The MS in Environmental Sciences is a 39-credit hour program that provides students with two alternate plans: Plan 1 requires a thesis, while Plan 2 is a non-thesis program. General requirements for the program include a set of core courses (12 semester hours) and elective courses (24-27 semester hours minimum).

Students choosing to complete the thesis option must also complete 3 hours of thesis credit, while those choosing the non-thesis option must complete 3 hours of additional elective coursework. The degree is offered through the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences with the cooperation of the College of Engineering and Applied Science. In addition, some courses offered by the College of Architecture and Planning, the School of Public Affairs, and the Business School are relevant and applicable to the program. ​

MS Non-Thesis Requirements
  • All of the following:

    ENVS 6002: Research Topics in Environmental Science 3

    GEOG 5265: Sustainability in Resources Management 3

    OR

    GEOG 5440: Science, Policy and the Environment 3

    ENVS 6800: Community-Based Research Practicum 3


    30 Hours of Elective Courses

    PHYSICAL/ECOLOGICAL SCIENCE COURSES

    For the General MS Degree with No Specialization Option: at least 5, with at least 1 in the physical sciences and 1 in the ecological sciences, 2 of these must be field/lab-based.

    For the MS Degree with a Specialization Option: at least 2, with at least 1 in the physical sciences and 1 in the ecological sciences, 2 of these must be field/lab-based.

    Courses considered field/lab courses are marked with an asterisk (*).


    Physical Sciences

    ENVS 5010: Landscape Geochemistry 3

    ENVS 5020: Earth Environments and Human Impacts 3

    * ENVS 5280: Environmental Hydrology 4

    ENVS 5720: Climate Change: Causes, Impacts and Solutions 3

    ENVS 6220: Toxicology 3

    GEOG 5240: Geomorphology 3

    GEOG 5270: Glacial Geomorphology 3

    GEOG/ENVS 5740: Geography of Soils 3

    * GEOG 5995: Travel Study: Patagonia 4

    GEOL 5030: Environmental Geology 3

    * CHEM 5010: Advanced Inorganic Chemistry 4

    * CHEM 5110: Advanced Analytical Chemistry 4

    * CHEM 5310: Advanced Organic Chemistry 4

    * CHEM 5530: Advanced Physical Chemistry 4

    CHEM 5700: Environmental Chemistry 3

    CHEM 5710: Air Pollution Chemistry 3

    CHEM 5720: Atmospheric Sampling and Analysis 3

    CVEN 5333: Surface Water Hydrology 3

    CVEN 5334: Groundwater Hydrology 3

    CVEN 5335: Vadose Zone Hydrology 3

    CVEN 5336: Urban Runoff Quality and Quantity Modeling 3

    CVEN 5343: Open Channel Hydraulics 3

    CVEN 5344: Unsteady Open Channel Hydraulics 3

    CVEN 5393: Water Resources Development and Management 3

    CVEN 5401: Introduction to Environmental Engineering 3

    CVEN 5460: Introduction to Sustainable Urban Infrastructure 3

    CVEN 5461: Defining and Measuring Sustainability 3

    CVEN 5462: Theories of Sustainable Infrastructure Management 3

    CVEN 5464: Fundamentals of Sustainability and Climate Change 3

    CVEN 5480: Hazardous Wastes and Site Remediation 3

    CVEN 5481: Sustainable Water Systems Policy and Planning 3

    CVEN 5494: Risk Assessment in Environmental Engineering 3

    CVEN 5708: Advanced Soils Engineering 3


    Ecological Sciences

    * ENVS 5731: Mountain Biogeography 3

    BIOL 5052: Advanced Ecology 3

    BIOL 5053: Disease Ecology 3

    BIOL 5154: Conservation Biology 3

    BIOL 5315: Plant Systematics 3

    BIOL 5330: Evolution and Diversification of Plants 3

    *BIOL 5335: Plant Science 3

    *BIOL 5345: Flora of Colorado 4

    BIOL 5415: Microbial Ecology 3

    BIOL 5416: Aquatic Ecology 3

    * BIOL 5445: Applied Environmental Biology 3

    BIOL 5450: Marine Biology 3

    BIOL 5455: Comparative Environmental Physiology 3

    BIOL 5460: Environmental Toxicology 3


    ENVIRONMENTAL-BASED SOCIAL SCIENCE COURSES (At least 1):

    ENVS 5305: Water Quality and Resources 3

    ENVS 5340: Multicultural Science Education 3

    ENVS 5450: Urban Food and Agriculture 3

    ENVS 5460: Sustainable Urban Agriculture Field Study I 3

    ENVS 5470: Sustainable Urban Agriculture Field Study II 3

    ENVS/SECE 5650: Environmental Education 3

    GEOG 5230: Hazard Mitigation and Vulnerability Assessment 3

    GEOG 5265: Sustainability in Resources Management 3

    GEOG 5335: Contemporary Environmental Issues 3

    GEOG 5350: Environment & Society in the American Past 3

    GEOG 5420: The Politics of Nature 3

    GEOG 5440: Science, Policy and the Environment 3

    GEOG 5710: Disasters, Climate Change and Health 3

    GEOG 5990: Travel Study: Costa Rica 4

    GEOG 5990: Travel Study: China 4


    TECHNIQUES COURSES (At least 2):

    ENVS 6200: Risk Assessment 3

    Plus, 1 of the following:

    ENVS 6230: Environmental Epidemiology 3

    GEOG 5050: Applied Spatial Statistics 3

    GEOG 5060: Remote Sensing I: Introduction to Environmental Remote Sensing 3

    GEOG 5070: Remote Sensing II: Advanced Remote Sensing 3

    GEOG 5080: Introduction to GIS 3

    GEOG 5081: Cartography and Computer Mapping 3

    GEOG 5085: GIS Applications for the Urban Environment 3

    GEOG 5090: Environmental Modeling with Geographic Information Systems 3

    GEOG 5091: Open Source Software for Geospatial Applications 3

    GEOG 5092: GIS Programming and Automation 3

    GEOG 5095: Deploying GIS Functionality on the Web 3

    GEOG 5235: GIS Applications in the Health Sciences 3

    GEOG 6700: Integrated Methods 3

    BIOL 5474: Ecological Methods 4

    CVEN 5345: Computational Methods for Water Resources 3

    Additional 1 Elective Graduate Course (3 hours) for the General MS degree without a concentration taken from any of the electives listed above. This course should be chosen in close cooperation with the advisor.


    Specialization Options

    Air Quality

    CHEM 5710: Air Pollution Chemistry 3 Required

    ENVS 5730: Air Quality Modeling and Analysis 3 Required

    Choose two:

    ENVS 5720: Climate Change: Causes, Impacts and Solutions 3

    CHEM 5720: Atmospheric Sampling and Analysis 3

    Ecosystems

    ENVS 5010: Landscape Geochemistry 3 Required

    BIOL 5415: Microbial Ecology 3 Required

    Choose two:

    * ENVS 5731: Mountain Biogeography 3

    ENVS 6220: Toxicology 3

    BIOL 5154: Conservation Biology 3

    BIOL 5050: Seminar in Aquatic Ecology 3

    GEOG 5060: Remote Sensing I: Introduction to Environmental Remote Sensing 3

    Environmental Health (ENVS 6200, Risk Assessment is a prerequisite of the Environmental Health option)

    ENVS 6220: Toxicology (3, Required)

    ENVS 6230: Environmental Epidemiology (3, Required)

    Choose two:

    GEOG 5710: Climate Change, Disasters and Health 3

    ENVS 6210: Human Health and Environmental Pollution 3

    ANTH 5014: Medical Anthropology 3

    PUAD 5633: Seminar in Natural Resource and Environmental Health Law 3

    Environmental Science Education

    (This concentration corresponds with the Graduate Environmental Science Education Certificate.)

    ENVS 5340: Multicultural Science Education 3 Required

    ENVS/SECE: 5650 Environmental Education 3 Required

    Choose two:

    ANTH 5170: Culture and the Environment 3

    BIOL 5154: Conservation Biology 3

    COMM 5282: Environmental Communication 3

    GEOG 5365: Sustainability and Resource Management 3

    GEOG 5335: Contemporary Environmental Issues 3

    GEOG 5440: Science, Policy, and the Environment 3

    PSCI 5354: Environmental Politics and Policy 3

    Geospatial Analysis

    (This concentration tracks towards the Graduate GISci Certificate, but does not meet the full requirements of this certificate.)

    GEOG 5080: Introduction to GIS 3 Required

    GEOG 5090: Environmental Modeling with Geographic Information Systems 3 Required

    Choose two:

    GEOG 5092: GIS Programming and Automation 3

    CVEN 5382: GIS Spatial Database Development 3

    CVEN 5385: GIS Relational Database Systems 3

    CVEN 5386: GIS Lab 3

    Water Quality

    * ENVS 5280: Environmental Hydrology 4 Required

    BIOL 5416: Aquatic Ecology 3 Required

    Choose two:

    ENVS 5500: Aquatic Chemistry 3

    CVEN 5333: Surface Water Hydrology 3

    CVEN 5334: Groundwater Hydrology 3

    CVEN 5335: Vadose Zone Hydrology 3

    CVEN 5336: Urban Runoff Quality and Quantity Modeling 3

    CVEN 5393: Water Resources Development and Management 3

    ADVISING NOTES

    • Students should fill out and submit all relevant department forms for their files. Importantly, all petitions for course substitutions and identification of where courses fit as electives, with the subsequent approval/denial, should be submitted to this file.

    • By the end of the first semester, each student should identify and declare a graduate advisor in the area of the student’s interests or specialization. Students should file the Graduate Student – Faculty Advisor form by the first week of the second semester.          

    • Additionally, by the end of the first semester, students should determine whether or not s/he is pursuing the thesis or non-thesis option. If pursuing the thesis option, students should begin work under the guidance of their graduate advisor (see above) to develop a thesis topic and identify a thesis committee. The Graduate Student – Faculty Committee form is due to the department by the third semester of the student’s degree program.            

    • Many of the electives have pre-requisites; students must have met these requirements in order to take the course.              

    • Students may transfer up to 9 hours of approved graduate-level credit into the program. These courses must be approved by the Graduate Director and they may not replace core courses.     

    • Students may count up to 6-credit hours of Independent Study, with a maximum of 3-credit hours per Independent Study toward elective credit in the degree program as approved by the Graduate Director. No more than 3 credit hours of independent study may be taken with the same instructor, and they may not be taken in the same term.

    • Students may count up to 6-credit hours of internship in total, but only 3-credit hours per internship (two sponsorships may be sponsored by the same professor, but they may not be the same internship or project). Please note that a maximum of 6 total credit hours of internship and independent study, combined, may apply.

    • Students may not count 4000-level courses towards electives in the program; this may be petitioned to the Graduate Committee in exceptional cases.            

    • Students may take a maximum of 2 online courses, or petition to the Graduate Committee in exceptional cases to apply more than two online courses.           

    • Students may enroll in thesis preparation and writing hours only after submission of the signed committee form (see above), which requires approval of the thesis proposal.   

    • Students will not receive a grade for thesis preparation and writing hours until the thesis is successfully defended.

    • Students must follow the graduate school deadlines for submission of paperwork for the graduation application, comprehensive exam, and any other deadlines, in addition to departmental guidelines and deadlines. Links to these can be found on the GES/MS website: http://www.ucdenver.edu/academics/colleges/CLAS/Departments/ges/Programs...

MS Thesis Requirements
  • Printer-Friendly MS Thesis Checklist
  • All of the following:

    ENVS 6002: Research Topics in Environmental Science (3)

    GEOG 5265: Sustainability in Resources Management (3)

    OR

    GEOG 5440: Science, Policy and the Environment (3)

    GEOG 6750: Research Design (3)

    ENVS 6800: Community-Based Research Practicum (3)

    GEOG 6950: Master’s Thesis Preparation and Writing (3)


    24 Hours of Elective Courses

    PHYSICAL/ECOLOGICAL SCIENCE COURSES

    For the General MS Degree with No Specialization Option: at least 4 courses, with at least 1 course in the physical sciences and 1 course in the ecological sciences, 1 of these courses must be field/lab-based.

    For the MS Degree with a Specialization Option: at least 1 course, which must be field/lab-based if a field/lab based class was not taken as part of the concentration.

    Courses considered field/lab courses are marked with an asterisk (*).

    Physical Sciences

    ENVS 5010: Landscape Geochemistry (3)

    ENVS 5020: Earth Environments and Human Impacts (3)

    * ENVS 5280: Environmental Hydrology (4)

    ENVS 5720: Climate Change: Causes, Impacts and Solutions (3)

    ENVS 6220: Toxicology (3)

    GEOG 5240: Geomorphology (3)

    GEOG 5270: Glacial Geomorphology (3)

    GEOG/ENVS 5740: Geography of Soils (3)

    * GEOG 5995: Travel Study: Patagonia (4)

    GEOL 5030: Environmental Geology (3)

    * CHEM 5010: Advanced Inorganic Chemistry (4)

    * CHEM 5110: Advanced Analytical Chemistry (4)

    * CHEM 5310: Advanced Organic Chemistry (4)

    * CHEM 5530: Advanced Physical Chemistry (4)

    CHEM 5700: Environmental Chemistry (3)

    CHEM 5710: Air Pollution Chemistry (3)

    CHEM 5720: Atmospheric Sampling and Analysis (3)

    CVEN 5333: Surface Water Hydrology (3)

    CVEN 5334: Groundwater Hydrology (3)

    CVEN 5335: Vadose Zone Hydrology (3)

    CVEN 5336: Urban Runoff Quality and Quantity Modeling (3)

    CVEN 5343: Open Channel Hydraulics (3)

    CVEN 5344: Unsteady Open Channel Hydraulics (3)

    CVEN 5393: Water Resources Development and Management (3)

    CVEN 5401: Introduction to Environmental Engineering (3)

    CVEN 5460: Introduction to Sustainable Urban Infrastructure (3)

    CVEN 5461: Defining and Measuring Sustainability (3)

    CVEN 5462: Theories of Sustainable Infrastructure Management (3)

    CVEN 5464: Fundamentals of Sustainability and Climate Change (3)

    CVEN 5480: Hazardous Wastes and Site Remediation (3)

    CVEN 5481: Sustainable Water Systems Policy and Planning (3)

    CVEN 5494: Risk Assessment in Environmental Engineering (3)

    CVEN 5708: Advanced Soils Engineering (3)


    Ecological Sciences

    * ENVS 5731: Mountain Biogeography (3)

    BIOL 5052: Advanced Ecology (3)

    BIOL 5053: Disease Ecology (3)

    BIOL 5154: Conservation Biology (3)

    BIOL 5315: Plant Systematics (3)

    BIOL 5330: Evolution and Diversification of Plants (3)

    *BIOL 5335: Plant Science (3)

    *BIOL 5345: Flora of Colorado (4)

    BIOL 5415: Microbial Ecology (3)

    BIOL 5416: Aquatic Ecology (3)

    * BIOL 5445: Applied Environmental Biology (3)

    BIOL 5450: Marine Biology (3)

    BIOL 5455: Comparative Environmental Physiology (3)

    BIOL 5460: Environmental Toxicology (3)


    Environmental-Based Social Science Courses (At least 1):

    ENVS 5305: Water Quality and Resources (3)

    ENVS 5340: Multicultural Science Education (3)

    ENVS 5450: Urban Food and Agriculture (3)

    ENVS 5460: Sustainable Urban Agriculture Field Study I (3)

    ENVS 5470: Sustainable Urban Agriculture Field Study II (3)

    ENVS 5650: Environmental Science Education (3)

    GEOG 5230: Hazard Mitigation and Vulnerability Assessment (3)

    GEOG 5265: Sustainability in Resources Management (3)

    GEOG 5335: Contemporary Environmental Issues (3)

    GEOG 5350: Environment & Society in the American Past (3)

    GEOG 5420: The Politics of Nature (3)

    GEOG 5440: Science, Policy and the Environment (3)

    GEOG 5710: Disasters, Climate Change and Health (3)

    GEOG 5990: Travel Study: Costa Rica(4)

    GEOG 5990: Travel Study: China (4)

    TECHNIQUES COURSES (At least 2):

    ENVS 6200: Risk Assessment (3)

    Plus, 1 of the following:

    ENVS 6230: Environmental Epidemiology (3)

    GEOG 5050: Applied Spatial Statistics (3)

    GEOG 5060: Remote Sensing I: Introduction to Environmental Remote Sensing (3)

    GEOG 5070: Remote Sensing II: Advanced Remote Sensing (3)

    GEOG 5080: Introduction to GIS (3)

    GEOG 5081: Cartography and Computer Mapping (3)

    GEOG 5085: GIS Applications for the Urban Environment (3)

    GEOG 5090: Environmental Modeling with Geographic Information Systems (3)

    GEOG 5091: Open Source Software for Geospatial Applications (3)

    GEOG 5092: GIS Programming and Automation (3)

    GEOG 5095: Deploying GIS Functionality on the Web (3)

    GEOG 5235: GIS Applications in the Health Sciences (3)

    GEOG 6700: Integrated Methods (3)

    BIOL 5474: Ecological Methods (4)

    CVEN 5345: Computational Methods for Water Resources (3)

    Additional 1 Elective Graduate Course (3 hours) for the General MS degree without a concentration taken from any of the electives listed above. This course should be chosen in close cooperation with the advisor.

    Specialization Options

    Air Quality

    CHEM 5710: Air Pollution Chemistry (3) Required

    ENVS 5730: Air Quality Modeling and Analysis (3) Required

    Choose two:

    ENVS 5720: Climate Change: Causes, Impacts and Solutions (3)

    CHEM 5720: Atmospheric Sampling and Analysis (3)


    Ecosystems

    ENVS 5010: Landscape Geochemistry (3) Required

    BIOL 5415: Microbial Ecology (3) Required

    Choose two:

    * ENVS 5731: Mountain Biogeography (3)

    ENVS 6220: Toxicology (3)

    BIOL 5154: Conservation Biology (3)

    BIOL 5050: Seminar in Aquatic Ecology (3)

    GEOG 5060: Remote Sensing I: Introduction to Environmental Remote Sensing (3)

    Environmental Health

    (ENVS 6200, Risk Assessment is a prerequisite of the Environmental Health option)

    ENVS 6220: Toxicology (3) Required

    ENVS 6230: Environmental Epidemiology (3) Required

    Choose two:

    GEOG 5710: Climate Change, Disasters and Health (3)

    ENVS 6210: Human Health and Environmental Pollution (3)

    ANTH 5014: Medical Anthropology (3)

    PUAD 5633: Seminar in Natural Resource and Environmental Health Law (3)


    Environmental Science Education (This concentration corresponds with the Graduate Environmental Science Education Certificate.)

    ENVS 5340: Multicultural Science Education (3) Required

    ENVS/SECE 5650: Environmental Education (3) Required

    Choose two:

    ANTH 5170: Culture and the Environment (3)

    BIOL 5154: Conservation Biology (3)

    COMM 5282: Environmental Communication (3)

    GEOG 5365: Sustainability and Resource Management (3)

    GEOG 5335: Contemporary Environmental Issues (3)

    GEOG 5440: Science, Policy, and the Environment (3)

    PSCI 5354: Environmental Politics and Policy (3)

    Geospatial Analysis

    This concentration tracks towards the Graduate GISci Certificate, but does not meet the full requirements of this certificate.)

    GEOG 5080: Introduction to GIS (3) Required

    GEOG 5090: Environmental Modeling with Geographic Information Systems (3) Required

    Choose two:

    GEOG 5092: GIS Programming and Automation (3)

    CVEN 5382: GIS Spatial Database Development (3)

    CVEN 5385: GIS Relational Database Systems (3)

    CVEN 5386: GIS Lab (3)


    Water Quality

    * ENVS 5280: Environmental Hydrology (4) Required

    BIOL 5416: Aquatic Ecology (3) Required

    Choose two:

    ENVS 5500: Aquatic Chemistry (3)

    CVEN 5333: Surface Water Hydrology (3)

    CVEN 5334: Groundwater Hydrology (3)

    CVEN 5335: Vadose Zone Hydrology (3)

    CVEN 5336: Urban Runoff Quality and Quantity Modeling (3)

    CVEN 5393: Water Resources Development and Management (3)

    ADVISING NOTES

    • Students should fill out and submit all relevant department forms for their files. Importantly, all petitions for course substitutions and identification of where courses fit as electives, with the subsequent approval/denial, should be submitted to this file.

    • By the end of the first semester, each student should identify and declare a graduate advisor in the area of the student’s interests or specialization. Students should file the Graduate Student – Faculty Advisor form by the first week of the second semester.          

    • Additionally, by the end of the first semester, students should determine whether or not s/he is pursuing the thesis or non-thesis option. If pursuing the thesis option, students should begin work under the guidance of their graduate advisor (see above) to develop a thesis topic and identify a thesis committee. The Graduate Student – Faculty Committee form is due to the department by the third semester of the student’s degree program.

    • Many of the electives have pre-requisites; students must have met these requirements in order to take the course.

    • Students may transfer up to 9 hours of approved graduate-level credit into the program. These courses must be approved by the Graduate Director and they may not replace core courses.

    • Students may count up to 6-credit hours of Independent Study, with a maximum of 3-credit hours per Independent Study toward elective credit in the degree program as approved by the Graduate Director. No more than 3 credit hours of independent study may be taken with the same instructor, and they may not be taken in the same term.

    • Students may count up to 6-credit hours of internship in total, but only 3-credit hours per internship (two sponsorships may be sponsored by the same professor, but they may not be the same internship or project). Please note that a maximum of 6 total credit hours of internship and independent study, combined, may apply.  

    • Students may not count 4000-level courses towards electives in the program; this may be petitioned to the Graduate Committee in exceptional cases.

    • Students may take a maximum of 2 online courses, or petition to the Graduate Committee in exceptional cases to apply more than two online courses.

    • Students may enroll in thesis preparation and writing hours only after submission of the signed committee form (see above), which requires approval of the thesis proposal.          

    • Students will not receive a grade for thesis preparation and writing hours until the thesis is successfully defended.

    • Students must follow the graduate school deadlines for submission of paperwork for the graduation application, comprehensive exam, and any other deadlines, in addition to departmental guidelines and deadlines. Links to these can be found on the GES/MS website: http://www.ucdenver.edu/academics/colleges/CLAS/Departments/ges/Programs... nce/Pages/Forms.aspx

Graduate School Requirements for Graduation

There are graduate school deadlines for each of the following requirements. The CLAS schedule of deadlines for the current semester can be downloaded here or picked up at the CLAS Dean's Office.

NOTE: The University of Colorado Denver places a seven year limit on all work to be applied toward the MS degree. If you exceed this limit under extenuated circumstances, please see the Director of Graduate Studies.​

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