Environmental Studies is an interdisciplinary program which provides the framework to study the relationship between humans and their environment. Society looks to environmental professionals to lead the way in protecting air, water, and soil quality and developing better solutions for the management, conservation, and restoration of our resources. Whether you are interested in public policy, conservation, ecology, or everything in between, the Environmental Studies program at UIS is for you!

What We Offer

The Department of Environmental Studies offers:

Students have the opportunity to earn both the an ENS MS Degree and the graduate GIS certificate completely online. Our online programs are designed to accommodate the needs of students who may be working full-time or have other responsibilities. Courses are asynchronous (with deadlines during each week of the semester to keep students on track and encourage student interaction and engagement), and our faculty are experts in online pedagogy.

Our on-campus program offers small class sizes and direct interaction with faculty who are passionate about both teaching and research.

Application Requirements

Our undergraduate BA and minors are open to any currently enrolled UIS students in good academic standing.

Admissions requirements for our MS degree concentrations (on-campus and online) are outlined in the UIS catalog. Note that if you have earned a liberal arts degree, you have likely met the prerequisite natural and social science requirements through your general education courses. We still consider students for conditional admission if one or more of these requirements has not been met. Students can take an ecology course in the first year at UIS to meet this prerequisite, and students with a cumulative GPA close to but below 3.0 may still be considered.

Admissions requirements for our Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Systems are outlined in the UIS catalog. Applicants with a cumulative undergraduate GPA under 3.0 may still apply, but will need to write a letter to the GIS Admissions Committee justifying their ability to complete graduate-level course work.

Please direct questions about admissions requirements to ens@uis.edu.

How to Apply

Current UIS undergraduates who want to declare the undergraduate ENS major or the ENS or GIS minor should speak with their undergraduate adviser and complete a Change of Curriculum Form.

Prospective graduate students (MS and GIS certificate) can apply using the UIS Admissions online application. The online application will ask for the following materials:

  • Academic essay of at least 300 words addressing the following: 1. What are the most urgent environmental problems facing your community today? 2. How will a master’s degree in environmental studies help prepare you to address these problems? 3. Which area of environmental specialization appeals most to you? 4. A brief description of your academic background, including life experiences, that contribute to your academic preparation.
  • Two informative letters of recommendation from professors or employers addressing applicant's academic ability, work ethic and personal integrity
    • Note that if you are also applying for the Graduate Public Service Internship (GPSI) Program and/or Graduate Assistant (GA) positions, you will need a third letter of recommendation. This applies only to on-campus students or online students in the Chicago area applying for the Chicago GSPI program.
  • Environmental Natural Sciences (previously known as General Environmental Science) Concentration Only: Must have identified a faculty member who agrees to serve as research advisor before application will be considered. Applicants to the Environmental Planning and Management or Sustainable Development and Policy concentrations do not need prior approval from a research supervisor in order to apply.
    • To identify a potential research supervisor, visit our Faculty profiles page and reach out to one or more faculty by email. Be sure to explain what you would like to research (e.g. the plant or animal species, the policy problem, and/or the community or issue of interest), the methods you might like to use (e.g. natural science or social science), and why you think this faculty member might be a good match for your interests. Please do not send a general email to all faculty members. If you are unsure of who to contact, send an email to ens@uis.edu for help. Thesis students should have a clear and fairly specific idea of what they want to research. If your interests are very general, you might want to consider the EPM or SDP concentrations.

Prospective international graduate students may need to provide additional materials. For more information about what is required of international students, please visit the How to Apply page for International Students. You can also direct questions to international-admissions@uis.edu.

Please do not send transcripts or other materials (e.g. TOEFL scores, letters of recommendation) directly to the ENS program. All of these materials should be submitted directly to Admissions.

If you have questions about our programs and how to apply, contact ens@uis.edu. We would be happy to meet with you in person or over the phone.

Funding for On-Campus Students

On-campus ENS MS students can receive a tuition waiver and a stipend to fund their education by applying for the Graduate Public Service Internship (GPSI) Program.  Students in this program work part-time for environmentally focused public agencies while working on their degrees. For the last five years, 99% of ENS graduate students who have applied for these internships have been successfully placed with state-agencies, including:

  • the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency,
  • the Illinois Department Natural Resources, and
  • the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Click here to learn more about how to fund your graduate education through the Graduate Public Service Internship Program. The two years of professional experience that this internship will help you secure employment in the field post-graduation. We strongly suggest that you consider applying for a GSPI position if you are in the on-campus MS program.

The department also has one Graduate Assistantship (GA) position available every two years. To be considered for this position (if it is available), complete the separate application for GPSI/GA positions.

Click here to learn about additional funding and scholarship opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students in ENS.