University General Course Catalog 2021-2022 
    
    May 25, 2022  
University General Course Catalog 2021-2022

Environmental Sciences, Ph.D.


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 Dissertation Ph.D. degree. The environmental sciences graduate program provide 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, College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources, College of Science, College of Engineering, School of Public Health, UNR Medicine, and the Desert Research Institute.

Contact Information


University of Nevada, Reno
Environmental Sciences Graduate Program
Department of Nutrition, MS 202
1664 North Virginia Street
Reno, NV 89557

Stanley T. Omaye, Professor
Graduate Program Director
(775) 784-6447
omaye@unr.edu
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 PhD degree please contact Stanley T. Omaye, Professor at omaye@unr.edu.

Admissions Requirements

A degree in a related science is desirable including courses in calculus, chemistry (organic chemistry), biology and physics. Applicants to the Environmental Sciences Graduate Program for the Ph.D. degree must have an undergraduate and/or Master GPA of 3.00 on a 4.00 scale, graduate record exam (GRE), international students must have TOEFL score of at least 600 (paper version), 250 (computer version) or 100 (internet based version), 3 letters of recommendation, letter stating goals and choice of disciplinary interest, documentation from 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


Doctoral are required to complete a minimum of 72 graduate credits, 48 of which must result from coursework.

  • At least 30 credits must be taken at the 700 level: These credits may not include dissertation credits nor credits obtained during undergraduate study.
  • Up to 18 credits of 700 level course work from a master’s degree program may be applied to this requirement: No more than 24 credits of course work (with grades of B or better) from a master’s degree program, or previous post baccalaureate graduate studies program, may be allocated toward the doctoral degree. Exception is for students who hold a MPH degree from UNR or accredited institution, 32 credits of course work of B or better may be allocated toward the doctoral degree.
  • Candidates for the Ph.D. degree must register for at least 24 dissertation credits and must submit a satisfactory dissertation to the examining committee:
    • A maximum of 24 credits must come from dissertation work;
    • Any exception to the minimum 24 dissertation credits requires the advance written approval of the program director and the graduate dean  

All requirements for the Doctoral program, excluding prerequisite graduate course work or master’s degrees, must be completed within a period of eight years.

Comprehensive Examination for Admission to Doctoral Candidacy

The Environmental Sciences program course requirements have been selected with a minimum number of required courses to allow the student an opportunity to design a curriculum to meet each student’s disciplinary interests and professional aspirations.

Prerequisite Courses

Degree in a related science, including one year of calculus and chemistry, and additional coursework in organic chemistry, biology and physics

Committee Membership

For a doctoral degree, at the completion of twelve graduate credits, the student selects a committee chair and the student and chair arrange the appointment of the remaining four members of the committee.  The committee and the director of the Environmental Sciences program supervise the student’s course of study and examinations.

Committees consist of at least five members, all of whom must be listed as members of the Graduate Faculty by the University of Nevada, Reno Graduate School.  In addition to the committee chair, at least two members will be from the student’s major department, at least one will be from a department in a field related to the student’s major, and at least one will be a Graduate School representative from the graduate faculty. Students may request the appointment of a committee member from the faculty of another university or from a relevant discipline or profession, provided the prospective member has achieved a record of distinction. Formal approval of the student’s advisory/examining committee is made by the Graduate Dean.

Comprehensive Examination for Admission to Doctoral Candidacy
Written Examination:

The written examination is a general examination on environmental science and health.   The student’s committee develops the written questions, which are in the general area of the student’s courses and program.  The examination has 5-7 questions.  For purposes of consistency, the program director will need to approve each written exam at least one week prior to the exam being given to the student.

 The exam will be given during an 8-hour period and proctored by the student’s committee chair.  It will be a closed book exam. 

 The following provide examples of how the exams could be structured.

  • A student studying phosphorus, sediment and Lake Tahoe might be expected to understand spectroscopic methods, sorption processes, impacts of nutrients on watersheds, soil chemistry and the basis for regulatory actions regarding nutrients.
  • A student studying gas exchange in plants might be expected to know atmospheric measurement processes, plant physiology, soil-plant relationships, and, global warming issues and impacts.
  • A student focused on public health might be expected to know epidemiology, toxicology, biochemistry and environmental contaminants that affect human health. 

Oral Examination:

The oral examination is focused on the student’s knowledge of the specific area of research, and involves presentation of no more than 13 research slides followed by questions.   The committee questions are generally in the specific area of research and designed to determine how well the student understands their own research and their ability to conduct research.

A. Required Courses


All students must have one graduate course in statistics, and attend the NRES 790 Environmental Sciences seminar or other appropriate seminar (4 for Ph.D.). With regards to transfer credits for doctoral students who have completed a M.S. program, a maximum of 24 credits of course work from a completed master’s degree program or previous post-baccalaureate graduate studies program or 32 credits from an accredited MPH Program may be applied toward the doctoral degree. 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. 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 and Environmental Engineering (CEE), Nutrition (NUTR).

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. The Ph.D. student’s program of study must include at least 72.

II. Program Total Hours (72 units)


Undergraduate Prerequisites/Notes


  1. 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.
  2. Graduate Handbook: * Curriculum requirements in the catalog supersede the Graduate handbook.