The MS options are structured sets of elective courses that expose students to important environmental issues and technologies. The options focus students into environmental specialties that will enhance their professional career development. Availability of courses required in the options may change as the disciplinary programs that offer them alter departmental schedules; in these circumstances, option advisors will work with students to substitute appropriate courses.

Note: MS students are not required to select a structured option; with the assistance of an academic advisor, students may select any combination of elective courses that satisfy degree requirements.

Ecosystems Option

Advisor: Christy Briles |


  • ENVS 5010, Landscape Geochemistry

  • BIOL 5415, Microbial Ecology

Electives (take two of the following):

  • BIOL 5154, Conservation Biology

  • ENVS 5731, Mountain Biogeography

    • ENVS 6220, Toxicology (see note 2) 

  • GEOG 5060, Remote Sensing I: Introduction to Environmental Remote Sensing

Environmental Health Option 

Advisor: Peter Anthamatten |


  • ENVS 6220, Toxicology (see Note 2)

  • ENVS 6230, Environmental Epidemiology

Electives (take two of the following):

  • GEOG 5710, Climate Change, Disasters and Health

  • ENVS 6210, Human Health and Environmental Pollution

  • ANTH 5014, Medical Anthropology: Global Health

  • PUAD 5633, Seminar in Natural Resource and Environmental Health Law

*ENVS 6200, Risk Assessment, is required as a prerequisite of the Environmental Health Option.

Environmental Science Education Option*

Advisor: Bryan Wee |​


  • ENVS 5340, Multicultural Science Education

  • ENVS 5650, Environmental Education

Electives (take two of the following):

  • ANTH 5170, Culture and the Environment

  • BIOL 5154, Conservation Biology

  • COMM 5282, Environmental Communication

  • GEOG 5335, Contemporary Environmental Issues

  • GEOG 5365, Sustainability and Resources Management

  • GEOG 5440, Science, Policy and the Environment

*For this option, we are propose an extensive list of electives because environmental science education is a broad field. For example, a student wishing to gain experience in science education outreach within a nonprofit organization might select COMM 5282 and BIOL 5154, whereas a student seeking employment in UNESCO might take ANTH 5170 and GEOG 5335. We intend that a wider selection of electives will provide students with knowledge that they can apply to their careers upon completion of their degree. In addition to the courses listed, the option advisor may suggest other courses that can best support the student's interests/career goals.

Geospatial Analysis Option*

Advisor: Peter Anthamatten |


  • GEOG 5080, Introduction to GIS

  • GEOG 5090, Environmental Modeling with Geographic Information Systems

Electives (take two of the following):

  • GEOG 5091, Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial Applications (FOSS4G)

  • GEOG 5092, GIS Programming and Automation

  • CVEN 5382, GIS Spatial Database Development

  • CVEN 5385, GIS Relational Database Systems

  • CVEN 5386, GIS Lab

Water Systems Option*

  • ENVS 5280, Environmental Hydrology

and either

  • CVEN 5334, Groundwater Hydrology


  • CVEN 5335 Vadose Zone Hydrology

Electives (take two of the following):

  • ENVS 5416, Aquatic Ecology

  • ENVS 5410, Aquatic Chemistry

  • GEOG/GEOL 5251, Fluvial Geomorphology

  • CVEN 5333, Surface Water Hydrology

  • CVEN 5334, Groundwater Hydrology

  • CVEN 5335, Vadose Zone Hydrology

  • CVEN 5336, Urban Runoff Quality and Quantity Modeling

  • CVEN 5393, Water Resources Development and Management

*CHEM 4700, Environmental Chemistry, or appropriate chemistry background is required as a prerequisite for the Water Systems Option.


  1. Many courses have prerequisites. Students must check the catalog for prerequisites for these courses. Some options have a prerequisite course requirement.
  2. One course may not be used for more than one option, even if it is listed in several options. Other courses may be as an elective with approval of the option advisor and the Director of Graduate Studies.
  3. No more than three courses may be selected from the any one disciplinary department, i.e., chemistry, biology, civil engineering.
  4. Courses applied by the student to fulfill an MS core requirement may not be used to fulfill the option.
  5. All courses for an Environmental Sciences Certificate must be completed at CU Denver.
  6. Courses counting toward a Certificate must be completed within a five year period.
  7. Courses applied to either a Certificate or an MS degree may later apply toward the other if all pertinent coursework is completed within a five year period.