Loyola University Chicago

School of Environmental Sustainability

Master of Science in Environmental Science & Sustainability: Research Track

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Climate change heightens social injustices, and global economies drive climate change. Solutions to today’s complex environmental challenges are informed by the sciences, and implemented in the socio-economic-political arena. Lasting solutions require diverse interdisciplinary understanding. At SES, we proudly take a whole-systems approach to our greatest environmental and sustainability challenges. As one of our Research Track graduate students you will have the opportunity to work with our diverse, interdisciplinary faculty in a range of critically important areas. Conduct an original research project with an expert and explore the scientific, social, political and business impacts on the changing environment with your fellow classmates through our diverse core and elective courses.

The MSESS Program

MS in Environmental Science and Sustainability (30 cr)

Research Track

Professional Track

CORE Course (6 cr)

CORE Course (6 cr)

Supervised thesis research (12 cr)

Concentration area (9-12 cr)

Natural science electives (6-12 cr)
Additional Elective (0-6 cr)

Natural science electives (6-12 cr)
Additional Elective (0-6 cr)

Lab and field research opportunities

Online learning opportunities

Learning Outcomes

  • Deepen your understanding of complex socio-ecological systems and their connection with sustainable development goals.
  • Increase your ability to make accurate and ethical evidence-based decisions from scientific literature.
  • Expand your capacity to communicate environmental science and sustainability issues to the scientific community, professional colleagues, policy makers, and the general public.
  • Demonstrate competence of in-depth knowledge and skills through completion of an original research project and thesis.


Required Courses

ENVS 401 – Sustainable Systems: Ecological Perspectives

Learn how an integrated viewpoint on environmental science and sustainability connects the goals of ecosystem protection and sustainable development. Joining these objectives ensures fair and just solutions for both people and the planet. Determine best practices in evaluating data in environmental science and sustainability and making ethically informed decisions about them.

ENVS 402 - Sustainable Systems: Social Perspectives

The solutions to environmental problems require understanding social and economic approaches to sustainable development. Explore the social science, debates, and practical examples behind the application of environmental sustainability goals. Learn the tools used in evaluating and implementing development strategies that are sustainable.


  • Work with your thesis advisor to choose from our many courses to best advance your individual interests.
  • Choose from our robust set of courses in environmental science and sustainability, including at least two from more than 45 courses we offer in environmental science and quantitative methods. You will also be able to choose from more than 20 of the courses we offer in Sustainable Society and Business.
  • You may even be able to complete one of the four-course online Graduate Certificates to further enhance your expertise and MS in Environmental Science & Sustainability credentials.

Thesis Research

  • Devote 12 credit hours to designing and conducting your research thesis work under the guidance of your thesis advisor and thesis committee.


This program is rolling admission.

  • Please Note: the GRE requirement has been waived
  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited four-year college or university
  • Undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0
  • At least one letter of recommendation (three preferred)
  • Statement of research interests identifying a thesis advisor (approx. 250-500 words)
  • For non-native speakers who have not earned a degree in an English-speaking institution: TOEFL/IELTS – 213 computer, 550 written, 79-80 iBT, 6.5 IELTS, PTE 53.

Tuition and Financial Assistance

There are a limited number of graduate assistantships, scholarships and relevant work opportunities available. Applications must be complete by January 15 to be considered for these opportunities.

Inside SES

Ping Jing

Assistant Professor, PhD, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

“I am an atmospheric scientist. My major research questions are: How can we safeguard air quality for people in the Midwest in future climate? How will emissions change as the climate becomes warmer and we start to increase the share of sustainable energy sources? I hope the outcomes of my research will benefit the public and decision makers in their climate adaptation planning and air pollution control policy.”

Rueben Keller

Associate Professor, PhD, Ecology

“As ecologists, we’re really interested in biodiversity and trying to conserve it. But getting people to listen to what you’re saying means coming up with something that’s socially relevant that you can get policymakers and managers interested in. You’ve got to go beyond ecology.”

Tim O'Brien

Professor, PhD, Applied and Environmental Statistics

“I love working with ecologists and policy experts to implement ways to turn their GIS or data into commonsense understanding. At SES, we use sophisticated computer algorithms and programs to separate the ‘signal’ from the ‘noise’ to uncover associations and detect causality – all with an eye to safeguard our precious resources.”

Research Expertise and Facilities


Students will conduct original research with one of SES’ interdisciplinary-focused faculty in areas such as:

  • Ecotoxicology
  • Applied plant biology
  • Sustainable business management
  • Restoration ecology
  • Environmental economics
  • Algal ecology
  • Climate science
  • Environmental statistics
  • Public involvement in environmental management
  • Invasive species ecology
  • Wetland ecology
  • Environmental history
  • Natural resource economics and policy


What types of students are successful in this program?

The MSESS is designed to support students of all backgrounds. No matter what your undergraduate degree was or when you graduated, SES graduate students are encouraged to enhance their understanding of the growing world of sustainability. The admissions requirements reflect our goal to attract students from a variety of educational and professional backgrounds. The complete application helps the selection committee understand the whole student.

How do I apply to the program?

  • Please submit your application online here
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  • Materials needed for application: official transcripts from any undergraduate and graduate degree(s), minimum one letter of recommendation, and statement of purpose
  • An official TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE score report is required for international applicants whose native language is not English. For the TOEFL, a score of at least 79 is required. For the IELTS, a minimum score of 6.5 is required. For PTE, a minimum score of at least 53 is required. Copies and faxes are not accepted as official documents; we must receive test scores directly from the testing service. This requirement is waived for those who have completed a four-year U.S. bachelor's degree program and those who are citizens of or have completed a bachelor's degree at a recognized institution at which the language of instruction is English in these countries: Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, or New Zealand.
  • Research track students must match with thesis advisor to complete the application. Contact Dr. Ping Jing (apjing@luc.edu) to begin your thesis advisor match process.

Is there an application fee?

No, there is no fee to apply.

What is the cost of the program?

Tuition is based on the number of credit hours you are taking each semester. In addition to Loyola University Chicago student fees, some courses may have lab fees. For the most recent tuition and fee schedule, see the Bursar’s website here.

Are there any scholarships, grants or work opportunities?

We have a limited number of graduate assistantships and relevant work opportunities available. Your application must be completed by April 1 to be considered for any awards or positions.

What are the admission requirements?

See our admission requirements for the Research Track here.

What is the minimum GRE score for admission to the program?

The GRE is required only for applicants to the MSESS Research Track and will be used as part of the overall review of the candidate. We do not have a mandatory GRE score for admission.

What are the required courses?

Each student will complete ENVS 401 and 402 and an additional 24 credit hours, regardless of track chosen. For more information about additional course work for this track, see here.

If I decide to apply and complete my file early, will this increase my chances of admission?

The same standards and criteria are used to evaluate all applicants, whether the application is completed early or not. We use a rolling admissions policy and will make admissions decisions for each student as soon as the application is completed.

How can I check the status of my application?

Once you submit an application, you can check the status of your application online. You should monitor the status of your application to ensure Loyola University has received all required application materials. All admission decisions will be sent by email.

Do you grant deferrals on offers of admission?

Deferrals will only be granted on a case-by-case basis. Candidates need to submit a formal request. There is also a financial deposit associated with deferment. Teach for America participants and those called for active military duty automatically receive a deferment upon request.