M.A. in Environmental Studies

Program Faculty and Application

Graduate Program Coordinator:   Ed Weber

Program Advisor:  Dr Mark Neff

Applications are done through the Western Graduate School

Program Mission

The MA degree in Environmental Studies prepares students to address complex environmental problems using a highly interdisciplinary approach. The program prepares students in the analysis, development, conservation, and management frameworks of environmental resources for careers in business, government, planning, consulting, teaching, and research.

Program specializations include:

Environmental Policy

Emphasizes environmental policy and especially the ecological, economic, political, and social factors which affect environmental governance processes.

Faculty advisors include Troy D. Abel, Kate Darby, Steve Hollenhorst, Mark Neff, and Grace Wang.

The major research programs led by these faculty include:

  • Environmental justice
  • Energy studies
  • Science and environmental decision-making
  • Human dimensions of natural resource management


Focuses on the science of place and space and links the social and natural sciences together, studying the relationships between human activity and natural systems.

Faculty advisors include Andy Bach, Gigi Berardi, Patrick Buckley, Aquila Flower, Nabil Kamel, Francisco Laso, Michael Medler, David Rossiter, and Xi Wang.

Urban Planning

Concentrates studies in processes of urban planning and decision making with a combination of sustainable design, law, and policy.

This specialization is normally done in a 2-yr program, but is also offered as an accelerated 1-year specialization. Accepted students will follow a structured sequence of courses, which is designed as a studio-based applied program completed over one year (four academic quarters). Upon acceptance, students are required to consult with program faculty to align their interests with courses offered and to ensure proper sequencing. Coursework is completed during fall, winter, and spring quarters, culminating in a cohort-based field project during the summer.   It is HIGHLY recommended that you have a very strong background in Planning before choosing this option.   The credit load per quarter is very high/demanding.    

Faculty advisors include Nabil Kamel, Tammi Laninga, Steve Hollenhorst, James Miller, Rebekah Paci-GreenPaul Stangl, and Nicholas Zaferatos.

Energy Policy

Emphasizes coursework in energy system transitions, stakeholder engagement, advanced energy policy, and environmental politics/policy.

Faculty advisors include Tammi Laninga, Imran Sheikh, Charles Barnhart, Xi Wang, Froylan Sifuentes, Steve Hollenhorst.

ENVS Graduate Program Goals

Students who graduate from the ENVS Graduate Program will be able to:

  1. Critically understand an environmental issue using appropriate knowledge
  2. Investigate that environmental issue using an interdisciplinary framework
  3. Effectively communicate through written, visual, and oral means
  4. Independently design, implement and complete a research project

ENVS Graduate Program Learning Objectives

Upon graduation, Environmental Studies masters students will be able to:

  1. Identify and explain the complexity of issues and processes which contribute to an environmental problem.
  2. Describe how their research is situated in the history and scope of environmental studies.
  3. Identify a range of theoretical frameworks and methodologies used in environmental studies and explain the appropriate contexts for their application.
  4. Demonstrate a fundamental knowledge of disciplines relevant to their research topic.
  5. Explain, justify, and correctly execute a method(s) appropriate to their research topic.
  6. Use effective verbal presentation skills to share their research plans and results.
  7. Use writing skillfully to communicate theory, methods, results, and relevance of their research project.
  8. Independently design, implement, and complete a research project (thesis or field project).


  • 4-year BA or BS degree or higher. 
  • Specific test requirements: The GRE exam is not required to apply, but can often provide additional insight into your academic ability.   If you include your GRE scores, they will be evaluated as part of our whole-person review in conjunction with your transcripts.

Program Requirements (45 credits minimum)

  • Core Requirements (19 credits)

    • ENVS 501-Research and Projects in Environmental Studies (3-credits)

    • ENVS 502-Environmental Research and Projects Frameworks (3-credits)

    • ENVS 503-Communicating Research Results  (1-credit)

    • Choose:   ENVS 690-Thesis (12-credits) or ENVS 691-Field Project (12-credits)

  • Elective courses selected under advisement to total 45 credits

    • A maximum of 10 credits of approved 400-level work may be included in the program

    • A maximum of 4 elective credits of ENVS 595-Teaching Practicum, may be used towards this degree

    • A maximum of 10 credits of ENVS Directed Independent Study (ENVS 500)

    • Students are also encouraged to take up to two quarters of ENVS/ESCI 599 (Huxley Speaker Series), and those who hold Teaching Assistant positions are should enroll in ENVS 510 (Professional Development for TAs) their first quarter on campus.   Students are also encouraged to seek out other coursework in other departments, if applicable to your studies.  


  • Generally admitted during fall quarter only.   Application Deadline:   1 Feb
    • Admission for subsequent quarters will be considered on a space-available basis and would require strong support/advocacy of faculty advisor 
  • Applications are all done online with the WWU Graduate School.
  • GRE Test is now optional. If you take it, your score will be used as part of our whole-person review process.
    • There is no minimum score requirement