EES Admissions & Requirements

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How to Join the EES Emphasis

Emphasis Requirements

Sample Schedule

How to Join the EES Emphasis

Only currently enrolled UCSB PhD students in the Department of Economics or the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management may add the Economics and Environmental Science emphasis. A prerequisite for admission to the emphasis is the successful completion of the core course sequence in Microeconomics and Econometrics (ECON 210A-B-C, ECON 241 A-B-C) and the achievement of a Ph.D.-pass on the preliminary examination in these areas.

Upon passing the preliminary examination, students must complete a Change of Degree Status Petition to formally add the EES emphasis to their open degree objective(s). Students will only become enrolled in the EES emphasis once their petition is processed by the Graduate Division. If students do not formally enroll through the Graduate Division, the emphasis will not appear on their degree.

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Emphasis Requirements

1. Environmental Economics Coursework
All EES students are required to take ECON 260A-B-C, the three-course graduate sequence in environmental and natural resource economics, as defined by the Department of Economics as the set of field courses in environmental and natural-resource economics.

2. Establish Proficiency in a Second Field of Economics
In addition to environmental and natural-resource economics, EES students will establish proficiency in a second field of economics. Requirements for establishing proficiency (also called "qualifying") in a field of economics are defined by the Department of Economics, but usually entail doing well in a series of two to three specified courses.


Alternatively, students may design a custom field adapted to their special interests and needs. A custom field of study typically meets three criteria: (1) there is a significant body of economic literature in the field; (2) the field is sufficiently broad to be recognizable as a field for teaching or research; and (3) PhD-level coursework in support of the field is offered.

3. Seminar in Cross-disciplinary approaches to Economics and Environmental Science
Students must enroll for at least one quarter in the cross-disciplinary, problem-based PhD seminar
ESM 595PB.

4. Field Seminar
Students must enroll for four quarters in the PhD seminar in environmental and resource economics,
ECON 594ER.

5. Natural Science Focus
Prior to being admitted into the emphasis, students are expected to begin defining an area of natural science in which they will establish competency. Specific requirements are determined in consultation with a student's faculty advisory committee and will depend on the student's interests and objectives, as well as prior undergraduate and graduate training. Typically, a student will be involved in four to six courses that include formal lectures, seminars, directed readings, lab meetings, and summer research.

Students generally choose to focus on an area of natural science consistent with the interests and expertise of the EES natural-science faculty mentor, such as applied ecology, climate, hydrology, or marine science. Students may define their own specialization with advice from their committees and affiliate with any natural-science faculty member. The main criterion is that the specialization be a true natural science, generally experimentally based. Students then construct a program of study to establish advanced training in some area of natural science. The natural-science mentor may logically be included on the student's PhD committee.

6. Dissertation

The dissertation is the most important product of a student's PhD program and should be an original contribution to knowledge. Although the expectation is that a student's dissertation be a contribution to economics, the specific subject of the dissertation is a matter between the student and his or her PhD committee. Students should follow their passion in their PhD research and not feel constrained.

*Note that in addition to the emphasis requirements, students must satisfy all requirements in their home departments. Work completed in satisfaction of departmental Ph.D. requirements may also be used to satisfy emphasis requirements.

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Sample Schedule

Year 1

  • Six-course core sequence in economic theory and econometrics (Econ 210ABC; Econ 241ABC)

  • A course or directed reading with an EES natural-science faculty member

  • One or more electives (natural science, macro, or other)

  • Preliminary exams in micro and econometrics

Summer after Year 1

  • Natural-science research experience or policy internship (optional)

Year 2

  • Identify an advisor and apply for admission into the emphasis

  • Natural-resource and environmental-economics sequence (3 courses)

  • An additional field in economics (2-3 courses)

  • Coursework and directed reading in chosen area of natural science

  • Problem-based cross-disciplinary seminar (ESM 595PB)

  • Environmental Economics seminar (Econ 594ER) - Fall and Spring

  • Fall quarter- students must submit PhD Committee petition to department

  • Spring quarter- students must take written exams (Bren students only)

Summer after Year 2

  • Natural-science research experience or policy internship (optional)

Year 3

  • Environmental Economics Seminar (Econ 594ER)

  • Dissertation proposal and defense

  • Fall quarter- students must take oral exams (Bren students only)

Years 4 & 5

  • Dissertation research

  • Environmental Economics Seminar (Econ 594ER)

  • Upon completion, certify your progress with the EES coordinator.


If you have questions about the enrollment process or any other aspect of the EES emphasis, please contact any of the following:

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