Master's Programs in Environmental Science & Policy

This article walks you through what you can expect from a program in environmental science policy and what you materials you need in order to apply to the program. Schools offering Environmental Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

An Outline of a Masters in Environmental Science Policy

A master's in environmental science policy program takes between 1.5 and 2 years, if pursuing it full-time and including summers. To get into this kind of program you generally need to have completed, or be close to completing, a bachelor's degree in a related field. You can expect to cover a number of major areas, including topics in research and conservation. Some possibilities include:

Quantitative Methods

This course allows you to explore different quantitative methods, how to get the data and how to analyze or calculate any results you may find. Generally, this course covers areas such as probability and statistics. Generally, what is learned here can be directly applied to research, and students will be able to discern when to use each method.


Here you may analyze the relationships between organisms and their environment at the three biological tiers: individual, population and community. You can expect to examine the energy flows and cycles that environments may go through and the necessity of diversity of many of these environments. There can also be consideration of how organisms adapt or fail to adapt to changing environments.

Environmental Health

This course allows you to look at the role the environment has on human health and how government regulations tend to be anchored in the idea of protecting the public's health. You may consider physical, social and built environments and how each type of environment has different potential risks. This may serve as the lens from which you analyze policies and processes throughout this course.

Environmental Policy Analysis

In this course, you will generally be expected to analyze existing policies. You might look at the various models used to pass a policy, such as cost-benefit analysis, and the limits that can exist when trying to explore the potential impact of policies. You can look beyond your own borders and consider an international perspective comparing different policies. There could also be the opportunity to look at why certain policies pass or fail and what can be learnt from those experiences.

Environmental Law

This course shows you what inspires environmental laws and policies and the processes that law makers and institutions must work through to get an idea into law. This can involve an in-depth study into these processes such as understanding data collection or how economics may influence the passing or stagnation of a law. This course also allows you to explore which levels of government are involved in which areas of law and policy.

Environmental Economics

This course covers how economics can affect the environment and vice versa. This can include how the economy can impact policy and how environmental regulation can cause an impact to the economy. You can be given a decision making framework which takes into account economic factors when analyzing environmental issues.

Environmental Applications of Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

Here you'll consider geologic and geographic principles and their role in environmental science. This can include the materials themselves and/or the processes they undergo. As such, you will learn how to use GIS as a way to store, analyze, track and display the data collected.

What You Need to Apply

Generally, schools expect you to have a bachelor's degree with at least a 3.0 GPA. Usually, they also expect you to have some foundations in a STEM field, however if you do not have the institution's requirements in this area, you could take some preparatory courses prior to officially starting the program. You also have to submit a copy of your transcripts to back up these requirements. Many programs expect you to write a statement of purpose outlining why you would like to go to the program and what you hope to accomplish during your time there. You could also have to submit an up-to-date resume and the contact information of two or three references.

In short, a master's program in environmental science policy can be highly rooted in the process of policy-making - what causes it to succeed and what causes it to fail. If you are considering applying for this type of program be aware that if you do not have a foundation in a STEM field you could be required to take some foundational courses before taking on the actual program.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

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