University General Course Catalog 2020-2021 
    Jun 17, 2024  

Environmental Sciences, M.S.

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The Environmental Sciences Graduate Program is based on the tenet that graduate education in the environmental sciences requires an interdisciplinary approach encompassing the fields of chemistry, geology, biology, ecology, physics, and human health. The program offers programs of study leading to M.S. and Ph.D. degrees.

The Environmental Sciences Graduate Program offer a research-based Masters degrees Thesis (Plan A) or Non-Thesis (Plan B). The environmental sciences graduate program provides education and research training in the areas of environmental chemistry, ecological toxicology (environmental biology and ecology), and environmental toxicology as it relates to human health. Students may choose one of these specializations or work with their advisor to develop a custom plan of study. To foster interdisciplinary interactions, the program recognizes that students must have a strong core curriculum within the environmental sciences. Beyond that, flexible graduate-level education and research is promoted. The program’s faculty comes from the University on Nevada, Reno’s, College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources, College of Science, College of Engineering, Community Health Science Division, School of Medicine, and the Desert Research Institute.

Contact Information

Stanley T. Omaye, Professor
Graduate Program Director
(775) 784-6447
Mail Stop 202

Graduate Handbook *

Program Objectives/Student Learning Outcomes

This program is designed to allow the student an opportunity to design a curriculum to meet his or her disciplinary interests and professional aspirations. The environmental chemistry track focuses on the source, transport, transformation and fate of chemicals in the environment. The ecological toxicology track addresses biological and ecological issues of fate and effects, ranging from biochemical mechanisms of toxicity in nonhuman species to biogeochemistry of xenobiotics in manmade and natural ecosystems. The environmental toxicology track addresses issues in human health and environmental quality, including air pollution, biochemistry, physiology and nutrition.

Outcomes include; a broad and deep factual and theoretical understanding of their area of specialization, awareness of modern research methods and technology, ability to independently design experiments to study scientific hypothesis, interpret experimental results, present their work through effective scientific communication, understand the societal and scientific significance of their work, and posses professional character as illustrated by their ethical behavior, continued educational pursuits and commitment to health and protection of the environment. 

Admissions Requirement

Admissions Deadline

Fall:  March 1

Spring: November 1

If you miss the admission deadline and would like to enroll in graduate special coursework that could be applied to the M.S. or Ph.D. degree please contact Stanley T. Omaye, Professor at

Admissions Requirements

  • an undergraduate degree in a related science is desirable including courses in calculus, chemistry (organic chemistry), biology and physics.
  • an undergraduate GPA of 2.75 on a scale of 4.00,
  • graduate record exam (GRE),
  • international students must have TOEFL score of at least 600 (paper version), 250 (computer version) or 100 (internet based version) results,
  • 3 letters of recommendation,
  • a letter stating goals and choice of disciplinary interest,
  • documentation from an Environmental Sciences Graduate faculty member who agrees to be your research advisor. 

Applicants must meet the Graduate School, University of Nevada, Reno and the Environmental Sciences Graduate Program requirements for graduate student status. 

I. Program Requirements

M.S. students are required to complete a thesis (Plan A) or a professional paper (Plan B). Plan A students must complete at least 30 units in acceptable graduate courses, including 6 units for the thesis. Plan B students must complete at least 35 units in acceptable graduate courses, including 3 units for the professional paper.

  • At least 12 units in the program must be at the 600-level.
  • At least 15 units in the program must be at the 700-level.
  • At least 23 units must be earned in on-campus courses at the university.
  • As many as three units of satisfactory/unsatisfactory (S/U) grade, including transfer are acceptable.
  • Any transfer of credits from another institution must be recommended in the program of study by the advisory/examining committee and must be officially accepted by the Graduate School.
  • As many as nine graduate units completed prior to admission to graduate standing may be applied toward the master’s degree.

All requirements for the master’s degree must be satisfied within the period of six years immediately preceding the granting of the degree.

A. Required Courses

All students must take 4 of the 10 courses listed below, unless a student’s advisor and committee members recommend substitutions that correspond with a specific research focus.

B. Additional Courses

In addition to the Core courses listed above, Environmental Sciences students must take:

C. Suggested Electives

Each student’s program of study is based on the disciplinary track she/he has chosen. Elective courses may be selected from a variety of departments, including but not limited to Atmospheric Sciences (ATMS), Biochemistry (BCH), Chemistry (CHEM), Civil Engineering (CEE), and Nutrition (NUTR).

II. Program Total Hours (30-35 units)

Undergraduate Prerequisites/Notes

A degree in a related science is desirable including courses in calculus, chemistry (organic chemistry), biology and physics. Upon admission to the Environmental Sciences Program and prior to beginning classes, each student and faculty advisor will design the academic course work for the first year. By the conclusion of the first year, the student’s advisory committee will collaborate on the rest of the program of study.

* Curriculum requirements in the catalog supersede the Graduate handbook.

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