Program Requirements

General Requirements for all Options

  • A minimum of 30 units of approved upper division and graduate course work beyond the bachelor’s degree,
  • A minimum of 21 units in residence at Humboldt.
  • A minimum grade point average of 3.0 in all approved work taken toward completion of the graduate program.

Know Your Limits – Effective Fall 2013, graduate students cannot receive state financial aid for more than 125 percent of the published minimum number of units required for their program of study. Financial Aid Limits & Caps for Graduate Students

Make satisfactory progress in a timely manner.

Complete a thesis or project approved by your graduate committee.

Successfully present and defend your thesis or project in an open presentation to the Department.

Program Specific Requirements

Requirements for the Master of Science in Biology

  • 30 upper division or graduate units in biological sciences or supporting courses approved by the graduate committee, including BIOL 683 and BIOL 684 (normally taken at the first opportunity) and two seminars (BIOL 685). A minimum of 18 units must be at the graduate level.
  • Combined total of not less than four nor more than eight units of BIOL 690 and/or BIOL 699 (with a maximum of six units in BIOL 690) and a thesis or project approved by the graduate committee.
  • While in residence, enrollment in a minimum of two units per semester of BIOL 690 or BIOL 699.
  • Oral presentation of the thesis or project work and defense of the thesis or project before the graduate committee.

Requirements for the Master of Science in Environmental Systems

  • Complete an environmental systems program of courses arranged with a graduate advisor and approved by the faculty graduate committee. The program must include the core courses below plus an environmental systems option. Background deficiencies may be satisfied by taking approved undergraduate courses.
  • Complete the core course requirement: SCI 698 (1-3) Graduate Colloquium in Environmental Systems
  • Complete one of the following options: Energy, Technology, and Policy; Environmental Resources Engineering; Geology; or Mathematical Modeling.
  • Write an acceptable thesis/project.

Energy, Technology, and Policy Option

  • Prerequisites. An appropriate undergraduate degree and sufficient preparation is required. Prior coursework in areas including elementary statistics and probability, calculus, physics, and chemistry is expected. Engineering, math, and natural science students will benefit from having had at least six semester units of sociology, anthropology, economics, political science, or another related social science. Students who aspire to work internationally should have at least one year of training in a language other than English, or equivalent experience. Students with deficient preparation will be expected to satisfy background coursework prior to beginning the program. Deficiencies may be made up concurrently with prior approval in some cases, but this may extend time in the program.
  • Required courses. All core requirements listed under Requirements for the Degree plus the following option requirements:
    ENGR 532 (4) Energy, the Environment, and Society.
    ECON 550 (4) Economics of Energy & Climate Policy
    STAT 630 (4) Data Collection & Analysis
  • And at least one additional course from the following:
    ENGR 533 Energy & Climate Change.
    ENGR 535 Development Technology
  • Approved upper division and graduate courses in a coherent package of a minimum of four elective courses that bring the total to at least 30 units.

Environmental Resources Engineering Option

  • Prerequisites. Applicants should have an undergraduate major in engineering (civil, mechanical, agricultural, chemical, industrial, environmental, or other) or a related physical science. Students with deficiencies in core competencies associated with Environmental Resources Engineering may be required to take prerequisite coursework.
  • Required courses. All core requirements listed under Requirements for the Degree, plus at least three graduate level engineering courses from an approved list. In addition, students must complete approved coursework in topics related to engineering, associated sciences, economics, and policy to bring the total number of units to at least 30. Up to 6 units of thesis or project work may be applied to the degree. Note that courses taken at the 400-level for an undergraduate degree may not be repeated at the 500-level for credit towards the graduate degree.
  • Approved coursework must include one course each in economics and policy. Allowable courses include those listed below or appropriate alternative non-general education upper division or graduate level courses approved by the student’s academic advisor.

  • Approved economics courses:
    ECON 423 (3) Environmental & Natural Resources Economics (Must be taken concurrently with the corresponding Additional Depth course)
    ECON 423D (1) Env. & NR Economics – Add’l Depth.
    ECON 550 (4) Economics of Energy & Climate Policy
    ECON 570 (4) Sustainable Rural Economic Development
  • Approved policy courses:
    ENGR 532 (4) Energy, Environment & Society.
    ENGR 545 (3) Water Resources Planning & Mgmt..
    GEOG 473 (1-4) Topics in Advanced Physical Geography

Geology Option

  • Prerequisites. Applicants should (a) have an undergraduate major in geology or a related science and (b) submit transcripts. Applicants must have at least a year of college physics and a minimum of two semesters of calculus (three semesters desirable).
  • Required courses. All core requirements above plus option requirements:
    GEOL 550 (3) Fluvial Processes.
    GEOL 551 (3) Hillslope Processes.
    GEOL 553 (4) Quaternary Stratigraphy.
    GEOL 554 (2) Advanced Geology Field Methods.
    GEOL 555 (3) Neotectonics
    STAT 630 (4) Data Collection & Analysis
  • Approved upper division and graduate courses in a coherent package to bring the total units to 30. Electives generally will be taken within the College of Natural Resources & Sciences.

Requirements for the Master of Science in Natural Resource Sciences


Requirements include 30 units of coursework, with at least 50% of coursework at the graduate level. A thesis, public oral presentation, and a closed formal defense are required. Students select coursework on consultation with their thesis advisor and thesis committee. All students take 16 units from the Natural Resources Program Core and then at least 14 additional units specific to their concentration, thesis topic and career goals. There are four concentrations within the program, i) Environmental Science and Management, ii) Forest, Wildland and Watershed Sciences, iii) Fisheries, and iv) Wildlife.

Natural Resources Sciences Graduate Program Core (16 Units)

All students will take SCI 501 - Research Methods and Planning (3 units). All students will take an analytical methods course from this list (4 units):

ESM 510 - Research Methods in Human Dimensions of Natural Resources 

FISH 558 - Fish Population Dynamics 

GSP 510 - Research Methods in Geospatial Science 

STAT 333 - Linear Regression Models/ANOVA 

STAT 504 - Multivariate Statistics 

STAT 506 - Sampling Design and Analysis 

STAT 510 - Modern Statistical Modeling 

WLDF 578 - Advanced Ecology of Wildlife Populations 

All students will complete a combination of thesis and research units for a total of 9 units. Note that the thesis units must not exceed a 6 units. Students select thesis (690) and research (695) courses specific to their concentration. All students are required to enroll in at least 1 unit of 690 and 695 every semester. Units for 690 and 695 courses vary from 1-3 units.

Additional coursework is required by some of the concentrations as described below. Lists of approved electives are found in the course catalog: Master’s Programs - Cal Poly Humboldt - Acalog ACMS™


Environmental Science and Management

ESM 690 - Thesis

ESM 695 - Field Research

ESM 685 - Graduate Seminar

Enrollment in ESM 685 is required during two semesters of residence. A maximum of 2 units is applicable to the 30-unit requirement.



FISH 690 - Thesis

FISH 695 - Research Problems in Fisheries 

FISH 310 - Ichthyology

FISH 460 - Advanced Fish Conservation and Management

FISH 558 - Fish Population Dynamics

FISH 685 - Graduate Fisheries Seminar


Forest, Wildland and Watershed Sciences

FWWS 690 - Thesis Research

FWWS 695 - Field Research Problems



WLDF 690 - Thesis

WLDF 695 - Advanced Field Problems 

WLDF 585 - Seminar in Wildlife Management