Master of Science in Environmental Science and Policy


Program Description

Our Master of Science degree in Environmental Science and Policy brings interdisciplinary expertise in the social and natural sciences together with advanced technologies, such as remote sensing and geographic information systems, to prepare students to effectively address complex environmental problems.

Our program graduates will be able to:

  • develop solutions to the increasingly urgent problems resulting from human impacts on the environment;
  • contribute to efforts to better understand and respond to those impacts; and
  • protect and manage environmental resources in the face of population growth and economic change.
  • Two focus tracks – Applied Environmental Science and Society-Environment Interactions are available for students pursuing an M.S. degree in Environmental Science and Policy.

Graduates of the Master of Science in Environmental Science and Policy program at USF St. Petersburg will be highly skilled and imaginative individuals, prepared for leadership roles in local, state, and federal agencies; non-profit organizations working to ameliorate environmental concerns; and private scientific, research, environmental and engineering firms. Our graduates will have the analytical skills to understand and impact the socio-cultural and political context in which environmental problems are created and ameliorated, and the scientific expertise to fully explore and analyze the consequences of ongoing environmental change and interaction.

Application Deadlines

The Graduate Applications Committee for the Environmental Science and Policy (ESP) Programs will continue to review applications on a rolling basis throughout the year.

Those applicants interested in being considered for financial assistance from the MS Program should ensure their complete applications are received by the USFSP Office of Graduate Studies no later than 15 March each year.


Graduate assistantships are available on a competitive basis for students who qualify. Students must be formally admitted to the MS in ESP program and must be full time (nine credit hours) for the term in which the assistantship is held. To apply for graduate assistantships, please complete this form and send to Dr. Scott Burghart at by 15 March in addition to submitting your complete application to the USFSP Office of Graduate Studies.

Application Requirements

All applications to the MS Graduate Program in ESP should include the following:

One (1) official transcript showing proof of a baccalaureate degree from an accredited undergraduate institution with a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale and demonstration of an appropriate undergraduate background in the disciplines supporting the applied environmental sciences.

A statement (no longer than one page, single-spaced) of your goals, objectives, reasons for applying to this program, a brief discussion of your academic interests and possible thesis topics, which faculty member(s) you think might best supervise your research, and whether or not you intend to study full-time or part-time. Remember that a full-time course load for graduate students is 9 credit hours (usually three classes) and you must maintain 5 credit hours a semester to be eligible for financial aid.

Three (3) letters of recommendation from people well qualified to assess your potential for graduate study.

GRE test score—the GRE must have been taken within the previous five years.

Applicants seeking admission to the MS graduate program in Environmental Science and Policy will be expected to meet the following criteria:

Bachelor’s Degree and GPA

Anyone with an undergraduate degree in the natural and physical sciences or environmental studies from an accredited undergraduate institution with a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale may apply.

Those with an undergraduate degree in other areas are encouraged to submit their transcripts and curriculum vitae to the graduate coordinator for preliminary evaluation for admission.

Graduate Record Exam Scores

Applicants must submit scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) taken within the past five (5) years. A combined score of 295 on the quantitative and qualitative sections of the GRE is required.

Master of Science in Environmental Science and Policy - Two focus tracks

The Applied Environmental Science focus provides you with rigorous training and first-hand experience in the application of a variety of scientific principles and techniques in biology, chemistry, geology, remote sensing and geographic information systems. Students pursuing this track can explore such pressing topics as water resource use and management (groundwater, surface water, marine), habitat and species conservation, and the impacts of development and land use change on terrestrial, aquatic and wetland resources.

Particular attention is paid to the unique challenges facing the Gulf Coast and central Florida region. Students graduating with a focus in Applied Environmental Science will be experienced environmental scientists, prepared to tackle pressing ecological and environmental problems from a variety of approaches.

Potential employers range from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Florida Wildlife Research Institute, state’s water management districts, to private engineering and environmental consulting firms, and non-profit environmental agencies.

The Society-Environment Interactions focus provides you with an in-depth understanding of the socio-cultural and political contexts in which specific environmental problems arise and are addressed. Popular conceptual frameworks for human-environment interaction, such as political ecology, sustainable development, and integrated ecosystem management, are applied to a range of environmental problems at the local, national and global scales. Contemporary policy challenges, such as the need to balance economic growth along Florida’s fragile coastline with the desire to preserve ecosystem services and wildlife habitat, are explored within historical, geographic and socio-political contexts.

Graduates with the Society-Environment Interactions focus will be well prepared to make significant contributions to policy analysis and development in public agencies, private consulting firms, or non-profit institutions.

Last updated May 2018

About the School

The College of Arts & Sciences is USF St. Petersburg’s largest college, offering a wide range of academic programs. The College has a legacy of providing programs of excellence in a student-center ... Read More

The College of Arts & Sciences is USF St. Petersburg’s largest college, offering a wide range of academic programs. The College has a legacy of providing programs of excellence in a student-centered atmosphere. World-class research and creative activities are carried out in one of the most beautiful metropolitan campuses in the U.S. Take some time to explore our offerings, where “the world will recognize your degree and your professors will know your name.” Read less
Saint Petersburg