Frequently Asked Questions
Prospective Graduate Students
The Environmental Studies Program will begin accepting applications for Fall 2014 in late summer 2013. The deadline for Fall 2013 applications has passed.
Please read this information carefully. Failure to adhere to directions may prevent your application from being reviewed.
How many students does the department admit each year?
It varies, but somewhere between 15 and 30 students total. The number of applications have ranged from 162 for Fall 2013 to a high of 278 for Fall 2010.
Do I need to take the GRE?
Yes -- the general GRE is required for applicants to graduate studies. We will accept GRE scores up to five (5) years old. If you already have a graduate degree, we still require results from a GRE test taken in the past five (5) years. There are no exceptions to this rule.
No -- dual degree applicants ONLY may use the LSAT (JD/MS) or GMAT (MBA/MS). You must give the law or business school permission to copy us on your test scores. If we do not receive your scores prior to the December 21 deadline, your application will not be complete.
What are the GRE codes for CU Boulder and for the Environmental Studies Graduate Program?
CU Boulder's GRE code is R 4841. If the GRE test was taken previously, you can request ETS to send the results. GRE scores are generally valid for five (5) years.
How many transcripts do I need to send?
For U.S. transcripts, request one official copy of your transcript from each college or university you have attended be sent to the appropriate address by the appropriate deadline:
International Applicants: Office of Admissions/International, University of Colorado Boulder, 3100 Marine Street – 65 UCB, BLDG RL3 Suite A122, Boulder, CO 80303-1058 USA
Domestic Applicants: Graduate Admissions, University of Colorado Boulder, 553 UCB, Boulder, CO 80309-0553.
Express/overnight mail: Graduate Admissions, University of Colorado Boulder, 3100 Marine Street, Building RL3, Suite A122, Boulder, CO 80303-1058
While credits from one institution may appear on the transcript of a second institution, official transcripts must be submitted from each institution, regardless of the length of attendance, and whether or not courses were completed. Official transcripts exhibit the official seal and signature of the registrar. Transcripts that are marked student copy, or unofficial are not accepted as official and cannot be used in the admission decision.
Failure to list and submit official transcripts from all institutions will result in processing delays and could result in refusal and/or dismissal.
You may request transcripts from your previous schools at any time. It is not necessary to complete your University of Colorado online application before requesting them.
It is recommended that domestic applicants with transcripts from international institutions allow additional time for evaluation and processing of these credentials by submitting the application 4-6 weeks before the posted deadline.
Is there a format for letters of recommendation?
There is no particular format for the letters. Three letters of recommendation are required. Online submission as part of the application is strongly preferred. Once you begin your on-line application, you will be prompted to enter e-mail addresses for your recommenders, and after you submit your application, they will receive instructions about uploading their letters. If you must use a paper letter, print out the form from the recommendation section of the online application and send it to the person writing the letter. Have each person submitting a paper recommendation forward the form and letter to the appropriate address by the appropriate deadline:
Office of Admissions, University of Colorado at Boulder, Regent Administrative Center 125, 65 UCB, Boulder, CO 80309-0065 U.S.A
Graduate Admissions, University of Colorado Boulder, 553 UCB, Boulder, CO 80309-0553.
Graduate Admissions, University of Colorado Boulder, 3100 Marine Street, Building RL3, Suite A122, Boulder, CO 80303-1058
What should be in my personal statement?
The personal statement portion of your application is your opportunity to communicate with the admissions committee directly. An ideal personal statement is one to two pages double spaced, and contains information on your relevant experience (including research), types of courses and projects that you'd like to pursue as a graduate student, and ultimate career plans. An important element is your description of why the Environmental Studies Program at CU-Boulder is a good fit for you and your interests. Values and Theory applicants are strong encouraged to include a writing sample along with the personal statement.
Do I need to have an advisor before I apply?
Determining a potential advisor is not required at the time of application, but it is helpful if you know of someone whose research interests may be a good match with yours. You should list these faculty on your ENVS Supplemental Form. Advisors are assigned after admission. Most faculty members list research interests online, either in departmental profiles or personal web pages. A survey of recent academic publications in your area of interest may also yield useful information. Please see the faculty and associate faculty pages for more information.
Email is the best way to initiate contact with faculty members. Please note that faculty receive numerous queries from prospective graduate students, so it helps to prepare your email carefully and use correct grammar and spelling. You may want to include a few sentences about your research or professional interests, your undergraduate institution and GPA, your GRE scores and your c.v. or resume.
Are there any prerequisites for admission?
Each applicant must have an undergraduate degree. Requirements for admission to the MS and PhD programs in the Environmental Studies Program include an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 and completion of the general GRE test. International students must take the TOEFL test. The GRE test is required with a recommended minimum score of 50% or above.
There are no general undergraduate course requirements, but some courses in certain elective cluster options may have requirements.
It is not necessary to have an undergraduate degree in environmental studies to pursue an advanced degree. People come to the program from a variety of backgrounds. The importance is in the match between undergraduate and graduate study.
Are there on-line classes or distance learning classes?
Does the department admit students for the spring semester?
No, the only admittance is for the fall semester; we do not have rolling admissions. There are no exceptions to this rule.
How important are GRE scores (or my GPA)?
The Environmental Studies Graduate Program requires that the applicant have taken the general GRE test and have an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0. The recommended minimum score on the GRE exam is 50th percentile or above. Letters of recommendation and student statements of interest are important considerations in the admission process. Students are admitted on the basis of a holistic evaluation of their applications with an eye toward best fit with the CU ENVS program, faculty and research interests, as well as likely success in graduate studies. Therefore, it is not possible to give any sort of advance estimate of the likelihood of admission based upon test scores or other data.
Who should I ask for letters of recommendation?
It is important that those recommending you evaluate your competence and potential as a graduate student. If you have been out of school for awhile, consider people for whom you have conducted research and/or written reports. Do you work with anyone who has an advanced degree? They would have experience in grad school and might be able to say how you would fare. It is fine to include one or two professional references that comment primarily upon your abilities and/or accomplishments, along with one that directly comments upon likely success in grad school.
Does it help my application to visit campus?
You are welcome to schedule a campus visit if you wish. It does not directly affect the decisions of the graduate admissions committee but may allow you to get a feel for the program and make personal contacts. We do not coordinate appointments with current graduate students or faculty. Most are reachable by email or phone through the contact information on our website.
Our administrative office is quite small, as faculty are housed in their home departments scattered throughout the university. There are no ENVS faculty offices in the ENVS office. An ENVS staff member is available most days to meet with you in person or by phone (email is preferred for most questions), but you should make an appointment in advance if you would like a on-site visit.
Information about scheduling campus tours and other helpful tips for prospective University of Colorado students is available online.
How do I apply for a dual degree?
Dual degrees are available in law and business. Students must apply to and meet the application requirements for each program separately. A separate application, including personal statement and fee, must be submitted to the environmental studies program. We will accept copies of LSAT/GMAT scores and transcripts from law or business applications. Applicants must give the law or business school permission to send copies of these supporting materials to ENVS.
Applicants have the option to use copies of letters from their law/business applications or submit different letters that address specific environmental studies interests. It is important that those recommending you evaluate your competence and potential as an environmental studies graduate student.
Each program (business/law and ENVS) makes independent admissions decisions. If you wish to be considered for the ENVS program even if you are not admitted to the other school, please make that very clear in your personal statement. It is possible to be admitted only to ENVS as a dual degree applicant, but it has not yet happened.
How do I apply to be a Teaching Assistant or Research Assistant?
The ENVS Graduate Program is strongly committed to providing a TA experience for admitted PhD students for a year. Occasionally, individual faculty members have research projects with funding for a research assistant. That sort of opportunity generally requires a close match between the student's skill set and the research undertaken. These funding decisions are made by the admissions committee as part of the application process. MS students are generally not funded but frequently there are opportunities in other campus departments for TA positions, depending upon the student's undergraduate background.
Can I transfer credits to the program?
Yes, you can transfer a maximum of nine (9) graduate credits from another institution (special rules apply) to a Master’s degree, or 21 graduate credits to a Ph.D. Details are on the Graduate School website. This is a university policy. ENVS can not grant exceptions to this rule.
What advanced degree options are available in environmental studies?
The dual degrees with law and business are available only at the graduate level. Both the JD and MBA may be paired with an MS Environmental Studies. The JD may also be pursued with a PhD in Environmental Studies. It is necessary to be admitted independently to each program. Each program (business/law and ENVS) makes independent admissions decisions. If you wish to be considered for the ENVS program even if you are not admitted to the other school, please make that very clear in your personal statement. It is possible to be admitted only to ENVS as a dual degree applicant, but it has not yet happened.
The Certificate in Environmental Policy is designed to complement graduate studies in areas other than Environmental Studies, such as political science or journalism. Other graduate-level certificates commonly pursued by environmental studies students are in Hydrologic Sciences and Science and Technology Policy. You must already be admitted to a CU graduate program to pursue any of the certificates.
What is the tuition?
Please see the bursar's webpage for current information.
Is there a job placement program?
No. Job prospects for students with advanced degrees in environmental studies vary widely, based in part upon each student's prior educational and/or work experience, his/her program of study within environmental studies, any internships or research projects undertaken and individual career goals. Alumni are listed on our web page and their current employment is listed where known. A wide range of career Information is available on the University of Colorado’s Career Services webpage.
Can I receive academic credit for my professional experience?
No. This is a university decision, not one made by individual departments. The wording from the CU catalog is below.
Transfer Course Work Not Accepted by the University
The following course work will not transfer and will not count toward a degree at Boulder:
- courses identified by CU-Boulder as remedial, i.e., necessary to correct academic deficiencies, such as remedial English, mathematics, science, and developmental reading;
- vocational-technical courses that are offered at two-year and proprietary institutions (exceptions may be granted only by the CU-Boulder dean responsible for the student's curriculum - when exceptions appear to be warranted, appropriate department heads make recommendations to their respective deans regarding credit for such courses);
- courses in religion that constitute specialized religious training or that are doctrinal in nature;
- credits earned for work experience or through a cooperative education program;
- credits earned in physical education activity courses;
- work/life experience; and
- courses or programs identified as college orientation.
International Students should be aware that the application deadline is earlier than domestic applicants to allow for the extra time needed to evaluate transcripts from non-U.S. universities. The deadline for Environmental Studies is December 1. Additional information is available at the CU International Prospective Students website.
I am an international student, where do I send transcripts?
The point of contact for international students is the International Admissions office in every aspect concerning the application itself, paper work and financial matters. International applications should NOT be sent to our department but directly to the International Admissions Team for review by December 1. Missing this deadline could mean that your application is not processed in time to be reviewed by the ENVS graduate committee. For more information, contact the International Admission Team.
Is the TOEFL test required?
Yes, unless you fit one of two exemptions: 1. your native language is English, or 2. you have completed at least one year of full-time study at a U.S. institution, or at an institution in a country where English is the native language, at the time you apply, and within two years from your desired admission term.
Environmental Studies TOEFL requirements are available on the CU International Prospective Students web site.
How is my work at a non-U.S. institution evaluated?
In general, the University of Colorado at Boulder looks for a four year bachelor degree or equivalent after 12 years of primary/secondary school. In other words, we look for a total of 16 years of education that builds on the curriculum from year to year (not just any 16 years of education), and within the same country. Many of the Bologna compliant three-year degrees now build on 12 (occasionally fewer) years of primary/secondary school. The International Admissions Team at CU-Boulder does not routinely consider these to be equivalent to a US four year bachelor degree.
How many years does it take to get a graduate degree?
Most MS students finish in two years. The maximum time allowed is four years. A Ph.D. must be completed in six years, although it is possible (but not encouraged) to apply for an extension of time.
Can an ENVS graduate student be part-time?
We only admit full time students to the program. The university considers a graduate student taking 5 credits to be full-time.
Are there evening classes?
The majority of ENVS classes are held during the day.
How many course work hours are required for a degree?
Master’s Degree: The requirement for the master’s degree is 36 credit hours. A student may complete a Plan I - thesis option (30 course credits plus 6 thesis credits), or a Plan II - course work plus internship option. A maximum of 6 credit hours may be completed at the 3000 or 4000 level at the discretion of the academic department.
Independent study course work cannot exceed 25 percent of the course work required for the master’s degree.
Doctoral Degree: The current requirement for the Ph.D. degree in Environmental Studies is 42 credit hours of course work. The requirement for students matriculating in Fall 2012 or later is 32 hours of course credit. Those students pursuing the Ph.D. shall complete a minimum of 30 credit hours of dissertation work beyond the minimum course work requirement.
How many credits do I need to take per semester in order to be considered a full time graduate student?
- one who is carrying a minimum of 5 credits of graduate level course work
- 8 credits of combined undergraduate and graduate course work
- at least 1 master’s thesis hour
- at least 1 hour of “Master’s Candidate for Degree”
- one who is carrying a minimum of 5 credits of graduate level course work prior to passing the comprehensive exam
- 8 credits of combined undergraduate and graduate course work prior to passing the prospectus defense
- at least one doctoral dissertation credit prior to passing the prospectus defense
- a minimum of 5 dissertation hours after passing the prospectus defense
Are there any required courses?
Yes, see the new curriculum.
May I take ENVS classes without being admitted to the graduate program?
You may take classes, but admitted students have priority. MS students may transfer only nine (9) credits taken outside the program. PhD students may transfer up to 21 credits. There are no exceptions to these rules. Please see the Continuing Education website for additional information.
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