Environmental Science, Policy, & Management

Graduate Degrees: Ph.D.

Apply for Admission: December 1, 2016


The Environmental Science, Policy, and Management (ESPM) Graduate Program provides a wealth of opportunities for students interested in careers in academia, government, and non-governmental agencies worldwide. Our faculty are internationally recognized, and ESPM is the campus hub for connections to other renowned Berkeley programs in the environment such as the Energy and Resources Group, Agricultural and Resource Economics, the Goldman School of Public Policy, Integrative Biology, Berkeley Natural History Museums, and Berkeley Law. The Berkeley campus maintains close ties to world-class research facilities at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, U.S. Geological Survey, California Academy of Sciences, Stanford University, and many other institutions. Students admitted to our program work with their research mentor to select courses, individualize their training, and conduct research projects that meet their interests and goals. Our core graduate courses provide an introduction to the wide breadth and deep expertise of research on the environment within our department and help students apply for funding opportunities early in their graduate program.

The PhD program is the main graduate program in ESPM for students entering with or without previous masters degrees, though we also offer limited numbers of MS degrees in our specialized Master of Range Management and Master of Forestry programs. The goal of the program is to provide both a strong disciplinary education and broadly based experience in cross-disciplinary communication and problem solving. To achieve this, the program leading to the PhD in environmental science, policy, and management requires that students complete three core courses and take additional coursework in the following three areas: area of specialization, research skills, and experiential breadth.

Disciplinary Emphasis

The disciplinary emphasis is the broadest academic area encompassing the student's interests. The three disciplinary emphases within the department are ecosystem sciences, organisms & environment, and society & environment. A student pursuing a strongly interdisciplinary program may study more than one of these disciplines in depth. Specific coursework within each field will be chosen by the guiding committee in conjunction with the student and approved by the graduate mentor. 

Area of Specialization

The area of specialization is a narrower field within the context of the disciplinary emphasis. Some examples of these areas are: microbial community ecology, ecosystem function, arthropod population and community ecology, biological control of arthropods, arthropod biodiversity science, American environmental history and policy, international forest management, biogeochemistry, Mediterranean grassland ecosystems, remote sensing, and forest management, to name a few.


Prospective graduate students are encouraged to contact directly a potential PhD  mentor prior to the application deadline and if possible, to visit the campus, department, and graduate program. As part of their application, each student will be asked to identify one of the three disciplinary emphases (ecosystem sciences, organisms & environment, and society & environment) most closely associated with her/his interests. If you have questions about which emphasis to choose, please ask your prospective mentor. It is not uncommon for students in ESPM to be co-mentored by two professors, often with different disciplinary emphases. The area of specialization is determined after entry into the program, in consultation with the guiding committee and PhD mentor.

Source: Berkeley Academic Guide

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