Jul 15, 2024  
2024-25 Western Washington University Catalog 
2024-25 Western Washington University Catalog

Environmental Science, Thesis, MS

Location(s): WWU - Bellingham

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Programs of Study

Department of Environmental Sciences, College of the Environment

Graduate Faculty

Bauman, Jenise M., PhD, restoration ecology, plant and microbe interactions, invasion biology, biological statistics.
Barnhart, Charles J., PhD, energy analysis, life cycle assessment, societal energy use, early energy technology appraisal.
Bingham, Brian L., PhD, invertebrate biology, marine ecology, experimental design.
Bodensteiner, Leo R., PhD, fish ecology.
Bunn, Andrew G., PhD, climate change, paleoecology, energy, ecological models.
Bunn, Rebecca, PhD, belowground ecology, toxicology, restoration, energy, the application of statistics.
Hatch, Marco, PhD, marine ecology, coupled human natural systems, indigenous marine management, community based marine ecology.
Helfield, James M., PhD, ecology of rivers and riparian forests, terrestrial aquatic ecosystem linkages, watershed management and restoration.
Kastner, Sam, PhD, mixing and transport in the coastal ocean, including but not limited to river plumes, ocean surface waves, and the dynamics of hypoxia.
Khan, Alia, PhD, cryosphere-atmosphere-climate interactions, biogeochemistry, light absorbing aerosols, spectral geophysics.
Kodner, Robin, PhD, algal diversity and environmental interactions; microbial community structure and evolution over time; snow algae;  marine phytoplankton; environmental genomics and bioinformatics.
Landis, Wayne G., PhD, environmental toxicology, population biology, risk assessment.
Love, Brooke, PhD, geochemistry, ocean acidification, hydrothermal systems, chemistry of volatiles in the marine environment.
McLaughlin, John F., PhD, terrestrial ecology, population biology, conservation biology.
McPhee-Shaw, Erika, PhD, ocean physics, coastal oceanography.
Montaño, Manuel D., PhD, environmental analytical chemistry, nanogeochemistry, colloid chemistry.
Rybczyk, John M., PhD, wetland ecology and management, ecosystem modeling, global climate change.
Sheikh, Imran, PhD, Energy Efficiency, Electric Power Systems, Energy and Environment.
Shull, David H., PhD, structure and function of marine benthic communities, pollution and marine ecosystems.
Sifuentes, Froylán E., PhD, renewable energy integration, building control and design, international energy analysis.
Sobocinski, Kathryn L., PhD, marine fish ecology, ecology and anthropogenic stressors in coastal ecosystems, fisheries oceanography, ecological and statistical modeling.
Sofield, Ruth M., PhD, marine and freshwater toxicology, microplastics, contaminants of emerging concern,, environmental chemistry.
Strecker, Angela L., PhD, aquatic ecology, limnology, anthropogenic stressors.
Wallin, David O., PhD, terrestrial ecology, forest ecosystems.

Program Advisor: Dr. David Shull, David.Shull@wwu.edu, 360-650-3690

Program Description

The MS in environmental science provides rigor and quantitative skills to guide sound decision making for policy-makers, entrepreneurs, industrials and educators that seek to promote human welfare while preserving the natural world. It not only draws upon course work from the College of the Environment but benefits from the expertise provided by other colleges of WWU. It is directed toward the development and integration of scientific evidence that describes, predicts, and cares for the natural resources that sustain our lives and communities in ways that honor the resiliency of humans and the natural environment. Moreover, it seeks to assess human impacts on those systems and mitigate harm. The program offers specialization in Energy-Environmental Systems, Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, and Freshwater and Terrestrial Ecology. Other research specialties are available among our diverse and decorated faculty.


The program prepares students to describe, predict and/or manage natural systems and to assess human impacts on those systems. The built environment is also considered with a focus on how it impacts natural systems and on energy solutions.


A bachelor’s degree and college-level course work including a minimum of either:

  • One year of general chemistry, one year of general biology, and one course in statistics or data analysis, or;
  • One year of general chemistry, one year of physics, two courses in calculus, one course in statistics and one additional physical science or engineering course, or;
  • Commensurate coursework as approved by proposed faculty mentor. 

Application Information

Admit Quarter: Students will be admitted into the MS in environmental science program fall quarter only.

Deadlines: Because maximum student enrollment is limited, all applicants are strongly encouraged to submit application materials by February 1. Review of materials will begin after that date and will continue until the enrollment limit is reached or on June 1, whichever comes first.

TA Deadline: To be considered for a graduate teaching assistantship, applicants should submit their application materials by February 1 and indicate in the statement of purpose how the prerequisites listed above have or will be met before starting the program.

Supporting Materials:

  • An application for admission into the MS program in environmental science must include a one- to two-page statement of purpose indicating which specialization the applicant is most interested in, explaining why the applicant wishes to pursue graduate studies in environmental science, and what future expectations they have for the MS degree.
  • The statement may indicate a preferred faculty advisor; students are encouraged to review faculty research interests as described on the College of the Environment website cenv.wwu.edu prior to contacting potential faculty advisors; students are admitted into the program only upon agreement of potential faculty advisors.

For further information, write or consult Ed Weber, the College of the Environment Graduate Program Specialist, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA 98225-9079, 360-650-3646, webere3@wwu.edu.

Requirements (45-69 credits)

  •   Credits: 3
  • ❑ 30 credits of course work, including three courses from the area of specialization, or course substitutions, under advisement.

  •   Credits: 1-12 (must take at least 12 credits)
  • Ten credits or less of approved 400-level course work may be included in the program. No more than four elective credits of ESCI 595  (Teaching Practicum) may be used toward the MS degree in environmental science. Each candidate should note that the department has an annual review of student progress that affects retention, in addition to the other program requirements listed here. The student will make a public presentation of the thesis research and will participate in an oral exam given by the thesis committee.


Environmental Toxicology & Chemistry

The program prepares students with quantitative, technical, and analytical skills, and to participate in problem-solving, and integrate many disciplines as they relate the environmental problems that affect people and animals in ways that change their health and well-being.

Freshwater and Terrestrial Ecology

The program prepares students to describe, predict and/or manage natural systems and to assess human impacts on those systems.

Energy-Environmental Systems

This program gives students knowledge and analytic skills in the science and technology of today’s diverse energy systems, the environmental effects of these systems, and the technology, policy and management options for a transition to sustainable energy supply and use.

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Programs of Study