Ph.D. in Environment and Sustainability

We aim to recruit and train students whose ambition and curiosity cannot be satisfied by a traditional disciplinary doctoral program. Launching in Fall 2018, 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.

Course Requirements

To encourage an open-ended, problem-driven focus in our student-focused program, the fixed requirements of the program are limited:

  • Core Course: A two-quarter core sequence of “Issues and Methods in Environment and Sustainability”
  • Six quarters of participation in advanced seminars on Environment and Sustainability.
  • Electives – beyond the common requirements, each student will develop an individual program of study in consultation with their advisors and committee to master a range of disciplinary knowledge, skills and research methods.


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. You can check out potential faculty advisors on our Faculty page.

Financial Support

All students admitted for Fall 2018 will be fully supported for their first year of study.  It is our expectation that all students making satisfactory progress toward completion will be fully funded for the duration of their studies, through a variety of sources including fellowships, teaching assistantships, research assistantships, and faculty grants.

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.

  • A professionally oriented program – the only professional environmental doctorate in the nation.
  • Emphasizes interactions between science, engineering, public policy, economics, and law in the protection of the environment and public health.
  • Students spend two years in residence completing courses, including a major applied “Problems Course” completed in the second year.
  • The dissertation is completed off campus, typically in two years, while the student is in professional residence at an environmentally focused organization – a business, public agency, consulting firm, environmental group, or non-profit organization.
  • Of the program’s 250 alumni, about 90 percent are in non-academic careers in the public, private, or non-profit sectors.  

Environment and Sustainability, Ph.D.

  • A research oriented program
  • Newly established, with the inaugural class starting in Fall 2018
  • Emphasizes interdisciplinarity and innovation in research to understand paramount environment and sustainability challenges
  • Students have two advisors, from distinct disciplinary backgrounds
  • Students develop an individualized program of courses in consultation with their advisors, including a small number of core courses plus additional courses that develop the foundation of knowledge and skills to support the student’s research aims, in their dissertation and their subsequent career.
  • Students are typically in residence through the entire program. 
  • The program will prepare students for a wide range of academic and research careers, as well as careers in environment and sustainability in the public, private, and non-profit sectors.

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 to the other program.