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Develop comprehensive solutions to environmental problems and build your professional network for life.

Master of Environmental Science and Management

Bren’s Master of Environmental Science and Management (MESM) degree is a two-year professional degree program focused on developing solutions to critical environmental problems while preparing students for careers in environmental science and management.

What you gain from the Bren MESM program goes beyond the knowledge and skills to be an environmental leader. You’ll gain the training and confidence to impress employers and make real change in sustainability, conservation, environmental policy, and much more.

Program Format 

MESM Year One: The first year of the MESM program is focused on completing eight core courses in natural and social sciences. By the end of Winter Quarter of the first year, students choose their academic specialization. In Spring Quarter, students are assigned to their master’s project. No classes are held during the summer between year one and year two. During the summer, most students complete internships to cultivate their professional network.

MESM Year Two: During year two, students will take courses in an area of specialization and work on their master’s project. Students who choose to pursue an optional focus area are required to complete additional focus courses. Master’s projects culminate in a public presentation during Spring Quarter.

The MESM program is intended to be full-time and courses are offered at the UC Santa Barbara campus. Currently, the Bren School does not offer any online degree options. 


Bren's MESM program begins in Fall Quarter each year and students are enrolled full-time. The online application for graduate admission to UC Santa Barbara opens September 1 and closes December 15 annually.

Program Start Fall Quarter
Application opens September 1
Apply by December 15
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Core Curriculum

The Master of Environmental Science and Management (MESM) program provides a solid foundation in environmental-human systems, data analysis, biology, ecology, earth sciences, environmental economics and business, environmental law, and environmental policy. The core curriculum is multidisciplinary and emphasizes quantitative and analytical skills, problem solving, and adaptability. Eight core courses (30 units total) are required for all MESM students.


MESM students are required to complete a minimum of 36 units of electives in a primary specialization to build depth of knowledge in a particular area and develop technical skills. Students choose specializations during Winter Quarter of their first year. Guided by faculty, students prepare a customized Program of Study to match their individual interests and needs. One specialization is required; students can choose more than one specialization.

Focus Areas

Many MESM students choose to add an optional academic focus to supplement their professional training and build their portfolio upon graduation.

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    Innovation Focus Area

    Acquire the skills and mindset needed to drive impact-oriented innovation within an existing organization or to launch a new entrepreneurial venture. Receive training to develop, test and validate ideas through experiential coursework in corporate innovation, entrepreneurship or social innovation.

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    Communication Focus Area

    Learn to communicate science effectively through storytelling, audience engagement, strategic outreach, and multimedia production. Gain new skills through coursework in video production, writing, presentations, civic engagement, social media, and more.

Master's Projects

Master of Environmental Science and Management students must complete an interdisciplinary, collaborative master’s project (14 units total) as part of their professional training. Students may choose between a Master’s Group Project or an Eco-Entrepreneurship Project.

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    Master's Group Project

    The Master’s Group Project provides unparalleled, real-world experience for MESM students. The project brings together 4-5 students and a faculty advisor to solve a real environmental problem for a client - a business, public agency or non-profit organization.

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    Eco-Entrepreneurship Project

    Eco-E Project teams of 3-5 students collaborate to develop a business model for a new environmentally oriented, commercially viable product or service. Many students have successfully launched a business venture as a result of their Eco-E project.

Career Development 

At Bren, prioritizing your career development is a way of life steeped into our ethos as a professional program. From day one of orientation to graduation and beyond, Bren's Career Development team prepares you to navigate any professional situation and thrive in a competitive, ever-changing job market. We’re here to guide you every step of the way with personalized advising, workshops, online resources, job/internship opportunities, alumni connections, and more.

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Alumni Network Access and 24/7 Career Resources

From your first day at Bren, you’ll have access to BrenConnect, Bren’s unique career resources and alumni networking platform, where you can peruse fresh job listings, find and connect with Bren alumni, and access Bren-specific career guidance articles. Want to talk to a Bren grad who works at your dream company? More than75% of alumni are BrenConnect users, and over 70% of Bren grads land their initial jobs through a Bren School contact.

Career Programming and 1-on-1 Guidance for Your Unique Journey 

MESM students will take part in a structured summer internship and job search process that includes workshops and one-on-one career advising sessions from the Bren School’s dedicated staff of career support professionals. This career training builds the specific professional skills needed to thrive in a competitive and changing marketplace. Over 95% of Bren master’s students rate the Career Development team’s services as “Excellent/Good” (with 88% of those students picking “Excellent”)—which means we walk our talk! Through personalized advising and 40+ career development workshops, speakers, and networking events each year, our goal is to leave you feeling confident and comfortable navigating any professional setting.

Summer Internships

With the support of Bren’s Career Development team, nearly 100% of students in the Master of Environmental Science and Management program complete a summer internship—what we like to call a “Brenternship”—between their first and second years. Internships take Bren students all over the world to tackle critical environmental problems and gain valuable career experience.

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Bren Life

This is a graduate school experience like no other where you'll have access to faculty mentors, potential employers, internship opportunities, and a professional network of alumni from day one. The Bren Life experience has been designed to open doors for students to make a difference in the world. From having a voice in Bren governance, to fun, student-driven social events, life at Bren is full of opportunities to get involved while emphasizing a work-life balance to keep you inspired. Our students often say they make friends and colleagues for life during their time at Bren. 

Affording Your Bren Education

Tuition and fees for Bren’s master’s programs are equal to other public institutions in California. Bren aims to offer the highest possible return on your investment of money and time. The Bren School supports students with recruitment fellowships and gifts when possible, with the exception of a few area specific fellowships, all applicants are considered for these funds when they submit their application to the Bren School.. Many Bren students help fund their education through on-campus employment opportunities, including teaching assistantships, graduate student researcher positions, tutor positions, and other student positions. 

The UCSB Financial Aid office and the UCSB Graduate Division support graduate students in applying for Federal Student Aid, Federal Work-Study, and pursuing other funding opportunities, including benefits for veterans.

Are you ready to solve environmental problems?

Request more information, get to know the Bren School, and start planning your application today.

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