Some of the careers by those who have a doctorate in environmental science include a university professor, environmental consultant, government remediation specialize, food systems resilience researcher, environmental journalist or environmental forensics researcher. Selected NEHSPAC graduate programs in the U.S. According to the National Environmental Health Science and Protection Accreditation Council, there are only 10 graduate-level Environmental Science Programs at U.S. universities. The National Environmental Health Science and Protection Accreditation Council contains specific credentials for undergraduate and graduate level environmental programs (source).
Featured online environmental or sustainability programs:
School Level Program Admissions

Johns Hopkins’ Advanced Academic Programs

Master Multiple Master's Environmental Programs Website

Virgina Wesleyan University

Bachelor Bachelor of Arts in Sustainability Management Website

East Central University

Master Master of Science in Water Resource Policy and Management Website

Ph.D / Doctorate Degrees in Environmental Science

bachelors-degreesA person who earns a PhD either does so for academic enrichment or for career advancement opportunities.

A doctorate is the highest level of degree that can be awarded to a student and demonstrates a mastery of a subject based on a thesis or dissertation that is the result of long, extensive research in the chosen field. If you’re considering a PhD in Environmental Science, it’s important to investigate the program, its requirements and its potential advantages in order to decide whether it would be right for you.

Why a PhD in Environmental Science?

Having a PhD demonstrates a set of strong, proven skills and extensive experience in both the public and private sectors to potential employers. Many students who select a PhD in Environmental Science aim to move on to a position in environmental education, however depending on your own individual interests and career, a PhD can open the door to many paths in environmental law, social justice or environmental health.

Some of the careers by those who have a doctorate in environmental science include a university professor, environmental consultant, government remediation specialize, food systems resilience researcher, environmental journalist or environmental forensics researcher.

The career that a PhD leads to will be influenced by your own interests and experience, but if you are someone who wants to empower themselves through the intensive development of investigative, analytical, written and verbal skills through research, a doctorate program will provide you with the instruction and guidance you need to prepare yourself for the real world and gain the background you’ll need to understand current issues and do something about them.

Earning an Environmental Science PhD

Admission Requirements

The admissions requirements to a university in order to study for a PhD usually correspond with the criteria required to pursue a master’s degree. Some may require a minimum GPA of 3.0 and at least a 50th percentile ranking across all boards of GRE examinations.

If you haven’t obtained a master’s, you could consider Columbia University, which requires students have earned a bachelor’s and taken at least one year of chemistry, calculus and physics in college and passed with a B or higher. Their program will allow you to earn your MA along the way, and you can also be admitted with deficiencies in some of the required areas of admission, though you will have to work hard to correct them in order to be in accordance with the Department’s Entrance Deficiency and Procedures.

The University of Santa Cruz in California also offers a direct bachelor’s to doctorate degree program.


Whether you take on the traditional PhD program study such as the one offered at the University of Colorado at Boulder or a school with a more modernized approach, students earning a PhD are generally required to compose a research proposal, complete a general exam and conduct research as well as present dissertations and defend their thesis before a panel of academic supervisors.

There are several stages to earning a PhD. The first is composed of taking courses in contemporary issues and their selected concentration, such as sustainability, microbiology, public policy and others. The second stage is defined by general exam preparation and teaching or serving as a research assistant. The final stage involves the preparation and presentation of the research project that has been the focal point of their entire doctorate.

PhD Degree Costs

Master’s and doctorate programs are always more expensive than undergraduate degrees, though the actual price will vary among institutions. The average cost of a PhD in the United States is approximately $50,000 to $150,000, though students can receive funding through scholarships, federal aid and in some cases, financing through an employer. There are also plenty of PhD options online that may be more affordable, given that you won’t need to relocate or pay transportation costs to attend classes.

Finding an Environmental Science Doctorate Program

The U.S. News & World Report lists its choices of the top graduate degree programs in the country and can be viewed by zip code so it’s easier to locate one near you or in your desired location.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science is another wonderful resource that offers their own detailed guide to Graduate Education in Science, Engineering and Public Policy that is designed to help potential students find an institution and program that is best suited to their interests.

Choosing the right graduate school is a long process that requires thorough consideration and dedication, which will only increase once you’re accepted. The coursework for a doctorate program is time-consuming and strenuous at times, but earning your PhD in Environmental Science is a way to expand upon your current knowledge, revitalize your passion for the field and acquire new skills that will help you in future professional endeavors while also strengthening your best assets and learning to exercise them in new ways.