Master of Science in Environmental Science

General

Read more about this program on the school's website

Program Description

Overview

Habitat loss, global climate change, water, and air pollution, ozone depletion, species invasions, loss of biodiversity, and the accumulation of toxic wastes are among the many environmental dilemmas our society faces each day. These complex problems pit environmental limits against economic development, diverse cultures, ethics, values, and social stability, and therefore require an understanding of science, policy, society, history, and economics in order to address problems realistically and effectively. Environmental scientists must use integrated and holistic approaches to understand and find sustainable solutions to these problems. Graduates of the environmental science masters are well prepared for a variety of environmentally sustainable careers including consulting, research, policy, and outreach, or further graduate work in a doctoral program.

The program's curriculum provides students with a deep understanding of the science behind our environmental problems, the complex set of circumstances that impact environmental issues, and how environmental decisions and policies must attempt to find a balance between environmental conservation, human well-being, and economic development. Students augment their hands-on classroom work with in-depth experiential learning through an individual thesis or project that provides students with the chance to work on real-world environmental problems under the guidance of skilled environmental scientists.

Plan of study

The practice of environmental science demands that students be well-rounded specialists. To accomplish this, each student is required to complete a concentration in one of the following areas: cellular and molecular biology, chemistry, ecology and field biology, economics, mathematics, organismal biology and evolution, public policy, remote sensing, and digital image processing, or statistics. Students also may develop a self-designed concentration in an area of personal interest, subject to approval from an environmental science review committee.

Cooperative education

Cooperative education is optional for environmental science majors, however, it offers students a great way to get a head start on their career with paid, professional work experience. Students can participate in cooperative education as soon as the summer after their second year of study. Co-op placements are typically with local, state, or federal government agencies, nonprofit environmental organizations, and a host of environmental consulting firms.

Course of Study

Students may apply to the accelerated dual degree (BS/MS) option, which provides them with a considerable advantage over other environmental science graduates in the job market. In order to function as an environmental scientist, an individual must have an extensive background in mathematics, physical science, and life science. The BS/MS program is one of the strongest programs available with respect to mathematics and science and may be completed in five years.

Real World Experiences

In addition to getting involved in research, optional cooperative education opportunities offer students a great way to get a head start on their career with paid, professional work experience. These co-op experiences may be with local, state, or federal government agencies, nonprofit environmental organizations, and a host of environmental consulting firms. To learn more or review co-op position openings, visit the RIT Office for Cooperative Education and Career Services.

Nature of Work

Environmental scientists and geoscientists use their knowledge of the physical makeup and history of the Earth to protect the environment; locate water, mineral, and energy resources; predict future geologic hazards; and offer environmental site assessments and advice on indoor air quality, hazardous waste site remediation and construction and land-use projects. Most of their time is devoted to office or field work and often includes data analysis and report/proposal writing.
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook)

Training Qualifications

A bachelor’s degree is adequate for some entry-level positions, but environmental scientists and geoscientists increasingly need a master’s degree in natural science. A master’s degree is the minimum educational requirement for most entry-level research positions in private industry, Federal agencies, and State geological surveys.
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics O.O.H.)

Types of Jobs

Environmental Scientist, Conservation Scientist, Forester/Preserve Superintendent, Atmospheric Scientist, Field Technician, Compliance Manager, Consultant, Salesman (equipment), GIS Specialist, and Lobbyist.

Industries

  • Environmental Services
  • Forestry
  • Natural Resources
  • Scientific and Technical Consulting

Typical Job Titles

  • City Research Scientist
  • Education Presenter
  • Environmental Analyst
  • Environmental Scientist
  • Field Biologist
  • Graduate Research Assistant
  • LiDAR Technician
  • Philanthropy and Operations Coordinator
  • Physical Scientist
  • Pump and Process Operator Trainee
  • Remote Sensing Technician
  • Research Engineer

Curriculum

Environmental science (thesis option), MS degree, typical course sequence

First Year

  • ENVS-601 Environmental Science Graduate Studies
  • MATH-655 Biostatistics or Equivalent Course
  • ENVS-670 Advanced Concepts of Environmental Chemistry
  • BIOL-675 Advanced Conservation Biology
  • ENVS-650 Hydrologic Applications of GIS
  • Graduate Public Policy Core Elective
  • Graduate Science Core Elective

Second Year

  • ENVS-790Environmental Science Thesis
  • Professional Elective

Environmental science (project option), MS degree, typical course sequence

First Year

  • ENVS-601 Environmental Science Graduate Studies
  • MATH-655 Biostatistics or Equivalent Course
  • ENVS-670 Advanced Concepts of Environmental Chemistry
  • BIOL-675 Advanced Conservation Biology
  • ENVS-650 Hydrologic Applications of GIS
  • Graduate Public Policy Core Elective
  • Graduate Science Core Elective
  • Graduate Science, Technology and Society Core Elective

Second Year

  • ENVS-780Environmental Science Project
  • Professional Elective

Admission Requirements

To be considered for admission to the MS program in environmental science, candidates must fulfill the following requirements:

  • Complete a graduate application.
  • Hold a baccalaureate degree (or equivalent) from an accredited university or college in environmental science, biological science, or a related discipline.
  • Submit official transcripts (in English) of all previously completed undergraduate and graduate course work.
  • Have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 (or equivalent) overall and in math/science.
  • Applicants with undergraduate degrees from foreign colleges and universities are required to submit GRE scores.
  • Submit a personal statement of educational objectives outlining the applicant’s research/project interests, career goals, and suitability to the program.
  • Submit three letters of recommendation from academic or professional sources.
  • International applicants whose native language is not English must submit scores from the TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE. A minimum TOEFL score of 79 (internet-based) is required. A minimum IELTS score of 6.5 is required. The English language test score requirement is waived for native speakers of English or for those submitting transcripts from degrees earned at American institutions.
  • Students are strongly encouraged to contact program faculty before applying to discuss thesis topics and research projects. Students are matched with a potential thesis adviser at the time of admission.
Last updated Oct 2019

About the School

With more than 80 graduate programs in high-paying, in-demand fields and scholarships, assistantships and fellowships available, we invite you to take a closer look at RIT. Don't be fooled by the word ... Read More

With more than 80 graduate programs in high-paying, in-demand fields and scholarships, assistantships and fellowships available, we invite you to take a closer look at RIT. Don't be fooled by the word "technology" in our name. At RIT, you will discover a university of artists and designers on the one hand, and scientists, engineers, and business leaders on the other – a collision of the right brain and the left brain. Read less