Environmental Sciences

Graduate Degrees

The Environmental Science Graduate Program at Oklahoma State University offers both a Master of Science degree and a Doctor of Philosophy degree. Students can choose from several specializations or develop their own plan that addresses individual career goals.


MS Degree

Required Hours

The MS degree in environmental science includes a 15-hour core curriculum consisting of an ENVR 5303 (Issues in Environmental Sustainability) - which should be taken your first semester, ENVR 5123 (Environmental Problem Analysis)- which should be taken in your last semester, one course (3 hrs) each in social science, research course, and physical science.  An upper division ecology course, if not taken before admission, must be taken the first year. 

The Master of Science degree has three degree paths:  (1) Thesis, (2) Report, or (3) Creative Component.  All plans of study must be approved by the director. At least 21 hours are required at the 5000 level or above, as specified by the Graduate College. These hours may include six hours of thesis research. All options and specializations at the MS level require 36 total hours.

For assistance with report writing, visit the Oklahoma State University Writing Center here.

Required Core Courses

All students will take the required environmental science course, ecology and two additional courses. The two areas are physical and social science. The required courses include the following:

Environmental Science Courses
ENVR 5303 Issues in Environmental Sustainability Course description: This course reviews human-nature relationships and how they affect the ability of future generations to sustainably improve their quality of life.  The course also considers methods of environmental stewardship that can contribute to sustainability.  In-class and/or online discussions of issues, guest presentations, outside experts, and reports on selected topics are included. 

ENVR 5123 Environmental Problem Analysis Course description:  This course reviews the process of environmental problem analysis using current practical examples.  This course draws on theories from various disciplines and applies appropriate techniques of analysis.

Ecology 

BIOL 3034 is the OSU course - You may use an equivalent course that fits into your program better.

Social Science 

Many environmentally oriented social science courses are offered on campus. Environmental Science students commonly take those with an economic, political science, or sociological orientation. The social science requirement does not include seminar or independent study courses. If you are unsure about whether a course will be counted toward the social science requirement, please obtain prior approval from the director. Approval should be in writing for the student’s permanent file. Examples of courses that fulfill the social science requirement are:

AGEC

5503

Economics of Natural and Environmental Resource Policy

CIED

5423

Environmental Education & Curriculum

ECON

5013

Contemporary Environmental Policy

LEIS

5403

Interpretive Service

LEIS

4473

Recreation in the Natural Environment

LEIS

6023

Special Topics:  Wilderness

POLS

4363

Environmental Law & Administration

POLS

5633

Practical Environmental Compliance

POLS

5643

Regulatory Risk Analysis

SOC

5463

Seminar in Environmental Sociology

Physical Science 
Several physical science courses with an environmental emphasis are available at OSU. Examples of courses that fulfill the physical science requirement are:

BAE

4313

Hydrology I

BAE

5313

Watershed Modeling & Water Quality

BAE

5324

Modeling and Design in Stormwater & Sediment Control

BAE

6333

Fluvial Hydraulics

CIVE

5833

Water Quality Management

FOR

4813

Hydrology & Water Quality

GEOL

5503

Advanced Environmental Geology

GEOL

4463

Physical Hydrogeology

GEOL

5233

Trace Elements in Hydrogeology

GEOL

5553

Environmental Geochemistry

GEOL

5523

Organic Geochemistry

SOIL

5224

Soil Chemistry & Impact on Environment

Skill Component
A research component is required from all students.  MS students should take at least one 3 hour course.  Discuss what would fit into your program best with your advisor.

Courses other than those listed above will be subject to approval by the Environmental Science Program Director.

Transfer Credit Restrictions

A maximum of 9 credit hours with a grade of "B" or better in each course can be accepted as transfer credits toward a master's degree.  Doctoral students must complete at least 30 hours of their program at OSU.  However, no more than 9 hours may be transferred from institutions that do not grant doctoral degrees.

Graduate Course Level

A minimum of 18 additional credit hours should be selected; suggestions are listed on the Potential Courses web page. Actual plans of study are shown and can be viewed as a PDF file as examples of how one might put together a degree program at the Master’s and Ph.D. level.  If you don't have Adobe Acrobat Reader, click here

The actual courses in a plan of study are determined by an individual’s goals and the guidance of the advisor and committee. Although methods courses, such as statistics, research design, or computer science do not appear on the list of courses, they may be included on the plan of study. The plan of study must be completed before enrollment in the 17th hour for the MS degree.  For more information about the Plan of Study, see the Graduate College's site here.

Graduate students must enroll in no fewer than 21 semester credit hours of 5000 and 6000 level courses through OSU as presented on the plan of study to meet requirements for the master’s degree.

Research Grades

Beginning Fall 2008, the grade of "R" will no longer be available for thesis or dissertation courses (5000/6000).  Only the grade of "SR" (for satisfactory research) or "UR" (for unsatisfactory research) will be given.  These grades are given in real time and are permanent. 

Incomplete Grades

Beginning Fall 2008, faculty members will be asked to submit a default grade when assigning "I" grades.  This default grade will be the grades given the student, should they not complete any incomplete work prior to one year from the assignment of the "I" grade. 

Enrollment Requirements

Graduate students should be aware of the factors that determine the minimum number of hours of enrollment.  Among these factors are assistantships, visa status, financial aid, and graduation requirements.  Students and faculty should note that semester enrollment deadlines are strictly enforced, and thesis, dissertation, special readings or independent study courses cannot be added after this deadline passes. Students wishing to graduate should also be aware that they are required to enroll in at least 2 hours in their last semester and at least 6 hours in the last year (last three semester/sessions, including summer).

Time Limit

Students are expected to complete the requirements for the master’s degree within seven years from first enrollment in the master’s degree program. Any extension of this time limit must be approved by the Graduate College at 202 Whitehurst, 405-744-6368.

Annual Review and Student Survey

Each year the student's Committee Chair is requested to fill out an annual review on the student's progress in the program and at the same time the student is requested to complete a survey at: http://environ.okstate.edu/ES/students/sutudentsurvey.htm.  These should be completed by May 31 of each year. 

Exit Interview

All graduate students are expected to participate in an exit interview with the Director of the Program. Contact the program coordinator to schedule your interview.


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PhD

Required Hours

The Doctor of Philosophy degree requires a minimum of 60 credit hours beyond the MS degree. This includes a minimum of 36 to 45 hours of course work consisting of six hours of a skill component, ENVR 5303, ENVR 5123, ENVR 6011, ENVR 6022,  ENVR 6031and ecology if not already taken.  Course hours should also reflect the biological, social, and physical aspects of the concentration area.  Research and courses should reflect the student’s professional goals. A dissertation (ENVR 6000) is required and consists of a minimum of 15 credit hours. At least 75 percent of the courses for the Ph.D. degree must be at the 5000 level or above, including dissertation research hours.

Required Core Courses

All students entering the doctoral program must take:

Environmental Science Courses
ENVR 5303 Issues of Sustainability Course description: This course reviews human-nature relationships and how they affect the ability of future generations to sustainably improve their quality of life.  The course also considers methods of environmental stewardship that can contribute to sustainability.  In-class and/or online discussions of issues, guest presentations b outside experts, and reports on selected topics are included.    This is to be taken the first semester, or at the very least, the first year.

ENVR 5123:  Environmental Problem Analysis.  Course description: This course reviews the process of environmental problem analysis using current practical examples.  This course draws on theories from various disciplines and applies appropriate techniques of analysis.

ENVR 6011: Survey of Environmental Research. Course description: This course introduces newly admitted environmental science students to environmental research conducted by faculty at OSU.  The course also helps students prepare plans of study that support their professional and research goals.  It is required of all ES doctoral students during their first year of enrollment.  The course may also be taken by ES master’s students but is not required.

ENVR 6022: Interdisciplinary Research Proposal Preparation. Course description: This course teaches students how to prepare and defend interdisciplinary research proposals and offers suggestions for preparing for qualifying exams.  Students will learn how to frame research questions, conduct literature reviews, select among interdisciplinary research methods, organize research proposals, and present results.  Enrollment in the course requires permission of the student’s research advisor.  This course is required of all ES doctoral students before they intend to prepare and defend a dissertation prospectus and take the doctoral candidate qualifying exam.

ENVR 6031: Interdisciplinary Research Report Preparation. Course description: This course teaches students how to prepare and defend interdisciplinary dissertations.  Students will learn how to interpret results, articulate findings, justify conclusions, and identify implications.  They will also learn how to deliver professional conference presentations and write professional papers.  The course requires permission of the student’s research advisor.  The course is required of all ES doctoral students just before they intend to prepare and defend their dissertations.  ES masters students who want to learn more about preparing and defending a thesis may also enroll.

Ecology
Upper division ecology - BIOL 3034 or equivalent course.

Skill component
Six credit hours.

The advisor, graduate committee and student determine how to complete the skill component. The skill component may entail qualitative research methods such as in-depth interviews, participant-observation, content analysis, quantitative research methods; and/or a computer language or foreign language as would be appropriate to the research. Please see the potential course listing which the skill courses are marked with an asterisk.

Social Science 


Many environmentally oriented social science courses are offered on campus. Environmental Science students commonly take those with an economic, political science, or sociological orientation. The social science requirement does not include seminar or independent study courses. If unsure about whether a course will be counted toward the social science requirement, please obtain prior approval from the director. Approval should be in writing for a student’s permanent file.

Physical Science 

Several physical science courses with an environmental emphasis are available at OSU.

LOOK at the MS requirements for a list of suitable courses.

Graduate Course Level

The Ph.D degree requires that approximately 75 percent of your courses are at the 5000 to 6000 level and you must have at least 15 hours of dissertation credit.

A few 3000 and 4000 level courses are currently offered for graduate credit. Students are encouraged to minimize reliance on 3000/4000 level courses. DO NOT TAKE THESE COURSES UNTIL YOU CHECK TO SEE IF THEY ARE APPROVED FOR GRADUATE CREDIT.

The acceptance of work which the student desires to use toward the degree rests with the student’s advisory committee and themselves. Because of this aspect of graduate work, it is wise for the student to complete a Plan of Study and get the advisory committee’s approval as soon as possible. The Plan of Study must be done before enrollment in the 28th hour. The ES Director is the department head and must sign all plans before they are submitted to the Graduate College.  For more information about the Plan of Study, see the Graduate College's website here.

Transfer Credit Restrictions

A maximum of 9 credit hours with a grade of "B" or better in each course can be accepted as transfer credit toward a master's degree.  Doctoral students must complete at least 30 hours of their program at OSU.  However, no more than 9 hours may be transferred from institutions that do not grant doctoral degrees.

Advisory Committee

The Advisory Committee will consist of at least two departments and least two different graduate faculty groups. Four faculty members are on the committee. The outside committee member is to represent the Dean of the Graduate College and must be a full member of the Graduate Faculty.  The outside member may not be from the same department as the Chair.

Research Grades

Beginning Fall 2008, faculty will be asked to submit a default grade when assigning "I' grades.  This default grade will be the grades given the student should they not complete any incomplete work prior to one year from the assignment of the "I" grade. 

Thesis and Dissertation Information

Thesis/Dissertation Guidelines

This Graduate College Thesis/Dissertation Handbook provides uniform standards for preliminary pages, vita, abstract, and margins of all material included in reports, theses, and dissertations which are submitted by graduate students to the Graduate Faculty of Oklahoma State University.  Because style varies from discipline to discipline, the writer is encouraged to follow the accepted style used in publications in his/her discipline.  In the event the department does not have a suggested style to follow, students should maintain style consistency throughout their document.  Submission of thesis or dissertation is done electronically.  Drafts are submitted in  paper form then the final project is in electronically form.  You must also follow the Graduate College Academic Calendar each semester that can be found here.

Time Limit

Students are expected to complete the requirements of the Ph.D. degree within nine years from their first enrollment in the degree program. After that time a new program of study must be arranged with the advisory committee and filed in the Graduate College.

If all requirements for the degree are not completed within four years after passing the qualifying examination, a second qualifying examination must be repeated.  The qualifying exam should be taken not less than six months prior to the end of a semester in which degree will be conferred.

Any exception to these time limits must be approved by the Graduate Faculty Council through the Graduate College at 202 Whitehurst, 405-744-6368.

Special Requirements

For non-thesis masters and bachelor degree students.

1)Non Environmental Management masters degree students with a thesis:

ENVR 5303 (if necessary) and ENVR 5503 & ENVR 5510 (or equivalent).


2)Non-thesis masters degree students:
ENVR 5303 (if necessary) and ENVR 5503 & ENVR 5510 (or equivalent), and ENVR 5000 - 2 hours.


3)Bachelor degree students:
ENVR 5303 (if necessary) and ENVR 5503 & ENVR 5510 (or equivalent), and ENVR 5000 (2 hours) after the first 30 hours of coursework.

Research Competence

It is important that the committee believe that students pursuing a doctoral degree are capable of successfully completing dissertation research. If the committee is not assured of this competence, it may elect to require that the student complete two hours in thesis research (ENVR 5000) and write a thesis-quality report. This report, if required, should be submitted during first year of enrollment in the doctoral program (non-thesis masters students), or at the conclusion of 30 hours of coursework (bachelors students). These hours cannot be counted toward the doctoral degree.  For assistance with report writing, visit the Oklahoma State University Writing Center here.

Comprehensive Exams

All ES graduate students are required to take both written and oral tests for their comprehensive exams. Proposal or prospectus exams will left up to the committee Chair.

Annual Review and Student Survey

Each year, the student's Committee Chair is requested to fill out an annual review on the student's progress in the program, and at the same time, the student is requested to complete a survey.  These should be completed by May 31 of each year. 

Exit Interview

All graduate students are expected to participate in an exit interview with the Director of the Program. Contact the program coordinator to schedule your interview.

Residency Requirements

All graduate students must have contact with their advisor at least 60 non-consecutive days during their tenure. They can and should take their comprehensive exams and their dissertation during this 60 days of contact.

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