Soil, Environmental and Atmospheric Sciences MS Program

Master’s Graduation Requirements

Candidates for the M.S. degree must have a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college. Appropriate undergraduate majors in preparation for graduate studies in soil, environmental and atmospheric sciences include: agronomy, atmospheric science, biochemistry, biology, botany, chemistry, earth science, engineering, environmental science, forestry, geology, mathematics, microbiology, physics and soil science.

Admission Contact Information

Neil Fox, PhD, emphasis area coordinator (
School of Natural Resources
University of Missouri
302 Anheuser-Busch Natural Resources Building
Columbia, MO 65211 USA
(573) 882-2144

Admission Requirements

  • Bachelor’s degree in a relevant discipline from an accredited institution
  • Undergraduate GPA: 3.0 on a scale of 4.0
  • Graduate Record Exam score (GRE)*: verbal plus quantitative total of at least 1100 (300 on the new GRE)
  • Minimum TOEFL scores: 550 (paper-based test), 79 (Internet-based test)

Students whose GPAs and GRE scores do not meet the requirements will be evaluated individually. The GRE requirement may be waived under exceptional circumstances. Applicants will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Degree Requirements

Thesis Option

Course Requirements

The degree program with emphasis in SEAS must include:

  • 30 hours of graduate credit, with at least 15 hours comprised of 8000- or 9000-level courses.
  • Not more than 12 hours of the minimum 30 hours are permitted for research, problems, special investigations and special readings.
  • Students must maintain a GPA of 3.0 (A=4.0) in all course work presented for the degree.
  • A minimum of one credit hour of graduate seminar must be included in each student’s graduate program.
  • All students enrolled in graduate programs are required to participate in a supervised teaching activity.
  • All students are required to attend a workshop on ethics and professionalism.
  • Each student’s coursework requirements, including the selection of specific courses, will be listed in the student’s plan of study and approved by their graduate committee.

For an atmospheric science focus area, appropriate atmospheric science courses must be selected and approved in consultation with the student’s advisor and graduate thesis committee.

For a soil science focus area, at least 12 credit hours of soil science courses at the 7000, 8000, and 9000 levels, exclusive of problems and thesis research, must be included in the student’s graduate program.

For an environmental science focus area, at least six credit hours of environmental science courses at the 7000, 8000, and 9000 levels, exclusive of problems and thesis research, must be included in the student’s graduate program. To meet the six credit hour requirement, courses must be selected from the following list of approved environmental science courses:

ATM_SC 7520 Environmental Biophysics 3
ENV_SC 7305 Environmental Soil Physics 3
ENV_SC 7306 Environmental Soil Physics Laboratory 2
ENV_SC 7312 Environmental Soil Microbiology 3
ENV_SC 7318 Environmental Soil Chemistry 3
ENV_SC 7320 Hydrologic and Water Quality Modeling 3
ENV_SC 8400 Solute Transport in the Vadose Zone 3
ENV_SC 8500 Chemistry of the Vadose Zone 3
FOREST 7390 Watershed Management and Water Quality 3
FOREST 8390 Physical Hydrology 3
SOIL 7308 Soil Conservation 3
SOIL 7313 Soil Fertility and Plant Nutrition 3
SOIL 7314 Soil Fertility and Plant Nutrition Laboratory 2
SOIL 7320 Genesis of Soil Landscape 4
SOIL 9414 Advanced Soil Fertility 3
SOIL 9422 Pedology 3
Total Credits 47

To complete the environmental science focus area, an additional six credit hours must be selected from courses listed above or from the following departments: biochemistry, biological engineering, biological sciences, chemical engineering, chemistry, civil and environmental engineering, fisheries and wildlife sciences, forestry, geography, geological sciences, and natural resources. Selection of these courses will be determined in consultation with faculty members serving on a student’s thesis committee.

Thesis Committee

A thesis committee is composed of three members of the MU faculty: a major adviser from the academic program, a second reader from the academic program and an outside reader who is a member of the graduate faculty from a different MU graduate program.

Thesis Requirements

Students with thesis option must

  • submit a plan of study within six month of initial enrollment,
  • present a written proposal of their research or project proposal to be reviewed and approved by members of the students’ Masters Committee within one year of initial enrollment in the emphasis area, students,
  • submit a written thesis or project report following the guidelines specified by the Graduate School. All students must present a public oral defense of their dissertation or project announced at least two weeks prior to the defense date. Electronic media may be used to facilitate the defense for online/distance education students when appropriate.

A thesis, which is a research report of original research on a specialized soil, environmental or atmospheric science problem conducted by the student, must be presented to the student’s graduate committee and successfully defended.

Every candidate should review the Dissertation & Thesis Guidelines from the Graduate School and should consult the Emphasis Area Coordinator for academic program style requirements.

Non-Thesis Option

Under special circumstances, a non-thesis program in the soil science, environmental science or atmospheric science focus area may be approved by the student’s advisory committee, the SEAS Emphasis Area Coordinator and the Director of Graduate Studies. Not more than 6 hours of the minimum 30 hours are permitted for non-thesis research, problems, special investigations and special readings. At least 15 hours of the minimum 30 hours must be 8000- or 9000-level courses. A minimum of one credit hour of graduate seminar must be included in each student’s graduate program. The student is required to participate in a supervised teaching activity and attend a workshop on ethics and professionalism. A student in the non-thesis option must form a graduate advisory committee and have that committee approve of the student taking the non-thesis option, the proposed course plan, and a project for the student to complete to meet the requirements of the non-thesis option. The student will complete a written report for the project which must be approved by the student’s advisory committee.

Integrated B.S./M.S. Program

Undergraduate students enrolled in the Environmental Sciences degree program are eligible to apply for the integrated graduate degree program in Natural Resources with an emphasis in soil, environmental and atmospheric sciences that will enable outstanding undergraduates to obtain a B.S. and a M.S. (thesis required) after the successful completion of both degree requirements in five years. The program provides a challenging curriculum that will include opportunities and training in undergraduate and graduate-level research and prepare the student for a successful professional career. Increasingly, employers in competitive technical fields are looking for highly-motivated students with graduate training to meet the demands for their work force and this program will provide talented students with a unique and expedited pathway to develop their educational background and professional skills.


Undergraduate students in Environmental Sciences interested in the integrated B.S./M.S. program will be encouraged to participate in an undergraduate research experience during the summer of their sophomore year. They will apply and then be selected to enter the integrated B.S./M.S. program during the second semester of their junior year. Selected students will need to meet admission requirements for the Graduate School. Once selected the students will initiate work on their research during the summer of their junior year. During their senior year they will complete their undergraduate credits and can take up to 12 graduate-level credits (courses with numbering 7000 or higher) under MU’s dual enrollment program. After completing the B.S. degree, students will continue their research and take the remaining coursework on their M.S. plan of study necessary to meet the 30 credit hour minimum required by the Graduate School for the M.S. degree. Several scholarships are currently available at the University of Missouri to assist outstanding students for the costs of their undergraduate and graduate education and for conducting undergraduate research, including the Honors College Discovery Fellowships Program and CAFNR and Life Sciences Undergraduate Research Fellowships.