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Environmental Science and Policy (ESP) Graduate Program


Please contact the Graduate Director or Graduate Program Specialist with any questions regarding the Environmental Science & Policy Master's or Doctoral Degree Program.

Graduate Program Contacts

Graduate Director
Dr. Philip Van Beynen
Office: NES 313
Phone: 813/974-3026
Email: vanbeyne@usf.edu
Graduate Program Specialist

Office: NES 206
Phone: 813/974-9854
Email: geograd@usf.edu

M.S. Degree in Environmental Science & Policy

The Master of Science in Environmental Science and Policy is designed to provide students the discipline-specific knowledge and transferable skills to understand the socio-cultural and political context in which environmental problems are created and ameliorated, as well as the scientific expertise to explore and analyze the consequences of ongoing environmental change. Students can specialize in wetlands and water, natural environments, climate and hazards, geographic information systems, or human-environment interaction. The program offers both thesis and professional tracks as courses of study.

Program Requirements

Required courses for the major
Course Descriptions

Please note that a degree planner for tracking degree progress can be printed by clicking on the "Degree Planner" icon on the top right of the Graduate Catalog entry.

Ph.D. Degree Track in Environmental Science & Policy

The PhD Degree in Environmental Science and Policy is an interdisciplinary program. Emphasis is placed on providing theoretical rigor and methodological skills enabling students to make significant and original research and policy contributions in an interdisciplinary environment. In addition, the degree has a very strong applied component emphasizing working on solutions to real-world environmental problems.

Program Requirements

Required courses for the major
Course Descriptions

Please note that a degree planner for tracking degree progress can be printed by clicking on the "Degree Planner" icon on the top right of the Graduate Catalog entry.

Program Areas of Emphasis

Many organizations, including the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, have recognized the need for expanding interdisciplinary research to handle real-world problems. The ESP Doctoral Program distinctly focuses on developing state-of-the-art researchers able to navigate in today’s complex world. We anticipate that our students will address many important local, regional, national, and global issues that require a cross-disciplinary perspective. To that end, a PhD Degree in ESP serves their respective disciplines by expanding opportunities for students interested in complex social and environmental problems. The degree currently has five particular areas of emphasis that reflect the strengths of existing faculty and key research needs. The five current areas of emphasis are:

  1. Economic, Social, and Planning Issues in the Urban Environment
  2. Karst Science and Climate Change
  3. Natural/Technological Hazards and Health
  4. Biogeography and Landscape Ecology
  5. Water Resources and Policy

The Economic, Social, and Planning Issues in the Urban Environment emphasis provides a framework for studying the economic and social issues associated with urbanization. As much of the world is transitioning from rural to urban societies, there are a number of research questions that are critical to the understanding of this process and the overall implications of development to human society.

The Karst Science and Climate Change emphasis provides a unique niche for the department. There are only a handful of departments in the world that offer Ph.D. level instruction in the area of karst science, although approximately 20 percent of the earth’s land surface is considered a karst landscape. Similarly, the study of climate change is important at both the regional and global level. This area of the proposed degree program has a high-tech, applied orientation through which an understanding of emerging problems related to such change is gained.

The Natural/Technological Hazards and Health emphasis encourages research on a wide array of issues such as vulnerability of populations to hazards and the impact of pollution on health. This type of research is increasingly important as our societies become more susceptible to the impacts of hazards due to population locations and economic conditions. Risk assessment and management for natural/technological hazard mitigation is a growing area of concentration.

The Biogeography and Landscape Ecology emphasis builds on strengths of faculty engaged in examining ecological research and public policy questions associated with the geography of plant and animal communities and the conservation of rare and endangered species. This area of research is increasingly important as development and urban growth increasingly place humans and human activities in conflict with the habitats and ranges of native animal and plant species in different regions of the world.

The Water Resources and Policy emphasis provides a concentration in the science and policy study of water quality and water supply. Research and teaching topics include developing new and innovative methods to detect and evaluate changes to water quality and availability resulting from urban systems and other human impacts; and assessing effectiveness of protection and control measures that have been implemented or proposed to prevent or reverse these impacts.

New areas of emphasis can also be created that reflect student needs and desires, and additional faculty interests. There are a wide variety of graduate courses in the areas of emphasis available in the School of Geosciences and approved coursework can also be completed in other departments.