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Ph.D. in Environmental Science

Expand your scientific skills and further your career with a doctoral 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.

 Explore Research

Ph.D. Requirements

Minimum of 66 units of graduate credit (all coursework must be in 500-level courses). You will be required to use GradPath through the Graduate College to track your progress (through UAccess Student).

You can choose to major in either Environmental Science or Soil and Water Science (table).

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

Required Career Skills Coursework (7 units)

  • ENVS 508 Scientific Writing for Environmental, Agricultural and Life Sciences (3 )
  • 2 units total:
    • ENVS 696A Graduate Seminar (1)
    • ENVS 697 Graduate Workshop for Professional Development (1)
    • Other Department Seminar (1)
    • GRAD 697C Workshop for Teaching at College Level (1)
    • Teaching Assistant (GTA) (1)
  • 2 units of ENVS 595 Colloquium (1)

Environmental Science (9 units)

Select one from each category

Soil and Water Science (12 units)

Select four 

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 Organic 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) 


Minor (9-12 units)

  • You must choose a minor course of study 
    • Intradepartment (12 units)
      • Courses that are clearly distinguishable from the major and determined by the Minor Professor (tenure-track faculty)
    • Interdepartment (9 units)
      • Minor from another department that follows that department's requirements

Major Professor and Committee

When you are a Doctoral Student you will have:

  • Major Professor: faculty member in your area of study who has accepted you into their program
    • You may have a co-director or committee member outside of the department
    • Minor Professor (if applicable)
  • Comprehension Examination Committee examine whether the student displays a broad knowledge of the chosen field of study and sufficient depth of understanding in the areas of specialization
    • At least four members (three for the major, one for the minor) formed at the end of the first year to conduct the Comprehensive Examination (written and oral exam)
  • Dissertation Committee: Three members (Major Professor and at least two additional tenure-track faculty) that supervise the student's research and conduct the Final Oral Defense examination
    • This committee can include members from the Comprehensive Examination Committee
    • Generally, majority of the committee should be faculty members from our department with expertise in the research area
    • Special committee members must be approved by the Dean of the Graduate College

Doctoral Plan of Study (18 units)

By the end of the first semester:

  • Develop a list of courses for their PhD graduate program in conjunction with the student’s Major Professor and Dissertation Committee
    • Suitable courses from other departments can be included in the major program
  • Submit a Doctoral Plan of Study that includes
    • Courses the student intends to transfer from other institutions
    • Courses already completed at the University of Arizona that the student intends to apply
    • toward a graduate degree
    • Additional courses the student plans to complete to fulfill degree requirements.
  • Approve Doctoral Plan of Study by Major Professor, Minor Professor, the our Graduate Program Director, and the Graduate College
    • Denied plans need to be updated and re-submitted for approval.
  • Submit a Responsible Conduct of Research form

All doctoral students must submit a Prospectus according to the Graduate College mandate.

Final Examination and Complete of Degree Requirements

For more in-depth information on final examination and degree requirements, please refer to our Graduate Handbook. Read more about the Graduate College requirements on Comprehensive Exam, Final Oral Defense Examination and Submission of the Dissertation.

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.