Program Overview

Evergreen’s Master of Environmental Studies (MES) degree is a two- or three-year evening degree incorporating natural sciences, social sciences, public policy, and environmental humanities.

Environmental work naturally crosses disciplines. As an MES student, you’ll experience the Evergreen model of interdisciplinary programs, where faculty teach together across disciplines, and your coursework combines natural and social sciences as well as communication, policy, and political advocacy. You’ll be able to create your own path, whether you enter with a clear goal or discover your passion along the way.

The program takes you from a core of interdisciplinary studies, through electives and internships, up to a research project presented and published before you graduate. You’ll work with a variety of faculty throughout your studies, including professionals in the field. You do not need to find your own faculty advisor.

Core classes are offered on weekday evenings, and you can complete your degree in two or three years. Learn more about MES schedule options.

MES student Charles Rambo

MES student Charles Rambo (in blue coat) interviews orchard volunteer Stephanie Butow at the Picardo Pea Patch for his thesis on what motivates her to volunteer there.

Possible Areas of Study

Climate Justice

Ecological Economics

Wildlife Policy

Environmental Education

Water Management

Clean Energy

Sustainable Forestry

Graphical Information Systems (GIS)

Restoration Ecology

Field trip to Northwest Trek

MES students get up close and personal with beavers, bison, and wolves on a field trip to Northwest Trek, a wildlife park.

Core Classes

One third of your credits will be in first-year core classes that cover environmental issues from a broad perspective. You’ll gain a foundation in key disciplines: ecology, economics, geography, climate studies, natural resource management, and sustainability. Within these disciplines, you'll also develop skills in critical thinking, writing, research, quantitative analysis, and research design.

Core classes are taught on the Evergreen model:

  • Team-teaching with faculty from different disciplines
  • Seminar sessions with in-depth discussion
  • Opportunities for hands-on learning, including labs and field trips

See the college catalog for 2016–17 core program descriptions.

Electives and Internships

One third of your credits will be earned through a combination of electives and optional internship opportunities. You can explore new interests or focus your degree on a specific subject area.

Get a jump start on your degree

If you’re not yet ready to apply, you may be able to take some of your electives ahead of time as a “special student.” Up to 8 credits of these electives can be applied to your degree. You must get permission from the faculty to attend, and you may only register the first week of class by filling out the Special Student Registration Form.

Electives cover topics in environmental studies in more detail. Electives vary every year, and include topics like:

  • Geographical Information Systems (GIS)
  • Restoration ecology
  • Clean energy
  • Environmental education
  • Natural resource management
  • Sustainability
  • Environmental communication
  • Wildlife biology
  • Energy policy
  • Environmental advocacy
  • Political ecology

These courses are taught by faculty and environmental professionals beyond academia.

See the college catalog for 2016–17 electives.

Most students also participate in internships. Internships are the best way to experience first-hand how your degree will translate into real-world experience. The program's schedule of evening classes makes it easier to take on an internship during the day.

We have long-standing relationships with state agencies and nonprofits that offer valuable internships where you'll develop new skills and make connections with professionals in the field. Learn more about internship opportunities.

MES student Jen Runyan

MES student Jen Runyan works in the lab on her thesis project, involving studying and cataloging phytoplankton.


The final third of your credits will focus on designing, researching, writing, and presenting your thesis.

In your second or third year, you'll take the final core class, Case Studies and Thesis Design, which provides a structure for thesis development. You'll also be matched with a faculty advisor to support you during the thesis process.

At the end of the degree program, you’ll present your results in a public form.

By completing a thesis, you’ll learn all the components of managing and analyzing research. Even if your professional life isn’t about research, the skills you gain will continue forward through your career.

Learn more about the MES thesis.