M.S. in Environmental Science

Graduate Program Coordinator: Ed Weber

Program Adviser: Dr. David Shull

Program Mission

A student stands knee deep in water at the edge of a lake holding the cord to a submerged device

The Environmental Sciences (ES) and ES Marine and Estuarine Studies Program (ES-MESP) Graduate Program Mission is to educate future professionals who are prepared to deal with the complex array of environmental problems, by bringing together various disciplinary insights and skills. We will develop scientists who can analyze environmental changes and participate in management decisions. Our scientists will be able to respond to public demands for greater protection of environmental quality by developing and using state-of the-art tools and techniques for evaluation, management, remediation and restoration.

Graduate Program Student Learning Goals

The goals of the ES and ES-MESP MS degree are to support student learning and improvement in:

  1. Foundational knowledge and skills
  2. Quantitative skills
  3. Critical thinking.

It is our expectation that our graduates will apply these as professionals who can integrate chemical, physical, biological, and other specialized knowledge in order to understand, predict, and/or manage environmental responses brought about by natural and man-made events.

Program Specializations

Freshwater Ecology

Focuses on the study of physical, chemical, and biological processes in freshwater systems, including lakes, streams and watersheds.

See the Institute of Watershed Studies home page.

Primary research advisers are Professors Bodensteiner, Helfield, Matthews and Rybczyk.

Specialization courses: ESCI 502, 503, 522, 529, 530a,b, 533, 534, 538, 540, 559

Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry

Focuses on the transport, fate and toxic effects of chemicals in the environment; laboratory testing and field work; chemical analytical measurement of pollutants and the influence of nutritional factors on pollutant toxicity; studies of chemical fate and toxicity at the biochemical, organismal, population and ecosystem levels.

Primary research advisers are Professors Sofield, Landis and Matthews.

For more information about the Institute for Environmental Toxicology see the Environmental Toxicology homepage.

Specialization courses: ESCI 502, 503, 533, 555, 556, 557, 558, 559, 590

Regional, Global and Terrestrial Ecosystems

Focuses on terrestrial ecosystems and on large-scale regional and global environmental problems and the examination of natural ecosystems, resources, and the effects of large-scale change.

Primary research advisers are Professors Andy Bunn, Homann, McLaughlin, Rebecca Bunn, and Wallin.

Specialization courses: ESCI 502, 503, 507, 533, 535, 536, 539, 542, 562, 590, 592; EGEO 510, 535, 552

Marine and Estuarine Science

Focuses on the study of coastal and estuarine ecosystems.

See the MESP page for more information. Primary research advisers are Professors Bingham, Hatch, Love, McPhee-Shaw, Rybczyk, and Shull.

Specialization courses: ESCI 502, 503, 521, 522, 529, 533, 534, 538, 539, 540, 542, 559, 592

*Students can also take courses and conduct research in the area of Energy and Environmental Systems in collaboration with WWU Institute of Energy Studies. Potential Faculty Advisors: Joel Swisher, Charles Barnhart, Imran Sheikh.


A bachelor's degree and college-level course work including a minimum of either:

  1. One year of general chemistry plus one quarter or semester of organic chemistry, one year of general biology, one course each in ecology, calculus and statistics; or
  2. One year of general chemistry, one year of physics, two courses in calculus, one course in statistics and one additional physical science or engineering course.

Specific test requirements: GRE-general test.

Program Requirements (45 credits minimum)

Core Requirements (15 credits)

  • ESCI 501 (3)
  • ESCI 690 (12) - Comprehensive written thesis (includes a public presentation and an oral defense)

Specialization Courses

  • Courses selected under advisement from within one area of specialization (12 cr. minimum)
  • Electives selected under faculty advisement (to total 45 cr. minimum)