Admissions & Academics


Ready to apply? Here are the steps:

  1. Check the graduate school requirements and the program specific requirements to be submitted with your application
  2. Complete your online application through Apply Nevada.
    In Apply Nevada, on the Declaration of Major page, select Environmental Sciences from the drop-down menu.


The deadline to apply for the fall semester is March 1st.

The deadline to apply for the spring semester is November 1st.

Finding a Research Adviser

During the admissions process, each prospective student must be matched with an Environmental Sciences faculty adviser. To begin this process, you are encouraged to review our faculty's profile pages and email the faculty members you are interested in working for.

You’ll want to find a faculty member who shares your scientific interests and determine if the match between you and your adviser will make a good partnership. There are multiple ways to search our faculty members’ research areas through our faculty page. You’ll also want to learn about possible funding options available through your adviser.

Contact our program director for additional assistance.


Course & Credit Requirements

Upon admission to the Environmental Sciences Graduate 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 M.S. student's program of study must include at least 30 credits. M.S. students must have 18 700-level credits (6 of which are the thesis) and 12 600-level credits to complete the program.

The Ph.D. student's program of study must include at least 72 credits. 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 may be applied toward the doctoral degree.

All students must have one graduate course in statistics and attend the NRES 790 Environmental Sciences seminar (three credits for the M.S., 4 credits for the Ph.D.). All students must take four of the ten core courses listed below, unless a student’s adviser and committee members recommend substitutions that correspond with a specific research focus.

Course NumberCourse TitleCourse Credits

ATM 612

Introduction to Air Pollution


BIOL 620

Aquatic Ecology


CEE 658

Introduction to Environmental Chemistry


NRES 630

Analysis of Environmental Contaminants


NRES 632

Environmental Toxicology


NRES 682

Small Watershed Hydrology


NRES 746

Advanced Analysis Methods in Natural Resources

1 to 3

NRES 765

Biogeochemical Cycles


PUBH 673



NUTR 728

Food and Nutritional Toxicology


Additional Course Requirements

In addition to the core courses listed above, all students must take:

Course NumberCourse TitleCourse Credits

NRES 790


3 to 4

### 797

Thesis (MS)


### 799

Dissertation (Ph.D.)


Elective Courses

Each student's program of study is based on their chosen disciplinary track. Elective courses may be selected from a variety of departments, including but not limited to:

  • Atmospheric Sciences (ATMS)
  • Biochemistry (BCH)
  • Chemistry (CHEM)
  • Civil Engineering (CE)
  • Environmental Resource Science (ERS)
  • Nutrition (NUTR)

Exams for Doctoral Degree Path

As a step in the Ph.D. degree timeline, students will apply for doctoral candidacy. There are two exams required to move forward with this designation.

Written Examination

The written examination is a general examination on environmental science and health. A student’s committee develops the written questions, which are in the general area of the student’s courses and program. The examination has five to seven 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 eight hour period and proctored by the student’s committee chair. It will be a closed book exam.

Examples of the Structure of the Written Exam

  • 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 a 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.

Your Graduate Committee

Each student must form a graduate committee that will approve their thesis or dissertation.

Master’s Degree Committee

A master’s degree committee is made-up of a minimum of three members. The major professor (chair) and one other member must be from the program. The Graduate School representative must be from outside of the program. The Graduate School representative does not have to be familiar with what the student is studying. All committee members must be listed as graduate faculty.

Doctoral Degree Committee

A doctoral degree committee is made-up of a minimum of five members. 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, along with our program director, supervise the student's course of study and examinations.

All committee members must be listed as graduate faculty. 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 dean of the Graduate School.