Apr 13, 2024  
2014-2015 Graduate Catalog 
2014-2015 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Environmental Sciences MS

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 ►  Graduate School Rules  apply to this program 

Program Director: Frederick B. Chambers
Associate Program Director: Jon Barbour
Office: North Classroom, 3622
Telephone: 303-556-4520
Fax: 303-556-6197
E-mail: Jon.Barbour@ucdenver.edu
Web site: clas.ucdenver.edu/ges/mses.html

Faculty Affiliates to the M.S. in Environmental Sciences Program


Larry Anderson, chemistry
Lloyd Burton, School of Public Affairs
N. Y. Chang, civil engineering
Anne Chin, geography and environmental science
James C. Y. Guo, civil engineering
John A. Lanning, chemistry
Diana F. Tomback, integrative biology

Associate Professors:

Leo P. Bruederle, integrative biology
Frederick B. Chambers, geography and environmental science
Greg Cronin, integrative biology
Rafael Moreno-Sanchez, geography and environmental science
Glenn T. Morris, political science
Brian Page, geography and environmental science
Timberly M. Roane, integrative biology
Deborah S. K. Thomas, geography and environmental science
John W. Wyckoff, geography and environmental science

Assistant Professors:

Casey Allen, geography and environmental science
Peter Anthamatten, geography and environmental science
Christy Briles, geography and environmental science
Michael J. Green, integrative biology
Gregory Simon, geography and environmental science
Bryan S. Wee, geography and environmental science

Instructors/Adjunct Faculty:

Jon Barbour, geography and environmental science
Amanda Weaver, geography and environmental science

Environmental sciences is a multidisciplinary study of the environment, housed in the Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences. Academic fields involved in environmental sciences include chemistry, biology and ecology, physics, geology, geography, anthropology, engineering, political science, law, economics and the health sciences. Students planning to pursue the MS in environmental sciences must either have earned a bachelor’s degree or have taken significant course work in the natural/physical sciences or engineering and completed several other prerequisites (see the following graduate information). Graduate-level certificates in environmental sciences are also offered. The certificates may be earned stand-alone or as options in the MS in environmental sciences.

Environmental careers encompass a broad range of professions, from those with a strong foundation in the natural/physical sciences or engineering to those based in the social sciences and/or humanities. Students interested in environmental issues and careers should investigate the whole field before deciding which course to follow. At CU Denver, the MS in environmental sciences emphasizes the natural/physical sciences and engineering with the addition of the social sciences and humanities.

The MS in environmental sciences degree is designed to provide training in engineering, natural/physical sciences and socioeconomic analysis. The goals of the program are to (1) enhance the interdisciplinary communication and analytical skills of the student, and (2) provide a multidisciplinary approach for more intensive study of a particular environmental issue. Students will receive instruction in the physical and biological dynamics of various ecosystems, environmental engineering and socioeconomic issues associated with environmental analysis.

Graduates of the environmental sciences program are involved in many different areas, such as reviewing environmental impact statements, monitoring groundwater quality and communicating with the public. Many students have found employment in various agencies (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Geological Survey, Colorado State Department of Public Health and Environment) and private-sector environmental and engineering firms.

Requirements for Admission                                                                       

The program is for students who either have baccalaureate degrees or significant background in one of the natural/physical sciences or engineering. In addition, minimum undergraduate science and math requirements are:

  • one semester of calculus and one semester of upper-division statistics (if applicant is missing the statistics course, he/she can be admitted but must take ENVS 5600, Applied Statistics, or an approved statistics course as an elective before receiving the MS in environmental sciences degree)
  • two semesters general chemistry with lab
  • one semester physics
  • two semesters general biology with lab

If only two semesters of the six prerequisite courses are lacking, students may be admitted, but must take them in the first year in the program. Applicants who have fulfilled all prerequisites have a better chance of acceptance. Applicants may be required to take additional prerequisite courses (necessary for completing particular core or elective courses). The prerequisite courses will not count toward the MS in environmental sciences degree. As part of the admission review process, applicants are required to submit a graduate application, a minimum of three letters of recommendation and transcripts from all institutions previously attended. CU Denver has a minimum requirement of a 3.0 undergraduate GPA for applicants to the Graduate School. The program admits new students for the fall semester only, and the number of students admitted to the program depends, in part, on space availability. Applicants must submit all materials by the April 1 deadline.

Financial Aid

There are three types of financial aid available: tuition assistance; research assistantship positions funded by grants to specific program faculty; and the regular package of financial aid (primarily loans) available through the financial aid office on the Denver campus. Incoming students will be automatically considered for program-distributed tuition assistance at the time of admission to the program. Continuing students will be regularly apprised of available aid and positions. Students interested in research assistantships should consult individual faculty with whom they wish to work regarding potential assistantship positions. All other aid should be requested through the CU Denver Financial Aid Office, North Classroom, 1030, Campus Box 125, P.O. Box 173364, Denver, CO 80217-3364. Telephone: 303-556-2886.


Students in the MS in environmental sciences program are strongly encouraged to contact the Experiential Learning Center for internships and paid positions related to environmental sciences. The Experiential Learning Center is located in the Tivoli Student Union, Suite 260. Telephone: 303-556-2250. Many students have had internships in federal agencies, such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Geological Survey.

Program Requirements

The MS in environmental sciences is a 39-hour program that provides students with two alternate plans: Plan I requires a thesis, while Plan II is a nonthesis program. General requirements for the program include: a set of core courses (18 semester hours), the MS in environmental sciences seminar course (ENVS 6002, 3 semester hours), and elective courses (12 semester hours minimum). Students choosing Plan I must also complete 6 hours of thesis, while those choosing Plan II must complete 6 hours of additional elective course work. Students opting for Plan II are encouraged to enroll in 3 hours of independent study (ENVS 6840) as one of their electives.

The degree is offered through the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences with the cooperation of the College of Engineering and Applied Science. In addition, some courses offered by the College of Architecture and Planning, the School of Public Affairs and the Business School are relevant and applicable to the program.

Required Core Courses


Total: 18 Hours

The core courses are to be taken first upon entry into the program. They are the foundation for other courses in environmental sciences.

Elective Courses

(See the MS in Environmental Sciences website for a complete list of elective courses for the MS in environmental sciences program.)

Students, with the coordinator and/or an advisor, will complete a program plan that will include 12-18 semester hours of elective requirements that will meet their interests. Students may choose to use four of the electives to fulfill one of the following options offered in environmental sciences: air quality, ecosystems, environmental health, environmental science education, geospatial analysis, hazardous waste and water quality. Students must have the prerequisites for each course and must meet the requirements listed in the notes below. Contact the option advisor for the particular option of interest before starting. Upon graduation, the option will be noted on the student’s transcript.

Following are the requirements for each environmental sciences option:


Option Advisor: Jon Barbour
Telephone: 303-556-4520
E-mail: Jon.Barbour@ucdenver.edu

Total: 6 Hours


Choose two:

Total: 6 Hours

Option Total: 12 Hours 


Option Advisor: Casey Allen
Telephone: 303-556-6007
E-mail: Casey.Allen@ucdenver.edu

Total: 6 Hours


Choose two:

Total: 6 Hours

Option Total: 12 Hours

* BIOL 5445, Applied Environmental Biology, is required as a prerequisite for the ecosystems option.



Option Advisor: Deborah Thomas
Telephone: 303-556-5292
E-mail: Deborah.Thomas@ucdenver.edu

Required Courses

Total: 6 Hours

Total: 6 Hours

Option Total: 12 Hours

* ENVS 6200, Risk Assessment, is required as a prerequisite for the environmental health option.


Option Advisor: Bryan Wee
Telephone: 303-315-4992
E-mail: bryan.wee@ucdenver.edu


Option Advisor: Rafael Moreno
Telephone: 303-556-3762
E-mail: Rafael.Moreno@ucdenver.edu

Total: 6 Hours

Total: 6 Hours

Option Total: 12 Hours

* GEOG 3080, Introduction to Mapping and Map Analysis, is required as a prerequisite of the geospatial analysis option.

For more information, contact the option advisor or Jon Barbour at 303-556-4520, Jon.Barbour@ucdenver.edu.



Option Advisor: John Wyckoff
Telephone: 303-556-2590
E-mail: John.Wyckoff@ucdenver.edu

Total: 6 Hours

Total: 6 Hours

Option Total: 12 Hours

*CHEM 5700, Environmental Chemistry, or appropriate chemistry background is required as a prerequisite of the water quality option.



  1. Many of the courses have prerequisites; student must check the catalog for prerequisite requirements for these courses. Some options have a prerequisite course requirement.
  2. One course may not be used for more than one option, even if it is listed in several options. Other courses may be offered that will be acceptable as electives with approval of the option advisor and the director of the program.
  3. No more than three courses may be from any one discipline (excluding ENVS); i.e., chemistry, biology, civil engineering.
  4. Courses used by the student to fulfill a core requirement may not be used to fulfill the options.
  5. All work submitted for the environmental sciences options must have a grade of B (3.0) or better.
  6. All courses for the environmental sciences options must be completed at the Denver campus.
  7. Courses applied to either a certificate* or an MS degree may later be applied toward the other if all pertinent course work is completed within a five-year time period.

* The above options of the program may be taken to earn a corresponding environmental sciences certificate. However, certificates may be earned without entrance into the MS in environmental sciences program. (See the Environmental Sciences Graduate Certificate  description).

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