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College of the Environment

College Overview

Lisa Graumlich
209 Ocean Sciences

Associate Deans
Bruce Nelson, Research
Julia Parrish, Academic Affairs and Diversity

Rapidly changing interactions between the Earth’s environment and human activities drive the research and teaching at the College of the Environment. By connecting some of the world’s leading educators and researchers with students, practitioners, and citizens, the College cultivates communities that work with and learn from each other as they tackle the environmental challenges of the twenty-first century.

For decades the UW has been recognized as home to one of the strongest constellations of environmental and intellectual talent in the world. In fulfillment of a vision for a bold, resourced, enduring, and effective environmental hub, the UW launched the College of the Environment in July 2009. The College fosters existing and new collaborations between faculty, staff, and students who are engaged in the study of the Earth’s dynamic land, water, and atmosphere systems; the development and application of engineering and technological advances; and the impact of policy and human dimensions on the environment and the management of natural resources.

Offering more than 20 degree programs, ranging from bachelor to doctoral, and granting more than 450 degrees annually, the College is comprised of the following core units:

  • School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences
  • Department of Atmospheric Sciences
  • Department of Earth and Space Sciences
  • Program on the Environment
  • School of Environmental and Forest Sciences
  • School of Marine and Environmental Affairs
  • School of Oceanography
  • Friday Harbor Laboratories
  • Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean
  • Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium
  • Washington Sea Grant Program

College Facilities

The College of the Environment main office is in the Ocean Sciences Building, Suite 200, located at 1492 NE Boat Street. For locations of all College of the Environment buildings, see the Academics-at-a-Glance page for links to campus maps showing the College's school and departmental buildings.

The College’s facilities and field stations include the following, among others: Center for Sustainable Forestry at Pack Forest, Friday Harbor Laboratories, Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, Research Vessel Thomas G. Thompson, and Wind River Crane Canopy Research Center.

Undergraduate Program

The College of the Environment offers the following undergraduate degree options:

Bachelor Degree Programs

Bachelor of Science:

  • Aquatic and Fishery Sciences
  • Atmospheric Sciences
  • Bioresource Science and Engineering
  • Earth and Space Sciences (degree options areas: biology, environmental, geology, and physics)
  • Environmental Science and Resource Management (degree option areas: landscape ecology and conservation, restoration ecology and environmental horticulture, sustainable forest management, and wildlife conservation)
  • Marine Biology
  • Oceanography
Bachelor of Arts:
  • Environmental Studies


  • Aquatic and Fishery Sciences
  • Arctic Studies
  • Atmospheric Sciences
  • Climate Science
  • Earth and Space Sciences
  • Environmental Science and Resource Management
  • Environmental Studies
  • Oceanography
  • Restoration Ecology


The College does not have admission requirements beyond those required for admission to the University of Washington. Most of the majors within the College are open admission and can be declared at any time by students in good academic standing, except for the major in Bioresource Science and Engineering within the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, which has a competitive admission process.

General Education Requirements

Minimum 85 credits as follows:

  • Written & Oral Communication: One 5-credit English composition (C) course from the approved University list with a minimum 2.0 grade; 10 additional writing credits.
  • Quantitative & Symbolic Reasoning (QSR): 10 credits. See departmental lists for specific quantitative and symbolic reasoning requirements.
  • Areas of Knowledge
    • Visual, Literary, & Performing Arts: 10 credits. Includes courses such as literature, art, music, and drama which stress the essential qualities of individual forms of expression. First- and second-quarter language courses may not be counted toward the VLPA requirement. (May substitute first-year language courses for VLPA requirements by completing a third quarter of a three-course sequence. Language courses at the second-year level and beyond may be counted toward the VLPA requirement.)
    • Individuals & Societies (I&S): 20 credits, with at least 10 credits out of major*. Includes courses in subjects such as history, economics, psychology, and sociology which stress the social nature of mankind, and the development and analysis of societies and social institutions.
    • Natural World (NW): 20 credits, with at least 10 credits out of major*. See departmental list for specific Natural World requirements.
    • Additional Areas of Knowledge: 10 credits

* Definition of "out of major": Course must have an out-of-major prefix and may not overlap with courses required for the major. This includes cross-listed courses.

Graduate Program

The College of the Environment offers the following graduate degree options:

  • Master's Degree Programs
    • Master of Science:
      • Aquatic and Fishery Sciences
      • Atmospheric Sciences
      • Earth and Space Sciences
      • Forest Resources
      • Oceanography
      • Science for Teachers
    • Other Master's Degrees:
      • Master of Environmental Horticulture
      • Master of Forest Resources
      • Master of Marine Affairs
    • Doctoral Degree Programs
      • Doctor of Philosophy:
        • Aquatic and Fishery Sciences
        • Atmospheric Sciences
        • Earth and Space Sciences
        • Forest Resources
        • Geologic Sciences
        • Geophysics
        • Oceanography
  • Graduate Certificate Programs
    • Astrobiology
    • Climate Sciences
    • Environmental Management

Science for Teachers Program Overview

The Master of Science in Science for Teachers (MSST) is a graduate degree in science developed specifically for teachers and administered by the College of the Environment. Because science is moving at ever-increasing speeds, with new breakthroughs, innovations and technologies, keeping pace requires science educators to engage in hands-on, high-level, real-life science. The MSST program has three core components: practicing science through an independently-designed research project, deepened disciplinary content knowledge, and the development of an interdisciplinary skill set. These components work together to give teachers the opportunity to experience directly how the three dimensions of the Next Generation Science Standards (cross-cutting concepts, science and engineering practices, core disciplinary ideas) are integrated and realized in cutting-edge contemporary science.

Graduate Program

Ocean Sciences Building, Room 506
1492 NE Boat Street, Box 355355
(206) 221-4879, (206) 543-4558

Master of Science (Science for Teachers)

The College of the Environment offers the Master of Science in Science for Teachers (MSST), a graduate degree in science developed specifically for teachers. The MSST program provides a unique opportunity to conduct scientific research with world-renowned UW faculty and research professionals as a mechanism to strengthen and broaden content knowledge and scientific skill sets. This degree is designed to:

  • Move science teachers through the skills that are fundamental to today’s scientific practice – experimental design, data manipulation, data visualization, and science communication
  • Create a flexible and personally-tailored elective set within the student’s discipline of choice
  • Culminate in the design and implementation of an individualized and independent scientific research project

The flexible course structure is especially designed to fit the needs of K-12 teachers. Course work can be taken throughout the UW, and faculty research mentors range across Colleges of the Environment, Arts and Sciences, Public Health, and Medicine. MSST is intended to be completed in two years and may be compatible with part-time work or teaching. Students may take additional time to complete their degree if needed.

The Master of Science in Science for Teachers does not lead to teacher certification.

Admission Requirements

Admission to the Master of Science (Science for Teachers) degree program is based on evaluation of required application materials in competition with other applicants. Required materials include Graduate Record Examination general test scores, three letters of recommendation, official academic transcripts, minimum GPA of 3.0 required for last two years of study, a bachelor’s degree in a science field (or demonstrated equivalency), and experience working in an educational setting. Applicants must apply directly to, and be accepted by, the University’s Graduate School. Applications are accepted for Autumn Quarter only.

Degree Requirements

36 total credits as follows:

  1. 18 credits at the 500-level or higher
  2. Minimum 2.7 grade in 18 credits at the 400-level or higher
  3. Minimum 3.00 GPA
  4. Core courses based on shared skills sets, with a secondary focus on developing student cohorts:
    • SCI T 501; SCI T 502; SCI T 503; SCI T 600 (9-10 credits)
  5. Statistics course (5 credits) at the 300-500 level
  6. An elective pathway that the student and Graduate Program Coordinator develop based on the disciplinary needs of the student.

Financial Aid

The Master of Science (Science for Teachers) program does not provide funding to students. Applicants in need of support are encouraged to contact the UW Office of Student Financial Aid to explore options for grants, loans, scholarships, and work-study; to apply for College of the Environment Scholarships; and to investigate outside sources of funding.