Best 15 Ph.D. in Environmental Science Programs in 2021

Staff Writers by: Staff Writers

The United States is home to many high-quality schools that offer a Ph.D. in Environmental Science. For those who want to pursue this degree, there are choices open to them no matter where they are. 

Why Earn A Ph.D. in Environmental Science?

A world of opportunities will open up to you if you earn a Ph.D. in Environmental Science. While many people pursue this degree in order to teach the subject matter,  it also prepares you for a career in environmental health or law or even a social justice career. It can lead to employment as an environmental forensics researcher, consultant, or journalist, but also as a food systems researcher, or government remediation.

With such a broad range of potential occupations, it can be difficult to pinpoint the career outlook in this industry. The good news for anyone who wants to pursue a career as an environmental scientist is that the demand for them is expected to increase by 15% by 2022. This is much faster than the growth of most other career paths., making environmental scientists an excellent career choice for many. One reason for the rise in demand is the fact that the public is becoming increasingly aware of climate change. 

Overall, most jobs ideal for those who earn this degree can be found in the education and government industries. Yet, in the near future, many more jobs will be created in private consulting firms, because many of them work with clients that are committed to solving various environmental concerns. 

We have created a list of the top Ph.D. programs in Environmental Science and ranked them based on the number of credit hours they require as well as the in-state tuition per semester for each school. Here is our list of the top 15 Ph.D. in Environmental Science Programs.

Best 15 Ph.D. in Environmental Science Programs

1. University of Miami – Coral Gables, FL (50 points)

At the University of Miami Abess Center For Ecosystem Science & Policy, students work towards a PhD in Environmental Science and Policy. The first year of studies in this program is when students learn the theories and methods of both physical and environmental science. This involves a heavy amount of research concerning the integration of science into the environment.

The second year of studies in this program is where students learn solutions to the problems and issues they uncovered during their first-year research projects. Students are led through the steps that have to be taken to solve problems within the field. 

  • Credit Hours – 60
  • Tuition –  $32,559 per semester
  • Acceptance Rate – 27%

2. Univerity of Iowa – Iowa City, IA (70 points)

At the University of Iowa, students can earn a Doctor of Philosophy in Geoscience. Most students that enter this program do so with the intention of pursuing a career in teaching or independent research. Completing this program requires students to attend on-campus seminars, where they are tasked with defending the dissertation they choose. Alternately, students can successfully complete a comprehensive exam instead. But to graduate, they also need to present their dissertation in front of a committee.

  • Credit Hours – 72
  • Tutiion – $15,018 per semester
  • Acceptance Rate – 83%

3. University of Maryland, Baltimore – Baltimore, MD (100 points)

At the University of Maryland Graduate School, students can pursue a Ph.D. in Marine-Estuarine Environmental Science. This degree is most often pursued by students with an interest in how physical, chemical, and biological systems react with the environment. Some of the research topics students in this program tackle include molecular mechanisms and chemical pollutants. 

Within this program, students can choose from four possible concentrations; Environment and Society, Earth & Ocean Sciences, Environmental Molecular Science & Technology, and Ecological Systems.

  • Credit Hours – 36
  • Tuition – $9,045 per semester
  • Acceptance Rate – 44%

4. Boston University – Boston, MA (60 points)

Boston University offers students the ability to earn a Ph.D. in Earth & Environment. Heavy on research, the program focuses on not only environmental and earth sciences, but also environmental analysis, remote sensing, and sustainability and energy. Some of the specializations students can choose from in this program include paleoclimate and earth history, carbon & nutrient cycling, climate dynamics, and hydrology, among others. 

  • Credit Hours – 64
  • Tuition – $28,427 per semester
  • Acceptance Rate – 19%

5. Brown University – Providence, RI (80 points)

At Brown University, students can earn a Ph.D. in Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences. The five major themes that make up the core of the curriculum are Geochemistry, Environmental Science, The Planetary Perspective, Climate and Environment, and Geophysics.; 

To complete their studies, every candidate for a Ph.D. has to spend at least one semester working as a teaching assistant, though they are permitted to do this for more than one semester if they choose. Those that want to go on to teach Earth Science on an elementary school level have the chance to do so through the DEEPS Outreach. This allows them to teach the subject at local schools. 

  • Credit Hours – N/A
  • Tuition – $29,627 per semester
  • Acceptance Rate – 9%

6. City University of New York – New York, NY (80 points)

The City University of New York offers a Ph.D. in Earth and Environmental Sciences. As part of this program, many students write articles for publishing in papers and professional journals. They are also encouraged to go to academic conferences, and even teach some classes on campus. 

Students enrolled in this program can choose a specialization in either Geography or Environmental and Geological Sciences. 

  • Credit Hours – 60
  • Tuition – $4,695 per semester
  • Acceptance Rate – 38%

7. Ohio State University – Columbus, OH (90 points)

Students enrolled at Ohio State University can earn a Doctor of Philosophy in Environmental Science. The program is a joint effort between many of the school’s academic departments, including Food, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, Arts and Sciences, and Public Health. 

The research areas that are emphasized in this program include Environmental Chemistry and Anthropology, along with Environmental Communication and Education,  Environmental Remediation, and Human Health and the Environment, among many others. The program prepares students to conduct research that will help solve the world’s biggest environmental problems. 

  • Credit Hours – 50
  • Tuition – $6,261 per semester
  • Acceptance Rate – 54%

8. University of Virginia – Charlottesville, VA (90 points)

At the University of Virginia Arts & Sciences within the Department of Environmental Sciences, students can earn a Doctor of Philosophy. Independent study and research compromise students’ education in this department. Thesis research must be performed as part of the program. In addition to their thesis, students also have to successfully complete both oral and written exams. 

  • Credit Hours – 54
  • Tuition – $6,940 per semester
  • Acceptance Rate – 24%

9. University of California, Santa Barbara – Santa Barbara, CA (100 points)

At the University of California, Santa Barbara Bren School of Environmental Science & Management students can earn a Ph.D. in Environmental Science & Management. Students enrolled in this program have two research tracks to choose between; Social Sciences, or Natural Sciences or Engineering. Those who want to take it one step further can also choose an emphasis on Economics and Environmental Science, or Environment and Society.’

Since students earn this degree based on the research they conduct as part of the program, there is no traditional credit hour requirement for graduation. 

  • Credit Hours – N/A
  • Tuition – $4,190 per semester
  • Acceptance Rate – 30%

10. Rutgers University –  Newark, NJ (80 points)

At the Rutgers University School of Arts & Science – Newark, students can earn a Ph.D. in Environmental Science. The program consists of two phases, both of which students must perform successfully in order to graduate. The first phase is when students initiate their own research while completing the classes within the curriculum. Students must pass a final exam to move from the first phase to the second phase. 

In the second phase, they take research courses while pursuing an intense program of research on their own. The second phase ends with students successfully arguing their own dissertation. 

  • Credit Hours – 60
  • Tuition – $8,868 per semester
  • Acceptance Rate –  61%

11. Drexel University – Philadelphia, PA (40 points)

At the Drexel University College of Arts and Sciences, many students pursue a Ph.D. in Environmental Science. Each student works with an advisor to personalize their coursework to their specific interest and career goals, so no two students study the same, exact curriculum.

This degree is awarded only after students complete a major research project and have it published. Students can choose from areas of research that include environmental policy and assessment, conservation, ecology, and paleo-ecology-geology. 

  • Credit Hours – 90
  • Tuition – $30,195 per semester
  • Acceptance Rate – 75%

12. Wright State University – Dayton. OH (100 points)

At the Wright State University College of Science & Mathematics, students can enroll in the Environmental Sciences Ph.D. Program. It is heavily focused on teaching students ways to solve various problems with the environment. 

Commonly researched subjects in this program include earth and environmental sciences, biological sciences, and biochemistry and molecule biology. Students that complete this program often go on to work in federal and state agencies, as well as non-profit organizations and higher education. 

  • Credit Hours – N/A
  • Tuition – $3,574 per semester
  • Acceptance Rate – 95%

13. University of North Texas – Denton, TX (80 points)

At the University of North Texas College of Science, students can earn a Ph.D. in Environmental Science. In addition to completing the curriculum, students are expected to successfully complete a dissertation project. There are five concentrations available for students to choose from; Education Research, Ecology and Conservative Biology, Toxicology, Geoscience, and Human Ecology. 

  • Credit Hours – 72
  • Tuition –  $4,086 per semester
  • Acceptance Rate – 74%

14. University of Maine – Orono, ME (100 points)

At the University of Maine, students can study for a Ph.D. in Ecology and Environmental Sciences. Students must conduct a seminar in which they present their thesis to the advisory committee they are working with. A student’s advisors choose whether the seminar is held publically or privately. Once their dissertation has been completed, students also have to successfully defend their thesis to their advisory committee.

  • Credit Hours – 30
  • Tuition – $9,900 per semester
  • Acceptance Rate – 90%

15. Washington State University – Vancouver, WA (80 points)

At the Washington State University School of the Environment, students can earn a Ph.D. in Environmental and Natural Resource Sciences. The curriculum focuses on areas of environmental science such as the biophysical function and structure of ecosystems, interdisciplinary cognizance, ethics and issues in natural and environmental resources, and advanced research methods. Students are also tasked with choosing one specific subject within the field that they are interested in learning more about.

The dissertation that students have to complete in order to earn this degree has to make a large impact on the areas of natural resources and environmental sciences. While it doesn’t have to be published, the information in it has to be valuable enough for it to qualify for publication in an international journal.

  • Credit Hours – 72
  • Tuition – $3,085 per semester
  • Acceptance Rate – 76%

While we hope you have settled on a school to attend, but if you haven’t, let our Degree Finder tool help you make the best possible choice. 

How We Rank Schools

We took the tuition rate for each school (based on cost per semester for students located in the school’s state) and assigned it a number up to 50, with 50 being the lowest tuition rate. We then took the credit hours for each school and assigned it a number, also up to 50. For the schools that have a credit hour requirement, the higher their score the lower the required credit hours are. We assigned 50 points to the few schools that don’t have a credit hour requirement. The sum total of these two numbers helped us determine the ranking for each school. 

We always intend to rank each school correctly. But if you work at one of these schools and believed we ranked it wrong, please contact us so we can fix the problem. 

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