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What’s Unique about the Environmental Studies Graduate Program at University of Oregon?

In 1983, under the directorship of the late John Baldwin, the first three students were admitted to the interdisciplinary master’s degree program in Environmental Studies. Since then, our program has graduated more than 175 graduate students, who now hold leadership positions in local and national environmental organizations, all levels of government, small businesses and major corporations, and top colleges and universities. We train our students in critical and interdisciplinary thinking, creative problem solving, effective communication, and productive collaboration to meet the environmental challenges of the 21st century.

Several unique qualities set our program apart from other graduate programs in environmental studies and help us to attract stellar graduate students: our world-class resources, interdisciplinarity, individualized programs of study, sense of community, and location.

World-Class Resources

The University of Oregon is widely known as a leader in environmental teaching and scholarship that cuts across all of our schools and degree programs, including programs in green architecture, design and planning; sustainable business; natural hazards; environmental law; environmental humanities and literature; and environmental sciences.

Through the Environmental Studies program, our students have the unique opportunity to draw upon all of the faculty, library, and research resources available across the campus. Our university also hosts some of the most prestigious visiting scholars and environmental conferences on a regular basis, such as the annual Public Interest Environmental Law Conference and the Holistic Options for Planet Earth Sustainability Conference.

We are home to a number of research institutes and centers with an environmental focus, including the Institute of Ecology and Evolution, the Center for Environmental Futures, the Sustainable Cities Initiative, the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Program, the Institute for a Sustainable Environment, and the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology.

While disciplinary graduate programs may offer students the resources located within a single school or department, our program is unique in opening doors to the wide-ranging environmental resources found across the schools and programs on our campus.


While many graduate programs combine environmental sciences with policy studies or social sciences, our program is unique in its integration of disciplines whose contribution to environmental study is often underappreciated. In addition to a strong core of faculty in the sciences and policy fields, our program also includes contributions from the arts and humanities (art, English, philosophy, history), architecture and landscape architecture, business, journalism, law, and education, among others. Faculty from any of these areas may serve as student mentors and direct theses or projects. Through their concentration areas, our students may pursue interdisciplinary themes that cut across traditional disciplinary divisions. We encourage innovative and interdisciplinary work that leads to first-rate scholarship and real-world results.

Individualized Programs of Study

Students in our program design concentration areas that are tailored to meet their educational goals. These concentration areas may focus on the methods of a particular discipline or combine the perspectives of several disciplines around a core concept or theme. In planning their course of study, students have the opportunity to work with faculty mentors from any of the university’s schools or departments, including over 100 faculty who are officially affiliated with the Environmental Studies program. This individualized degree planning allows students the opportunity to integrate methods from a range of disciplines, to explore problem areas that cut across different disciplines, and to gain a unique combination of skills for the job market or further education. Masters students have the option to complete a thesis, which presents original research, or a project, which makes a synthetic or applied contribution in the form of a written, visual or technological product.

Sense of Community

Thanks to our thirty-five year history and cross-campus collaborations, the Environmental Studies program enjoys a vibrant sense of community and shared purpose. The atmosphere of our graduate program is one of collaboration and mutual support, and the friendships formed among our students last long after they have gained their degrees. Our alumni form a network of regional and national contacts that provide current students with support and advice.


Nestled in the “Emerald Valley,” our program benefits from the progressive atmosphere and environmental sensitivity of the Eugene community, the cultural heritage of the larger Pacific Northwest, and the natural beauty of the rocky coastline, old-growth forests, and Cascade peaks of western Oregon.

The State of Oregon has been an innovative leader in environmental management and planning. Eugene and Oregon are home to many environmental non-profits, a strong local and organic food movement, and excellent opportunities for outdoor recreation of every kind.