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Graduate Catalog 2016/2017

Environmental Science and Policy (ESP)

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Master of Science (M.S.)
CIP Code: 03.0104
College of Arts and Sciences (AS)
Total Minimum Program Hours Required (Post Bachelor's Degree): 36

Contact Information:
College of Arts and Sciences
Geography, Environment and Planning Department (GPY)
4202 E. Fowler Avenue NES107
Tampa FL  33620

Program Director or Coordinator:
Kamal Alsharif
Phone: 813-974-4883


Faculty Search: Arts and Sciences Faculty List

Program Information

Contact the program for information.


Accreditation Information:

Accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of College and Schools.


Admissions Information

Admission Deadlines

There is an established University deadline for the submission of admission application materials. Programs may have earlier deadlines than the University deadline. The deadlines reflected below are the earliest of the two deadlines. Graduate Programs may continue to accept and process applications after the published deadline if space exists within the program. Check with the Program for availability.

Application Deadline (domestic application)

Fall: February 15
Spring: ---
Summer: ---

International Students

Foreign applicants who are outside the U.S. are required to apply for a visa. Depending on the country of origin, this may take a few months. So the deadlines for these international applicants may be earlier than the Program deadline and these applicants must apply prior to both deadlines. They are strongly encouraged to apply as early as possible. Foreign applicants who are in the U.S. and are currently on a visa may use the domestic application deadline dates. In addition to meeting the published application deadline for the Program of interest, all immigration documents should be submitted as soon as possible, but must be on file at USF no later than the following processing deadlines:

Fall: February 15
Spring: ---
Summer: ---

Admission Requirements

You must comply with general University policies and meet general University Admission requirements in addition to those listed below.

Geography is the study of the human-environment relationship either in a global or more regional context. Physical geographers focus on physical/human interrelationships and the interconnections among the various physical environmental elements. Human geographers focus on human interactions with their own environmental constructions, both built and social. Physical and human geographers both rely on specific techniques, including cartography, geographic information systems, and field work, in their research. The Department of Geography provides the opportunity to pursue the study of geography with particular emphasis on applied work geared to help solve real world problems.

Program Admission Requirements

Same as University requirements plus:

  • at least two letters of recommendation
  • transcripts
  • a letter of intent
  • A graduate assistant application if the applicant is applying for a GA position.
  • The GRE is required.
  • B.A. with 3.0 GPA

Admissions Status: Apply


Program Degree Requirements

The curriculum consists of 36 credits divided into three categories:



Core Requirements
Elective Requirements
Research Requirements





Students select a course whose primary objective is mastery of research tools or methods with applications to research in the environmental field, subject to the approval of the Graduate Director and the student's Supervisory Committee. Courses that meet these criteria include:



Geographic Information Systems for Non-Majors
Advanced Geographic Information Systems
Computational Statistics I
  (or other statistics course approved by the Graduate Director,
  such as PCB 6456 or GEO 6166)
Multivariate Statistical Analysis



Advanced Topics in Environmental Science :
Students must complete both of the following courses:


Seminar in Environmental Science (varying special topics)
ESP Capstone Seminar (taken after a minimum of 24 program credits have been completed)


Students must take two courses from the following list. At least one class must be an EVR course.


Seminar in Environmental Science (varying special topics)
Seminar in Environmental Science and Policy (varying special topics)
Advances in Water Quality Policy and Management
Geomorphology for Environmental Scientists
Wildlife Ecology
Natural Hazards
Hydrologic Systems
Advances in Water Resources
Soils Seminar
Karst Geomorphology Seminar
Geomorphology Seminar
Physical Geography Seminar
Technological Hazards and Environmental Justice
Air Pollution Research Seminar


Elective Requirements


Students must complete 12 credit hours of elective courses within an area of concentration selected according to their interests and career goals. Students should select appropriate advanced coursework within their chosen area of concentration, in close consultation with their major professor and Supervisory Committee, to develop programs of study that fit their scholarly and career interests, and for thesis option students, the needs of their research. Students completing an approved (by the Graduate Director) graduate certificate as part of their programs can count 12 hours from the certificate program towards the M.S. degree elective requirements. Environmental Policy and Management Certificate courses that meet M.S. degree core requirements will be applied to the core and remaining courses will be counted as electives in the M.S. program. Each student's elective program of study is subject to the approval of the Graduate Director. Areas in which students may decide to complete their electives, where courses are supported by the ES&P Program and/or affiliated Departments, include:

  • Ecology
    12 credits primarily from courses offered within the ES&P Program in the Department of Geography, and courses in the Department of Biology, to be selected in consultation with the student's major professor and Supervisory Committee. This area features a particular concentration in landscape ecology, wildlife ecology and management, conservation biology, ecological modeling, and field methods, including the use of GIS, GPS, and remote sensing technologies.
  • Environmental Policy and Management
    15 credits (only 12 hours can be applied towards the MS program) guided by the guidelines for the Graduate Certificate in Environmental Policy and Management. Credits will be applied to the core and elective requirements for the M.S. program as described above.
  • Geology
    12 credits primarily from courses offered within the ES&P Program in the Department of Geography and courses in the Department of Geology to be selected in consultation with the student's Supervisory Committee. This area features a particular concentration in karst geology and public policy planning in karstic environments: and a concentration in paleogeology.
  • Hydrogeology
    15 credits (only 12 hours can be applied towards the MS program) as required by the Graduate Certificate in Hydrogeology, as specified by the Department of Geology.
  • Hazards Assessment and Mitigation
    12 credits primarily from courses offered within the ES&P Program in the Department of Geography, and courses in the Department of Geology, and Civil Engineering, to be selected in consultation with the student's major professor and Supervisory Committee.
  • Urban Environment
    12 credit hours primarily in the Department of Geography, to be selected in consultation with the student's major professor and Supervisory Committee.
  • Water Quality and Policy
    12 credits drawn from relevant courses offered within the ES&P Program in the Department of Geography, and courses in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and the School of Public Affairs, to be selected in consultation with the student's major professor and Supervisory Committee. This area features a particular concentration in urban runoff water quality, watershed-based water quality assessment, and watershed planning and management for water quality protection.
  • Other
    12 credits in other areas of concentration are also considered. The student may select an area of concentration that is strongly supported by graduate studies at USF and by one or more faculty members in the Department of Geography. The student should be able to describe how the courses form a coherent area of concentration relevant to his or her scholarly interests, research objectives, and/or career goals, and prepare a brief statement to that effect for the approval of the Graduate Director. The student should then select courses in consultation with his/her major professor and Supervisory Committee.

Research Requirements:


The M.S. in ES&P is a research-oriented degree. Thesis track students complete a Thesis which constitutes an original scholarly contribution and is conducted under the direction of a Major Professor and a 3- member Faculty Supervisory Committee (of which the Major Professor serves as chair). Students form their Supervisory Committee before completion of 18 credits of coursework, typically near the end of their first full year in the Program. Students complete a Thesis Proposal subject to approval of the Supervisory Committee typically early in the second year of studies. Students defend their Thesis in an oral presentation, and submit a written document for the approval of the Supervisory Committee, which is then submitted to the University as a requirement for earning the degree.

The research requirements include the following coursework, for a minimum total of 9 credit hours:

Directed Research


Thesis Preparation


Students complete at least 6 credit hours of thesisresearch under the direct supervision of their major professor, typically during the second year of studies.After completion of all Core and Elective requirements, students remain enrolled in at least 2 credit hours persemester of EVR 6920 until the completion and submittal of the Thesis which completes the requirements forthe degree. Throughout this period students must work in close cooperation with their major professor andSupervisory Committee, and provide the Committee a summary of progress at least once per semester.

Research Methods/Design Preparation
All students selecting the Thesis option will complete a research methods/design course (GEO6970 Research Methods in Geography). Other courses may be substituted for this requirement with the permission of the student's advisor and the Graduate Program Director.


Geographic Research Design


Research Colloquium


Research Colloquium




There are two options to complete the M.S. Degree – Non-Thesis Option and Thesis Option.

Non-Thesis Option
Students complete a minimum of 36 hours, with 24 hours of electives, keeping in mind that a minimum degree requirement is 16 hours at the 6000 level. Students must pass a comprehensive written examination that is administered during the semester they plan to graduate.

  • The examining committee will be comprised of the student's Supervisory Committee.
  • Non-thesis students are required to complete a six-hour long, written, closed book, comprehensive exam, which typically consists of series of questions that are prepared by the examination committee. Students are not allowed any outside materials during the exam, which is to be hand-written on paper supplied by the examination committee.
  • The exam can be completed during the spring or fall semesters, but not during the summer.
  • Students are encouraged to complete the exam during the last semester of their coursework. The exam must be completed no later than one semester after the student completes the coursework for the degree. You must be registered for two credits in that semester in the semester that the exam is completed.
  • All non-thesis examinations will be scheduled for the same day each semester (i.e. all students will sit for the exam at the same time), the date being set by the Graduate Director. Students must coordinate with their major professors when they will take the exam.
  • Questions are solicited and organized by the student's major professor in consultation with the student's examination committee.
  • The answers to the questions are evaluated by the student's Supervisory Committee within two weeks of the exam.
  • If the answer to any question is determined to be incorrect or incomplete, the student may be required to retake that portion of the exam in the form of an oral exam that is only open to the committee. Students are encouraged to complete the oral exam in the same semester they completed the first written exam.
  • If the student fails all portions of the exam, they will have one opportunity to retake the entire exam. This second exam must be completed no later than the semester after the student receives notification that a second exam is necessary.
  • If it is determined that the student did not successfully complete his/her comprehensive exam after their second attempt, he/she will be dismissed from the program.

Thesis Option
The thesis option is a 36-hour program designed for students who wish to complete original research as part of their graduate studies. The thesis option is a viable option for all students. Those intending to continue graduate work to the Ph.D. level are strongly encouraged to complete a thesis.

  • The student is required to present his/her thesis research at a public thesis defense.
  • As part of the thesis defense, an oral comprehensive exam is also administered. The defense and oral exam is scheduled and organized by the student's major professor, in consultation with the student's Supervisory Committee and the Graduate Director.
  • As part of this process, a Presentations Form (available in the department office) needs to be completed one week prior to the defense date.
  • The exam can be completed only during the spring and fall Semesters.
  • A copy of the thesis must be made available in the department office one week prior to the defense for public review.





College Degree Requirements

Refer to the College Section of theGraduate Catalog for College requirements and information.


USF Degree Requirements

See USF Degree Requirements —


Financial Assistance

Financial Aid

Fellowships & Scholarships

Graduate Assistantships


Registration Process

First, contact your graduate program advisor for guidance courses to register for. Obtain any electronic course permit if necessary. Register for the new student orientation online at Then go to the link to OASIS, USF's on-line registration system to register for your classes. Follow the directions given on-line.

To access online course materials, students must have a USF NetID (e-mail account). Please visit: to obtain your NetID.

New students, including those studying online, may obtain a USFCard. Please visit: to obtain your USFCard.

Tuition and fees: Fees are determined by the level of the course. Please visit Cash Accounting, Controller's Office, for information on tuition and fees.


Graduate Course Information

Use the list below to lookup graduate courses related to this program in the USF Course Inventory:

GIS5049, GIS6100, STA5166, PCB6456, GEO6166, PCB6456, GEO6166, GEO6116, EVR6922, EVR6920, GEO6970, GEO6930,