Master of Public Administration in Environmental Science & Policy

Entrance requirements and course descriptions for environmental science and policy master's degree programs are discussed. Job descriptions, salaries, and employment outlooks for some of the career options available to program graduates are also included. Schools offering Environmental Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

How to Earn a Master's in Environmental Science and Policy

Master of Public Administration programs in environmental science and policy are rare. Master of Science programs are much more common. Common entrance requirements for these programs include a statement of purpose, academic resume, curriculum vitae, transcripts, standardized test scores, and letters of recommendation. It is also a necessity to have a bachelor's degree, and some programs require a minimum of a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale. The typical program length is two years.


Students are introduced to the fundamentals of the hydrologic cycle. It is necessary for practitioners to understand its physical principles, including evaporation, precipitation, runoff, streamflow, percolation, and groundwater flow. Other topics students could be exposed to include water issues occurring at the global and regional scale as well as the ways that water availability in surface and groundwater systems is affected by humans.

Quantitative Methods

These courses cover mathematical principles fundamental to the environmental sciences. In some programs, they may be offered as prerequisite courses for students who need to learn systems of equations, probability, and statistics to make up for undergraduate deficiencies. In others, students focus on learning how to interpret data and apply findings to the social and environmental sciences.

Environmental Policymaking and Policy Analysis

This course gives students an understanding of how to devise, implement, and evaluate environmental policies. The course highlights how policy outcomes are shaped through policy processes, administrative factors, choice of policy tools, and values. Students are given historical perspectives and provided with an analysis of future policymaking strategies. The class provides an examination of political and legal frameworks. Models for environmental policy analysis are provided.


Students learn how life on Earth is governed by ecological interactions that subscribe to a certain set of basic principles. A special emphasis is placed on the non-living environment, particularly the various levels of interaction it has with organisms and their changes over time. Humans' current scientific understanding of both natural and manmade ecosystems is addressed. Students develop an appreciation of ecology as being an important part of solving environmental problems.

Data Analytics

Advanced statistical software (R, SAS, etc.) is used to examine the principles of data analysis. Environmental examples are used to demonstrate analysis of variance, statistical analysis, and other procedures. Courses can also teach students about the uses of geographic information systems to address conservation needs through a variety of tools, such as landscape ecology metrics.

Master's in Public Administration in Environmental Science and Policy Career Options

Environmental Scientists

Environmental scientists visit sites that have been contaminated to collect soil and water samples. Using data from this fieldwork, they conduct assessments of pollution levels and determine whether a site is suitable for its intended use. They might also use this data for planning purposes. Companies and government agencies rely on their reporting to provide guidance when it comes to legislation or project planning.

Environmental Policy Analysts

This job consists of investigating laws and policies regarding the environment. Governments, businesses, and special interest groups come to analysts for consultation. During public hearings on major projects, they serve in the coordination of public reviews. They also develop recommendations that take environmental conservation into consideration along with social/economic needs. Additionally, they serve business clients by translating environmental regulations and help develop environmental laws and policies by suggesting implementation guidelines.

Wildlife Biologists

Wildlife biologists conduct scientific tests and experiments in order to study how specific ecosystems or a particular animal population interacts. Their work can also involve finding ways to conserve and manage wildlife populations. Public officials come to them for help protecting threatened species and returning animal populations to sustainable levels. They utilize a variety of technologies, such as geographic information systems and modeling software, in the estimation of wildlife populations and the tracking of their movements.

Environmental Science and Protection Technician:

The three main employers that hire technicians are state and local governments, testing laboratories, and consulting firms. General job duties consist of tracking environmental conditions and conducting pollution and contamination investigations. They use microscopes and other laboratory equipment to check for evidence of contaminants. Much of their work is directed by environmental scientists and specialists.

Job Title Mean Salary Job Growth (2018-2028)*
Environmental Scientist$77,580 (2018)*8%
Environmental Policy Analyst*$51,912 (2019)**8%
Wildlife Biologist$67,760 (2018, for all zoologists and wildlife biologists)*5% (for all zoologists and wildlife biologists)
Environmental Science and Protection Technician$50,350 (2018)*9%

Sources: * U.S Bureau of Labor and Statistics **

Requirements for admission into an environmental science and policy master's degree program include a bachelor's degree. Admitted students can take courses in such areas as hydrology, quantitative methods, environmental policymaking, ecology, and data analytics.

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