Ph.D. in Environment and Sustainability

Overview

Our Environment and Sustainability Ph.D. equips students with diverse perspectives to develop profound new ideas, knowledge and answers to the most important concerns facing people and the planet. The program provides a deep understanding of how fundamental principles of environmental science and sustainability can be applied to research and address key environmental challenges that require skills in multiple disciplines—preparing students for a range of careers in academia, as well as public and private sectors.

Students will advance their understanding of challenges in topics such as:

  • Climate
  • Energy
  • Food
  • Water
  • Air quality
  • Health
  • Ecosystems
  • Urban systems
  • Sustainable enterprise and development
  • Consumption
  • Social cohesion and inequality
  • Governance, policy and law at sub-national, national and international levels

Advancing understanding on such challenges requires considering their bio-physical, economic, political, social and cultural aspects, including—crucially—the interactions that link these domains. 

Students

Our program encourages students to innovate and tackle paramount environment and sustainability challenges by building expertise in two distinct disciplines. They learn two bodies of knowledge and two methods of inquiry and problem-solving, positioning them to advance novel insights and new areas of inquiry.

To encourage this open-ended, problem-driven focus in our student-focused program, the fixed requirements of the program are limited: a two-quarter core sequence of “Issues and Methods in Environment and Sustainability” and a minimum of six quarters participation in advanced seminars on Environment and Sustainability. Beyond the common requirements, each student will develop an individual program of study in consultation with their advisors to master a range of disciplinary knowledge, skills and research methods.

We aim to recruit and train students whose ambition and curiosity cannot be satisfied by a traditional disciplinary doctoral program. To promote interdisciplinarity as the core of the program’s identity, each student’s program of study and dissertation research will be guided by two advisors from distinct areas of research and scholarship. We encourage prospective students to identify different areas of study and contact potential advisors prior to applying.

UCLA and IoES are uniquely positioned to offer a program of this character. As a world-class public research university, UCLA provides access to a vast range of expertise across the physical and life sciences, humanities, fine arts, social sciences and major fields of professional training. Within UCLA, IoES provides a strong programmatic identity, multiple degree programs and issue-focused research centers, strengths that make it the campus-wide hub for teaching and research in environment and sustainability. IoES has the largest breadth of interdisciplinary collaboration of any peer institution, with 60+ participating faculty from more than 25 campus units and more than 10 faculty who hold joint appointments between IoES and other departments or schools. 

Moreover, as a public university located in one of the world’s greatest and most diverse metropolitan areas, UCLA is uniquely situated to be a laboratory for engagement and partnership that puts knowledge into practice to advance concrete environment and sustainability solutions. As one prominent example, UCLA created the Sustainable LA Grand Challenge with the goal of achieving 100 percent renewable energy, 100 percent locally sourced water and enhanced ecosystem health for Los Angeles County by 2050.

UCLA maintains a deep commitment to diversity and accessibility. We embrace the principles of diversity and inclusion to understand, appreciate and respect differences in cultures and customs, religious beliefs, gender identity, sexual preferences and political points of view. In May 2017, UCLA was ranked as having the most diverse hiring among tenure-track faculty out of the 60 Association of American Universities member schools. To enhance accessibility, UCLA provides substantial financial support to recruit outstanding students and ensure their success. Entering and continuing students may receive fellowships, traineeships and employment-based opportunities to support their studies and enhance their academic, research and training portfolios.

We will begin accepting applications in Fall 2017 for admission to the first entering class of students beginning in Fall 2018.

Further details, including specific application requirements, will be posted here by September.