Biological, Geological, and Environmental Sciences

Master of Science in Environmental Science

Program Overview

The Master of Science degree in Environmental Science is offered by the Department of Biological, Geological, and Environmental Sciences (BGES) as one of three interdisciplinary graduate programs in the Environmental Studies Program at Cleveland State. The degree program prepares students for a wide range of professional careers that require knowledge of biology, chemistry, or earth sciences in order to address environmental issues. The program is open to both full-time and part-time students.

The program is administered by the department's graduate faculty, which includes Cleveland State faculty, research scientists at the Lerner Research Institute of the Cleveland Clinic, and several Cleveland State University adjunct faculty members from other local institutions.

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Admission Requirements

Prerequisites: A bachelor's degree is preferred in a science appropriate to the student's area of concentration (biology, chemistry, or geology). Transcripts must be submitted for all undergraduate and any previous graduate study. Applicants must have a minimum of one year of calculus, one year of physics, one year of biology, geology, or chemistry, and one term of a computer course or demonstrated proficiency in computer usage.

Minimum G.P.A: 2.75

GRE RequirementScores for the GRE General Test must be submitted by ETS and Scores must average at the 50th percentile or above.

Letters Of Recommendation: Required atleast two letters of recommendation and a statement of personal career goals and research interests must be submitted by the applicant.

TOEFL Requirement: Applicants whose native language is not English must demonstrate English language proficiency by submitting official scores for the TOEFL, the Michigan Test, or an equivalent examination, unless they hold a degree from a U.S. institution.

Faculty Research

Faculty research in the environmental science area includes plant and animal ecology, species evolution, urban ecology and geology, remote sensing, local flora and fauna, microbiology, population genetics, ecological physiology, parasitology, modeling, pollution, waste management, and aquatic biology. The department is active in several cooperative projects that provide additional research opportunities for graduate study. The Cuyahoga River Watershed Project, supported by a group of local institutions, including several colleges and universities and the Ohio EPA, involves an interdisciplinary study of the ecology of an urban river. The OhioView consortium studies the application of remote sensing to a variety of environmental issues. Current faculty information can be located on the Cleveland State University Faculty Profile page.

Career Information

The MS degree program, with its research thesis focus, prepares students conceptually and technically for careers in applied or basic research in academic, government, or business settings. The graduate program attracts teachers, environmental scientists, and management and staff in diverse businesses with an environmental focus. The graduate program is open to full-time and part-time students, as well as to non-degree students who are preparing themselves for entry into a degree program or are seeking to keep abreast of new developments in their field of interest.

Graduate Assistantships/Fellowships

Full-time graduate students pursuing thesis research may be supported by the department through teaching assistantships or fellowships for a period that, as a rule, should not exceed three years. This support includes tuition and a stipend. Teaching assistants are required to work twenty hours per week and must enroll as full-time students (currently nine credit hours, including research credits). Research assistantships may be available through the research grants of individual faculty members. A limited number of graduate tuition grants, which carry a service requirement of ten hours of work per week, are awarded to students with superior credentials as funds are available. Requests for assistantships should be indicated on the Application for Graduate Admission or by letter to the BGES Graduate Program Director. Awards are competitive and are based on all application materials. Initial decisions usually are made based on completed applications on hand in March for fall semester and, if assistantships are available, in November for spring semester. Required minimums for grade-point average and for GRE and TOEFL scores are higher than those used for admission to the program. Applicants whose native language is not English must be assessed and certified as proficient in spoken English to hold a teaching assistantship.

Degree Completion Requirements

Besides course work, the MS in Environmental Science degree requires a thesis based on original scientific research of sufficient quality for publication in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

Before registering for courses, all newly admitted students must meet with the BGES Graduate Program Director. All students are required to enroll in the BGES Graduate Orientation course (BIO 500) and to attend departmental seminars. Students also must comply with all College of Graduate Studies requirements and procedures.

A student is admitted to candidacy when the following requirements are met:

1. Deficiencies in undergraduate preparation are corrected.
2. Eight graduate hours of course work are completed with a grade-point average of 3.0 or better.
3. A plan of study and the research proposal are approved by the Advisory Committee and accepted by the Graduate Committee, and the Cleveland State Thesis Proposal Approval Form is submitted to and approved by the Dean of the College of Graduate Studies. Students in the MS program in Environmental Sciences must maintain a grade-point average of 3.0 or better. A student receiving two grades of B– or one grade of C or below is subject to review by the BGES Graduate Committee; dismissal from the graduate program may be recommended.


The following are specific requirements for the MS in Environmental Science degree. Complete, current program requirements and any changes are described in the BGES Graduate Program Handbook, available from the BGES Graduate Program Office.


The Major Advisor typically is the primary supervisor and source of support for the student’s thesis research. Together, the Major Advisor and Advisory Committee supervise the student’s plan of study and research proposal, monitor the student’s progress, certify that requirements have been met in a timely fashion, and process all petitions, progress reports, and other communications with the Graduate Committee. In keeping with the program’s interdisciplinary focus, the Advisory Committee must include one member of the Cleveland State graduate faculty from outside of BGES.



Courses – 22 credit minimum Thesis Research – 8 credit minimum Additional Courses or research – 2 credits Total Minimum – 32 credits

*College of Graduate Studies regulations specify that all EVS or BIO courses must be 500-level or above; not more than seven credit hours of 400-level courses in related areas and not offered by the BGES Department may be included if approved by the Advisory Committee and BGES Graduate Committee.


Each student must complete BIO 500 - Graduate Orientation and BIO 540 - Biostatistics, or an equivalent graduate-level statistics course.


Technical writing (e.g., ENG 509), Law/Policy (e.g., LAW 671 Environmental Law  or UST 652 - Environmental Policy and Administration and Technology (e.g., CVE 450 Environmental Technology). Core competency requirements can be satisfied with the indicated Cleveland State courses or equivalent courses taken before or after entry into the program.


Each student must complete an Environmental Seminar (BIO 595).


Each student must complete six credit hours of course work that provides experience in field research. This requirement may be met by courses like BIO 651 - Advanced Research in Field Biology or BIO 653 - Advanced Research In Field Biology that emphasize field methods or by supervised, individual thesis research (BIO 691 or BIO 695) conducted in a field setting.


Each student formulates an individual plan of study in consultation with the Major Advisor and the Advisory Committee. The student chooses one of three areas of concentration: Environmental Biology, Environmental Chemistry, or Environmental Earth Sciences. The plan of study must include at least nine credit hours of course work in the area of concentration, as well as any additional elective courses needed to fulfill degree requirements described above.


The student’s individual research project should be of sufficient quality to be published in a refereed scientific journal.



a. Presentation of the thesis research at a departmental seminar.
b. Defense of the thesis before a faculty committee. Two unsuccessful attempts to defend the thesis shall result in a recommendation for dismissal from the program.
c. Submission of the approved thesis, together with an article or manuscript, based on the thesis, in a format suitable for submission to a refereed scientific journal.


Students in the non-thesis option may earn the M.S. degree in Environmental Science by completing a minimum of 32 credit hours of course work and passing a comprehensive examination, based on a Library Research Paper that presents a critical review of original scientific literature on a topic chosen by the student. The BGES Graduate Program Director serves as the Advisor.


1. Completion of a minimum of 32 credit hours with a minimum grade-point average of 3.2 distributed as follows:

a. Total course work 32 credits *May include research credits (e.g.,EVS 691 or EVS 695) or BIO/EVS courses below the 500-level; not more than seven credit hours of 400-level courses in related areas and not offered by the BGES Department may be included, if approved by the    Advisor and the BGES Graduate Committee.
b. Required courses: Each M.S. student must complete BIO 500 (Graduate Orientation), BIO 540/541 [538] (Biostatistics), Environmental Field Experience, and EVS 690 (see Exit requirements).
c. Seminars: Each EVS student must complete at least one seminar course (BIO/UST/CVE 595 (Environmental Seminar).
d. Remaining courses: Each M.S. student formulates an individual plan of study in consultation with the BGES Graduate Program Director.    This includes areas of course-work concentration, as well as any additional elective courses needed to fulfill degree requirements    described above.

2. Exit requirements:

a. Selection of an Examining Committee to supervise the Library Research Paper.
b. Successful completion of the comprehensive examination (EVS 690) by presenting and defending the Library Research Paper before the     Examining Committee. The choice of topic and the writing are supervised by a faculty member selected by the student. This advisor plus     two additional faculty members form an Examining Committee before which the student must defend the Paper in an oral examination.      This requirement recognizes that, beyond a student’s acquisition of knowledge in formal course work, the ability to read and critically      evaluate original scientific literature plays a major role in the work expected of modern professionals with higher degrees in the sciences. The Library Research Paper is meant to demonstrate this ability for independent work beyond the requirements of individual courses. Student may be able to use research data from the internship experience. Two unsuccessful attempts to pass the comprehensive examination shall result in a recommendation for dismissal from the program.