Environmental Science and Policy
- Other Environmental Faculty
- Course Work
- Undergraduate Programs
- Biology, BS
- Geology, BA
- Global and Environmental Change, BS
- Earth Science, BS
- Writing-Intensive Requirement
- Honors Program for Earth Science and Geology
- Minor in Geology
- Minor in Earth Science
- Minor in Ocean and Estuarine Science
- Graduate Programs
Professors: Diecchio, Hazen (Robinson Professor), Jones (chair), Lawrey
Term professor: Talbot
Associate professors: Birchard, Bradley, Gillevet, Harlan, Jonas, McBride, Rockwood, Torzilli
Assistant professors: Ahn, Balint, Crate, Darnall, Edwards, Kraus, Krekeler, Kysar-Mattietti, Parker, Weeks
Term assistant professors: Cressey, Largen, Parsons, Verardo
Research associate professor: Litchfield
Research assistant professor: Bartoldus
Emeritus professors: Bradley, Ernst, Kelso, Shaffer, Skog
Other Environmental Faculty
Professors: Foster, Haack, Houck, Mose, Mushrush, Willett, B. Wright
Associate professors: Beach, deMonsabert, Fryxell, Gifford, Guagnan, Honeychuck, Kozlowski, Mahler, Meyer, R. Paden, Palkovich, Regan, E. Rodgers, Royt, Wan, Wong
Assistant professor: T. Wood
Affiliate faculty: Boggs, Briggs, Buchino, Cook, Cooper, Creque, Emerson, Fox, Hamdan, Hazen, Jordan, Leimgruber, Maldonado, Marra, Maurakis, Megonigal, Mineau, Nerad, Noe, Oren, Peters, Seidensticker, Winston, Wilder
This department offers all course work designated EVPP and GEOL, and certain BIOL courses, listed in the Course Descriptions chapter of this catalog.
The undergraduate program in biology is offered by the Department of Environmental Science and Policy (ESP) and the Department of Molecular and Microbiology (MMB). The concentration in environmental and conservation biology is sponsored by ESP.
Concentration in Environmental and Conservation Biology
This concentration is offered to students seeking a biology degree that focuses on ecology and organismal biology and prepares them for graduate work or employment in environmental and conservation fields, such as natural resources management, fisheries, forestry, water quality management, aquatic and wetland ecology, and conservation biology. The concentration is staffed and supported by the ESP Department.
In addition to satisfying university-wide general education requirements for the BS degree, students must complete the following. (Through the course work below, they satisfy the university-wide general education requirements in natural science, quantitative reasoning, and information technology proficiency.)
- 24 credits in biology, including BIOL 213, 303, 304, 305, 306, 307, 311
- 20 credits in environmental and conservation biology, including BIOL/EVPP 377, 471; EVPP 318; a field course (either EVPP 350 or BIOL 345); and other courses chosen from the following: BIOL 309, 326, 331, 332, 333, 342, 344, 345*, 440, 472, 449; EVPP 350*, 415, 451; NCLC 401.
* If not used for field course requirement.
- 13 credits of chemistry, including CHEM 211, 212, 313, 315
- One of the following options:
- CHEM 314 and 318 (5 credits)
- One chemistry course at the 300 or 400 level (3 credits)
- GEOL 101 and 102 (8 credits)
- 8 credits of physics: PHYS 243, 244, 245, 246
- At least 6 credits from the following: MATH 110, 111, 113, 114, STAT 250
- 3 credits of computer skills: IT 103
In addition to the university-wide general education requirements and requirements for a BA degree in COS, candidates for a degree in geology must complete the following with a minimum GPA of 2.00. (Through the course work below, geology majors satisfy the university-wide requirements in natural science and quantitative reasoning.)
- 38 credits in geology, including GEOL 101,102, 302, 304*, 308*, 312, 317, 401, and 404**
- MATH 110, 111, or 113
- CHEM 211, 212
- GEOL 316 or a computer science course (CS 112 or IT 103), which may fulfill the university information technology requirement
- 9 credits of degree-related course work in a coherent program designed in coordination with advisor and approved by department chair
* Students must achieve a grade of 2.00 or better in GEOL 302 before taking GEOL 304 or 308.
** No longer offered regularly; 6-credit geology field camp is required as substitute (see your advisor for details).
Students who wish to become teachers should consult the College of Education and Human Development chapter and attend an information session early in their undergraduate career. For more information, call 703-993-2892, e-mail email@example.com, or go to gse.gmu.edu.
Global and Environmental Change, BS
This interdisciplinary undergraduate program is offered by the Department of Earth Systems and Geoinformation Sciences (ESGS) (esgs.gmu.edu) and the ESP Department (esp.gmu.edu). This program examines the dynamics of the Earth (geosphere, atmosphere, ecosphere, and sociosphere) from local, regional, and global perspectives. The use of earth observing and remote-sensing techniques and related geoinformation technologies in detecting change at various scales is emphasized. For detailed degree requirements, please refer to the department web sites listed above.
Earth Science, BS
This degree is intended for students interested in studying the earth and its environment. Recognizing that these are integrated disciplines, students receive a broad background in Earth and environmental sciences and select a specialty concentration.
In addition to university-wide general education requirements, students must complete the following course work with a minimum GPA of 2.00. Through the course work below, earth science majors satisfy the university and college requirements in natural science and quantitative reasoning.
- 40 credits in core science and mathematics, including:
- CHEM 211, 212
- GEOG 309
- GEOL 101, 309 (BIOL 309), 406 or 420
- MATH 113, 114
- PHYS 160, 260, 261 or 243, 244, 245, 246
- STAT 250
- 34-35 credits in one of the following concentrations:
- Earth surface processes and geological hazards: GEOL 102 or EVPP 110; GEOL 302, 303, 306, 316 or CS 112**, GEOL 317; and four of the following: GEOL 304*, 305, 313, 315, 363, 403, 417; GEOG 311, 412, 416
- Environmental science: BIOL 307; EVPP 110, 111, 336, 377; GEOL 303, 305, 306; and two of the following: BIOL 345, 449; EVPP 350, 363
- Geology: GEOL 102, 302, 304*, 308*, 312, 317, 401, 404***
- Earth science education: ASTR 111 or 112; EDCI 573; EDUC 522; GEOL 102, 302, 303, 408, 409; and three of the following: EVPP 110; GEOL 304, 308, 312, 317, 363, 401. Optional teacher licensure component: EDCI 673, 790; EDUC 672; EDRD 619
* Requires C or better in GEOL 302
** Satisfies general education information technology requirement
*** No longer offered regularly; 6-credit geology field camp is required as substitute (see advisor for details).
Mason requires all students to complete at least one course designated as "writing intensive" in their majors at the 300 level or above. Students majoring in geology or earth science fulfill this requirement by successfully completing GEOL 317. Students in the environmental science concentration satisfy this requirement by taking BIOL 307.
Honors Program for Earth Science and Geology
Earth science and geology majors who have completed 16 credits of math and science, including GEOL 302 or BIOL 307, with a GPA of 3.00 or higher are eligible to enter the departmental honors program. Transfer students who have an incoming GPA of 3.10 or higher in math and science and a B or better in GEOL 302 or BIOL 307 are also eligible. To graduate with honors in Earth science or geology, students are required to maintain a minimum GPA of 3.00 in math and science and complete the following courses with an average GPA of 3.50 or better: GEOL 406, 410, and 411.
Minor in Geology
To receive the minor, students must successfully complete 20 credits with a minimum GPA of 2.00 to include GEOL 101, 102, and 302; and two of the following courses: GEOL 304*, 308*, 312, 317, or 401.
*Students must achieve a grade of 2.00 or better in GEOL 302 before taking GEOL 304 or 308.
Minor in Earth Science
To receive this minor, students must successfully complete 18 credits with a minimum GPA of 2.00 to include GEOL 101 and 309, GEOG 309, and 8 credits of geology electives.
Students may not receive both minors. For policies governing all minors, see the Academic Policies chapter of this catalog.
Minor in Ocean and Estuarine Science
To receive the minor, students must successfully complete 20 to 21 credits with a minimum GPA of 2.00 to include GEOL 101, BIOL 103 or BIOL 213 or EVPP 110, and BIOL/GEOL 309; plus GEOL/EVPP 363 or BIOL 449, and 6 credits from the following electives: GEOL/EVPP 363*, BIOL 449*, EVPP 350, NCLC 395 (Biology of the Chesapeake Bay or Exploring Underwater Archaeology topics), EVPP 490 (Marine Conservation or Marine Mammal Biology and Conservation topics), NCLC 495/BIOL 440 (Coral Reef Ecology), BIOL/EVPP 546, and BIOL/EVPP 537. PHED 225 is strongly recommended but not required.
*If not previously counted.
Certificate in Environmental Management
This undergraduate certificate in environmental management is for students interested in environmental issues. The program consists of a minimum of 27 credits, most of which, with appropriate planning, may be counted toward fulfilling BS or BA requirements in biology, geography, Earth science, urban systems engineering, and other natural and social sciences.
The curriculum provides a substantive appreciation of the biological, physical, and social aspects of environmental problems and methods for their analysis and resolution. The program should particularly interest students wishing to pursue graduate work or seeking employment in the environmental field. Inquiries should be made to the director of the environmental management certificate program.
Students receiving the certificate must hold a baccalaureate degree or be earning a baccalaureate degree from Mason at the time they receive the certificate. As an entry-level requirement, students must complete a two-semester laboratory science sequence in environmental science, biology, chemistry, or geology. Only courses with a grade of C or better are counted toward the certificate program.
Students select at least 27 credits of course work chosen in consultation with the certificate director. The courses are divided into five categories. Courses listed in more than one category can satisfy the requirements of only one. Any substitution in the following list requires permission from the certificate director.
- Environmental certificate core (four courses): EVPP/BIOL 377; GEOG 303 or 503; ECON 103, EVPP 361, EVPP 336, GOVT 351 or 357; a course in statistics
- Physical perspective (one or two courses*): Options include BIOL/GEOL 309; BIOL 535; EVPP 550; EVPP/BIOL 577; GEOG 102, 309; GEOL 305, 306, 363, 313, 317, 403, 405, 563; USE 440
- Biological perspective (one or two courses*): Options include BIOL 307, 309, 344, 345, 371, 375, 440, 446, 449, 471, 532, 535, 536, 537, 543, 547; EVPP 318, 515, 550, 538; EVPP/BIOL 318, 339, 350, 546, 577; HEAL 450
- Social perspective (one course): Options include ANTH 305, 365, 370, 440; CONF 501; ECON 350, 360; EVPP 336, 337, 361; GEOG 301, 304, 305, 306, 316, 325, 406; GOVT 318, 357, 364, 366; MGMT 312; NURS 543; PHIL 555; PRLS 300, 402, 526; PUAD 502
- Environmental methods (one course): Options include BIOL 312; DESC 301, 352; EVPP 503, 555, GEOG 310, 311, 411, 412, 416, 463, 550, 553, 579, 580, 585
* Biology majors are required to complete two courses in physical or social perspective; geology or earth science majors are required to complete two courses in biological or social perspective. Social science majors are required to complete two courses in physical or biological perspective.
Environmental Science and Policy, MS
The MS in environmental science and policy meets the increasing need for trained environmental professionals who can address the problems of land and water management, land use and urbanization, wetland loss, microbial ecology, bioremediation, conservation biology, and ecosystem preservation. These professionals will also contribute to the analysis and resolution of global problems, such as deforestation, insufficient world food supplies, acid deposition, population growth and public health, global warming, and depletion of the ozone layer. Areas of specific departmental focus include ecosystems; conservation; environmental biocomplexity; and sustainability science, policy, and management.
Environmental problems are defined in the real world and do not necessarily conform to traditional academic disciplines. As such, solutions require creative combinations of diverse interests and subjects. Effective training requires rigorous, problem-focused interdisciplinary action in a setting in which research is an essential element supporting instruction.
Four concentrations are available in the master's program: environmental science and policy, environmental biocomplexity, Earth surface processes and environmental geochemistry, and environmental management. The first three concentrations, designed for students who wish to obtain a research-oriented master's degree, serve as a training ground for students wishing to further their education by pursuing the PhD in environmental science and public policy at Mason or doctoral programs at other universities. The environmental science and policy concentration is the largest and serves as a home for a broad array of research foci. The environmental biocomplexity concentration is designed for students who wish to obtain a research- oriented master's degree in population genetics, microbial ecology, and molecular systematics. The concentration in Earth surface processes and environmental geochemistry provides a specific research focus in the earth science area.
The environmental management concentration serves as a terminal professional master's degree for individuals working in or aspiring to work as managers in the environmental field in government or private industry. It combines the managerial and administrative skills developed in a traditional master of public administration degree program with the scientific knowledge and understanding normally found in a master of science degree.
Applicants must complete a standard Mason graduate application form, available from the Graduate Admissions Office or online at admissions.gmu.edu. Applicants should hold a bachelor's degree with a GPA of 3.00 in natural or Earth sciences, engineering, resource planning, environmental studies, or a related field from an accredited institution. Applicants should have taken at least two semesters of chemistry and three semesters of biology, including a course in ecology. Applicants should submit three letters of recommendation, including at least one from a former professor or, if not available, from someone with a PhD. The aptitude portion of the GRE is required, and successful applicants usually have achieved a minimum score of 1,100 for verbal and quantitative combined. Applicants must also submit a statement of interest to the program, which should include the concentration to which they are applying, potential areas of emphasis, research option preferred, a statement of interactions with potential faculty advisors, and an explanation of career goals. Prospective students must contact potential faculty advisors appropriate to their interests during the application process. The availability of an advisor in the student's area of interest is a prerequisite for admission. Students will choose their research skills option at the time of application but may change this option later with their advisor's permission.
Environmental Science and Policy Concentration
This degree encourages an independent and creative approach to the development of curricula that reside in the general field of environmental science and policy. Students must form a supervisory committee and submit a program of study to the graduate coordinator for approval within the first 9 credits of course work or by the end of second semester, whichever comes first. The supervisory committee consists of the advisor and at least two other members, chosen in consultation with the advisor and conforming to Mason policy on master's thesis committees.
Course requirements may be fulfilled by completing courses from a variety of academic units at Mason. The program requires a minimum of 33 graduate credits distributed in four categories to provide a breadth of knowledge appropriate for addressing current environmental issues. Course selection should reflect a coherent individual program focus, which is stated and briefly described in the program of study, and support the research component of the student's degree program.
- Natural sciences: At least 6 credits are required in biology, geology, geography, chemistry, or environmental engineering. For those students without previous course work in ecology, EVPP 607 is required in addition to the 6 credits.
- Public policy: At least 6 credits are required in environmental law, human ecology, environmental ethics, planning, or public affairs.
- Methods and statistics: At least 9 credits are required in statistics, remote sensing, information systems, instrumental analysis, or modeling. A course in statistics is highly recommended.
- Seminar: A minimum of 1 credit of EVPP 692 Master's Seminar in Environmental Science and Public Policy on an appropriate topic is required.
- Research: This requirement may be satisfied in one of two ways: EVPP 798 Research Project (1-3 credits) or EVPP 799 Thesis (3-6 credits).
Students may conduct a project (EVPP 798) or produce a formal thesis (EVPP 799). The depth and sophistication of the research differs between the two options. The thesis normally involves original research with independent acquisition and interpretation of data, with the goal of peer-reviewed publication. Projects are generally less extensive and can include a broader range of activities.
Students fulfilling the research requirement with EVPP 798 are required to take a comprehensive exam administered by their committee. Students choosing to do a thesis and completing EVPP 799 will present their results in a public seminar and defend their thesis before their committee. Students will be graded pass/no credit on the research skills component.
Environmental Biocomplexity Concentration
This concentration is for students desiring an MS degree with the environmental biocomplexity theme. Students must form a supervisory committee and submit a program of study to the graduate coordinator for approval within the first 9 credits of course work or by the end of the second semester, whichever comes first. The supervisory committee consists of the advisor and at least two other members, chosen in consultation with the advisor and conforming to Mason policy on master's thesis committees.
Course requirements may be fulfilled by completing courses from a variety of academic units at the university. The program requires a minimum of 33 graduate credits distributed in five categories to provide a breadth of knowledge appropriate for addressing current environmental issues. Course selection should support the research component of the student's degree program.
Students are encouraged to complete at least 1 credit of directed studies (EVPP 693) as a lab rotation to broaden the scope of their experience in the concentration.
- Natural sciences: At least 6 credits are required in courses that cover ecology, biogeochemistry, biochemistry, population genetics, molecular biology, molecular systematics, molecular evolution, microbial ecology, microbial diversity, quantitative genetics, and population biology.
- Public policy: At least 6 credits are required in environmental law, human ecology, environmental ethics, patent law, and legal and ethical issues in science.
- Methods and statistics: At least 9 credits are required in statistics, bioinformatics, information systems, instrumental analysis, microbiological techniques, molecular methods, phylogenetic methods, and bioinformatics.
- Seminar: At least 1 credit of EVPP 692 Master's Seminar in Environmental Science and Public Policy on an appropriate topic is required.
- Research: This requirement may be satisfied in one of two ways: EVPP 798 Research Project (1-3 credits) or EVPP 799 Thesis (3-6 credits) as described above for the environmental sciences and policy concentration.
Earth Surface Processes and Environmental Geochemistry Concentration
This concentration is for students desiring an MS degree with an earth science geology theme. Students must form a supervisory committee and submit a program of study to the graduate coordinator for approval within the first 9 credits of course work or by the end of the second semester, whichever comes first. The supervisory committee consists of the advisor and at least two other members, chosen in consultation with the advisor and conforming to Mason's policy on master's thesis committees. Requirements may be fulfilled by completing courses from a variety of academic units at Mason. The program requires a minimum of 33 graduate credits distributed in five categories to provide a breadth of knowledge appropriate for addressing current environmental and earth science issues. Course selection should support the research component of the student's degree program.
- Natural sciences: At least 16 credits are required, including at least one course from each of the following areas (10 of the 16 credits): soils science, hydrogeology, and geochemistry. The remainder may be chosen from a list of applicable EVPP, CHEM, and GEOL graduate courses, including GEOL 500, 501, 601; CHEM 633, 651, 728; and EVPP 503, 505 543, 546, 550, 563, 577, 607, 610, 643, 644, 745.
- Public Policy: At least 6 credits are required in environmental law, human dimension of global change, environmental ethics, human ecology, or planning.
- Methods: At least 6 credits are required in remote sensing, GIS, statistics, instrumentation, or modeling.
- Seminar: At least 1 credit of EVPP 692 Master's Seminar in Environmental Science and Public Policy on an appropriate topic is required.
- Research: At least 3 credits of EVPP 799 Thesis; a thesis is required for this concentration.
Students present their results in a public seminar and defend their thesis before their committee. Students will be graded pass/no credit on the research component.
Environmental Management Concentration
Students must complete 37 credits for the environmental management concentration. Students will be assigned an advisor on admission. Full-time students can complete this degree in three semesters; part-time students take six semesters. Course work must include the following:
- Administration and policy: At least 12 credits are required, including the following:
- EVPP 670 Environmental Law or PRLS 501 Introduction to Natural Resources Law
- PUAD 502 Administration in Public and Nonprofit Organizations or UAD 620 Organization Theory and Management Behavior
- PUAD 640 Public Policy Process (with sections tailored to environmental science and policy)
- EVPP 642 Environmental Policy
- Environmental science: At least 12 credits are required, including the following:
- EVPP 546 Estuarine and Coastal Ecology or EVPP 550 Waterscape Ecology and Management or EVPP 644 Wetland Ecology and Management
- EVPP 607 Fundamentals of Ecology (if student has not already taken a course in general ecology)
- EVPP 641 Environmental Science and Public Policy
- EVPP 677Applied Ecology and Ecosystem Management
- Methods and statistics: At least 6 credits are required, including the following:
- PUAD 611 Problem Solving and Data Analysis I (research design)
- PUAD 612 Problem Solving and Data Analysis II (statistics)
- Research/seminar: Fulfilled with EVPP 741 Advanced Topics in Environmental Law and Public Policy: Problems in Environmental Management (4 credits).
- Electives: Students may choose 3 credits (or more to complete 37) from the following list of approved electives. Other courses may be used subject to approval of the program committee.
- EVPP 524 Introduction to Environmental and Resource Economics
- EVPP 525 Economics of Human/Environment Interactions
- EVPP 546 Estuarine and Coastal Ecology (if not already taken)
- EVPP 550 Waterscape Ecology and Management (if not already taken)
- EVPP 620 Development of U.S. Environmental Policies
- EVPP 621 Overview of Biodiversity Conservation
- EVPP 622 Management of Wild Living Resources
- EVPP 626 Environment and Development in South and East Asia
- EVPP 627 Environmental Policy in Latin America
- EVPP 628 Environment and Development in Africa
- EVPP 630 Methods and Logic of Social Inquiry
- EVPP 635 Environment and Society
- EVPP 638 Corporate Environmental Policy
- EVPP 644 Wetland Ecology and Management (if not already taken)
- EVPP 650 Ecosystem Analysis and Modeling
- EVPP 675 Environmental Planning and Administration
- GEOG 550 Introduction to Geographic Information Science
- PUAD 509 Justice Organizations and Processes
- PUAD 615 Administrative Law
- PUAD 622 Program Planning and Implementation
- PUAD 657 Association Management
- PUAD 729 Issues in Public Management: Lobbying and Advocacy
- PUAD 741 Policy Analysis
- PUAD 742 Program Evaluation
- MBA 623 Marketing Management
- MBA 712 Project and Cost Management
- MBA 724 Marketing Communications
- MBA 725 Leadership
Earth Systems Science, MS
The department participates in the MS in earth systems science administered by the Department of Earth Systems and Geoinformation Sciences.
Graduate Certificate in Environmental Management
The graduate certificate allows students to expand their knowledge of the environment and environmental management beyond their undergraduate training. It offers a professional credential to students who might not have the time or background to enroll in a graduate degree program requiring a thesis or dissertation. Students who later obtain admission to the graduate degree programs in environmental science and policy may be able to use credits earned during the certificate toward their graduate degree program.
The curriculum provides a substantive exposure to the biological, physical, and social aspects of environmental problems, and methods for their analysis and resolution.
Admission requirements are identical to those for admission to the graduate programs in environmental science and policy. Prospective students must have the following minimum requirements:
- Undergraduate (baccalaureate) degree, preferably in biology, chemistry, geology, geography, earth systems science, or some other environmentally related discipline
- Two semesters of general chemistry with a laboratory
- Two semesters of general biology with a laboratory
- Undergraduate course in general ecology; students who do not meet this requirement must take EVPP 607 Fundamentals of Ecology as their natural science elective.
- Three letters of reference and a statement of interest in the program
The certificate is awarded after satisfactory completion of six graduate courses (a minimum of 18 semester credits) as specified below:
- Environmental certificate core (three courses):
- EVPP 677Applied Ecology and Ecosystem Management
- GEOG 503 Conservation and Natural Resources
- One of the following:
- EVPP 641 Environmental Science and Public Policy
- EVPP 675 Environmental Planning and Administration
- SOCI 635 Environment and Society
- Three electives (one from each of the following areas):
BIOL/EVPP 546 Estuarine and Coastal Ecology
BIOL/EVPP 577 Biogeochemistry: A Global Perspective
BIOL/EVPP 643 Microbial Ecology
BIOL/EVPP 745 Environmental Toxicology
EVPP 550 Waterscape Ecology and Management
EVPP 607 Fundamentals of Ecology
EVPP 644 Wetland Ecology and Management
EVPP 645 Freshwater Ecology
GEOG 570 Environmental Hydrology
CONF 501 Introduction to Conflict Analysis and Resolution
EVPP 635 Environment and Society
EVPP 638 Corporate Environmental Policy
EVPP 641 Environmental Science and Public Policy
EVPP 642 Environmental Policy
EVPP 670 Environmental Law or PRLS 501 Introduction to Natural Resources Law
EVPP 675Environmental Planning and Administration
PHIL 555 Environmental Ethics
PRLS 526 Environmental Education and Resource Interpretation
PUAD 502 Administration in Public and Nonprofit Organizations
EVPP 650 Ecosystem Analysis and Modeling
GEOG 550 Introduction to Geographic Information Science
GEOG 553 Advanced Geographic Information Science
GEOG 579 Remote Sensing
GEOG 580 Digital Remote Sensing
GEOG 585 Quantitative Methods
SOCI 531 Statistical Reasoning
Environmental Science and Public Policy, PhD
This interdisciplinary program draws on faculty and expertise from the environmental science and policy core faculty, as well as from the departments of molecular and microbiology, public and international affairs, chemistry, economics, geography, earth systems and geoinformation sciences, and sociology and anthropology; as well as the School of Public Policy, the Volgenau School of Information Technology and Engineering, and the College of Education and Human Development.
Our graduates contribute to the solution of complex environmental problems, which require the development of 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 3.00. They should have taken at least two semesters of chemistry and three semesters of biology, including a course in ecology. The application deadline is February 15 for admission to fall semester; admission to spring semester is not available.
In addition to the materials required of all applicants for graduate study at Mason, applicants should submit the following:
- Scores on aptitude portion of GRE (may be waived for applicants with a master's degree in an appropriate field)
- Three letters of recommendation, with at least two from individuals with doctorates
- Recent resume
- Substantial statement of interest that includes a description of the specific area of proposed dissertation research, the potential focus (environmental science or environmental public policy), contacts that have been made with potential faculty advisors, and an explanation of career and research goals
Applicants should schedule an interview with the graduate coordinator or an environmental faculty member in their proposed area of research. Admission decisions are based on the student's qualifications and the availability of a faculty advisor.
The 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 environmental professionals, the program requires all students to fulfill the following four category requirements:
- Natural sciences: At least 12 credits are required in biology, chemistry, environmental science, geology, geography, or environmental engineering.
- Public policy: At least 12 credits are required in public affairs, economics, sociology, and business. A course in environmental law is also required as part of this category.
- Research methods and technology: At least 9 credits are required in statistics, remote sensing, geographic information systems, analytical chemistry, modeling, or information technology. Students should carefully choose course work to ensure they have the necessary skills to support dissertation research. Course work for the first two categories, with a substantial methods component, may be used to meet some of this requirement, subject to approval of the student's committee.
- Doctoral seminar: EVPP 991 must be taken twice, 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 policy courses is provided for students in the environmental science focus. Previous thesis research courses may not be applied to this degree.
Before admission to the program, students are responsible for identifying a member of the environmental faculty willing to serve as their advisor. The advisor guides the student through course selection. An advisor may be changed by mutual consent of student and advisor, or petition to the graduate program director and the COS dean. Students are 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 program director. In keeping with the general philosophy inherent in a PhD 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.
Before the end of the fourth semester of course work, students should assemble a dissertation committee of at least four members, three of whom must be from the Mason graduate faculty 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 graduate program director.
On completion of all or nearly all course work, students 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 graduate coordinator. 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 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 generally involves collection and analysis of original data or the substantially new analysis and reinterpretation of existing data.
Before students may enroll in dissertation research, they must have advanced to candidacy and have a dissertation proposal approved by the dissertation committee, graduate program director, and dean of the college. Students 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, graduate coordinator, and dean. The dissertation and defense must be completed within five years of advancement to candidacy.