The MS may be obtained through either a Plan A (research thesis) or Plan B (nonthesis) program. The Plan A option requires a thesis based on original research conducted by the student. The Plan B option is available for students interested in professional careers who do not desire research training. The PhD degree is intended for students seeking a research or academic career. Comprehensive exams (both oral and written) are required in the doctoral program.
The Plan A option for a master’s degree requires preparation of a thesis. From 6-15 semester credits of thesis research are required. The semesters during which a student registers for thesis credit should correspond as closely as possible to the semesters in which the thesis work is done and faculty supervision is provided. The Plan B option requires the production of a paper or other scholarly work. At least 2 credits of thesis research are required, but no more than 3 credits of thesis credit can be included on the Program of Study.
With committee approval, graduate credit may be transferred from accredited graduate schools, provided the minimum residency requirement (including thesis and dissertation credit) at USU is met. Transfer credit, which must not have been used for any other degree, will be shown on official USU transcripts at completion of the degree.
For PhD degree programs in this department, there is a more variable amount of required coursework, as well as a research dissertation. Compared to the MS degree, the PhD degree has a greater emphasis on theory, research methods, writing research proposals, and publishing research in peer-reviewed outlets.
Environment and Society MS/PhD
These degrees are aimed at students who desire to be problem-solvers with an ability to integrate the human and biophysical aspects of ecosystems, and to analyze policies and decisions that encourage sustainability of human communities and ecosystems. The MS degree prepares students for professional practice in natural resources and environmental planning and management, policy and program analysis, public affairs, environmental education, community assessment and collaboration, conflict management, and extension/outreach. The PhD program places a greater emphasis on theory and research methods in one or more social science disciplines, and thus prepares students for university teaching, research, and extension; for conducting agency and private organizational research; and for positions in formal policy and program evaluation.
For more details regarding the Environment and Society program see our Environment and Society Department Graduate Handbook.