Degree Requirements

Graduate Group in Environmental Policy and Management

M.S. Degree Requirements

Revised: 2009, 2012 and 2014, 2016

Graduate Council Approval:  pending

1) Admission requirements

Consideration of admission requires a bachelor’s degree, three letters of recommendation, official transcripts and GRE scores from within the past 10 years. TOEFL or IELTS scores are required for foreign students from non-English speaking countries. There is no expectation of students serving as Teaching Assistants.

Students will be enrolled as cohorts and no mid-year enrollment will be permitted. Students are required to have a minimum GPA of 3.0, or the international equivalent. Applicants are expected to have GRE minimum scores of 60% Quantitative, 60% Verbal and 50% Analytical Writing, although exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis.

Admitted students ideally have a scientific, engineering, or technical baccalaureate degree, including courses in introductory environmental sciences, calculus and statistics. Prior coursework in economics (intermediate microeconomics) is recommended, but not required.

1a) Prerequisites

Students without a prior degree in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math) field would be required to complete preparatory courses, or their equivalents, to demonstrate a fundamental scientific background appropriate for environmental policy.  This scientific training can be in any appropriate STEM discipline. Those with an undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies will be individually evaluated to ensure that they have a minimum of two quarters of introductory science equivalent (e.g., Introductory Biology, BIS 2A, BIS 2B) and two quarters of upper division STEM courses (e.g., EME 150 Mechanical Design, Introduction to Evolution EVE 100). Pre-requisite decisions will be made by the admissions committee at the time of application decision. There is no foreign language requirement for entry or successful completion of the program.

1b) Deficiencies

Since this is a two year program that begins in fall, no student will be admitted who will not be able to fulfill all deficiencies in the summer prior to the commencement of the program.

2) Program of study: MS Plan II only

This program is designed as a 2 year, coursework centered, terminal practice-oriented master’s degree. As a plan II Masters of Science, the degree requires 42 units of graduate (200 series) or upper division (100 series) courses. A minimum of 18 units will be graduate courses in the major field.  A comprehensive final exam is required for successful graduation. Neither research nor a thesis is required.

2a) Specific fields of emphasis

This program emphasizes the role of scientific and quantitative analysis in environmental policy, including both quantitative analysis of environmental problems and the application of science to environmental management and practice.

2b) Plans

Only Plan II (Comprehensive Examination) MS degree is offered. 

2c) Unit requirements

The proposed Master’s Degree in Environmental Policy and Management would be a program of full-time graduate study on the campus and requires 42 units to graduate. 

3) Course requirements – cores and electives (42 units)

The curriculum is designed to allow students to complete the degree in 2 academic years (6 quarters). A practice-oriented, mentored capstone practicum will be required for graduation (6 units, ENV 299).  Students may take additional electives beyond the minimum requirement.  If students follow the two year prescribed plan, they will be expected to participate in the Professional Development Seminar (ENV 297) in both years, bringing their unit total to a minimum of 45 units. The minimum unit requirement is 42 units under an accelerated model where students take all the required classwork in one year and opt to conduct their practicum during the summer rather than through an academic year.

3a) Core courses

ENV 200 A, B, C:  Analysis of Environmental Policy I, II, III (3 courses, one course each quarter – 4 units each) (cross-listing: ENV 200A/ECL 212A, ENV 200B/ECL 212B)

ENV 201: Environmental Law (Fall, 3 units)

ENV 202: Administration and Management (Fall, 4 units)

ENV 203A, B:  Policy Clinic (4 units, Fall Winter, Spring) (team taught by faculty core, focusing on the different thematic areas).

ENV 297: Professional Development Seminar (3 courses – 1 unit each) (focusing on professional development, linked to Policy Clinic ENV 201 in winter and spring quarters). Required each quarter.


Year 1
Fall Winter Spring
Analysis I (4) ENV 200A Analysis II (4) ENV 200B Analysis III (4) ENV 200C
Env. Admin. & Mngmnt (4) ENV 202 Quantitative Analysis or Elective (3) Quantitative Analysis or Elective (3)
Professional Development Seminar (1) 297 Professional Development Seminar (1) 297 Professional Development Seminar (1) 297
Elective opportunities Elective opportunities Elective opportunities
9 units + electives 8 units + electives 8 units + electives
Year 2
Fall Winter Spring
Environmental Law (3) ENV 201 Policy Clinic (4) ENV 203A Policy Clinic (4) ENV 203C
Practicum (2 units) Practicum (2 units) Practicum (2 units)
Professional Development Seminar (1) 297 Professional Development Seminar (1) 297 Professional Development Seminar (1) 297
Elective opportunities Elective opportunities Elective opportunities
6 units + electives 7 units + electives 7 units + electives
Accelerated option
Fall Winter Spring Summer and/or Fall
Analysis I (4) ENV 200A Analysis II (4) ENV 200B Analysis III (4) ENV 200C ENV 299. Practicum(6)
Environmental Law (3) ENV 201 Policy Clinic (4) ENV 203A Policy Clinic (4) ENV 203C  
Env. Admin. & Mngmnt (4) ENV 202 Quantitative Analysis or Elective (3) Quantitative Analysis or Elective (3)  
Professional Development Seminar (1) 297 Professional Development Seminar (1) 297 Professional Development Seminar (1) 297  
12 units 12units 12units 6 units

3b) Elective courses

The program requires one elective in quantitative analysis. Quantitative analysis can include statistics for non-statistics majors (e.g., STA 100, Applied Statistics for Biological Sciences); approaches to quantitative analysis (e.g., ANT 298, Statistical Rethinking); or non-statistical quantitative methods (e.g., ABT 181N, Concepts and Methods in GIS). One additional 3 unit elective is required. Additional electives are at student discretion. Electives allow students to develop a topical focus or specific policy competence for their program, related to their career interests and their practicum area. 

3c) Summary

This degree emphasizes experiential learning for students that carry a scientific background into the program. There are seven elements to the degree program: the core course (12 units; graded); quantitative methods (3 units; graded); law, management and administration requirements (7 units, graded); the policy clinic (8 units; graded); professional development seminar (3 units; S/U only), and elective (3 units) and a practicum (6 units, graded). The rationale for each is described below. This totals 33 units of program-specific, graded, graduate level units. There are an additional 3 to 6 units of S/U program-specific courses and 6 units of electives which may be either an upper division undergraduate or graduate level class.

3c.1) The ENV Core Course (ENV 200), running three quarters (12 units), will present the fundamentals of the policy process, including economic analysis of policy, the policy process, environmental law, environmental management, and environmental administration. This course will focus on teaching fundamental skills to occupy leadership positions within environmental agencies, NGOs and consulting firms.

3.c.2) The Policy Clinic (8 units) will be the focal opportunity for experiential learning that focuses on integrating a wide array of quantitative and technical tools on policy problems. The clinic will be problem-focused and interactive. The first quarter will focus on dividing the cohort into small groups and defining a group project. The group project will have a lead mentor and several supporting mentors. Each project will be required to analyze and report on the scientific and technical aspect of a large scale environmental problem. Environmental challenges will be described and analyzed on a local, national and global scale; however the group will select one particular scale for in-depth analysis. The clinic will begin by analyzing the potential for policy-relevant science; this being defined by the policies (a common set of practices guided by anything from NGO operating procedures to law) that dictate societal behavior, and identifies the individuals or groups that drive the policy process. The group will evaluate the state of scientific knowledge and identify inflection points for change (i.e., new knowledge that could change policy outcomes, changes in societal perception needed to change policies). Groups will then assess barriers to change in order to develop a synthetic assessment of potential for, and barriers to, better policy outcomes for society. Each Policy Clinic will include a suite of required elements, including an assessment of economics, problem administration, law, as well as a scientific and technical assessment.

3c.3) Working for agencies, politicians, NGOs or consulting firms requires an understanding of environmental law, which is the focus of a 3 unit course called Environmental Law. Working within this environment also requires business administration and people and project management. A 4 unit course, Administration and Management, focuses on the business and planning end of environmental policy. This 2-course combination will be modularized with different instructors to deliver specialized topics.

3c.4) The ENV program specializes in quantitative analysis of environmental problems (3 units). The quantitative analysis requirement will allow students to choose among a wide array of upper-division quantitative courses.

3c.5) The elective class (3 units) can take advantage of any number of upper division undergraduate or graduate classes and provide the opportunity for students to garner strength in an area of particular interest.

3c.6) The Professional Development Seminar (3-6 units) will bring a diverse array of leaders from agencies, the legislative branch, environmental NGOs and consulting firms to campus to discuss career opportunities and leading challenges within their professions. Each quarter will focus on a thematic topic (e.g., climate change, freshwater supply, fire management). Students will assist with developing themes, inviting, and hosting speakers so as to make this seminar part of professional development.

3c.7) The Practicum (6 units) will be a capstone experience for students to integrate and apply their coursework to a problem in a practical applied professional setting, and will provide students with experience in the professional field.  Practicum projects vary, but will typically involve an internship outside of UC Davis.

Most practicum projects are expected to be individual projects; however group projects with identifiable individual contributions are also possible.  Projects will be developed in consultation with one or more faculty members as Practicum Supervisors of each practicum project and an agency, NGO or consulting firm. The intent of the practicum is to contract with and fulfill a policy research/analysis need of a partnering agency, NGO or consulting firm. Program staff will work with students to develop practicum experiences, including contractual obligations with the partnering organization. Alternatively (e.g., students who are currently working for an agency, NGO or consulting firm), a student may propose a practicum project with a faculty mentor but without a direct agency, NGO or company lead. The practicum is intended to be an experiential exercise in professional development, and not a research project. In each case, students are expected to propose a practicum along with a professional development plan that states how the practicum is envisioned to further their individual career objectives. Upon completing the experience, students will submit a written report of their findings including what was accomplished and how the experience advanced their career goals. The report is reviewed and approved by the Practicum Supervisor(s) and finally the CEC.

The first academic year preparatory period for the practicum allows time to develop a contract with a coordinating partner (agency, NGO, consulting firm) that includes deliverables, and fees for services rendered. During this period, the student will find an appropriate faculty adviser and writes a Professional Development Plan.

4) Special requirements

The Policy Clinics will conclude with presentations to the program to which the public and stakeholders may be invited. These presentations will be evaluated by the Policy Clinic faculty lead who provides a report of student performance to the CEC as a component of the comprehensive examination.

5) Committees

5a) Admission committee

Following the application deadline, the admission committee will review applicants to assemble a cohort of students for the yearly program. The admission committee will consist of three graduate group faculty members and two external advisors (from agencies, NGOs, consulting firms). The external advisors’ input will be advisory, with the graduate faculty having the final say in admissions. However external advisors will be critical in helping steer the program based on industry demand of graduates and profiles of students likely to succeed along their described professional trajectories.

5b) Faculty Advising

Each student identifies one Faculty Adviser to mentor them on three specific issues: (1) potentially relevant elective courses (including quantitative courses) and (2) the Practicum Proposal, and (3) Professional Development Plan.

5c) Comprehensive Exam Committee (CEC)

The program establishes a comprehensive exam committee composed of three faculty members, appointed by the chair for 1 year terms. This committee is responsible for evaluating students relative to their (1) Professional Development Plan, (2) Practicum Proposal, (3) Policy Clinic report and (4) Practicum report. Students do not have a major professor, and hence there is no concern whether or not such a person is on this committee.

6) Advising structure and mentoring

Students are advised by (a) the program staff (graduate group chair and program academic coordinator), (b) the student’s Faculty Advisor, and (c) the Comprehensive Exam Committee (CEC). The faculty graduate group chair and the program academic coordinator are principally responsible for interviewing and evaluating incoming students with respect to their professional aspirations. The program staff discusses with the student their quantitative needs to recommend an elective course in quantitative methods. The CEC is principally responsible for evaluating students on proposals and plans for professional development and the practicum as well as reports from clinic and practicum work.. Finally, the program staff is responsible for career counseling throughout the program.

7) Advancement to candidacy

All students should file their application to advance to candidacy once they have (1) completed 21 units of study, and (2) their Faculty Adviser has approved drafts of their Professional Development Plan and Practicum Proposal for consideration by the CEC. This typically takes place during Spring quarter of year 1.

8) Comprehensive exam

The comprehensive exam is conducted as a consequence of fulfilling all program requirements. Students are required to obtain a grade of B or above in all required courses, including the Policy Clinics. Finally, the exam combines an evaluation of four written reports, including the student’s (1) Professional Development Plan, (2) Practicum Proposal, (3) Policy Clinic project report, and (4) Practicum report.

If any component of these materials is less than satisfactory, the student will be asked to also have an oral exam that can include elements of basic understanding of the principles of the curricular material, or an evaluation of the student’s written products (e.g., the professional development plan). Specifically, the committee will determine if they agree that the student has learned the necessary tools with which to succeed in their professional development plan. Students who do not pass this exam can be (a) asked to engage in individual study to fulfill deficiencies in knowledge or (b) retake specific classes. Students would then be required to retake the exam. Failure would also trigger an explanation from program course instructors regarding student performance in the curricular requirements of the program. A second failure would result in a recommendation to the Dean of Graduate Studies that the student be disqualified from the program.

9) Normative time from matriculation to degree

Normal time from matriculation to degree is anticipated to be 2 academic years, although students may elect to condense the period into a 12 month period by taking all classes in year one and doing their Practicum in the summer after their academic year. Normative time to advancement to candidacy is 3 quarters.

10) Typical timeline

Six academic quarters.

Year 1
Fall Winter Spring
Analysis I (4) ENV 200A Analysis II (4) ENV 200B Analysis III (4) ENV 200C
Env. Admin. & Mngmnt (4) ENV 202 Quantitative Analysis or Elective (3) Quantitative Analysis or Elective (3)
Professional Development Seminar (1) 297 Professional Development Seminar (1) 297 Professional Development Seminar (1) 297
Elective opportunities Elective opportunities Elective opportunities
9 units + electives 8 units + electives 8 units + electives
Year 2
Fall Winter Spring
Environmental Law (3) ENV 201 Policy Clinic (4) ENV 203A Policy Clinic (4) ENV 203C
Practicum (2 units) Practicum (2 units) Practicum (2 units)
Professional Development Seminar (1) 297 Professional Development Seminar (1) 297 Professional Development Seminar (1) 297
Elective opportunities Elective opportunities Elective opportunities
6 units + electives 7 units + electives 7 units + electives

11) Sources of funding

Students are expected to pay for their own tuition, fees and support. Block grant monies will be targeted toward exceptional students, particularly international students to help defray costs of nonresident supplemental tuition (NRST).

12) PELP, In Absentia, and Filing Fee status

We anticipate no unusual status for PELP, in absentia or filing fee status. Although these will undoubtedly occur, with a short program, where there is strong program involvement in professional placement in clinic projects and practicum experiences, we anticipate low rates of these tools for students who are not following the expected trajectories. We anticipate extenuating features of these tools for helping students through challenging situations, beyond those already described by Graduate Studies, to apply to this program.