How to Apply

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 each fall. 

Applications for admission will be available in September, and applications must be submitted by December 15 to be considered for fall 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. We do not make admission decisions based on any single factor, including standardized test scores.

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.

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

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

*UCLA graduates: you do not need to submit official copies of UCLA transcripts.

If admitted to UCLA, applicants must submit official, final academic records to this address:

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

These are defined as original documents issued by the institution—not photocopies—which bear the actual signature of the Registrar and the seal of the issuing institution. Instructions and deadlines for submission are included with official offers of admission. New graduate students should submit official records in the original language with a complete, authorized English translation.

If you have attended more than one institution, separate official records should be submitted by each institution.

If your academic record cannot be replaced, obtain a properly certified copy. Keep the original for yourself! Never send a document to UCLA that cannot be replaced; submitted records become the property of the University, and we cannot return them to you.

Please see https://grad.ucla.edu/admissions/required-academic-records for more information. 

Which program should I apply for, the Environmental Science and Engineering D. Env. or the Environment and Sustainability Ph.D.?

The UCLA Institute for Environment and Sustainability (IoES) has two doctoral programs, the professional doctorate in Environmental Science and Engineering (D.Env.) and the Ph.D. in Environment and Sustainability. Both programs are interdisciplinary, both equip students with diverse perspectives to tackle pressing environmental issues, and both provide opportunities to interact with students and faculty across all the programs and projects of IoES, and more broadly across UCLA.

Environmental Science and Engineering, D.Env.

Environment and Sustainability, Ph.D.

If you are unsure which program is right for you, we are happy to discuss it with you – or to help you transfer your application between programs.

Apply now