Ph.D. in Environment and Sustainability

If you have any questions about the application process, please contact Harrison Levy at 310-825-9901 or hlevy@ioes.ucla.edu.


UCLA’s PhD program in Environment and Sustainability seeks to recruit a diverse class of students who are keen to do path-breaking research to advance understanding and capacity for effective action on high-stakes societal challenges related to environment and sustainability.  As a newly established doctoral program with a deep commitment to supporting studies that are innovative and interdisciplinary, we seek students who are ambitious, confident, and entrepreneurial.  While we expect that the most successful candidates will have strong grounding in one or more of the research or scholarly disciplines relevant to environment and sustainability challenges, this program is most suited for students whose ambitions are too broad or too novel to be effectively addressed within a conventional disciplinary PhD program.

We expect to admit 4 to 5 students for Fall 2019.

Applications for admission will be available in September, and applications must be submitted by December 15, 2018 to be considered for Fall 2019 admission.

Overall approach to evaluating applications

Applicants must have completed a bachelor’s degree.  In addition, the program’s specific requirements for applications are listed below.  While we require these materials for all applications, we stress that our evaluation of applications will be holistic.  We will weigh all aspects of applications to form an assessment of candidates’ likely fit with, and contribution to, the program.

Application requirements:

Applications to the PhD program in Environment and Sustainability must be submitted online via the general application form for admission to graduate study at UCLA.

In addition to the general application requirements specified on that form, applicants to the PhD program in Environment and Sustainability are requested to submit the following. The general application form provides instructions how to submit letters of recommendation, as well as instructions how to upload additional materials as files.

  • Please scroll to the bottom of this page for more information regarding transcripts
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores from a test completed within the past five years
  • For applicants whose native language is not English, scores from either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) examinations.
  • Three letters of recommendation, with letters from faculty members preferred
  • Three personal statements, each with suggested length of no more than 1,000 words. Statement prompts will be provided on this page soon.

Preliminary consultation with potential advisors:

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 strongly encourage applicants to identify prospective areas of study, and to identify and communicate with at least one potential advisor before completing an application.

Prospective advisors of students in the program will typically be drawn from the large number of UCLA faculty who make up the regular faculty and affiliated faculty of the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability.  If appropriate, advisors may also be drawn from other UCLA faculty, who represent a vast range of expertise across the physical and life sciences, humanities, fine arts, social sciences, and major fields of professional training. If you are unsure how to identify faculty whose interests and expertise fit with your aims, you might first contact a member of the PhD program’s Executive Committee, or the program’s administrative staff. 

The availability and interest of faculty advisors in applicants’ areas of interest will be one factor considered in admissions decisions.

Submitting transcripts (international applicants please see section below):

The general application form provides space to upload unofficial transcripts from your prior university study. You do not need to send official transcripts during the application process.

If you are offered admission, one official transcript from all prior university study must be sent directly to the Institute’s address from the registrar of the academic institution you attended. UCLA graduates please note: you do not need to submit official copies of UCLA transcripts.

Attention: Harrison Levy
Institute of the Environment and Sustainability
La Kretz Hall, Suite 300
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1496

International applicant transcripts:  International applicants must submit official transcripts during the application process. Official academic records must show the dates of enrollment; the subjects or courses taken, together with the units of credit or time allotted to each subject and, if rank is determined, rank in the total class or group. The records must also include a complete description of the institution’s grading scale or other standard of evaluation. Maximum and minimum marks and the steps between them must be indicated. 

Unless academic records and diplomas are routinely issued in English by the institution, the official records in their original language must be submitted with an authorized, complete, and exact English translation. Please see https://grad.ucla.edu/admissions/required-academic-records/ for more information. Please send these documents to the address listed above.

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