University of Montana Catalog 2023-2024

Environmental Studies M.S.

Master of Science - Environmental Studies


Course Requirements13
Additional Course Work20-23
Total Hours33-36

Degree Specific Credits:

  • Thesis: 33 semester hours              
  • Professional Paper: 33 semester hours                        
  • Portfolio: 36 hours

Required Cumulative GPA: 3.0


  • The M.S. in Environmental Studies is flexible; students, with their academic advisors, design their own study programs by choosing from courses within Environmental Studies and throughout the University.
  • An approved natural systems ecology is required if a student has not taken a biologically-grounded ecology course(s) as an undergraduate equivalent to ENSC 360.

Thesis Option

Development of a substantive, original scholarly work that includes either the collection and analysis of data to answer a research question (as in original field research in the natural sciences or survey research in the social sciences) or the production of an innovative, interpretive or critical work (as in the humanities or fine arts). Upon completion of the thesis, students are given a one-hour oral examination.

Professional Paper Option

Development of a substantive report directed to a specific audience that demonstrates the student's ability to participate in professional discourse. Upon completion of the professional paper, students are given a one-hour oral examination.

Portfolio Option

In consultation with an Environmental Studies advisor, students select courses, internship experience(s) and portfolio project(s) directed toward specific career goals. Portfolios include three discrete elements, one of which is an internship or work experience, and demonstrated coherence between these pieces, the student's course of study, and the student's goals. Upon completion of the portfolio, students are given a one-hour oral examination that focuses upon the integrity of each portfolio piece and coherence between the pieces.


Environmental Studies graduate students who do either a thesis or a professional paper must register for at least one credit of ENST 599/ENSC 599 or ENST 597, respectively, in the semester during which they defend.  The minimum number of credits required for graduation with a thesis or professional paper is 33.

Portfolio-option students must take a total of 36 credits, but there are no semester specific credit requirements nor any portfolio credits per se. Their only requirement, which applies to all students, is that they must abide by the continuous registration rule of the Graduate School, registering for at least three credits each semester.

The UM Graduate Student Advising Guidelines, designed to help both students and faculty and to offer best advising practice resources, are available for review and reference at Graduate Student Advising Guidelines.

Course Requirements

Students are required to take at least one 3-credit class from each of four distributional area requirements (our core areas of study): Scientific Approaches, Policy Approaches, Thought & Writing, and Engagement. Additional courses meeting the distribution requirements are offered periodically – see the EVST website for “Current Areas Offerings”.

Complete the following course:
ENST 594Graduate Seminar1
Complete one of the following Scientific Approaches courses:3
Scientific Approaches to Environmental Problems
Environmental Health of Indigenous Peoples
Watershed Conservation
Research Methods for Social Change
Complete one of the following Policy Approaches courses:3
Environmental Issues of Indigenous Peoples
The Politics of Food
Graduate Seminar
Special Topics
Complete one of the following Thought and Writing courses:3
Literature of Nature Writing
The Greening of Religion
Ethics & Restoration
Environmental Writing
Complete one of the following Engagement courses:3
The Politics of Food
Environmental Justice Issues and Solutions
Total Hours13

Minimum Required Grade: C