The interdisciplinary graduate program in environmental studies awards two degrees: the Master of Science and the Doctor of Philosophy. The program is truly interdisciplinary in that it encourages students to think critically about environmental problems through three fundamental components: science, policy and values. Developing a deep understanding of these components as applied to a particular problem or issue helps students contribute meaningfully to theory and offer practical steps to solving environmental problems.
In US News & World Report's 2013 edition of “America's Best Graduate Schools,” CU-Boulder’s environmental sciences graduate program was ranked fifth in the country. CU-Boulder is one of the nation's leaders in environmental research; in fact, for a number of years, CU-Boulder received more support for research in the environmental sciences than any other university in the nation. In the National Science Foundation's latest rankings (January 2010), CU-Boulder was sixth in research and development expenditures in environmental sciences among the 480 universities ranked. Much of this research involves collaboration amongst and between disciplines and provides a productive environment for students who wish to gain interdisciplinary research experience.
Fieldwork opportunities and research activities are enhanced by the department’s affiliation with various research facilities, including the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), the Institute for Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR) and its Mountain Research Station, and the Institute for Behavioral Science (IBS). All of these institutes are involved in interdisciplinary research and activities related to the environment, and the department also offers interdisciplinary certificates in environment, policy and society; science, technology and policy; and hydrologic sciences.