Graduate Programs

Prospective Students

The department offers opportunities for graduate study through the MS, Ph.D, and graduate certificate programs listed below. Application occurs through the USU Graduate School. We no longer require submission of GRE scores for application to any of our graduate programs. Applicants may submit GRE scores if they think such evidence is important to their case for admission.

The Department has a small number of application fee waivers available each year for graduate program applicants for whom the $55 application fee would present significant financial hardship. Fee waivers are awarded to applicants with confirmed interest from major professors, with preference for diversity applicants from the U.S., or applicants from other countries already in the US or with approved visas. If you think you qualify for an application fee waiver, please email your intended major professor and CC Becky Hirst to request a waiver. Fee waivers are awarded on a rolling basis until expended for the year.

Masters Programs
The MS degree requires a minimum of 30 credits, of which 24 must be in residence. There are two options available in the MS: The Plan A requires students to complete coursework, as well as a research thesis; The Plan B is a nonthesis, terminal degree, based largely on coursework and a professional paper or project.

PhD Programs
For the Ph.D. degree, there is a more variable amount of required coursework, as well as a research dissertation.  Compared to the MS degree, the Ph.D. degree has a greater emphasis on theory, research methods, writing research proposals, and publishing research in peer reviewed outlets.

Admissions Process

There are two levels of review for students hoping to enroll in Environment and Society graduate programs. First of all, you should be able to meet the admissions requirements set by the School of Graduate Studies:

  • Undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher for the last 60 credits of Bachelor's coursework

Second, all applicants are reviewed by a faculty committee of the Department of Environment and Society. Before you can be accepted, a member of the Environment and Society graduate faculty must also agree to serve as your mentor (usually referred to as your "major professor").

For that reason, we recommend that before you start the official application process you first read our faculty web pages to see who, if anyone, shares your particular interests and might be a possible major professor. Then contact the professor(s) directly to see if he or she will be accepting new graduate students for the term when you hope to begin your studies.

Most students begin their studies in the Fall term. To receive full consideration for admission your application (including statement of purpose, transcripts, and 3 letters of recommendation) should be received in the School of Graduate Studies by February 1st of the year you plan to enter the program. More information about the application process can be found in the application process from the School of Graduate Studies.

Graduate Research

Graduate students in Environment and Society must conduct original research leading to the doctoral dissertation, Master's thesis (Plan A) or project (Plan B). Your studies may focus on a wide range of problems and issues that in some way address the relationships between humans and natural environments.

For students who receive graduate research assistantships, the thesis or dissertation most often is directly related to the research grants that fund their assistantships. Specific research topics are developed together with the major professor, after consulting with a thesis or dissertation committee consisting of the major professor and four (PhD) or two (MS) other faculty members. Students paid through fellowships, or outside funding they obtained themselves, have even more autonomy in developing their research ideas.

For examples of the kinds of research our students have completed or are currently working on, you can check out the abstracts that have been submitted for our ENVS Graduate Pre-Project Symposium - an annual event where students present their research ideas to their fellow students and faculty member at a time when they're just beginning to focus on a researchable problem.