Environmental Science and Policy
Environmental Science and Public Policy, Ph.D.
The Ph.D. in Environmental Science and Public Policy is an interdisciplinary
program in the College of Arts and Sciences, which draws on faculty and expertise
from the Environmental Science and Policy core faculty as well as from the departments
of Biology, Public and International Affairs, Chemistry, Economics, Geography
and Earth Science, and Sociology and Anthropology, and the schools of Computational
Sciences and Public Policy.
This program provides students training to contribute to the solution of complex
environmental problems, which requires students to develop knowledge and skills
in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of scientific data as well as
in the integration of scientific understanding into the public policy process.
Applicants should have a bachelor's degree with an overall GPA of at least
3.000. Applicants should have taken at least two semesters of chemistry and three
semesters of biology, including a course in ecology. Application deadline for
admission in the fall semester is February 15. Admission to spring semester is
In addition to the materials required of all applicants for graduate study
at George Mason, applicants should submit the following:
1. Scores on the aptitude portion of the GRE (This requirement
may be waived if the applicant has a master's degree in an appropriate field.)
2. Three letters of recommendation (At least two of these should
be from individuals with doctorates.)
3. A recent resume
4. A substantial statement of interest in the program, which
should include a description of a potential focusenvironmental science or environmental
public policyand an explanation of career and research goals
In addition, it is recommended that each applicant schedule an interview with
the program director or an environmental faculty member in the chosen focus. Admission
decisions are based on the student's qualifications and the availability of a
The Environmental Science and Public Policy doctoral program requires a minimum
of 78 graduate credits beyond the bachelor's degree. Students with a master's
degree in an appropriate field may obtain a reduction of credit for appropriate
course work of up to 30 graduate credits. To ensure that all students obtain the
necessary skills and knowledge to function as an environmental professional, the
program requires all students to fulfill the following category requirements:
Category 1. Natural sciences:
A minimum of 12 credits is required in areas of natural science such as biology,
chemistry, geology, geography, or environmental engineering.
Category 2. Public policy: A minimum of 12 credits is
required in areas related to public policy such as public affairs, economics,
sociology, and business. A course in environmental law is required as part of
this category requirement.
Category 3. Methods and technology: A minimum of 6 credits
is required in research skills such as statistics, remote sensing, geographic
information systems, analytical chemistry, modeling, or information technology.
Category 4. Doctoral seminar: EVPP 991 must be taken
once, and students must present a total of 4 graduate seminar credits.
Beyond these basic requirements, students focus their study on environmental
science or environmental public policy. Those focusing on environmental science
should take a total of 24 credits in natural science; those focusing on environmental
public policy should take 24 credits of public policy course work. A specific
set of recommended courses is provided for students in the environmental public
policy focus. Previous thesis research courses may not be applied to this degree.
On admission to the program, each student is assigned an advisor from the environmental
faculty. The advisor guides the student through course selection. An advisor may
be changed by mutual consent of student and advisor or by petition to the program
director and the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Each student is required
to complete a course work proposal by the end of the second semester of courses.
The proposal must be approved by the advisor and the program director. In keeping
with the general philosophy inherent in a Ph.D. degree, students adopt an individual
program that focuses on a specific area of research. The students' course work
must provide the knowledge base from which original research projects in their
specific areas of interest can be successfully completed.
By the end of the fourth semester of course work, the student should assemble
a dissertation committee of at least four graduate faculty members with representation
from at least two academic departments. After reviewing the student's course work
proposal, progress to date, and area of research, the committee makes final recommendations
concerning course work that will be codified in the program of study to be signed
by all committee members and the program director.
On completion of all (or nearly all) course work, the student may request to
take the qualifying or candidacy exam. The qualifying exam has both oral and written
parts. The written portion consists of questions submitted by each member of the
dissertation committee. Successful completion of the written exam should be followed
by the oral portion within one month. The qualifying exam may be repeated once
at the discretion of the student's committee. On completion of all course work,
passage of the qualifying exam, and submission of the program of study, the student
is recommended for advancement to candidacy by the program director. Students
must advance to candidacy within six years of admission to the program.
Students must complete a dissertation (12 to 24 credits) by registering for
credit in a combination of EVPP 998 and EVPP 999. No more than half the credits
specified for dissertation credit on the student's program of study may be taken
as EVPP 998 Doctoral Dissertation Proposal. The dissertation is an original written
work, demonstrating mastery of subject matter, methodologies, and conceptual foundations
on a specific problem in the general field of environmental science and public
policy. The dissertation will generally involve collection and analysis of original
data or the substantially new analysis and reinterpretation of existing data.
Before the student may enroll in dissertation research, he or she must have
advanced to candidacy and have a dissertation proposal approved by the dissertation
committee, the program director, and the dean of the college. The student must
present the completed dissertation in a public seminar and defend the work before
the dissertation committee. Awarding of the degree is contingent on approval of
the dissertation by the dissertation committee, the program director, and the
dean. The dissertation and defense must be completed within five years of advancement