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PhD Academics

The Bren School PhD in Environmental Science and Management program academic requirements are highly individualized for your mentorship-based experience.

The Bren PhD is a research degree awarded upon demonstration of academic excellence and performance of original research. As such, there is no specific unit requirement. as a PhD student at Bren, you will complete an individual program of study guided by your doctoral committee.

Student sitting in lecture hall working on laptop

Academic Requirements

All Bren PhD students must complete the following interdisciplinary seminar courses prior to graduation.

ESM 510: Faculty Research Speaker Series
Students attend faculty research presentations and discuss and analyze the research in a separate session under the direction of the course instructor.

ESM 512: Research Ethics and Conduct
This course introduces the ethical principles that apply to scientists to incoming PhD students of the Bren School. We will discuss key concepts and cases in research conduct and research ethics including: (1) Brief history and basic terms and concepts in ethics; (2) Plagiarism and authorship; (3) Falsification and fabrication; (4) Peer-review process; (5) Human subjects & bioethics; (6) Conflict of interest; (7) Policies and protocols to prevent research misconduct; and (8) Miscellaneous ethical issues in the academic environment. We will also review historical cases of research misconduct, and we will analyze recent retraction cases.

ESM 514: Collaborative Interdisciplinary Research
Exploration of a problem oriented-topic (e.g. management of invasive species, fisheries management, climate change and policy responses).

Academic Timeline

First year: Students form their PhD committee and begin an individual program of study.

Second year: At the end of the second year of the PhD program, but no later than the end of the third year, the PhD committee prepares a written examination that tests the student’s knowledge of his/her specialization in the context of Environmental Science & Management as well as research skills, problem-solving skills, and ability to perform academic work.

Third year: Students prepare a dissertation proposal. At the end of the third year, typically, students pass an oral examination.

Fourth & Fifth years: Students prepare their PhD dissertation. Students must present a dissertation demonstrating the ability to conduct significant, independent, and original research in their major field.

Fifth year: At the end of the fifth year, students defend their PhD dissertation. Upon completion of the dissertation, a public lecture on the research must be presented, followed by a closed-door defense before the PhD committee. 

Students focused on speaker in lecture hall

PhD Emphases & Certificates (optional)

PhD in the area of Political Science

While not a formal PhD emphasis, many Bren PhD students study a topic in the area of environmental politics and policy. Several Bren faculty advisors specialize in political science and hold joint appointments with the UCSB Department of Political Science. Their research focuses on finding institutional solutions to environmental problems -- the formal and informal rules that guide action at multiple levels. These advisors have provided a guide for prospective PhD students interested in political science.

PhD Emphasis in Economics and Environmental Science

PhD students in the Bren School or the Economics Department may choose to supplement their PhD program by establishing an emphasis in Economics and Environmental Science (EES). Students who pursue this option acquire a deep and expert knowledge of economics, as well as an understanding and appreciation of the research questions and methods of a natural science that complements their economics research.

PhD Emphasis in Environment and Society

Doctoral students from over fifteen departments at UCSB may add the emphasis to the PhD in their home department. The PhD Emphasis in Environment and Society provides UCSB doctoral students training and mentorship in interdisciplinary environmental studies and sciences beyond the scope of their normal degree programs. Receive additional training and mentorship in areas such as global political economics, social justice, energy justice, environmental politics, population ecology, and more.

PhD Emphasis in Technology and Society

This optional emphasis in Technology and Society offered by the UCSB Center for Information Technology and Society provides multi-disciplinary training for graduate students planning dissertations with themes of information technology and society. Gain additional training and mentorship in societal implications of information technology, including studies in media, television, new media, science education and instruction, data visualization, and the relationships between the arts, music, and technology.

Certificate in College and University Teaching

The Certificate in College and University Teaching (CCUT) is designed for doctoral students who wish to demonstrate superior competence and experience in preparation for teaching at the university or college level. The Certificate is awarded in conjunction with a Ph.D. or MFA degree upon completion.

Graduate Program in Management Practice

For highly motivated graduate students across the UC Santa Barbara campus seeking a structured and diploma-enhancing business education, the Technology Management Program offers a UC-wide recognized graduate certificate. The Graduate Program in Management Practice (GPMP) is open to UC Santa Barbara master's degree students and Ph.D. candidates from any major. This program provides a path for innovative and dedicated students to gain in-depth understanding of cutting-edge entrepreneurial and business practices in global-technology based companies.

Are you ready to solve environmental problems?

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