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Environmental Science | MS

Environmental Science (MS)

Offered by the Department of Environmental Science, College of Arts and Sciences.

Admission to the Program

In addition to meeting the minimum university requirements for graduate study, students must have completed one year of calculus and one year of laboratory science (biology, chemistry, geology, or physics). A semester or more of economics is recommended. Admission is based on academic record, personal statement, and two letters of recommendation. The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required.

The Program offers two tracks to the MS degree, a thesis option and a coursework option with internship. During the first semester of academic study, the student choosing the MS with thesis option should identify the professor to work with and notify the graduate advisor, in writing, of their decision. Students who choose the coursework and internship option should identify and secure their position during their first year in the program.

Degree Requirements

  • 36 credit hours of approved graduate work.
  • Completion of 6 credit hours from either thesis or nonthesis option.
    • Thesis option: A research proposal must be accepted by the student's advisor, the graduate studies committee, and the department chair, at least one semester prior to the oral defense of the thesis.
  • One comprehensive examination; a maximum of two attempts is permitted.

Course Requirements

Core (12 credit hours)

Nonthesis or Thesis Option (6 credit hours)

Complete one of the following options:

Nonthesis Option (6 credit hours)

Thesis Option (6 credit hours)

Electives (18 credit hours)

Complete 18 credit hours chosen in consultation with the graduate advisor from each of the two clusters below. A statistics course (STAT-516, STAT-520STAT-615 or STAT-624) may be substituted for one of the courses; other courses may be substituted with permission of the graduate advisor.

Combined Bachelor's Degree and MS in Environmental Science

American University offers students the opportunity to earn both undergraduate and graduate degrees through its combined bachelor's/master's programs. See Combined Bachelor's and Master's Degrees for more information.

This program enables qualified students to earn both an undergraduate degree in any field and an MS in Environmental Science.


  • Undergraduates should apply for admission to the combined program by the end of the junior year. At a minimum, students must have an overall grade point average of 3.00 or higher, and have taken a year of laboratory science (BIO-110/BIO-210, CHEM-110/CHEM-210, PHYS-105/PHYS-205, or PHYS-110/PHYS-210) and a year of calculus (MATH-211 or MATH-221, and MATH-222). Applications must be accompanied by two letters of recommendation and a statement of purpose. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores may be required for admission to the combined program. Students should discuss their interest in the program with the Environmental Studies coordinator before submitting an application.
  • All requirements for a BA or BS in any major at American University.
    • Undergraduate students may apply up to 9 credit hours of approved graduate-level coursework to satisfy the requirements of both degrees; ENVS-610 and ENVS-615 are recommended.
  • All requirements for the MS in Environmental Science, including a minimum of 18 credit hours completed in residence in graduate status after the undergraduate degree has been awarded. Students must finish the master's degree requirements within three years from the date of first enrollment in the master's program.