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Preparing passionate leaders driving change in sustainability and stewardship of the environment.

  —Our Mission

M.S. Environmental Sciences and Management

Little Creek StreamThe Master of Science degree program in Environment Sciences and Management (MSES) offers advanced study in a range of environmental science and management disciplines.

The purpose of the Masters of Science in Environmental Sciences and Management program is to provide advanced education in management of the environment and natural resources. Advanced study in environmental science, management of the environment, quantitative and qualitative analysis, and communication is the core of the degree. The degree allows an emphasis in a wide range of areas of study, listed below. Through the emphasis of study students have flexibility in creating elective coursework to suit their professional goals. The culminating experience of the degree is a professional project or traditional thesis that allows students to explore, seek solutions, or provide research on environmental challenges.

  • Students pursuing the professional project option should plan on one year of study, at a minimum, for completion.
  • Students pursuing the thesis option should plan on two academic years of study for completion.

Areas of Study Emphasis:



Forest measurement, forest protection and diseases, silviculture, wildland fire, and forest ecology.


Surface hydrology, watershed management, groundwater resources, and groundwater measurement and contamination.


Soil morphology, soil fertility, soil ecology, soil physics, and soil chemistry.


Governance, regulations, and policies on environmental topics at the local, regional, and national levels.


Life-cycle assessment, sustainability analysis, promoting sustainable agriculture, land and urban principles.

1. Program Overview

The  Master of Science in Environmental Sciences and Management (MSES) degree is an interdisciplinary degree designed to provide core knowledge in research methods, environmental science, and environmental management, while providing for environmental specialization through directed electives. The program prepares students for a broad range of careers in science, research, and environmental management.The MSES program: (1) provides core knowledge in research skills and scientific literacy; (2) provides advanced knowledge in both environmental sciences and environmental management; (3) allows students to specialize in an environmental science or management sub-discipline through choice of electives, (4) is flexible, providing options for student to apply their knowledge through both a traditional thesis or a professional project. 

The program is open to students from any undergraduate major who have demonstrated high academic achievement. The program requires completion of a core curriculum (research skills, sciences, management) and directed electives for a total of 45 units. Students admitted to the program are expected to begin their studies in the fall quarter as a cohort, but students with prerequisite coursework deficiencies may be admitted in other quarters.

2. Admission requirements

Admission requirements for this program require that students have at least a 3.0 GPA in the final 90 quarter units of their undergraduate degree and completion of the following undergraduate coursework:  

Sciences— three quarters or two semesters of any combination of chemistry, biology, ecology, physics, earth science, or atmospheric science 
Statistics—one quarter or one semester 
Calculus—one quarter or one semester

An applicant who lacks prerequisite coursework may be admitted as a conditionally classified student and must make up any deficiencies (12 unit limit) before advancement to classified graduate standing. 

Students must take the GRE exam and have at least 3 letters of reference that can attest to the academic capabilities of the applicant. All applicants who do not speak and write English as their primary language are required to complete the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), taken within the last 2 years with a minimum score of 550 (paper version), 213 (computerized version), or 80 (internet based).

3. Curriculum 

Catalog number

Course title




Research skills core

ESCI 501

Research Planning


Graduate standing or consent of instructor


ESCI 502

Research Methods and Data Analysis


Graduate standing or consent of instructor


ESCI 581

Graduate Seminar in Environmental Sciences


Graduate standing or consent of instructor


ESCI 599 
ESCI 596 + 500 level course

Professional project

5 + 4



Environmental Sciences core

ESCI 550

Advanced Environmental Sciences


Graduate standing or consent of instructor


Environmental Management core

ESCI 590

Advanced Environmental Management


Graduate standing or consent of instructor


Total required coursework




Directed electives (must be 400 or 500 level)*




Total units





*Elective course selections will depend on students’ interests and sub-discipline emphasis. Students in the research thesis option will consult with their research supervisor to ensure appropriate alignment of student learning objectives with selected courses. Students in the professional project option will consult with the graduate program coordinator for the selection of electives.

Graduate Studies Information at Cal Poly

Please visit the University's Graduate webpage for information on financial resources and graduate studies information at Cal Poly Graduate Information or our College's webpage at CAFES Graduate Information

Applying for a Master of Science in Environmental Sciences and Management

Application and supporting materials are submitted through Cal State Apply. Specific instructions and the link to Cal State Apply can be found on the Cal Poly Graduate Education website.

There are additional requirements for foreign students. Questions concerning applications from foreign students should be directed to the Cal Poly Admissions Office. 

For more information contact:

Dr. SurfleetDr. Chris Surfleet

Phone: (805) 756-2743
Office: 180-518

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