Ecological Economics Master's Programs
Ecological economics, sometimes called environmental economics in the United States, is offered at the graduate level at universities around the country. Read on to learn more about the curriculum and job opportunities for someone with a master's in this field.
Graduate Curriculum for Ecological Economics Programs
The coursework for a master's in this field has two focuses that blend together: economics and ecology. Generally, someone can expect to spend around two full academic years obtaining a master's degree in this subject matter, though the pace might change depending on the student, and culminate the program in either a thesis or capstone project.
Environmental and Microeconomics
Ecological economics master's degree programs will first and foremost have a healthy curriculum in economics fundamentals. This includes both microeconomics and environmentally specific courses. Several levels of general economics may be required by universities before specializing in the environmental or ecological component.
Some ecological economics programs put a strong emphasis on leadership and policy. Courses in leadership will examine leadership theory in the context of economic decision making. Ecological health and leadership go hand in hand, and courses will examine the ecological impacts of leadership decisions.
Environment and Sustainability
These courses will focus on the economy of resources, such as water, land, and mineral rights. Understanding basic ecology and environmental science is important to pursuing a masters in ecological economics, and a student in such a program will be expected to follow a course of study emphasizing the environment. Agricultural economics, community economics with regard to the environment, and other similar topics could be course offerings in this subject.
Statistics and Econometrics
Many ecological economics courses require advanced work in statistics and econometrics. While some students may be able to test out of this requirement, others may have to take these courses first before pursuing more specific ecological economics coursework. Much in economics is manipulating large data sets and doing cost benefit analysis. In order to do this, students need a strong foundation in mathematics.
The law, both local and federal, plays a large role in economics and the decision-making process in regard to specific ecospheres. Courses in environmental law may be required as a part of the coursework for a master's in ecological economics, and may focus on specific subjects, such as coastal environmental law or desert environmental law. Master's students in this program of study will be expected to understand the law as it pertains to protected areas and species, as well as natural resources such as renewable energy, fossil fuels, watersheds, and other important areas.
Possible Careers for a Master's in Ecological Economics
There are numerous opportunities for someone who has completed their masters in this line of study. Here are several you can consider:
One possible route is to become an economist, either for the government or for a private entity. Economists perform research on market issues, collect and analyze data, and provide predictive forecasts as to market trends. A company may wish to hire someone specifically with an ecological economics degree due to the specific nature of the work (e.g. fuel companies might hire ecological economists specifically for their knowledge of environmental law and how the work affects the local physical environment and can take that information into account when conducting analysis).
Urban or Regional Planner
A community or municipality might hire someone with a master's in ecological economics to become a regional or urban planner because of their specific knowledge balancing the economics side with the environmental impact side of the policy and decision-making process. Regional planners meet with developers and conduct feasibility assessments of proposed developments. They administer policy concerning land use and environmental law as well as analyze market trends and land use issues.
Market Research Analyst
Market research analysts prepare reports for their hiring entities on market trends, predictive analysis, and statistical modeling. A company might be particularly interested in hiring someone with a master's in ecological economics if the company has a particular emphasis on environmental responsibility, green energy, fair trade, or other ecological concerns. An ecological economics master might be able to provide more insight into relevant environmental matters and responsible business practices than one who solely studied economics.
Survey researchers create and conduct large surveys to gain insight into many different areas of community interest, politics, demography, and other subjects. Someone might hire a master of ecological economics to become a survey researcher due to their high level of mathematics and statistics education as well as their particular emphasis on the environment. Ecological economics masters would be able to analyze data particular to surveys about environmental concerns.
Another possible career for these graduates is to become an environmental scientist to lend their particular expertise in economics to the science trade. This career field requires analyzing large sets of data to inform on specific environmental issues. Entities might specifically seek out someone educated in ecological economics due to their ability to provide cost-benefit analysis, and their understanding of the law and how it affects business-making decisions.
|Job Title||Median Salary (2018-2019)*||Job Growth (2018-2028)*|
|Urban or regional planner||$73,050||11%|
|Market research analyst||$63,120||20%|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Obtaining a master's degree in ecological economics requires a thorough understanding not only of mathematics but of the environment as well. There is a lot someone can do with a master's in this field, including advising companies on responsible business practices or perhaps researching the impact of certain economic measures on the environment.