separate from those sent to University Admissions).

Academic Advisement

Upon acceptance to the program, each student will select or be assigned to a faculty advisor and plan an individualized program of study based on the student's interests and career goals.  All students in the program will be required to be advised every semester to assess student progress and program effectiveness.

Master of Science in Environmental Science

Degree Requirements (30 units)

The M.S. in Environmental Science requires completion of 30 units, at least 21 of which must be at the graduate (500-level).


A.  Required Courses (24 units)

BIO 510. The Urban Environment (3)

BIO 502. Biostatistics (3) or

PSY 530. Advanced Analysis of Variance and Multivariate Techniques (3)

ANT 555. People, Culture, and the Environment (3)

GEO 433. Environmental Analysis and Planning (3)

ENV 590. Graduate Seminar in Environmental Science (must be taken at least twice; 1-2 units each)

ENV 596. Internship in Environmental Science

ENV 598. Directed Research (3)

ENV 599. Thesis (3)


B.  Electives (6 units):

     In consultation with an academic advisor, each student will select 2 elective courses from the following list.  Elective courses will be selected that best suit the academic background and career goals of the student.  Other courses may be substituted with the approval of the academic advisor and Program Coordinator.



BIO 410. Landscape Ecology (3)    



CHE 474. Geochemistry (3)



GEO 405. Advanced Cartography (3)         

GEO 408. Remote Sensing and Image Processing (3)        

GEO 412. Rivers and Streams (3)

GEO 415. Geographic information Systems (3)

GEO 416. Earth's Climates (3)

GEO 420. Natural Resources (3)



EAR 410. Environmental Geology (3)

EAR 460. Global Change (3)

EAR 476. Groundwater (3)



SOC 408. Survey Research (3)


C. Thesis

     A written thesis, based on an original research project in environmental science, and an oral defense of the thesis are required for completion of the degree.

         Each student must select a thesis advisor and two faculty to serve as the graduate thesis committee.  When additional expertise is required, a member may be from another institution, but at least two committee members, including the Chair, must be full-time CSUDH faculty.

         The student in consultation with his or her major advisor will prepare a research proposal along with a time line to completion.  The proposal must outline the problem, its significance, and the methods to be employed to collect and analyze data.  The proposal must be approved by the two other members of the thesis committee and submitted to the Program Coordinator.

         The thesis will be evaluated on the basis of originality, critical and independent thinking, appropriate organization and format, and thorough documentation.  Upon the completion and acceptance of the thesis, the student and advisor will arrange for an oral defense of the thesis.  This ordinarily takes the form of a seminar to which the faculty, students and public are invited to attend.


D. Continuing Student Status

     Students must maintain continuous enrollment throughout the graduate program and during the semester they graduate.  Students who miss a semester must reapply to the university and to the program.  Students who have completed all course work and are working on their thesis may enroll in ENV 600, Graduate Continuation Course (0 units), or equivalent, to maintain continuous attendance.


E.  Grades

     An overall "B" average is required in courses in the student's program and all courses must be passed with a grade of "B-" or above.


F.  Policy on Revalidation of Outdated Course Work

     All course work taken in the master's degree program must be completed within the five years immediately preceding the date of graduation.  Revalidation of outdated course work may be requested from the University Graduate Studies Office through the Environmental Science Program Coordinator.  Outdated course work means courses that were completed between five and seven years immediately preceding the date of graduation.  The request must be accompanied by a petition from the program Coordinator that verifies that the student has done one of the following:

  1. repeated the course and passed it with a grade of B or better;
  2. taken the exams and completed the assignments of the course as it is currently offered and earned a grade of B or better;
  3. taken and passed a written comprehensive exam which covers the course contents.


G. Classified Standing

     If a student has been admitted to Conditionally Classified status he or she must fulfill the conditions for Classified standing by the end of the first year after admission.  The student must submit and Application for Classified Standing to the Dean of Graduate Studies, who will forward the request to the Environmental Science Coordinator.  To receive classified standing, the student must have:

  1. completed all prerequisite courses and requirements including the GWAR;
  2. a grade point average of 3.0 or better in all courses taken at CSUDH and received a grade of B- or better in all courses.


H. Advancement to Candidacy

     An application for advancement to candidacy is submitted when the student has completed most of the course work and has begun thesis research.  Application is made through the Program Coordinator and must be done before the student can submit the thesis.  This application will list the student's program of courses and other requirements which must be completed for the degree.

         The Program Coordinator sends the advancement to candidacy form to the College Dean and Graduate Dean who forwards it to the graduation unit of the registrar's Office.  It is used for the degree check after the student has submitted an Application for Graduation form to the office of the Registrar.

I.  University Requirements

     In addition to the program requirements, students must meet all university requirements for the master's degree.  Students should consult the section of the catalog entitled "Requirements for the Master's Degree."

Course Offerings

ENV 590 Graduate Seminar (1, 2).

Prerequisite: Graduate standing in the M.S. in Environmental Science Program or approval by the Program Coordinator. 

Presentation and discussion of selected topics in environmental science. One to two hours of seminar per week. Repeatable course. A maximum of four units may be applied to the master program. 

ENV 596 Internship in Environmental Science (3). 

Prerequisite: Graduate standing in the M.S. in Environmental Science Program and approval by the Program Coordinator. 

Supervised internship, in the student’s area of interest, with a participating agency or company. The internship will be chosen in consultation with the Program Coordinator. A minimum of nine hours per week of internship activity and a final written report are required. 

ENV 598 Directed Research (3).

Prerequisite: Graduate standing in the M.S. in Environmental Science Program and approval by the Program Coordinator. 

Laboratory and/or field research on a specific subject in environmental science. The research is to be approved and directed by the instructor. Repeatable course. A maximum of three units may be applied to the master’s degree. 

ENV 599 Thesis (3). 

Prerequisite: Graduate standing in the M.S. in Environmental Science Program and approval by the Program Coordinator.

Research and writing of a thesis to fulfill the thesis requirement for the master’s degree. The topic of the thesis to be approved and supervised by the Graduate Advisor, in consultation with the student’s Graduate Thesis Committee. Repeatable course. A maximum of three units may be applied to the master’s degree. 

ENV 600 Graduate Continuation Course (1). 

Prerequisite: Graduate standing in the M.S. in Environmental Science Program and approval by the Program Coordinator. 

Graduate students who have completed their course work but not their thesis may maintain continuous attendance by enrolling in their course.