M.S. in Environmental Science & Engineering

The Environmental Science and Engineering (ESE) Master of Science (MS) curriculum provides an academic experience that prepares students for a range of careers in academic research, government agencies, industries, consulting firms, and non-profit organizations (e.g. the World Health Organization). The curriculum can also provide a foundation for related Ph.D. degrees. .


Students gain an interdisciplinary understanding of natural and engineered environmental systems, with emphasis on water, soils, sediments, and microbial communities. The program emphasizes fundamental concepts from science and engineering, including chemical equilibrium and kinetics, microbial genomics and proteomics, and computer modeling and simulation.

The curriculum is designed to ensure a common foundation of core concepts and skills, but also to allow considerable flexibility for customization to provide the optimal educational experience for each student. Core concepts and skills are taught through a series of three required core courses, with the remaining coursework consisting of advanced electives, readings groups, and special topics courses selected in consultation with the student's advisory committee.


The ESE program includes three tracks of study:

Students in all tracks take core courses as well as a selection of elective courses for three academic terms (fall, winter, and spring).

Upon completion of the program students will be equipped with:

  • Conceptual knowledge and in-depth understanding of biogeochemical links within Earth systems in environmental and public health contexts, with a particular emphasis on prediction of the effects of a changing climate on river, estuary, and ocean systems.
  • Technical know-how in using systems thinking to solve environmental and public health problems.
  • Enhanced capability and competitiveness in the development of a career related to predicting and mitigating the effects of a changing climate, particularly in health and environmental fields, with a special emphasis on river, estuary, and ocean systems.


All three of the ESE M.S. tracks can be obtained with or without a thesis. The non-thesis option may include some non-thesis research or internship credits. The M.S. thesis option requires a written thesis, composed of original research, and an oral defense. Most M.S. students are admitted to non-thesis tracks, but some enter directly into thesis tracks. Non-thesis M.S. students can convert to a thesis track, and M.S. students can be promoted to the Ph.D. program, although the latter requires a formal application. Typical times to complete the M.S. in ESE (for full time students) are 1 academic year for the non-thesis option and 2 years for the thesis option.

Most students accepted into the ESE M.S. program have Bachelors (or equivalent) degrees in the physical or biological sciences, engineering, or related disciplines (e.g., computer science). Prospective students with different backgrounds are encouraged to inquire, if they have professional or other experience that might provide adequate background. Requirements for admission to this program include all the general requirements are described on the Admissions web page

M.S. students may be full time or part time. To matriculate, students should follow the instructions on the Admissions web page.