PhD in Environmental Science and Engineering

PhD in Environmental Science and Engineering

Fuel Innovation in Environmental Science and Engineering

The rapid transitions our society requires for clean energy, air, water and sustainable food systems depend on the sophisticated knowledge, exhaustive inquiry and out-of-the-box thinking of leaders. Through Clarkson University’s PhD in Environmental Science and Engineering program, you will be able to develop innovative solutions to some of the most pressing environmental sustainability issues of today. We offer the resources, state-of-the-art facilities and mentorship that allow you to become an innovator in the field. 

Why Earn a PhD in Environmental Science and Engineering?

Our graduate program in environmental engineering is considered one of the top 50 in the nation by the U.S. News & World Report. The PhD program is focused on producing researchers who can offer groundbreaking solutions to present environmental challenges. If you have a vision for the future, Clarkson provides the tools you need to bring it to life. What can you expect?

  • Interdisciplinary: The coursework includes science, engineering, social sciences and policy. Your research will span the boundaries of these disciplines.
  • Intensive research: The program creates the right setting for experimentation and discovery. You’ll learn from our world-renowned faculty while conducting your own investigations in our state-of-the-art facilities.
  • Dissertation: The research you undertake during your studies will be the basis for your dissertation. This is your opportunity to contribute to the field with original scholarship, propositions and potential solutions.
  • Resources: The Institute for a Sustainable Environment is the PhD program's home and a hub for discovery and exploration. You will find the facilities, research centers and initiatives you need to fulfill your requirements.

What You’ll Learn

PhD students take courses in:

  • Ecology and environmental systems
  • Environmental engineering
  • Policy and law
  • Risk analysis

You’ll center your elective courses around a theme of your choosing and through the guidance of your advisor. Some suggested themes include:

  • Air Quality and Environmental Assessment
  • Engineering and Policy
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Environmental Quality and Treatment
  • Sustainable Systems

Review all requirements below. 

The PhD in Environmental Science and Engineering requires 90 credit hours above the bachelor’s level. This is divided among at least 24 credit hours of coursework, a six-credit-hour seminar, doctoral work and a dissertation. You’ll devote 15 credit hours toward a theme of your choice. You’ll apply for PhD candidacy within two years of acceptance to the program. From here, you have seven years to finish all coursework and research.

Environmental Science & Engineering PhD Required Courses

The PhD candidates must complete 90 credit hours, including 6 credits of seminar and at least 24 credits of graduate coursework.  Additionally, the PhD candidate must take:

  • EV 532 (Risk Analysis)
  • POL 570 (Environmental Policy) or POL 571 (Energy Policy)
  • CE 586 (Industrial Ecology) or CE 582 (Environmental Systems Analysis and Design)
  • Five (5) additional electives (15 credits) following a selected “Theme”
  • At least three (3) of the above set of courses must be Engineering courses
  • Completion of a Dissertation

Programs of study will be developed for each PhD candidate in conjunction with a Faculty Advisor based on research direction and should provide sufficient breadth and depth to allow for the student’s future intellectual development. For many this will require completing more than 24 course credits. 

Suggested Elective Environmental Science & Engineering Themes

Engineering and Policy

  • EC660 (Environmental Economics)
  • POL571 (Energy Policy)
  • CE586 (Industrial Ecology)
  • EV536 (Global Climate Change: Science, Engineering, and Policy)
  • ANTH570 (Environment, Technology, and Society)
  • POL592 (Environmental Political Theory)
  • POL575 (Environmental Law)

Air Quality and Environmental Assessment:

  • CE577 (Atmospheric Chemistry)
  • CM532 (Particle Size Analysis in Dispersions and Other Colloids)
  • CM552 (Aerosol Chemistry)
  • EHS505 (Methods and Analysis)
  • CE533 (Human Exposure Analysis)

Sustainable Systems

  • BY659 (Systems Biology)
  • BY520 (Microbiology)
  • BY525 (Biological Systems & Global Environmental Change)
  • CE586 (Industrial Ecology)
  • CE534 (Sustainable Development Engineering)
  • CE569 (Watershed Analysis)
  • PHIL510 (Sustainability Theory & Practice: A Critical Assessment)

Environmental Chemistry

  • BY531/CE589 (Limnology)
  • CE535 (Groundwater Hydrology and Geochemistry)
  • CE577 (Atmospheric Chemistry)
  • CE580 (Environmental Chemistry)
  • CM530 (Colloids and Interfaces)
  • CM532 (Particle Size Analysis in Dispersions and Other Colloids)
  • CM552 (Aerosol Chemistry)
  • EHS505 (Methods and Analysis)

Environmental Quality and Treatment

  • CE579 (Water and Wastewater Treatment and Design)
  • CE581 (Hazardous Waste Management Engineering)
  • CE584 (Chemodynamics)
  • CE681 (Environmental Physico-Chemical Processes)
  • CE682 (Environmental Biological Processes)

The Institute for a Sustainable Environment is a hub for integrated research in environmental solutions across Clarkson. You will have access to our CAARES facility, CAMP, the Power Systems Center, the NYS Center of Excellence in Healthy Water Solutions, the Clarkson Center for Complex Systems Science (C3S2) and the Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries. The current areas of research at ISE include clean air, clean water, clean energy, advanced materials, healthy ecosystems, encouraging a circular economy, supporting a healthy planet and sustainable and resilient communities. 

A complete application consists of the following:

  • Online Application Form
  • Résumé
  • Statement of purpose
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Official transcripts
  • GRE is strongly encouraged but not required.
  • For international applicants, submitting the results of an English proficiency test is required:
    • Minimum test score requirements: TOEFL (80) and TOEFL Essentials (8.5), IELTS (6.5), PTE (56) or Duolingo English Test (115).

PhD Prerequisites: No minimum grade point average is required for admission; however, in general, a GPA above 3.25 for a Master of Science degree in a related field is expected in combination with a superior record of academic achievement.

Learn more about admission requirements for graduate students.

A limited number of fully funded research and teaching assistantships and partial tuition scholarships and stipends are available for qualified full-time students.

Learn more about all of our scholarships and assistantships and how to apply by contacting the Institute for a Sustainable Environment's graduate division via email at

| STEM OPT Eligible

Contact Us

Graduate Admissions
Phone: 518-631-9831

Interested in learning more about the PhD in Environmental Science and Engineering? Contact the Office of Graduate Admissions today with your questions.

Find out more in the Institute for a Sustainable Environment.

99% Placement Rate - 2023 Graduate School Overall

Careers in Environmental Science & Engineering

The research-heavy foundation and interdisciplinary nature of Clarkson’s PhD program prepare candidates for a variety of career paths, and our graduate students secure leadership and research positions in many well-known organizations.

Career Paths

  • Careers in the private sector
  • Education and academia
  • Research-, development- or innovation-based roles in government or industry

Recent Employers

  • Baseline Environmental Consulting
  • Cornell University
  • MJW Corporation
  • New York State Water Resources Institute
  • NY Independent Service Operators (NYISO)
  • Virginia Tech University

Student Story

"Clarkson's Environmental Science and Engineering PhD program provided me with some of the most formative, unique experiences of my education. The small community, where everyone knew one another and was passionate about their work, combined with the freedom to pursue opportunities and ideas that I found exciting, allowed me to thrive and grow as an independent researcher and professional. My time spent at Clarkson was a time of rapid growth and evolution in who I am as an individual and as a research professional. Today, as a postdoctoral researcher, my work is a direct expansion on the research and skills I gained as a PhD student at Clarkson. The freedom within the ESE program simulates well the independence of pursuing your own research in a post-graduate career — if you are excited to put in the work and desire to think creatively, you will get out what you put in and find people along the way to support you."

Evie S. Brahmstedt '22, PhD in Environmental Science and Engineering

See Evie's Research

Sustainability Efforts

Clarkson is known and lauded for our dedication to sustainability. Our major sustainability initiatives include working to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions, maintaining a Gold AASHE Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS®) rating, aligning with the U.N.'s sustainable development goals and supporting student-endorsed sustainability projects.

To learn more, listen to Dr. Susan Powers, director of our Institute for a Sustainable Environment, on the Ignite Podcast about our changing climate, the latest sustainability efforts on campus and the amazing progress Clarkson has made to reduce the university's carbon footprint.

Listen to Podcast

Meet Our Faculty

Students enrolled in the PhD in Environmental Science and Engineering program work closely with ISE-affiliated faculty. Learn more about our team, including specialties and backgrounds.

Faculty & Staff

Achieve Your Purpose Here

Help make a positive impact on the environment through your own research and independent study. If you see yourself making a difference through Clarkson’s PhD program, take the next step.