Graduate Student Information

We welcome inquiries from potential graduate students interested in collaborative management, climate change, environmental activism, sustainable agriculture, environmental/land-use planning, conservation and development, transportation planning/behavior, or collective action simulations/experiments. A close examination of the projects listed on the CEPB website will give you a good idea of the range of possibilities. A strong general theme linking these projects is the problem of human cooperation and environmental governance. All of these topics dovetail nicely with other faculty in Environmental Science and Policy, as well as various graduate groups where CEPB students are affiliated, including Ecology, Hydrological Sciences, Political Science, Transportation Policy, Energy, and Geography. Graduate students apply to become members of these graduate programs, with Mark LubellGwen Arnold, or Tyler Scott as their major professor of record. Other faculty listed on the CEPB webpage will usually also be taking faculty, sometimes through other programs. You should contact potential major professors directly.

In the early stages of their graduate careers, graduate students usually work as a research assistant on an ongoing project, under the direction of their major professor, a post-doc, or senior graduate student. This allows the student to understand the basic task requirements of a research project, which will hopefully serve them well as they develop a dissertation topic. As they progress towards dissertation stage, we encourage students to either examine unanswered questions within the context of an existing project, or develop/test policy theories in an entirely new context, which could be models, experiments, or field work in some specific environmental policy domain. We work very closely with graduate students to develop fellowship and grant proposals to support their dissertation research. To scientifically analyze environmental policy and behavior, you will be expected to become proficient in quantitative methods and statistics (click here to read a NYT article about why this will help you get a job).

If you are interested in joining CEPB, send Mark Lubell (, Gwen Arnold (, or Tyler Scott ( an email outlining your relevant educational (including any background in social science) and professional experience (particularly any work in the environmental policy field), and most importantly, the research interests you wish to pursue at Davis. Please be as specific as possible about your research interests. We will not accept students who have not contacted us before the application review period. UC Davis has an extremely competitive graduate program. To be a very strong candidate for admission and funding, you should have a GPA over 3.5, and Verbal/Quant GRE Scores above 85%. These are not university requirements, but rather numbers based on our experience that will put you in a competitive range for admission and funding.

Our expectations for student performance are also very high--Ph.D. students usually must submit or publish three academic journal articles before their major professor will sign off on a dissertation. UC Davis generally accepts the "three paper" model as meeting graduation requirements. M.S. students must submit or publish one paper, but I generally prefer to work with Ph.D. students given the long-term nature of research collaboration. The rigorous training you will receive in social and natural science science methodology provides many professional benefits. If you are interested in going into academia, you will have opportunities in political science, public policy and management, and interdisciplinary environmental and natural resource management departments. If you are interested in applied work, you will have a very strong set of research skills that will benefit any government or non-profit organization working on environmental issues.

Finally, you should very careful consider your decision to enter graduate school.  You are committing a significant portion of your life to a task that requires very hard work and self-discipline, but with an uncertain outcome in a competitive job market.  It is worth looking into some interesting blogs like this one, and considering all the different facets of your decision.