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Become a leader in solving environmental problems through interdisciplinary research

PhD in Environmental Science and Management

Bren’s PhD in Environmental Science and Management is a doctoral program designed to develop the broad knowledge, analytical powers, technical skills, and innovative thinking required to be a leader in your field.

As a Bren doctoral student you have the opportunity to engage in research that crosses disciplines, and to take courses at the Bren School or in other renowned UCSB departments, such as geography, ecology, earth science, economics, political science, and marine biology. Choose from a research track in either Natural Sciences or Engineering, or in Social Sciences.

As a student in the Bren PhD program, you'll benefit from the school’s superb facilities, smaller size, close faculty mentorship, academic excellence, and opportunities to work across disciplines.

The Bren PhD program is mentorship-based; you will work closely with at least one Bren professor in their area of expertise. Your sponsor serves as your student advisor and the chair of your PhD committee. This faculty sponsor is also responsible for providing intellectual support and academic and career advice, as well as assisting you to obtain financial support from Graduate Student Researcher positions, Teaching Assistant positions, fellowships, and other areas of support.

The PhD 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. 


Your future as a leader in solving environmental problems begins with being prepared for admission to the PhD in Environmental Science and Management at the Bren School. The admissions team is here to answer your questions about eligibility, the application process, research, faculty sponsorship, and how to choose your path in a PhD program in environmental science and management.

Online application opens September 1
Application deadline December 15
Admissions decisions March
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The Bren PhD program academic requirements are highly individualized for your mentorship-based experience. The PhD in Environmental Science and Management is a research degree awarded upon demonstration of academic excellence and performance of original research. There is no specific unit requirement, though there are required interdisciplinary seminar courses that enrich your experience and help you complete research with integrity. For students also completing an optional PhD emphasis or certificate, additional requirements and coursework may apply.

PhD Emphases & Certificates

Enhance your PhD experience by adding an optional PhD emphasis and/or certificate. Students have several opportunities for: 

Climate Science and Climate Change

Develop a broader understanding of the physical principles governing climate on Earth, climate changes associated with natural variability and anthropogenic forcings, and the impacts of climate change on the environment and society.

Economics and Environmental Science

Acquire a deep and expert knowledge of economics and the complex connections between the environment and economics.

Environment and Society

Receive additional training and mentorship in interdisciplinary studies such as global political economics, social justice, environmental politics, and population ecology.

Information Technology and Society

Explore further themes of the societal implications of information technology, including studies in media, science education and instruction, and data visualization.

Management Practice

Gain an in-depth understanding of entrepreneurial, business, and management practices in global technology-based companies.

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PhD Research

The work of Bren PhD students is a balance of research and application to both understand and solve complex environmental problems. In pursuit of their passion in environmental science and management, Bren doctoral students are taking on environmental challenges in a range of topics, including climate change impacts, aquaculture and sustainable fisheries, wildlife conservation, coral reef resilience, fate and transport modeling, life cycle assessment, environmental politics, nanomaterials and micropollution, renewable energy resources, deforestation, and so much more. 

Gain inspiration for your research topic from Bren's current PhD research projects and archive of dissertation titles. 

Career Development

Whether you’re looking to apply your PhD to an academic or non-academic career path, we’re here to connect you to the advising, resources, and contacts you need to learn relevant job search skills and put your expertise to practice via real-world impacts. In addition to individualized, field-specific career guidance from your faculty advisor(s), as a Bren doctoral student, you’ll have access to supplemental career support from our highly celebrated Career Development team as well as the dedicated career and professional development staff at UCSB’s Graduate Student Resource Center

Bren PhD alumni have gone on to successful positions as scientists, faculty members, researchers, managers, fellows, technical officers, and more within a variety of settings, including universities, corporations, think tanks, research institutes, consulting firms, and government agencies across the U.S. and globe. 

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 organization? More than 75% of alumni are BrenConnect users.

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

During your time at Bren, you’ll enjoy open access to the 40+ career workshops, speakers, and events hosted by the Career Development Team for Bren master’s students each year, allowing you to pick what and when to attend based on your needs and graduation timeline. To provide further guidance to doctoral students, the Career Development Team also hosts 1-2 PhD-specific workshops each year and partners with UCSB’s Graduate Student Resource Center (GSRC), which provides a full suite of additional workshops. These sessions cover academic and non-academic career topics, from how to write a teaching statement for faculty applications to how to leverage LinkedIn for a non-academic job search. In addition to individual guidance from your faculty advisor(s), both the Bren and GSRC career staff are available for one-on-one career advising on topics such as applying, interviewing, negotiating, and more.

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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 grad school experience has been designed to open doors for students to make a difference in the world. Our students often say they make friends and colleagues for life during their time at Bren.

PhD Symposium

PhD students at Bren organize and host an annual PhD Symposium in winter quarter, an event where PhD students give flash talks and present their research via a poster session to the campus community and general public. Students will also find opportunities to volunteer as part of the annual symposium committee.

PhD Retreat

Each year, Bren PhD students, faculty, and staff organize a retreat to welcome new students to the PhD program. The location of the retreat varies year to year and has been held in inspiring locations in nature, such as Yosemite and the California coast.

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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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