The Bren School plays a leading role in researching environmental issues, identifying and solving environmental problems, and training research scientists and environmental management professionals. The Bren School offers three degree programs: Master of Environmental Data Science (MEDS), Master of Environmental Science and Management (MESM) and PhD of Environmental Science and Management.
The Bren School takes an interdisciplinary approach to environmental training. The curriculum includes broad and balanced coursework in natural science, social science, and management; it emphasizes quantitative and analytical approaches to address environmental challenges. Faculty have crafted the curriculum to ensure students are competitive in the job market and can readily advance in careers as environmental problem solvers.
MEDS is an 11-month master’s program to advance data-driven solutions to environmental problem solving. A joint endeavor of the Bren School and the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), the MEDS curriculum focuses on background, perspectives, and tools used by different disciplines to analyze environmental data and build competency across a range of data science topics. Beginning with a six-week series of short courses in summer quarter, students are trained in basic coding, computational and statistical skills. This “bootcamp” coursework is followed by a rigorous collection of core courses for three academic quarters, where students are immersed in a collaborative, open-source, data-driven environment. The core curriculum provides cutting-edge data science skills, in-depth training with tools such as R, Python, and SQL, and data visualization techniques for sharing compelling scientific narratives. The MEDS program culminates in a two-quarter, client-driven capstone project, equipping students with hands-on experience in environmental data science.
MESM students complete eight required core courses in natural sciences, economics, policy, law and business. In addition to the core requirements, MESM students take elective courses in one of the following seven specializations: Coastal Marine Resources Management; Conservation Planning; Corporate Environmental Management; Economics and Politics of the Environment; Energy and Climate; Pollution Prevention and Remediation; or Water Resources Management.
Bren students may supplement their training with a focus in Eco-Entrepreneurship (Eco-E) and/or Strategic Environmental Communication and Media (SECM). The Eco-E focus is a joint initiative between the Bren School and the Technology Management Program of the College of Engineering. Eco-E students learn how to launch new ventures, products, and technologies that address society's environmental and resource problems. The SECM focus is a joint initiative between the Bren School and Carsey-Wolf Center. Students in this focus pursue additional coursework to learn how to communicate effectively and strategically around environmental issues.
All MESM students work in teams over the course of a year to complete either a Group Project or Eco-E Project, which is the equivalent of a master’s thesis. Many MESM students pursue Group Projects, working together to solve real-world environmental problems with an external client that has a genuine stake in the outcome. Students who complete Eco-E Projects develop business models, build prototype concepts, and create go-to-market strategies for a new environmental venture. The Master’s Projects provide MESM students with unparalleled training and experience in performing professional-level work that involves managing group dynamics and applying technical expertise to solve complex, multidisciplinary environmental problems.
The Bren PhD program instills broad knowledge, analytical abilities, technical skills, and creative thinking necessary for leaders in environmental science and management. This research-oriented degree is designed to accommodate a wide range of interests, from those highly focused in a particular discipline to those that are strongly interdisciplinary. The cornerstone of the doctoral degree is an original work of dissertation research that focuses on the diagnosis, assessment, mitigation, remediation, and/or prevention of environmental problems. PhD students complete three required core courses to explore innovation in environmental science and learn conduct and professional skills for interdisciplinary research and publication. PhD students can supplement their training with courses from the Bren School and any other department at UCSB.
PhD students also may choose to supplement their program by establishing an emphasis in Climate Sciences and Climate Change (CSCC), Economics and Environmental Science (EES), or Information Technology and Society (ITS). The PhD emphases are joint programs with other departments on campus (Geography, Economics and the Center for Information Technology and Society, respectively).
Graduates of the Bren School are employed in the field of environmental science and management with government agencies, corporations, non-profit organizations, environmental consulting firms, research and educational organizations, among others.