Green Leaf

This master's program meets the increasing need for trained environmental professionals who can address the problems of land and water management, land use and urbanization, wetland loss, microbial ecology, bioremediation, conservation biology, and ecosystem preservation. These professionals will also contribute to the analysis and resolution of global problems such as deforestation, insufficient world food supplies, population growth, planetary health, and global climate change/warming. Areas of specific departmental focus include ecosystems, conservation, environmental biocomplexity, molecular ecology, sustainability science, environmental policy and management, and human/environmental interactions.

Environmental problems are defined in the real world and do not necessarily conform to traditional academic disciplines. As such, solutions require creative combinations of diverse interests and subjects. Effective training requires rigorous, problem-focused transdisciplinary action in a setting in which research is an essential element supporting instruction.

This has been designated a Green Leaf program.

Admissions

University-wide admissions policies can be found in Graduate Admissions Policies. Additionally, information on the admission of international students can be found in Admission of International Students.

To apply for this program, please complete the George Mason University Admissions Application.

Eligibility

Applicants should hold a bachelor's degree from an institution of higher education accredited by a Mason-recognized U.S. institutional accrediting agency or international equivalent with a GPA of 3.00 in natural or Earth sciences, engineering, resource planning, environmental studies, or a field that leads to an environmental focus.

Applicants should have taken at least two semesters of chemistry and three semesters of biology, including a course in ecology. Applicants who lack this coursework should contact the graduate coordinator's office for advice. Successful completion of a two-semester sequence of introductory graduate-level environmental chemistry and biology courses can be used to satisfy the biology and chemistry prerequisites for admission. These introductory courses would be in addition to the requirements for the degree.

Application Requirements

Applicants should submit the following:

  • Completed George Mason University George Mason University Admissions Application.
  • Three letters of recommendation, including at least one from a former professor or, if not available, from someone with a PhD.
  • The GRE is required.
  • Statement of interest indicating: Desired concentration, potential areas of environmental focus/research interest, interactions with potential faculty advisors, and career goals.
  • Contact a potential George Mason faculty advisor (appropriate for research interests). An endorsement letter from the potential advisor must be sent to the Department of Environmental Science and Policy's graduate office; the availability of an advisor in the student's area of interest is a prerequisite for admission.

Policies

For policies governing all graduate programs, see AP.6 Graduate Policies.

Course Selections

Some program requirements may be fulfilled by completing courses from a variety of academic units at Mason. A student's course selections should reflect a coherent individual program focus, which is stated and briefly described in the program of study. Course selections should also support the research component of the student's degree program (if applicable) and should be developed in close consultation with the supervisory committee. The supervisory committee approves a coursework program (the program of study) individually for each student.

In special cases, the graduate program director may permit the substitution of an alternative course in place of a required one.

Supervisory Committee

Students must form a supervisory committee and submit a program of study to the graduate coordinator for approval within the first 9 credits of coursework or by the end of the second semester, whichever comes first.

The supervisory committee consists of the advisor and at least two other members, chosen in consultation with the advisor, and must conform to AP.6.9 Requirements for Master's Degrees.

Banner Code: SC-MS-EVSP

Degree Requirements

Total credits: 33 

This is a Green Leaf program.

Students should refer to Admissions & Policies for specific policies related to this program.

Students may select for their degree to culminate in either a research project (3 credits) or a thesis (3-6 credits). The concentration credit amount requirements below are directly related to this selection of either a research project or thesis.

Students in all of the concentrations will complete the concentration's requirements and the research requirement with a minimum of 33 credits.

Core Courses

Science Courses
Choose 3 credits from the following:3
Conservation Biology
Fundamentals of Ecology
Population Ecology
Statistics Courses
Choose 3 credits from the following:3
Qualitative Research Methods for Environmental Scientists
Multivariate Data Analysis for Ecology and Environmental Science
Methods and Logic of Social Inquiry
Applied Statistics I
Policy Courses
Choose 3 credits from the following:3
Introduction to Environmental and Resource Economics
Introduction to Environmental Social Science
Environment and Society
Environmental Policy
Science and Policy Courses
Choose 3 credits from the following:3
Selected Topics in Environmental Science (When the topic is "Evidence-based Policymaking: Using the Environmental Sciences for Governance")
Environmental Law
Seminar Courses
EVPP 692Master's Seminar in Environmental Science and Public Policy1
EVPP 991Advanced Seminar in Environmental Science (When the topic is: Experimental Design for Environmental Scientists)2
Research Requirement3-6
The research requirement may be satisfied in one of two ways: A research project or a formal thesis. The depth and sophistication of the research differs between the two options. The thesis normally involves original research with independent acquisition and interpretation of data, with the goal of peer-reviewed publication. Projects are generally less extensive and can include a broader range of activities. Choose from one of the following:
Research Project Option
Students fulfilling the research requirement with the project option register for EVPP 798 Master's Research Project in Environmental Science and Public Policy and are required to take a comprehensive examination covering knowledge mastered throughout the program of study. This examination includes both a written and an oral component and is administered by the student's supervisory committee.
Master's Research Project in Environmental Science and Public Policy (3 credits)
Thesis Option
Students fulfilling the research requirement with the thesis option register for EVPP 799 Master's Thesis in Environmental Science and Public Policy, present their results in a public seminar, and defend their thesis before their supervisory committee. Students will be graded "Satisfactory/No Credit" on the research requirement.
Master's Thesis in Environmental Science and Public Policy (3-6 credits)
Electives
If necessary, students must take additional electives or concentration courses to bring the degree total to 33 credits. These courses must be approved by the student's supervisory committee and outlined on the student's program of study.
Total Credits18-21

Aquatic Ecology Concentration (AQEC)

This concentration will provide students with a well-grounded master's in the study of aquatic environments such as lakes, streams, watersheds, and estuaries. Emphasis is placed on food webs, biogeochemical cycles, water quality, habitat characteristics, and life histories of aquatic organisms. Students will become proficient with research tools including literature review, field and laboratory methods, and analytical tools as well as applications to management issues.

Aquatic Science

EVPP 550Waterscape Ecology and Management3
EVPP 581Estuarine and Coastal Ecology3
Choose 3-6 credits from the following:3-6
Marine Mammal Biology and Conservation
Marine Conservation
The Diversity of Fishes
Principles of Environmental Toxicology
Marine Ecology
Coastal Morphology and Processes
Introduction to Environmental Social Science
The Challenge of Biodiversity
Translating Environmental Policy into Action
Environment and Society
Environmental Science and Public Policy
Environmental Policy
Microbial Ecology
Wetland Ecology and Management
Population Ecology
Physical Oceanography
Choose 3 credits from the following:3
Molecular Environmental Biology I
Lab in Waterscape Ecology
Estuarine and Coastal Ecology Laboratory
Molecular Environmental Biology II
Wetland Ecology Lab and Field
Multivariate Data Analysis for Ecology and Environmental Science
GIS Analysis and Application
Applied Statistics I
Total Credits12-15

Conservation Science and Policy Concentration (COSP)

This concentration is designed to foster an interdisciplinary, research-oriented degree focusing on the conservation of threatened species and habitats, integrating biological sciences and the human dimensions of conservation practice.

Students may take courses offered by the Department of Environmental Science and Policy and other departments, including CONS courses which are offered through the Smithsonian Mason School of Conservation. This unique partnership with the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation (SMSC) in Front Royal, Virginia offers students hands-on education in cutting-edge conservation science and human dimensions through residential, intensive classes. SMSC is renowned for its conservation research and training of conservation practitioners around the world and instructors for these classes are drawn from SMSC's conservation scientists and other experts from around the world.

EVPP 637Human Dimensions of Climate Change3
Choose 3 credits from the following:3
Conservation Biology
The Challenge of Biodiversity
Overview of Biodiversity Conservation
Choose 3 credits from the following:3
Selected Topics in Environmental Science (When the topic is "Evidence-based Policymaking: Using the Environmental Sciences for Governance")
Environmental Science Communication
Choose 3-6 credits from the following:3-6
Molecular Environmental Biology I
Conservation Medicine
Infectious Diseases of Wildlife
Fundamentals of Ecology
Molecular Environmental Biology II
Development of U.S. Environmental Policies
Translating Environmental Policy into Action
Population Ecology
Geographic Information Systems
Total Credits12-15

Environmental Science and Policy Concentration (EVSP)

The Environmental Science and Policy concentration is the largest within the master's and serves as a home for a broad array of research foci. It encourages an independent and creative approach to the development of curricula that reside in the general field of environmental science and policy.

Choose at least 3 credits from the following:3
Conservation Medicine
Animal Behavior
Tropical Ecosystems
Population Ecology
Choose at least 3 credits from the following:3
Land-use Modeling Techniques and Applications
Ecosystem Analysis and Modeling
Nonparametric Statistics and Categorical Data Analysis
Analysis of Experimental Data
Choose 6-9 credits from the following:6-9
Marine Conservation
Energy Policy
Urban Ecosystems Processes
Waterscape Ecology and Management
Infectious Diseases of Wildlife
The Challenge of Biodiversity
Management of Wild Living Resources
Translating Environmental Policy into Action
Environmental Science and Public Policy
Applied Ecology and Ecosystem Management
Total Credits12-15

Communication for Environmental Science, Policy, and Human Behavior (CESP)

The ability to communicate underlies all successful human cooperation. With the growth of anthropogenic global threats such as biodiversity loss and climate change, communication that supports environmental knowledge formation, policy, and behavior change is needed more than ever. Two courses in the concentration from the department, supplemented by those across the university, will allow students to focus on one of these topics. Other classes aside from the core courses may be substituted as needed.

EVPP 505Selected Topics in Environmental Science (When the topic is "Evidence-based Policymaking: Using the Environmental Sciences for Governance")3
EVPP 529Environmental Science Communication3
Choose 3-6 credits from one of the following groupings:3-6
Policy and Governance Grouping
Global Biodiversity Governance
Risk Communication
American Government and Politics
Public Policy Process
Behavior Change Grouping
Risk Communication
Climate Change and Sustainability Communication Campaigns
Social Marketing
Strategic Communication
Science in Society Grouping
Theories and Research of Mass Communication
Science Communication
Science and the Public
Crisis Communication
Choose at least 3 credits from the following:3
Geographic Information Systems
Social Media Analysis
Research Methodologies in Communication
Media Content Analysis
Quantitative Methods in Educational Research
Introduction to Measurement and Survey Development
Introductory Data Analysis for Policy and Government
Policy and Program Evaluation
Psychometric Methods
Advanced Statistics
Statistical Methods in Policy Analysis
Methods and Logic of Social Inquiry
Survey Research
Total Credits12-15

Environment and Management Concentration (EVM)

This concentration combines the managerial and administrative skills developed in a traditional master of public administration degree program with the scientific knowledge and understanding normally found in a master of science degree. It is especially meant for individuals working in or aspiring to work as managers in the environmental field in government or private industry.

EVPP 641Environmental Science and Public Policy3
EVPP 677Applied Ecology and Ecosystem Management3
Choose 3 credits from the following:3
Corporate Environmental Management and Policy
Administration in Public and Nonprofit Organizations
Choose 3-6 credits from the following:3-6
Selected Topics in Environmental Science (When the topic is "Evidence-based Policymaking: Using the Environmental Sciences for Governance")
Introduction to Environmental and Resource Economics
Economics of Human/Environment Interactions
Environmental Science Communication
Energy Policy
Urban Ecosystems Processes
Principles of Environmental Toxicology
Waterscape Ecology and Management
Infectious Diseases of Wildlife
Development of U.S. Environmental Policies
Wetland Ecology and Management
Geographic Information Systems
Total Credits12-15

 Energy and Sustainability Policy and Science (ESPS)

Many mid-level energy and sustainability positions in the public and private sectors require multidisciplinary grounding in science, policy, and methods. To provide such a foundation, this concentration combines the scientific knowledge normally acquired through a Master of Science degree with development of relevant policy and methods skills.

Required Foundation
EVPP 533Energy Policy3
Choose one from the following:3
Food-Energy-Water Nexus
Geographic Approaches for Sustainable Development
Science
Choose one from the following:3
Urban Ecosystems Processes
Applied Ecology and Ecosystem Management
Geology of Energy Resources
Topics in Renewable Energy
Sustainable Development
Environmental Engineering Systems
Geoenvironmental Design
Topics in Civil Engineering
Policy and Methods Electives
Choose 1 or 2 from the following: 13-6
Selected Topics in Environmental Science (When the topic is "Energy Law & Regulation," or "Fundamentals of Environmental GIS" (EVPP 505 can be taken twice if these two topics are taken separately))
Food-Energy-Water Nexus
Field Mapping Techniques
Field Mapping Techniques
Corporate Environmental Management and Policy
Ecosystem Analysis and Modeling
Spatial Agent-Based Models of Human-Environment Interactions
Geographic Approaches for Sustainable Development
Special Topics in Economics
Perspectives on Food Security
Global Nutrition
Total Credits12-15

Conservation Medicine & Planetary Health Concentration (CMPH)

Conservation Medicine and Planetary Health (CMPH) are emerging disciplines that address complex health problems that follow disturbances to the Earth’s natural systems requiring transdisciplinary collaborations, systems thinking, and adaptive management approaches to health and ecology. Conservation Medicine evolved from the singular key principle that health connects all species in the planet. Planetary Health is focused on characterizing the human health impacts of anthropogenic disruptions of Earth's natural systems. The CMPH concentration will provide training in quantitative and qualitative research methods and expand the student’s ability to think outside of the box and work beyond traditional disciplinary silos to address complex health issues rooted in ecological principles.

Students should complete the Required Foundation and choose either the Conservation Medicine or the Planetary Health areas of focus.
Required Foundation
EVPP 505Selected Topics in Environmental Science (When the topic is "Planetary Health")3
EVPP 527Conservation Medicine3
EVPP 677Applied Ecology and Ecosystem Management3
Areas of Focus3-6
Conservation Medicine
Choose 3-6 credits from the following:
Principles of Environmental Toxicology
Infectious Diseases of Wildlife
Multivariate Data Analysis for Ecology and Environmental Science
Global Biodiversity Governance
Biodefense Strategy
Health Geography
Fundamentals of Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Scientific Basis of Climate Change
Emergency Planning and Preparedness
Planetary Health
Choose 3-6 credits from the following:
Economics of Human/Environment Interactions
Environmental Science Communication
Urban Ecosystems Processes
Bioremediation: Theory and Applications
Human Dimensions of Climate Change
Environmental Policy
Crisis Communication
Global Health
Global Nutrition
Total Credits12-15

Bachelor's Degree (selected)/Environmental Science and Policy, Accelerated MS

Overview

This bachelor's/accelerated master's degree program allows academically strong undergraduates with a commitment to advance their education to obtain a Green Leaf-designated bachelor's degree and the Environmental Science and Policy, MS degrees within an accelerated timeframe. Upon completion of this 141 credit accelerated program, students will be exceptionally well prepared for entry into their careers or into a doctoral program in the field or in a related discipline.

Students are eligible to apply for this accelerated program once they have earned at least 60 undergraduate credits and can enroll in up to 18 credits of graduate coursework after successfully completing 75 undergraduate credits. This flexibility makes it possible for students to complete a bachelor's and a master's in five years.

For more detailed information, see AP.6.7 Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Degrees. For policies governing all graduate degrees, see AP.6 Graduate Policies. For more information on undergraduates enrolling in graduate courses, see AP.1.4.4 Graduate Course Enrollment by Undergraduates.

Admission Requirements

Applicants to all graduate programs at George Mason University must meet the admission standards and application requirements for graduate study as specified in the Graduate Admission Policies section of this catalog.

Important application information and processes for this accelerated master's program can be found here.

The GRE exam is not required for this accelerated master's program.

Students should submit three letters of recommendation (at least one from a former professor or someone with a PhD), a recent resume, a statement of interest/research goals and interests (including information on the candidate's proposed MS research), and a letter from their advisor (see Graduate Advisor section below) stating that the advisor agrees to take on the candidate as an MS student, how the candidate would be a good fit for them and why candidate's research topic would be suitable.

Students with an overall GPA of at least 3.20 who are pursuing any Green Leaf-designated major or minor may apply to this accelerated master's program after completing two semesters of chemistry (including CHEM 211 General Chemistry I (Mason Core) and CHEM 212 General Chemistry II (Mason Core) and three semesters of biology, including a course in ecology, or the equivalent, for example:

Select one of the following options:13
Option 1:
Cell Structure and Function (Mason Core)
Biostatistics for Biology Majors
Foundations of Ecology and Evolution
Option 2:
Environmental Biology: Molecules and Cells
Environmental Science: Biological Diversity and Ecosystems
Environmental Science: Biomes and Human Dimensions
Environmental Microbiology Essentials
Environmental Microbiology Essentials Laboratory
Option 3:
Conservation Theory
Applied Conservation
6 credits of BIOL or CONS electives

Graduate Advisor

By at least the beginning of their senior year, students should seek out a faculty member in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy who is willing to serve as their advisor. This advisor will aid the student in choosing the appropriate graduate courses to take and help to prepare the student for graduate studies. Admission into a research-oriented master's concentration is dependent upon securing the agreement of a faculty advisor. Faculty from a variety of departments and colleges at George Mason University (called "program faculty") can serve as master's advisors. Potential students are encouraged to speak with the graduate program coordinator in the department to obtain guidance on this issue.

Accelerated Option Requirements

After the completion of 75 undergraduate credits, students may complete 3 to 12 credits of graduate coursework that can apply to both the undergraduate and graduate degrees.

In addition to applying to graduate from the undergraduate program, students in the accelerated program must submit a bachelor's/accelerated master's transition form (available from the Office of the University Registrar) to the College of Science's Office of Academic and Student Affairs by the last day to add classes of their final undergraduate semester. Students should enroll for courses in the master's program in the fall or spring semester immediately following conferral of the bachelor's degree, but should contact an advisor if they would like to defer up to one semester.

Students must maintain an overall GPA of 3.00 or higher in all graduate coursework and should consult with their faculty advisor to coordinate their academic goals.

Reserve Graduate Credits

Accelerated master's students may also take up to 6 graduate credits as reserve graduate credits. These credits do not apply to the undergraduate degree, but will reduce the master's degree by up to 6 credits. With 12 graduate credits counted toward the undergraduate degree plus the maximum 6 reserve graduate credits, the credits necessary for the graduate degree can be reduced by up to 18.

Graduate Course Suggestions

The following list of suggested courses is provided for general reference. To ensure an efficient route to graduation and post-graduation readiness, students are strongly encouraged to meet with an advisor before registering for graduate-level courses.

EVPP 518Conservation Biology3
EVPP 529Environmental Science Communication3
EVPP 621Overview of Biodiversity Conservation3
EVPP 635Environment and Society3