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Students studying soil and water

M.S. in Environmental Science

Expand your scientific skills and further your career with a master's degree in environmental science. Our distinguished faculty are experts in soil, air and water; solution-oriented in their research towards solutions of today's most pressing environmental issues, from water quality and food safety to mining remediation and environmental justice. 

We encourage you to reach out to faculty directly to ask about their research and potential funding opportunities, as we do not admit applicants until a major faculty advisor has been identified.

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M.S. Requirements

Minimum of 30 units of graduate credit (all coursework must be in 500-level courses or above plus thesis units). You will be required to use GradPath through the Graduate College to track your progress (through UAccess Student).

You can choose to focus in either Environmental Science or Soil and Water Science for our Master of Science program.

To read descriptions of our classes, please visit our course list. 

Required Career Skills Coursework 

  • ENVS 508 Scientific Writing for Environmental, Agricultural and Life Sciences (3 )
  • ENVS 696A Seminar (1) or ENVS 697 Graduate Workshop for Professional Development (1)
  • ENVS 595 Colloquium (1)
    •  Although students are required to enroll for ENVS 595 each semester, only one unit will count toward the masters degree

Environmental Science (ES) 

Select one from each category (9 units) 

Soil and Water Science (SWS)

Select four (12 units)

Environmental Biology and Microbiology

  • ENVS 525 Environmental Microbiology (3)
  • ENVS 574 Aquatic Plants & the Environment (3)
  • ENVS 577 Principles of Ecotoxicology (3)
  • WSM 552 Dryland Ecohydrology and Vegetation Dynamics (4)

Environmental and Soil Chemistry

  • ENVS 562 Environmental Soil & Water Chemistry (3)
  • ENVS 564 Environmental Chemistry (3)

Environmental Physics and Water Science

  • ENVS 520 Environmental Physics (3)
  • ENVS 570 Soil Physics  (3)
  • ENVS 502 Nutrient Dynamics in Soils (3)
  • ENVS 525 Environmental Microbiology (3)
  • ENVS 531 Soil Genesis and Classification (4)
  • ENVS 562 Environmental Soil & Water Chemistry (3)
  • ENVS 570 Soil Physics (3)
  • ENVS 580 Environmental Assessment for Contaminated Sites (3) or ENVS 582 Reclamation and Redevelopment of Impacted Lands (3) 

 Major Professor and Committee

When you are a Master of Science Student you will have:

  • Major Professor: faculty member in your area of study that acts as a mentor and helps keep your graduate study on track
    • You may have a co-director or committee member outside of the department
  • Committee: At least 3 faculty members that guide your academic program and all examinations
    • The Major Professor and one additional member must be tenure-track faculty
    • Two must hold faculty appointments in our department
    • Special committee members must be approved by the Dean of the Graduate College


By the end of the second semester you must choose a research topic and develop a Plan of Study, consulting with their your major professor committee and advisor.

If you choose this option:

  • Minimum 24 units non-thesis, 15 units in ENVS
  • 2-6 units ENVS 910 Thesis
  • Presenting research results in a formal Master’s thesis defense to the department and closed door committee examination
  • Submission of thesis to Graduate College

You can find information on formatting your thesis on the University of Arizona Graduate College.


You may choose to submit a professional report, approved by your committee and the department head, in the field of environmental or soil science in lieu of a thesis.

If you choose this option:

  • Minimum 28-29 non-report units, 18 units in ENVS
  • 1-2 units ENVS 909 Master's Report 
  • The report must be read and approved by at least 2 tenure-track faculty and one special committee member
  • Present a seminar to the department in lieu of a Thesis Defense

Final Examination and Complete of Degree Requirements

A final exam for our Master of Science degree involves a defense of the thesis/report to the your committee and departmental submission of the Master’s Completion of Degree Requirements form. If a student fails the final exam, a second exam may be granted no sooner than four months from the date of the first exam. All requirements for the Master of Science degree must be completed within six years.

For more in-depth information, please refer to our Graduate Handbook.

Connect with our graduate advisor, Naomi 

Naomi McIsaac will help you make decisions about your educational and
career goals as you progress through your degree program.