Master of Environmental Data Science

Program Overview

The Master of Environmental Data Science degree program (MEDS) at the Bren School is an 11-month professional degree program focused on using data science to advance solutions to environmental problems.

This new program will launch soon, with the first cohort starting in Summer 2021. Applications open in September 2020. Inquire today.

Data science is a rapidly expanding discipline with a growing market in need of highly skilled, interdisciplinary professionals. The Bren School’s Environmental Data Science master’s program is at the forefront of merging environmental science with data science. As a student, you will be immersed in a collaborative, open-source, data-driven environment in which students are supported by expert faculty and researchers from the Bren School, National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), and UCSB departments of Geography and Economics, among others. Supplementing your background in environmental science, you will gain leading-edge, data-science skills; receive in-depth training in applications such as R, Python, and SQL; and learn how to apply data visualization to share compelling scientific narratives. In the Master of Environmental Data Science program, you will learn robust and reproducible workflows, develop interfaces and documentation, and complete a capstone group project that provides real-world experience in applying data science to environmental issues.

Format: This program is held on-campus. Students must be enrolled full-time.



The MEDS program consists of 48 units of core coursework plus an additional 8 units of capstone project coursework for a program total of 56 units.

Summer Curriculum
The MEDS program begins with a six-week, full-immersion, summer bootcamp (August - September) to develop a strong foundation of basic data-science skills. Students learn basic coding, computational, statistical, and team-science skills.

EDS 211 Team Science, Collaborative Analysis and Project Management (2 units)
EDS 212 Essential Math for Environmental Data Science (2 units)
EDS 213 Metadata Standards, Data Modeling and Data Semantics (2 units)
EDS 214 Analytical Workflows and Scientific Reproducibility (2 units)
EDS 215 Introduction to Data Storage and Management (2 units)
EDS 216 Meta-analysis and Systematic Reviews (2 units)

Fall Curriculum
EDS 220 Remote Sensing and Environmental Data (4 units)
EDS 221 Scientific Programming Essentials (4 units)
EDS 222 Statistics for Environmental Data Science (4 units)
EDS 223 Spatial Analysis for Environmental Data Science (4 units)

Winter Curriculum
EDS 231 Text and Sentiment Analysis for Environmental Problems (4 units)
EDS 232 Machine Learning in Environmental Science (4 units)
EDS 241 Environmental Policy Evaluation (4 units)
EDS 411A Group Project (4 units)

Spring Curriculum
EDS 230 Modeling Environmental Systems (4 units)
EDS 240 Data Visualization and Communication (4 units)
EDS 411B Group Project (4 units)


Spanning Winter and Spring quarters, MEDS students will participate in a small-group (3-4 students), client-driven capstone project. Capstone projects provide real-world experience for students to advance an environmental objective with data-driven solutions for a business, public agency, or non-profit organization. Students will leave the program with real, transferable experience and an expanded professional network.


Career Development

Bren students receive dedicated support and guidance from our highly celebrated Career Development team. Students will have access to Bren’s online networking platform, BrenConnect, which will provide them access to internship and employment opportunities. Bren alumni, who actively participate in Bren’s online networking community, work in government agencies, corporations, nonprofit organizations, environmental consulting firms in over 30 countries around the world, and many have started their own companies. MEDS students will take part in a structured job search process that starts during orientation and includes workshops and one-on-one career advising sessions. This career training builds the specific professional skills needed to thrive in a competitive and changing marketplace.

MEDS graduates will have a broad array of career options following completion of their degrees. They become data scientists and senior environmental analysts within business, non-profit, government, academic institutions, and organizations, such as Senior Data Analyst, Data Scientist, Scientific Programmer, and Environmental Data Technician. The Bren School is located in California, which is home to national conservation organizations, foundations, and environmental technology companies that are hiring data scientists. Additionally, and there is rapidly growing interest for sustainability analysts in Silicon Valley and other centers of innovation. Environmental data scientist positions can be found in a variety of organizations throughout the U.S. and the world.



Bren’s Master of Environmental Data Science (MEDS) program is ideal for students entering with a background in environmental science, environmental studies, or similar disciplines with exposure to data science and mathematics. A background in computer science, statistics, or data science is not required. This program gives students a comprehensive education in leading-edge practices of data science. An educational background in environmental disciplines will help MEDS students apply their data science skills and tools to solve environmental problems.

The deadline to apply for Summer 2021 admission is December 15, 2020. The online application for graduate admission to UC Santa Barbara will open September 1, 2020.


  • Bachelor’s degree with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher
    A background in environmental science, environmental studies, or similar discipline is required for the MEDS program.
  • Math – two courses (quarter or semester)
    Students may meet the math prerequisite by taking at least two math courses, including calculus, econometrics, or linear algebra, among others.
  • Statistics – one course (quarter or semester)
    Students may meet the statistics prerequisite requirement by taking at least one statistics course, including statistics and probability, applied statistics, regression analysis, or linear models, among others.


Request More Information

If you are interested in the Master of Environmental Data Science (MEDS) program and would like to learn more, please submit an inquiry and our admissions team will contact you. This new program will launch soon, with the first cohort starting in Summer 2021. Applications open in September 2020.

Inquire Today