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University of Colorado Denver College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

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MS in Environmental Sciences Specialization Options

Specialization Options


The MS options are structured sets of elective courses that expose students to important environmental issues and technologies. The options focus students into environmental specialties that will enhance their professional career development. Availability of courses required in the options may change as the disciplinary programs that offer them alter departmental schedules; in these circumstances, option advisors will work with students to substitute appropriate courses.

Note: MS students are not required to select a structured option; with the assistance of an academic advisor, students may select any combination of elective courses that satisfy degree requirements.

Air Quality Option (Interim Advisor: Frederick Chambers, 303.556.2619,


CHEM 5710, Air Pollution Chemistry
ENVS 5730, Air Quality Modeling and Analysis 

Electives (take two of the following):

URP 6686, Air Quality Planning and Policy
CE 58XX, Air Pollution Control
CHEM 5720, Atmospheric Sampling and Analysis

Environmental Health Option* (Advisor: Deborah Thomas, 303.556.5292,


ENVS 6230, Environmental Epidemiology
ENVS 6220, Toxicology (see Note 2)

Electives (take two of the following):

ENVS 6210, Human Health and Environmental Pollution
ENVS 5500, Ecological Risk Assessment (see note 2) 
ANTH 4010, Biocultural Foundations of Health & Disease
PAD 5633, Seminar in Natural Resource and Environmental Health Law (see note 4)

*ENVS 6200, Risk Assessment, is required as a prerequisite of the Environmental Health Option.

Ecosystems Option* (Advisor: Christy Briles, 303.352.3962,


ENVS 5000, Biogeochemical Cycles
BIOL 5415, Microbial Ecology

Electives (take two of the following):

BIOL 5154, Conservation Biology
BIOL 5050, Seminar in Aquatic Ecology
ENVS 6220, Toxicology (see note 2) 
ENVS 5500, Ecological Risk Assessment (see note 2) 
GEOG 5060, Environmental Remote Sensing
*BIOL5050, Applied Environmental Biology, is required as a prerequisite of the Environmental Ecology Option.

Water Quality Option* (Interim Advisor: Frederick Chambers, 303.556.2619,


ENVS 5500-3, Aquatic Chemistry
BIOL 5416-3, Aquatic Ecology

Electives (take two of the following):

ENVS 5403, Unsaturated Zone Hydrology
CE 5333-3, Applied Hydrology
CE 5393-3, Water Resources Development and Management

*CHEM 4700, Environmental Chemistry, or appropriate chemistry background is required as a prerequisite for the Water Quality Option.

Geospatial Analysis Option* (Advisor: Rafael Moreno, 303.556.3762,


GEOG 5080, Geographic Information Systems
GEOG 5090, Environmental Modeling

Electives (take two of the following):

CE 5382, GIS Spatial Database Development
CE 5385, GIS Relational Database Systems
CE 5386, GIS Lab

*GEOG 3080, Introduction to Cartography and Computer Mapping, is required as a prerequisite for the Geospatial Analysis Option.

Environmental Science Education Option* (Advisor: Bryan Wee, 303.315.4992,​)


ENVS/ELED/SECE 5340, Multicultural Science Education
ENVS 5500, Survey of Field Methods

Electives (take two of the following):

ANTH 5170, Culture and the Environment
BIOL 5154, Conservation Biology
CMMU 5282, Environmental Communication
GEOG 5335, Contemporary Environmental Issues
GEOG 5350, Environment and Society in the American Past

*While the current options each have four electives for students to choose from, we are proposing a more extensive list of electives (total six courses) in this option area specifically because environmental science education is a broad field. For example, a student wishing to gain experience in science education outreach within a nonprofit organization might select CMMU 5282 and BIOL 5154, whereas a student looking for employment in UNESCO might take ANTH 5170 and GEOG 5335. It is our intention that a wider selection of electives will provide students with knowledge that they can apply to their careers upon completion of their degree. In addition to these six courses, the option advisor may suggest other courses that can best support the student's interests/career goals. In other words, there is a degree of flexibility built into the selection of electives to complete the option.


1. Many of the courses have prerequisites. Student must check the catalog for prerequisite requirements for these courses. Some options have a prerequisite course requirement.
2. One course may not be used for more than one option, even if it is listed in several options. Other courses may be offered that will be acceptable as an elective with approval of the option advisor and the Director of Environmental Sciences.
3. No more than three courses may be from the any one disciplinary department, i.e., chemistry, biology, civil engineering.
4. Courses used by the student to fulfill an MS core requirement may not be used to fulfill the option.
5. All courses for the Environmental Sciences Certificate must be completed at UC Denver.
6. Courses counting toward a Certificate must be completed within a five year time period.
7. Courses applied to either a Certificate or an MS degree may later be applied toward the other if all pertinent coursework is completed within a five year time period.