Environmental Science M.S.

Degree: Master of Science
https://www.towson.edu/fcsm/departments/environsci/grad/science/

Program Director: Dr. John Sivey
Phone: 410-704-6087
Email: jsivey@towson.edu

The graduate program in environmental science (ENVS) is an interdisciplinary program with core courses taught by biologists, geologists and chemists. The program seeks to provide students with the ability to collect and evaluate geological, chemical and ecological data associated with creating and resolving solutions to the most pressing environmental issues and problems currently faced by metropolitan areas. The program has a thesis and a non-thesis capstone option, both designed to develop a student’s ability to communicate the scientific basis for environmental decisions that impact human health and the environment to a wide audience of potential stakeholders including policy makers and disciplinary scientists.

Students pursuing a thesis will work with a research adviser to develop a scientifically sound project with the ultimate goal being the successful defense of their thesis. The non-thesis students will complete their degree in with the capstone Research Practicum course (ENVS 798) where they will conduct a comprehensive scientific review of the policy and/or regulations governing a current or emerging environmental issue. As part of the requirements for ENVS 798 these students will draft a policy analysis document to be reviewed by an external content expert and make a presentation of their findings to a panel of invited experts and guests.

The students currently enrolled in the program come from a range of backgrounds and disciplines that include those already working in the environmental field, those who are looking to enter the environmental work force or go on for an advanced graduate degree in a related field, and educators seeking to expand their knowledge of environmental sciences in metropolitan areas so they can teach the specialty. Four concentrations were developed within the program, based on workforce needs identified by regional environmental professionals: Biological Resources Management, Water Resources Management and Assessment, Wetlands Assessment and Management, and Environmental Spatial Analysis.

The graduate handbook describes the policies and procedures pertaining to the M.S. degree and graduate certificate in Environmental Science. All required courses in the program and all ENVS-sponsored electives are taught in the late afternoon or evening.

Admission Requirements

  • A minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 for full admission and 2.75 for conditional admission
  • ​Students without an undergraduate degree in a related area (i.e. biology, chemistry, geology, or environmental science) are required to complete the following courses with a minimum GPA of 2.75 in order to be considered for admission. This should be done in consultation with the Graduate Program Director:
    • two terms of introductory biology with laboratory
    • two terms of introductory chemistry with laboratory and 
    • one term of statistics or
    • one term of calculus

Students are accepted for the fall and spring terms only. The deadline for receipt and verification of applications for both non-thesis and thesis track applicants is October 1 for spring admission and March 1 for fall admission. Admission is granted on a competitive, space-available basis. Thesis track students are strongly encouraged to have contacted prospective thesis advisers prior to applying. 

Submit the following additional admission materials by October 1 for Spring and March 1 for Fall admission online.

  • Narrative letters of recommendation from three individuals in a position to evaluate your academic potential in this field (Email addresses must be entered in the on-line application).
  • Personal Statement: A one page statement in which you discuss career goals and how this graduate program will help you to achieve these goals 

Non-immigrant International Students

Program Enrollment: F-1 and J-1 students are required to be enrolled full-time. The majority of their classes must be in-person and on campus. See the list of programs that satisfy these requirements, and contact the International Student and Scholars Office with questions.

Admission Procedures: See additional information regarding Graduate Admission policies and International Graduate Application online.

Degree Requirements

All M.S. students complete 30 units of graduate work. No more than three courses may be at the 500 level. In addition to completing the core courses listed below, all students choose a concentration and select their elective courses from among those courses appropriate for that concentration (see below).

Thesis Option (30 units)

Four core courses, electives appropriate to the concentration (no more than three 500-level courses) and 6 units of ENVS 896.

Required Courses
ENVS 601TOPICS IN ENVIRONMENTAL GEOLOGY4
ENVS 602ENVIRONMENTAL CHEMISTRY4
ENVS 603ENVIRONMENTAL LAW AND REGULATIONS3
ENVS 604ECOSYSTEM ECOLOGY4
Electives (see lists below)9
M.S. Culmination Course
ENVS 896THESIS6
Total Units30

Non-Thesis Option (30 units)

Four core courses, electives appropriate to the concentration (no more than three 500-level courses) and ENVS 798 (which must be completed successfully in the first attempt).

Required Core

Required Courses
ENVS 601TOPICS IN ENVIRONMENTAL GEOLOGY4
ENVS 602ENVIRONMENTAL CHEMISTRY4
ENVS 603ENVIRONMENTAL LAW AND REGULATIONS3
ENVS 604ECOSYSTEM ECOLOGY4
Electives (see lists below)12
M.S. Culmination Course
ENVS 798RESEARCH PRACTICUM3
Total Units30

Concentrations

In addition to completing the required core, students choose a concentration listed below and select electives from within it.  The lists below contain pre-approved courses; students may request approval of a course to be included in their concentration prior to registration for that course (see ENVS graduate handbook for details and approval form).

Water Resource Management and Assessment 

BIOL 506LIMNOLOGY4
BIOL 555FISH BIOLOGY4
BIOL 601CURRENT TOPICS IN BIOLOGY 13
BIOL 603DATA ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION FOR BIOLOGISTS3
BIOL 609COMMUNITY ANALYSIS AND BIOASSESSMENT3
BIOL 610POPULATION AND COMMUNITY BIOLOGY3
BIOL 611GLOBAL CHANGE BIOLOGY3
BIOL 619ENVIRONMENTAL MICROBIOLOGY3
BIOL 654LANDSCAPE ECOLOGY3
ENVS 630CONCEPTS OF ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING3
ENVS 635WETLANDS IDENTIFICATION, CONSERVATION AND DELINEATION4
ENVS 640ECOTOXICOLOGY3
ENVS 645FLUVIAL GEOMORPHOLOGY AND HYDROLOGY4
ENVS 650AQUEOUS GEOCHEMISTRY4
GEOG 523GIS APPLICATIONS3
GEOG 587ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ANALYSIS3
GEOG 631ADVANCED REMOTE SENSING: DIGITAL IMAGE PROCESSING AND ANALYSIS3
GEOG 672SPECIAL TOPICS IN HUMAN GEOGRAPHY 13
GEOG 673HUMAN-ENVIRONMENTAL INTERACTIONS SPECIAL TOPICS 13
MATH 539BIOSTATISTICS II3
MATH 575MATHEMATICAL MODELS3
MATH 630STATISTICS-AN INTEGRATED APPROACH4
MATH 632COMPUTATIONAL STOCHASTIC MODELING3

Biological Resources Management 

BIOL 506LIMNOLOGY4
BIOL 510CONSERVATION BIOLOGY4
BIOL 532VASCULAR PLANT TAXONOMY4
BIOL 535PLANT ECOLOGY4
BIOL 555FISH BIOLOGY4
BIOL 556ORNITHOLOGY4
BIOL 561ENTOMOLOGY4
BIOL 567HERPETOLOGY4
BIOL 601CURRENT TOPICS IN BIOLOGY 13
BIOL 603DATA ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION FOR BIOLOGISTS3
BIOL 610POPULATION AND COMMUNITY BIOLOGY3
BIOL 611GLOBAL CHANGE BIOLOGY3
ENVS 635WETLANDS IDENTIFICATION, CONSERVATION AND DELINEATION4
BIOL 654LANDSCAPE ECOLOGY3
ENVS 640ECOTOXICOLOGY3
ENVS 645FLUVIAL GEOMORPHOLOGY AND HYDROLOGY4
GEOG 503SOILS AND VEGETATION3
GEOG 587ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ANALYSIS3
MATH 539BIOSTATISTICS II3
MATH 575MATHEMATICAL MODELS3
MATH 630STATISTICS-AN INTEGRATED APPROACH4
MATH 632COMPUTATIONAL STOCHASTIC MODELING3

Wetlands Assessment and Management

BIOL 510CONSERVATION BIOLOGY4
BIOL 518MICROBIOLOGY4
BIOL 535PLANT ECOLOGY4
BIOL 601CURRENT TOPICS IN BIOLOGY 13
BIOL 603DATA ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION FOR BIOLOGISTS3
BIOL 609COMMUNITY ANALYSIS AND BIOASSESSMENT3
BIOL 611GLOBAL CHANGE BIOLOGY3
BIOL 619ENVIRONMENTAL MICROBIOLOGY3
BIOL 654LANDSCAPE ECOLOGY3
ENVS 630CONCEPTS OF ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING3
ENVS 635WETLANDS IDENTIFICATION, CONSERVATION AND DELINEATION4
ENVS 645FLUVIAL GEOMORPHOLOGY AND HYDROLOGY4
ENVS 650AQUEOUS GEOCHEMISTRY4
GEOG 523GIS APPLICATIONS3
GEOG 587ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ANALYSIS3
GEOG 672SPECIAL TOPICS IN HUMAN GEOGRAPHY 13
GEOG 673HUMAN-ENVIRONMENTAL INTERACTIONS SPECIAL TOPICS 13
MATH 539BIOSTATISTICS II3
MATH 575MATHEMATICAL MODELS3
MATH 630STATISTICS-AN INTEGRATED APPROACH4
MATH 632COMPUTATIONAL STOCHASTIC MODELING3

Environmental Spatial Analysis

BIOL 601CURRENT TOPICS IN BIOLOGY 13
ENVS 635WETLANDS IDENTIFICATION, CONSERVATION AND DELINEATION4
ENVS 645FLUVIAL GEOMORPHOLOGY AND HYDROLOGY4
GEOG 503SOILS AND VEGETATION3
GEOG 516QUANTITATIVE METHODS IN GEOGRAPHY3
GEOG 523GIS APPLICATIONS3
GEOG 557STUDIES IN NATURAL HAZARDS3
GEOG 587ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ANALYSIS3
GEOG 631ADVANCED REMOTE SENSING: DIGITAL IMAGE PROCESSING AND ANALYSIS3
GEOG 654CLIMATE CHANGE: SCIENCE TO POLICY3
GEOG 672SPECIAL TOPICS IN HUMAN GEOGRAPHY 13
GEOG 673HUMAN-ENVIRONMENTAL INTERACTIONS SPECIAL TOPICS 13
GEOL 515HYDROGEOLOGY4
MATH 539BIOSTATISTICS II3
MATH 575MATHEMATICAL MODELS3
MATH 630STATISTICS-AN INTEGRATED APPROACH4
MATH 632COMPUTATIONAL STOCHASTIC MODELING3
1

Courses offered under this number might be appropriate for this concentration. Obtain written approval from the graduate program director prior to enrolling using the form found in the ENVS Graduate Handbook.

  1. Collect and evaluate geological, chemical and ecological data associated with creating and resolving solutions to current (and local) environmental problems.
  2. Interpret the legal framework that underlies environmental regulation as it applies to protecting human health and the environment.
  3. Apply their knowledge of geological, chemical and ecological processes to environmental data collection, analysis and interpretation in order to propose viable solutions to complex multidisciplinary environmental issues.
  4. Find, read and comprehend the primary scientific literature that relates to environmental issues and produce written documents using a scientific format.
  5. Communicate clearly, both in writing and orally, to a wide audience (potential stakeholders) the scientific basis for environmental decisions that impact human health and the environment.

Courses

ENVS 601 TOPICS IN ENVIRONMENTAL GEOLOGY (4)

Geological concepts related to developed and developing areas; topics include earth materials, soils and soil formation, hydrological cycle, waste management; water management; geological issues in land-use decision making. Some field work might require weekend obligations. Prerequisite: admission into the graduate program in Environmental Science or consent of the instructor. Lab/Class fee will be assessed.

ENVS 602 ENVIRONMENTAL CHEMISTRY (4)

Principles of chemistry applied to environmental pollutants; physio-chemical processes controlling pollutant transport, fate and distribution; partitioning of water, soil and air as they relate to biotic systems. Some field work might require weekend obligations. Prerequisite: admission into the graduate program in Environmental Science or consent of the instructor. Lab/Class fee will be assessed.

ENVS 603 ENVIRONMENTAL LAW AND REGULATIONS (3)

Operation of the American legal system as it functions to control and remediate environmental problems; emphasis on the law and legal processes which govern environmental disputes; function of legal institutions in these disputes; role of regulations in environmental protection. Prerequisite: Admission into the graduate program in Environmental Science or consent of the instructor.

ENVS 604 ECOSYSTEM ECOLOGY (4)

Principles of ecosystem ecology; factors controlling ecosystem structure and function; energy balance and biogeochemical cycles. Emphasis on ecological impacts of human alterations and urbanized ecosystems. Development of student capacity for "systems thinking" via modeling in field and laboratory based investigative projects. Implications for environmental management from local to global scale. Some field work might require weekend obligations. Prerequisite: admission into the graduate program in Environmental Science or consent of the instructor. Lab/Class fee will be assessed.

ENVS 611 WATER POLICIES OF THE UNITED STATES (3)

History and application of the Clean Water Act, including ongoing actions and case studies. Prerequisite: program admission or consent of instructor.

ENVS 620 ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY AND SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMENT (3)

Analysis of the scientific approach to solve environmental problems within the socioeconomic concerns involved in formulating and administering environmental policy. Energy, management, policy, and sustainability are considered. Prerequisite: program admission or consent of instructor.

ENVS 625 SCIENCE AND POLICY OF THE CHESAPEAKE BAY RESTORATION (3)

Will provide students with a basic understanding of the key physical, chemical and biological processes taking place in America’s largest estuary. The class will explore how an understanding of these important ecosystem components has informed scientist, managers, legislators and other stakeholders about the causes of the Bay’s degradation and has provided insight into the formulation of a strategy for its protection and restoration. In addition to class lectures, projects and possibly in-field experiences, regional Chesapeake Bay experts from the academic, political and regulatory sectors will provide students with a “real world” perspective on both the opportunities and obstacles in the effort to “Save the Bay.” Prerequisite: program admission or consent of instructor.

ENVS 630 CONCEPTS OF ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING (3)

Introduction to the principles and concepts of environmental engineering for non-engineers; review and discuss methods of assessment and design; modeling methods used; critical assessment of design and different design paradigms; problem solving approaches.

ENVS 635 WETLANDS IDENTIFICATION, CONSERVATION AND DELINEATION (4)

The ecological, chemical and physical principles of wetlands biology; characterization, description and mapping of wetland habitats. Wetlands regulations and their ecological basis including hydric soil field indicators, interrelationship of landscape, vegetation and soils. Use of topographic maps, aerial photography, National Wetland Inventory maps and simple survey techniques. Some field work might require weekend obligations. Prerequisite: Admission into the graduate program in environmental Science or consent of the instructor.

ENVS 640 ECOTOXICOLOGY (3)

Fate, activity and dose-response relationships of organisms to environmental toxicants; their absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion; evaluation of physical, chemical and biological factors that influence toxicity. Quantitative methods and models used in acute and chronic toxicity studies. Prerequisite: Admission into the graduate program in Environmental Science or consent of the instructor.

ENVS 645 FLUVIAL GEOMORPHOLOGY AND HYDROLOGY (4)

Hydrologic and morphologic characteristics of streams and valley floors; landscape evolution by stream erosion and deposition, rainfall runoff relationships. Field exercises include quantitative analysis of fluvial processes, channel forms, mapping, topographic surveying, report writing. Some field work might require weekend obligations. Prerequisite: Admission into the graduate program in Environmental Science or consent of the instructor.

ENVS 650 AQUEOUS GEOCHEMISTRY (4)

Application of thermodynamics, mass balance, systems science, and kinetics to understanding mineral-water-contaminant interactions in natural and impacted aquatic systems on a variety of spatial and temporal scales. Some field work might require weekend obligations. Prerequisite: Admission into the graduate program in Environmental Science or consent of the instructor.

ENVS 670 INDEPENDENT STUDY IN ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE (1-3)

Studies in selected content areas tailored to student needs. This course may be repeated for a total of 3 credits. Prerequisites: Consent of instructor and matriculation in the Environmental Science graduate program.

ENVS 680 SELECTED TOPICS IN ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE (1-4)

Topics in environmental science will be chosen. Course content and field exercises will be determined as to complement course offerings in environmental science. Some field work might require weekend obligations. Prerequisite: admission into the graduate program in Environmental Science or consent of the instructor.

ENVS 686 SELECTED TOPICS IN ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE (1-4)

Topics in environmental science will be chosen. Course content and field exercises will be determined as to complement course offerings in environmental science. Some field work might require weekend obligations. Prerequisite: Admission into the graduate program in Environmental Science or consent of the instructor.

ENVS 798 RESEARCH PRACTICUM (3)

An analytical position paper on an approved topic written under faculty supervision. Students are expected to demonstrate scientific literacy, communication skills, critical thinking, and critical analysis in the research practicum. This course cannot be repeated. Prerequisite: Admission to the Graduate Program in Environmental Science, completion of four core courses. Permit required.

ENVS 896 THESIS (1-6)

Thesis research. Graded S/U. Prerequisites: Completion of two core courses in the graduate program in Environmental Science and endorsement by at least one member of the graduate faculty willing to serve as research adviser.

ENVS 899 THESIS CONTINUUM (1)

Continuation of thesis research.