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Society in the early 21st century is facing multiple environmental grand challenges

Achieving food and water security, sustaining biodiversity, creating vibrant urban and rural landscapes, and solving the climate crisis are defining issues of our time. The Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability mentors the leaders of tomorrow that will address these critical challenges. Faculty conduct research on environmental solutions at the forefront of discovery and engage with leaders to put solutions into action. They bring these enriching experiences to students through our Professional Science Master’s program in Ecosystem Science and Sustainability as well as Degree Programs in Ecosystem Sustainability and Watershed Science.

Where do you see yourself in the future?


Will you be working on the ground with public or private sector teams

to overcome environmental challenges and meet sustainability goals? Then, we invite you to explore our Professional Master’s Program in Ecosystem Science and Sustainability.


Or perhaps, you will be working on a research team

making the discoveries that will lead to breakthroughs in sustaining ecosystems and watersheds? Explore our Degree Programs in Ecosystem Sustainability and Watershed Science if research is your career goal.

Learn more about ESS degrees


About the department

The Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability is one of five academic departments in Colorado State University’s Warner College of Natural Resources, the most comprehensive natural resources college in the nation. The Department brings together top faculty leading global research in ecosystem science and sustainability and watershed science. Students engage in field work, laboratory training, and technical instruction to examine and explore the sustainability of local, regional and global resources.  CSU’s campus is located along the Front Range of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, providing students with unique access to a wide variety of ecosystems, such as alpine, subalpine, montane, foothills and shortgrass steppe, that serve as living classrooms for hands-on learning.

Graduates have a strong record of employment and acceptance to leading Ph.D. programs after graduation, with graduates holding positions in federal, state, and local natural resource agencies, consulting firms, nongovernmental organizations, industry, teaching, and research.

The Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability will NOT be requiring the GRE for the Fall 2021 application cycle.

Application Deadlines:

Priority Application Deadline for Fall: February 1

Spring Admission: Dependent on funding only

Minimum Requirements:

  • Confirmation from faculty advisor (for research MS and PhD degrees only)
  • Undergraduate degree in a related field (Undergraduate degrees in unrelated fields may require additional coursework.)
  • Undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher (on a 4.0 scale)
  • Official scores from the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) general test (waived for Fall 2021 admissions)
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • A personal statement
  • Resume or curriculum vita

Department Preferred Qualifications:

Admissions and Application Information

Prior to applying to the program, we recommend that you contact potential advisors, as students are only admitted to our research-based programs if a faculty member chooses to accept them as an advisee.

The Professional Science Master’s in Ecosystem Science & Sustainability does not require a faculty advisor be identified.

Check out our Choosing A Faculty Advisor page for more information on how to contact our faculty!

CSU Admissions does not offer tours for prospective graduate students. 

If you have been in touch with a faculty advisor in our department, there may exist the opportunity to visit CSU, meet with them, and tour our department/research labs.  Please inquire with our faculty directly about this possibility.

Your graduate application requires you to write a personal statement.  While there is no limit on length or specific guidelines for personal statements written for inclusion within applications to our graduate programs, we ask that you reflect on why you are applying, your career and research goals, and what life/educational experiences have led you to graduate school.

We recommend this resource on Writing your Personal Statement from Purdue University.

Waivers for the graduate application fee exist for participants of certain eligible programs.

Consult with the Graduate School about your waiver request, per the instructions on the Application Fee Waiver Request.

Please refer to the CSU Graduate School requirements for English language proficiency.

The Office of International Programs provides extensive international orientation information regarding immigration, arrival, campus housing, and campus involvement.

The Office of Financial Aid provides in-depth information on residency classification.