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PhD in Environmental Science

Georgia’s ONLY PhD in Environmental Science!

There is a growing public interest in the hazards facing the environment. With widespread population growth, industrialization and urban sprawl, the world is in need of more environmental scientists who use their knowledge and expertise to protect the environment and human health.

The PhD in Environmental Science is the ONLY DEGREE OF ITS KIND in Georgia. Coached by scientists and biologists with decades of expertise in the field, students get world-class instruction in the classroom and hands-on experience in a wide range of natural laboratories along southeast Georgia’s coastal plain.

Are you ready to join them?

Environmental Science PhD Program Highlights

  • The PhD in Environmental Science is the only degree of its kind in the state of Georgia! Our environmental science doctoral degree qualifies graduates to meet the growing statewide and national demand for professionals trained in an interdisciplinary science, technology, education and mathematics field that focuses on environmental science and sustainability. 
  • The environmental science PhD program is housed in the James H. Oliver Jr. Institute for Coastal Plain Science (ICPS), an interdisciplinary research and education center directed toward understanding the physical and biological resources below the Fall Line and their sustainable use and management.
  • Opportunities exist across all science and mathematics disciplines for study and for research in a wide range of natural laboratories that include forests, beaches, salt marshes, rivers and more along southeast Georgia’s coastal plain. Study abroad opportunities are also available.
  • Advisors for students in the environmental science PhD program can come from any department within the College of Science and Mathematics.

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Courses and Curriculum – Environmental Science PhD

Integrative Environmental Science

This course will explore the complex interdisciplinary nature of environmental science. Students will investigate how interdisciplinary approaches incorporating the scientific disciplines, mathematics, policy, and management can be combined to address real-world environmental issues. The course will often be team taught by 3 faculty and will contain a mix of lecture and project based learning. All students will gain scientific writing experience by developing a research proposal.

Genes Organisms and Ecosystems

This course covers major principles of evolution and ecology, and application of these principles to the management of species and ecosystems. Topics include the origin and maintenance of genetic variation, evolutionary change of populations over time, the role of speciation and extinction in regulating biodiversity, and ecological interactions between organisms and their abiotic and biotic environments, at the scales of individuals, populations, communities, and ecosystems. These principles will be applied to conservation issues arising from global environmental change, and addressing these issues through sustainable management of species and ecosystems.

Biogeochemical Cycles

This course examines biogeochemical cycles (C, N, P, S, and metals), the environments in which these processes occur (hydrosphere, lithosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere), the chemical reactions that take place during these cycles, and the microorganisms that influence them. Additionally, a major theme is the effect of human activities on biogeochemical cycles.

Applied Statistics

This course provides an overview of statistical analyses and methods used in studies related to the biological and environmental sciences. The general emphasis of this course includes organizing and summarizing data, drawing inferences from population samples via estimation and significance tests, linear and generalized regression, random-effects models, time-series, and spatio-temporal analysis.

Geospatial Data

This course is designed to introduce methods of geospatial data acquisition, processing, mapping and analysis (from the field and from online geodatabases) in the environmental sciences.

Computational Sciences

An introduction to the application of mathematics to various biologically and environmentally related problems, which can be analyzed both analytically and numerically. Computational approaches for model analysis are introduced and include numerical solutions of linear and nonlinear models, numerical differentiation and integration, data fitting, and other numerical methods.

Applied Environmental Chemistry

This course covers a variety of chemical fields as they apply to the five essential human needs: water, food, health, waste management, and energy. Various materials, including metals, inorganic and organic compounds, polymers, and proteins, as well as their applications, will be introduced. Basic research and cutting-edge technologies will be discussed.

Environmental Modeling

An introduction to the study of environmental phenomena that exhibit complexity emergent from a wide variety of parameters. An interdisciplinary course that employs the study of a variety of physical, biological, and chemical problems. Students learn how to construct and analyze minimal mathematical, physical, and computational models that provide informative answers to precise questions about: population dynamics; species interactions (e.g., competition, predation, parasitism); reaction kinetics; sedimentation; biological oscillators; coupled reaction networks; molecular motors; limit cycles; reaction diffusion; nitrogen fluxes in low-relief watersheds; recovery from acid deposition in mountain streams; bacterial patterns; nitrogen budgets on permaculture farms; and the sustainability of human activity on the Earth.

Financial Aid and Admission Requirements

Format: In person on the Statesboro Campus and Armstrong Campus in Savannah
Credit Hours: 78
Time to completion: Varies, but 4-5 years is typical
Dissertation: Yes

Admission Requirements

For potential admission to the College of Graduate Studies to pursue graduate work leading to the PhD in Environmental Science, the applicant:

  • Must have completed requirements for the bachelor’s or master’s degree in a college accredited by the proper regional accrediting associations.
  • Must complete the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) (scores must be sent to the College of Graduate Studies) with a combined verbal and quantitative score typically at 300 or above.
  • Must complete the TOEFL Exam with scores sent to the College of Graduate Studies (international students only).
  • Must submit a statement of research interests and career goals as pertains to pursuing a PhD in Environmental Science. 
  • Must submit three letters of recommendation from individuals familiar with the applicant’s academic or professional experience.
  • Typically, will have a minimum 2.8 cumulative grade point average (on a 4.0 scale) for all undergraduate and graduate (if applicable) coursework.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to secure a potential faculty advisor before I submit an application to the program?

Yes. Students will only be admitted to the Environmental Science Ph.D. program if a faculty member has agreed to serve as their Ph.D. advisor. Thus, applicants should identify and communicate with potential advisors prior to the application process. Information on faculty within the College of Science and Mathematics can be found on the various departmental pages. See

Can I use an unofficial transcript for application purposes?

Official transcripts are required for admission into the Environmental Science Ph.D. program. International applicants must have their official transcripts evaluated by a NACES accredited evaluation service. See this page for more details:

Is there a possibility of getting the GRE exam requirements waived?

There is no GRE waiver available for the Environmental Science Ph.D. program.

Is the Duolingo English test accepted in place of the TOEFL?

No, international applicants must complete the TOEFL exam. See this page for more details: 

Is there a possibility of getting my application fee waived?

We are unable to waive the application fee for the Environmental Science Ph.D. program.

Are there funding opportunities for students pursuing the PhD in Environmental Science?

There are a limited number of teaching assistantships available to graduate students pursuing the PhD in Environmental Science, but these are not guaranteed upon acceptance and are very competitive. Alternative sources of student support are sometimes available through external funding (e.g., grants and contracts) that have been obtained by faculty. As noted above, potential graduate students must secure a faculty advisor to be admitted to the PhD program so discussions regarding the sources and availability of student support should be completed and negotiated between the student and faculty advisor. In addition, a limited number of out-of-country tuition waivers are available to international students through the Office of Graduate Admissions (see: 

Questions? Contact Us!

Christine Hladik, PhD
Graduate Program Director
School of Earth, Environment and Sustainability
Georgia Southern University
Statesboro, GA 30460-8149
Phone: 912-478-5361

Last updated: 2/12/2024