The mission of the Master of Science program in Environmental Science is to provide a rich and rewarding setting in which students and faculty can develop and communicate innovative and practical solutions to present and future environmental challenges, with a focus on urban and coastal issues.
Fast Track Environmental Science BS to Environmental Science MS and Fast Track Geology BS to Environmental Science MS
The university allows the opportunity for high-achieving undergraduate students to count a select number of graduate credits toward their undergraduate degree and thereby obtain a graduate degree at an accelerated pace. Students interested in the Fast Tracks in Environmental Science should see the undergraduate catalog.
Student Learning Outcomes
- Possess a broad understanding of environmental science.
- Possess enhanced knowledge of a specific area of environmental science, including relevant scientific literature, related to their thesis or professional paper.
- Have the ability to accurately describe and assess environmental research both orally and in writing.
Students will choose between thesis and professional (non-thesis) options. The professional option is designed for students who desire a greater breadth of understanding of environmental science than the thesis option provides. The curriculum will specially benefit individuals employed in scientific or technical fields who seek advancement or additional training to enhance their knowledge and skills. Professional option students must complete a professional research project with a written final report and seminar. The thesis option requires a thesis based upon original research, supported by the scientific literature, and analyzed statistically, when appropriate. The thesis master’s degree will allow a person to pursue advanced graduate study, or to obtain employment in most areas requiring a detailed knowledge of a specific aspect of environmental science.
Students following either option will be required to take a core of interdisciplinary courses to provide a broad background, and to select elective courses in consultation with their advisory committee to provide in-depth education in a particular area of emphasis related to environmental science. The elective courses may derive from one science discipline but they will often be interdisciplinary.
Applicants must comply with university procedures for admission to the degree program. Incomplete applications will not be considered. Persons seeking admission to the MS Program in Environmental Science should first contact the program faculty and identify a faculty member willing to serve as the graduate advisor. Applicants will not be admitted to the program without a graduate advisor. Consult the Admissions section of this catalog for university requirements for admission. In addition to the documents required by the Office of Recruitment and Admissions, applicants must submit GRE general test scores, an essay of at least 300 words describing their educational and career interests, goals, and challenges, and three letters of evaluation from persons knowledgeable about their potential for success in graduate studies. Applicants may optionally submit other relevant materials, e.g., copies of published works or reports of past scientific research. All materials submitted will be considered. Applicants who already hold an earned graduate degree from a regionally accredited university need not submit GRE scores. The applicant will be notified by letter of acceptance or rejection.
Students accepted to the degree program in environmental science are expected to enter the program with undergraduate degrees in science or substantial undergraduate or graduate science background. Students accepted to the degree program with insufficient background in science, computer science, mathematics, or communication skills will be required to take undergraduate or graduate prerequisite courses prescribed by their advisory committees. These courses may or may not apply towards the total required for the master’s degree.
Teaching assistant positions are available to graduate students admitted as degree-seeking students. The completed Teaching Assistant Application and letters of recommendation should be submitted to the address indicated on the application. The deadline for submitting applications is February 1 for the following academic year.
Each student accepted to the Master of Science in Environmental Science degree program must complete a minimum of 36 semester hours under either the thesis or professional (non-thesis) options.
A graduate student who has met with his or her advisory committee, formulated a degree plan with signature approval from the graduate committee, and has the plan on file is considered a degree candidate. A student must have advanced to degree candidacy by the end of the second full semester of graduate study following admission to the program. A student’s advisory committee must approve any subsequent changes to the degree plan. A change from thesis to professional option or vice versa requires that the student file a new degree plan as approved by the advisory committee.
All students must successfully complete at least six semester hours per academic year to remain in the program. Students should enroll in ESCI 6101 - Environmental Research Seminar as early as possible during their graduate course of study. All students must pass a final oral exam, to be administered by their advisory committee, during their last semester before graduation.
A. Thesis Option (36 sem. hrs.) *
B. Professional (Non-Thesis) Option (36 sem. hrs.) *
Professional option students must write a professional paper and present a seminar based on work completed in ESCI 5397 - Directed Research . The paper and seminar will be on a topic approved by the student’s advisory committee and will demonstrate the student’s ability in organization, data collecting, scientific writing, and oral presentation.
* Core requirements may be waived if a student can demonstrate equivalent competencies in that area.
C. Emphasis Areas, Tracks, and Designated Electives
A student will define an emphasis area or track for his or her graduate studies with assistance from the graduate advisor and advisory committee. Marine Policy and Human Dimensions is one possible track; another is Coastal and Marine System Science. These are described in further detail below. The emphasis area is a unique word or phrase which best expresses the student’s intended focus of graduate studies within the broad field of environmental science. Suggested emphasis areas (not an exclusive list) include: bioremediation, coastal ecosystems, coastal geomorphology, conservation, contaminants, ecotoxicology, environmental monitoring, environmental regulations, fisheries, geospatial sciences and remote sensing applications, and hydrogeology. Other emphasis areas are possible as approved by a student’s graduate committee. The emphasis area is stated on the degree plan. Students must demonstrate that the selection of electives produces a coherent graduate program focused around the emphasis area. Designated electives must receive signature approval from a student’s advisory committee. Electives from the natural sciences, computer science, geographic information science, mathematics, political science, public administration, business law, or other areas may be approved.
C-1. Marine Policy and Human Dimensions Track.
Students with an interest in studying the application of environmental science to ocean/coastal policy may choose the Marine Policy and Human Dimensions track. The track provides an understanding of the physical and biological coastal environment and its interaction with human behaviors and policies. This transdisciplinary program is designed to prepare students to work with a wide variety of marine and coastal constituencies to translate sound environmental science to public policy. Suggested electives include:
C-2. Coastal and Marine System Science Track.
This track is appropriate for students who may wish to apply selected Coastal and Marine System Science courses to a MS degree in Environmental Science, as approved by the student’s graduate committee.
D. Thesis and Professional Paper Format and Style
The thesis or professional paper must be prepared in a standard format and style dictated by the advisory committee. The format and style requirements will specify paper size, paper quality, margins, pagination, etc. Thesis formatting and submission requirements have changed. Please visit the following link for further information: http://gradschool.tamucc.edu/current_students/doctoral_dissertation.html.
Upon approval by a student’s advisory committee, a copy of the thesis will be sent to the Office of the Dean of the College of Science and Engineering. At the time of successful completion of the oral exam, committee members will sign the thesis and return it to the Dean of the College of Science and Engineering for final approval and signature. All submitted copies of the thesis must be bound in prescribed buckram. The student must pay the fee for this service.
E. Grades of In Progress (IP) for Thesis or Directed Research
The following courses are eligible for awarding a permanent mark of In Progress (IP) if the work is not completed by the end of the semester in which a student has enrolled in the course: ESCI 5392 - Thesis I: Thesis Proposal , ESCI 5393 - Thesis II: Thesis Research , ESCI 5394 - Thesis III: Thesis Submission and ESCI 5397 - Directed Research . University rules stipulate that the student must register for the same course in the subsequent semester, paying the appropriate tuition and fees, to receive a letter grade for the course.
For thesis students, the student’s graduate committee must sign the completed Thesis Proposal before the student is awarded a letter grade for ESCI 5392 - Thesis I: Thesis Proposal . If the proposal is not signed and on file in the College of Science and Engineering(Dean’s Office) by the end of the semester, a permanent mark of IP will be awarded. The student will receive a permanent mark of IP for each semester of ESCI 5393 - Thesis II: Thesis Research until the student has presented a rough draft of the thesis. At that time the student’s graduate advisor will award a letter grade which reflects the overall quality of the thesis research and the draft. Finally, the student will receive a permanent mark of IP for each semester of ESCI 5394 - Thesis III: Thesis Submission until the student has defended the thesis and the graduate committee has approved and signed the final thesis manuscript. At that time the student’s graduate advisor will award a letter grade which reflects the overall quality of the thesis defense and the manuscript itself. Thesis students who receive marks of IP must continuously enroll for ESCI 5392 - Thesis I: Thesis Proposal , ESCI 5393 - Thesis II: Thesis Research , or ESCI 5394 - Thesis III: Thesis Submission in order to receive letter grades for these hours. Any student receiving a mark of IP for ESCI 5392 - Thesis I: Thesis Proposal , ESCI 5393 - Thesis II: Thesis Research , or ESCI 5394 - Thesis III: Thesis Submission will have to enroll in more than six hours of ESCI 5392 - Thesis I: Thesis Proposal /ESCI 5393 - Thesis II: Thesis Research /ESCI 5394 - Thesis III: Thesis Submission in total, to earn the requisite hours of thesis credit with an assigned letter grade.
For non-thesis students, the student must have successfully defended the professional project, the student’s graduate committee must have accepted the professional paper, and a final copy must be on file in the College of Science and Engineering (Dean’s Office) by the end of the semester before the student is awarded a letter grade for ESCI 5397 - Directed Research . The letter grade will reflect the overall quality of the professional project research and the final professional paper. Otherwise the student will receive a permanent mark of IP and must sign up again for ESCI 5397 - Directed Research in a subsequent semester to receive a letter grade for this work.
F. Final Oral Exam
Each student must pass a final oral exam during the last semester before graduation, to be administered by the student’s advisory committee. The oral exam will cover topics related to (1) all graduate coursework undertaken for the environmental science program, (2) a student’s emphasis area (including the thesis or directed research project), and (3) broad concepts of environmental science, including a familiarity with the literature and appropriate professional societies. The student is responsible for scheduling the exam with the faculty involved. A student who fails the final oral exam may repeat it once, but only after an interval of four months or more. If a student fails the second oral examination, he or she will be terminated from the program.
For Additional Information
General prerequisite for 5000- and 6000-level courses: graduate standing. Senior undergraduates in their last semester or summer session of undergraduate work may take graduate-level courses provided that they have a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or better, and that written approval is obtained from the Dean of the college in which the work is offered. Weekly lecture and laboratory hours associated with each course are designated by (lecture:lab) following the semester hours. The indicated laboratory hours are laboratory instructional time. In most cases, additional laboratory time will be required to complete assigned work.
Graduate courses can be found in the Course Descriptions section of the catalog.