Best Online PhD in Environmental Science Programs

If you want to protect the environment while contributing to the economy, you may consider getting a PhD in environmental science. While a highly useful degree for professional advancements and personal goals, getting a PhD can be highly time-consuming. Many people choose to postpone their studies because they have to deal with multiple work and family commitments.

Getting an online PhD in environmental science could be an effective alternative. While you still get all the benefits of studying at the university of your choice, you can enjoy the flexibility of remote education.

Let’s take a closer look at getting a doctor of philosophy in environmental science online.

What It Means to Get a PhD in Environmental Science Online

A PhD in environmental science focuses on the study of the environment and its various components, including the interactions between living organisms and their surroundings. This rigorous program equips students with the necessary skills to:

  • Conduct in-depth research
  • Contribute to the field’s body of knowledge
  • Address complex environmental challenges.

When considering the option of pursuing a PhD in environmental science online, you need to consider several pros and cons.

A Flexible Approach to Learning

The best online programs provide flexibility and convenience, enabling students to balance their studies with other commitments. This flexibility is particularly beneficial for people who may already be working in the field or have other responsibilities that make attending traditional on-campus classes challenging.

Diverse and Inclusive Environment

Online doctoral programs in environmental science often provide a diverse and inclusive learning environment. Students have the opportunity to interact with peers and faculty members from around the world. This brings together various perspectives and experiences and creates a wonderful networking opportunity.

Such a worldwide system can foster collaboration and the exchange of ideas. This learning experience can broaden students’ understanding of environmental issues on a global scale.

Innovative Technologies and Teaching Methods

Universities that offer remote PhD programs often leverage innovative technologies and teaching methods to deliver course materials. Through virtual classrooms, discussion forums, and multimedia resources, students can access a wealth of information. They can also benefit from interactive learning experiences.

These online platforms also help students develop strong digital literacy skills, which are increasingly valuable in today’s technology-driven world.

It is worth noting that online doctorate programs in environmental science still maintain the same rigorous standards as their offline counterparts. Students are expected to demonstrate a high level of self-discipline, motivation, and time management skills to succeed.

While the online format offers flexibility, it also requires you to be proactive in your learning and take responsibility for your progress.

Overall, the main advantage of getting a PhD in environmental studies online is the flexibility such studies offer. The disadvantage lies in the high self-discipline requirements for such a format of study.

Many students who haven’t tried at-home learning before could find it difficult to adjust. If you believe that studying on your own can be challenging, you may need to consider other options.

Career Opportunities After Completing Best Online PhD in Environmental Science

After completing an online doctor of philosophy in environmental science, graduates can explore an impressive range of rewarding career opportunities. Since the worldwide concern for the environment and sustainability is growing rapidly, professionals with expertise in this field are in high demand.

Environmental Scientist

As an environmental scientist with a doctorate degree, you can work in research institutions, government agencies, or private consulting firms. They conduct studies, collect and analyze data, and provide insights into environmental issues such as:

  • Pollution
  • Climate change
  • Conservation

Environmental scientists play a big role in developing and implementing strategies for sustainable resource management.

Environmental Consultant

Environmental consultants work with organizations to ensure compliance with environmental regulations. They also develop sustainable practices. These professionals evaluate potential environmental risks, conduct environmental impact assessments, and provide recommendations for mitigating negative impacts.

As a consultant, you may also assist in developing environmental policies for businesses and government entities.

Sustainability Manager

With a Ph.D. in environmental science, you can lead sustainability initiatives in various industries. Sustainability managers:

  • Implement strategies to reduce environmental impact
  • Enhance resource efficiency
  • Promote sustainable practices within organizations.

You could get a job in sectors such as manufacturing, energy, transportation, or hospitality.

Environmental Policy Analyst

Environmental policy analysts help shape environmental regulations. They evaluate the effectiveness of existing policies, conduct research to identify emerging environmental issues, and provide recommendations for improvements.

As a policy analyst, you could get an opportunity to work with government agencies, non-profit organizations, or research institutions.

Conservation Scientist

Conservation scientists focus on protecting and managing natural resources and ecosystems. They may work in wildlife preserves, national parks, or conservation organizations.

As a conservation scientist, you could conduct research, monitor biodiversity, and develop strategies for habitat restoration and species protection. Your work could become essential for preserving biodiversity and ensuring long-term ecological sustainability.

Environmental Educator

With an online Ph.D. in environmental science, you can pursue careers in academia or environmental education.

You can become a professor or researcher in a university or college. Environmental educators also work in non-profit organizations, museums, and science centers. There, you could develop educational programs and materials to raise awareness about environmental issues.

Environmental Data Analyst

In the era of big data, environmental data analysts are in high demand. These professionals collect, analyze, and interpret large datasets related to environmental parameters. They use statistical models and data visualization techniques to identify patterns, trends, and correlations.

As an environmental data analyst, you could work in research organizations, government agencies, or private companies involved in environmental assessment.

These are just a few examples of the diverse professional opportunities available to a person who pursues an online Ph.D. in environmental science. The field continues to expand, offering professionals the chance to make a significant impact on environmental sustainability.

Admissions Requirements for Best Online PhD in Environmental Studies

When applying for an online Ph.D. in environmental science program, prospective students should be aware of the general admissions requirements. While specific requirements may vary between institutions, there are several common criteria that you can expect. Here are just a few of them:

Academic Background

Most programs require applicants to hold a master’s degree in a related field, such as environmental science, ecology, biology, or a related discipline. Some schools may settle for an applicant with a bachelor’s degree who also has relevant experience in the field.


You would have to submit official transcripts from all previous institutions. These transcripts provide evidence of your educational performance. Some schools may require a certain GPA range. In most cases, they want to see a GPA over 3.0.

Letters of Recommendation

The admissions board often asks prospective students to submit reference letters from academic or professional references. These letters describe your abilities, achievements, and potential for success in a Ph.D. program.

You can ask professors from your previous places of study or employers to write such letters. Usually, you need at least two of them. Some schools can ask for three.

Statement of Purpose

A well-written statement of purpose allows you to highlight your research interests, professional goals, and motivations for pursuing a PhD in environmental science. It should demonstrate a clear understanding of the field and articulate how the program aligns with your educational and professional aspirations.

Research Proposal

Some programs may require a research proposal outlining a potential research project. This proposal should highlight your research question, methodology, and potential contributions to the field of environmental science.

CV or Resume

You usually have to include a detailed CV or biography that outlines your educational background, professional experiences, research projects, publications, and any relevant achievements.

Standardized Test Scores

While not always mandatory, some programs may require you to submit scores from standardized tests such as the GRE (Graduate Record Examination). If English isn’t your native language, you may need to share scores from English proficiency tests, such as TOEFL or IELTS.

Top Programs for Getting an Online PhD In Environmental Science

While you are browsing opportunities for getting an online doctor of philosophy in environmental science, you can consider these programs. All of these schools have excellent doctorate opportunities for people who want to advance their skills and knowledge in the subject.

1. Antioch University

Antioch University has several campuses in different states including California, New Hampshire, and Washington. They offer a strong online PhD in environmental science program that can be completed both online and offline. The hybrid nature of the program means that some class time would have to be done on campus.

Admissions requirements include:

  • Master’s degree in environmental science or related fields
  • Official transcripts from all previously attended schools
  • Three letter of reference
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Personal statement
  • Writing sample (professional or academic work)

The school is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

2. California Institute of Integral Studies

California Institute Of Integral Studies is located in San Francisco. It has a robust online PhD program in Ecology, Spirituality, and Religion. During your doctorate studies in this school, you will learn about traditional cultures and new worldviews while addressing ecological trauma. You will gain skills to help you with environmental exploration and knowledge to respond to existential threats.

Admissions requirements include:

  • Bachelor’s and master’s degree in the relevant field
  • A GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • Official transcripts from all previously attended educational institutions
  • Personal statement
  • Academic writing sample
  • Resume or CV
  • Research proposal
  • Two letters of recommendation

The school is accredited by WASC Senior College and University Commission.

3. University of North Dakota

The University of North Dakota is located in Grand Forks, MD. It has a competitive online PhD program in environmental engineering. While the program is mostly taught online, you would have to visit the campus at least three times to make a presentation. You will get unlimited coaching, round-the-clock access to learning materials, and your own educational advisor.

Admissions requirements include:

  • Bachelor’s and master’s degree in the relevant field
  • Official transcripts from all previously attended educational institutions
  • A GPA of 2.75 or higher
  • English proficiency test results (if English isn’t your native language)
  • Personal statement
  • Three letters or recommendation

The school is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

4. Viridis Graduate Institute

Viridis Graduate Institute is a non-profit distance learning institution. It gives you an opportunity to become a Doctor of Arts in Ecological Psychology & Environmental Humanities. The program is specifically designed for online students and offers comprehensive support for distance learning. During your studies, you will develop ecological literacy and gain psychological capabilities that help you address current environmental problems.

Admissions requirements include:

  • Official transcripts from all previously attended educational institutions
  • One letter of academic recommendation
  • Zoom interview

The school is accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC).

5. Mississippi State University

Mississippi State University is located in Starkville, MS. It offers a robust online Ph.D. program in Environmental Engineering.  You will gain new skills and knowledge in the field through interacting with several advisors, experienced faculty, and a network of professionals who have succeeded in environmental engineering across numerous industries.

Admissions requirements:

  • Official transcripts from all previously attended educational institutions
  • GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • TOEFL or IELTS test results if English isn’t your native language
  • Statement of purpose
  • Three letters of recommendation

The school is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Getting a Ph.D. in Environmental Science Online

A Ph.D. in environmental science can open many doors for professionals who already work in the field as well as for those who want to change the direction of their careers.

Getting a Ph.D. in environmental science online is an excellent option for students who want to advance their careers without having to give up on their ongoing commitments. By browsing schools that offer doctorate studies remotely, you can get an idea of which option is the best for your current needs.