Master of Science in Environmental and Sustainability Studies

Are you passionate about addressing pressing environmental challenges? Do you want to make a positive impact on society?

The College of Charleston offers a prestigious Master of Science program in Environmental and Sustainability Studies (EVSS). Get ready to propel your career forward.

At the College of Charleston, we are committed to providing a comprehensive education. Our program combines both science and policy in the environmental field. Our interdisciplinary program equips you with the knowledge and skills to tackle complex environmental issues. You will also have opportunities for hands-on learning and collaboration. Discover why our program is the perfect choice for aspiring environmental professionals.

Why earn your M.S. in Environmental and Sustainability Studies at the College of Charleston? 

Collaboration with Community Partners

Our prime location sits along the lush and vibrant coastline of South Carolina. You'll have unique opportunities to work on real-world projects and gain practical experience.

Internship Opportunities

As an applied program, internships and thesis projects are also available through organizations such as:

  • the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium.
  • Charleston Climate Coalition.
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
  • S.C. Department of Natural Resources.
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
  • Charleston Waterkeeper.

Hands-on Learning

You may also immerse yourself through student organizations such as the EVSS Student Association (MESSA). You’ll have opportunities to serve in the World Ocean Day Beach Cleanup, Spartina Seed Planting with SC Sea Grant and more!

Explore Concentration Areas Tailored to Your Interests

Customize your program of study by choosing from a range of specializations. These concentration areas allow you to focus on specific areas of interest. You will gain specialized knowledge that aligns with your career goals.
  • Natural Resource Management

    Study energy production and resource management. Explore pollutant behavior in near-surface environments. Apply toxicological concepts to real-world problems. Elective courses cover natural resource law, hydrogeology, environmental governance and conservation biology. This provides you with a comprehensive environmental education.

  • Environmental Policy, Planning, and Administration

    Examine microeconomic theories applied to public sector issues, the U.S. policy-making process and the roles of governmental institutions. Elective courses delve into environmental law, wildlife law, administrative law, natural resource regulations, land use controls, urban planning and economic relationships between humans and their environments.

    This concentration prepares students for careers in policy analysis, governmental roles and environmental governance. You'll have the skills to navigate complex environmental challenges in diverse contexts.

  • Coastal and Marine Management

    Learn about marine science and environmental assessment through core courses covering topics like environmental biology and earth systems science. Elective courses delve into specialized areas including coral reef biology, fisheries science and geographic information systems (GIS). Graduates are prepared for careers in marine conservation, research and resource management.

  • Environmental Education

    Gain an overview of the discipline, career prospects and current challenges within environmental policy. Elective courses explore the intricate relationship between economics, cultures and environmental governance, emphasizing the influence of capitalism and subsistence cultures on environmental politics. Graduates gain skills in analyzing political economies and understanding the interplay of social and ecological systems, preparing them for roles in environmental education and advocacy.

  • Environment and Human Health

    Explore earth systems science through interactions between various environmental components and human activities. Students examine the Earth's evolution, climate changes and human impacts on the environment. The pollution-focused course equips students with theoretical and quantitative skills to assess the influence of natural and human factors on pollutant behavior in terrestrial environments. Electives like "Ecosystem Services and Human Health" further explore the intricate relationship between the environment and human well-being.

  • Environmental Sciences

    Gain a comprehensive understanding of environmental biology and statistical techniques applicable to biological research. Courses cover topics such as population ecology, pollutant behavior assessment, and the interaction between Earth's systems and human activities. Electives like "Plant Ecology," "Aquatic Toxicology" and "Wetlands and Watersheds" delve deeper into specialized areas of environmental science, allowing students to gain expertise in specific domains of environmental research and management.

  • Geospatial Analysis

    Equips students with valuable skills in social science methodologies, remote sensing and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to better understand and address environmental issues. Core courses introduce data collection, mixed-methods projects and data interpretation in social science contexts. Electives cover fundamental remote sensing concepts, advanced GIS techniques, geological applications of remote sensing, and applied quantitative methods using statistical programming. This concentration prepares students to use geospatial tools and data for environmental research and decision-making.

  • Hazards Management

    Explore environmental hazards, their causes and mitigation strategies. Core courses delve into Earth system science, pollution assessment and their implications for understanding and managing environmental hazards. Electives focus on advanced Geographic Information Systems (GIS), remote sensing and environmental hazard modeling techniques, equipping students to analyze and respond to hazards such as natural disasters and pollution incidents using geospatial data and technology. This concentration prepares students for roles in hazard assessment, emergency management and environmental protection.

  • Sustainability Studies

    Explore the interdisciplinary field of environmental sustainability. Core courses provide an overview of sustainability concepts, career opportunities and social science research methods related to environmental issues. Elective courses focus on ecopreneurship, where students learn to identify and create sustainable business opportunities. Additionally, the concentration delves into the economic and political aspects of environmental governance, preparing students to address sustainability challenges and drive positive change in various sectors, including public, nonprofit and private organizations.

Careers & Outcomes

With a Master of Science in Environmental and Sustainability Studies from the College of Charleston, you'll be well-prepared for a fulfilling career in the environmental field. Our graduates have gone on to secure positions in leading organizations and government agencies. They make significant contributions to environmental policy, conservation, research and sustainability. Some of the companies and organizations connected to our program include:
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
  • World Wildlife Fund.
  • The Nature Conservancy.
  • U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife.
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
  • Coastal Conservation League.
  • Conservation International.

“Being a graduate student in the Environmental Studies program has opened a lot of doors for me. It gives you the credibility that’s backed up by a program with high esteem and standing.” - Sam Norton, MS Environmental Studies ‘20 

How to Apply 

The entire application process is online. The documents outlined below are required components of the application. A file is not complete until all documents have been submitted and processed, so read carefully and prepare your application materials in advance of applying.
  • Dates & Deadlines


    • Priority Deadline: January 15th 
    • Final Deadline: July 1st 


    • Priority Deadline: November 1st
    • Final Deadline: Decemeber 1st 


    • Deadline: March 1 
  • Application Process

    Admission to the EVSS Program requires a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution. Students with any major are encouraged to apply but must have a sufficient background in the natural sciences. Other minimum admissions requirements are listed below. Some applicants may not satisfy all requirements.  Every effort will be made to accommodate such applicants through preparatory classes at the College of Charleston. Exceptions can be made on an individual basis, depending on a candidate's background or experience.

  • Admission Criteria
    Degree Students
    • An overall undergraduate GPA of 3.0 (on a scale of 4)
    • Updated Resume
    • Applicants must have undergraduate coursework in biology (two courses with labs), chemistry (two courses with labs) and statistics (one semester). One year of another physical or natural science may be substituted for either biology or chemistry. The admissions committee recognizes that some applicants with exceptional backgrounds and training in other areas – either another science or social science – may wish to enter the program. These applicants are encouraged to apply and will be considered on a case-by-case basis, but should understand that they may be required to take one or more additional courses to meet the prerequisites of the program.
    • Two letters of recommendation that specifically address the applicant's academic qualifications and career potential in environmental studies.
    • A statement of goals should be 1-2 pages single-spaced with 1-inch margins in Times New Roman or similar font. Please briefly explain your past experience and professional achievements that pertain to this program. This statement should focus on not only your academic goals for the research, classes and experience you want to gain in this master’s program, but also your professional goals, such as the career field you want to pursue and how this program will play a role in your career trajectory. If you have any questions about the statement of goals, please do not hesitate to reach out to the Program Coordinator, Lucy Davis,
    • In order to meet this prerequisite, students MUST have successfully completed one of the following:
      • MATH 250: Statistical Methods I (an undergraduate course offered by the College of Charleston)
      • A college level statistics course, taken at another institution, that is equivalent to MATH 250 

    Non-Degree Students 

    Non-degree-seeking students who desire to take courses in the EVSS program (but not pursue the degree) are welcome to enroll in EVSS courses on a space-avaialable basis. To enroll as a non-degree student, you must: 

    • apply to the EVSS Program. 
    • provide an updated resume.
    • provide verification of successful completion of an undergraduate degree with at least a 3.000 GPA. 
    • provide official transcripts. 
    • receive the written permission of the director.

    Note: Non-degree students can only take 6 hours of graduate EVSS courses prior to enrolling as a degree-seeking student. 

    Note: The two letters of recommendation are not required.

    Note: Course registration for non-degree students opens several weeks after registration opens for degree-seeking students. Some EVSS courses do require prerequisites. Talk to the Program Director prior to course registration to ensure any prerequisites have been met.