Pursuing an Environmental Policy Degree
One could argue that environmental policy is one of the most important career specializations in existence today. People who have a degree in environmental policy are knowledgeable in quite a few areas. They study ecology and the environment, such as how climate change works and what factors contribute to it, as well as laws and policies related to environmental changes, such as government regulations that limit the amount of waste companies can emit, or even citywide recycling initiatives. Other important areas of knowledge may include common sources of pollution, methods to protect nonrenewable resources, economics, and statistics. They stand out from Environmental Science majors and Environmental Studies majors by being trained to deal with laws, permitting, and regulations.
Most in the field began their careers by going to college and receiving a Bachelor's degree in Environmental Policy or a related environmentally focused area of study. Many schools offer specific tracks to this degree, which allow specialization in specific fields of interest. It is not required to have studied environmental policy specifically for an undergraduate degree, though, and one can be admitted to a graduate program in Environmental Policy with a wide variety of degrees. Biology, chemistry, ecology, economics, statistics, and business management are a few undergraduate choices that would provide a beneficial background to a graduate degree in Environmental Policy.
Getting a higher-level degree will greatly improve your knowledge, skills, ability to get a good job, and starting salary. A Master's or Doctoral degree will allow you to gain specialized knowledge in the areas that you would want to work in during your career. Those with a career in Environmental Policy may work for a specific company, often a larger corporation. They may also work for the government, or out in the field doing research. More specific examples of employers are: law firms, nonprofit organizations, and parts of the government like the Environmental Protection Agency.
Which Environmental Policy Graduate Degree Program is Right for You?
A Master's degree will usually take 1-3 years, while a Doctoral degree will usually take 5-6 years. It all depends on the specific program and how many classes you're able to take at a time. A Doctoral degree will cost more in tuition, but financial aid may be more readily available for students. On average people who hold a PhD in Environmental Policy have a higher salary than those with a Master's degree as is the case in most professions.
Master's degrees and Doctoral degrees in Environmental Policy have some distinct differences. The further you go with your education, the more jobs that should be available, and the more money you'll be able to make. Choosing which program is best for you in dependent on a countless number of factors including:
- Program length
- Tuition cost
- Financial aid available
- Job prospects
- Degree concentrations offered
- Research pathways
If you're a traditional student who will be completing their Bachelor's degree on time, and you are concerned about the cost of a graduate program, then it is probably worth your time to investigate PhD programs in your area. Both programs are a fantastic addition to a Bachelor's degree, and both are very helpful for guiding you towards your desired career.
Master's Degree in Environmental Policy
A Master's in Environmental Policy provides the students with developmental and analytical skills to determine organizational & governmental policy-making. Often times Environmental Management will be taught as a joint degree. Upon completion of a Master's program, students will have mastered some the following:
- Environmental ethics
- Civic responsibilities in relation to the environment
- Role of environmental legislature
- Environmental cost analysis & economics
For those who know that they want to pursue a higher degree early on many schools offer dual degree programs where you can combine your B.S. with your M.S. degree. This type of program usually saves you about one year of schooling.
A Few Schools Offering Master's in Environmental Policy
Johns Hopkins University
If you pursue a M.S. in Environmental Science and Policy from Johns Hopkins, the majority of the required courses are offered online and on campus. Some areas covered by this program are the monitoring of environmental issues, managing them, and planning out solutions. Admission requirements include a Bachelor's degree, a 3.0 GPA, two chemistry courses, one statistics course, and one calculus course. There are five required core courses, and five elective courses. The program allows you to choose a concentration, meaning that you can specialize in an area of interest.
Columbia University offers an M.P.A. in Environmental Science and Policy. Admission to this program requires a Bachelor's degree as well as courses in chemistry, biology, and economics. The materials required to apply for admission are transcripts, a resume and CV, a statement of purpose, test scores, three recommendation letters, and completion of the online application form. Tuition is about $24,000 per semester. Examples of courses offered by this program include: Sustainability, Ethics, Financial Management, Urban Ecology, Microeconomics, and Environmental Chemistry.
Online Master's Degree in Environmental Policy
Kaplan University offers an online M.S. in Environmental Policy. This program is 55 credits, and can be begun in February, August, or November. This will take a full-time student two years to complete. Some specific job opportunities available for M.S. graduates involve improving resource efficiency, writing grants, and managing purchases for a company. Each program's tuition is different, but keep in mind that all programs have additional fees.
American Public University
American Public University also has a comprehensive online Master's Degree programs in Environmental Policy. As with other online programs, there is some flexibility in completion, and classes are taught by qualified professionals.
University College at the University of Denver
University College at the University of Denver offers both a campus or online program, in the evenings or a combination of both online/campus. The program helps students learn about policy-making, including ethics, management, law and more. The course is 48 credits or 12 courses and no GMAT/GRE is required. It is regionally accredited by Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Environmental Policy PhD
A PhD program in Environmental Policy provides students with education and research experience to meet the challenges of environmental advocacy for the future. The Phd program covers subject matters including:
- Biodiversity conservation
- Climate change
- Corporate sustainability
- Environmental health
- Political aspects of environmental policy
All PhD programs require you to do a lot of individual research. A faculty member guides this research, and you often start out by working with their current project. It is usually required that you research the school's faculty members and identify one or more that you would be interested in working with. If none of them have interests that match yours, it is best to find a different school to attend.
Many forms of financial aid may be available, such as federal student aid, scholarships, and grants from other external sources. The process of getting a Doctoral degree is longer than the process of getting a Master's degree. It is usually well worth the extra time, because with a PhD, you can work towards any career in environmental science you want. The starting salary can be higher, your opinions may carry greater weight, and your knowledge base is very solid.
A Few Schools Offering PhD's in Environmental Policy
The PhD in Environmental Policy at Duke University program takes five years and requires a dissertation. Admissions requirements include a 3.5 GPA, a GRE score of at least 1400, a personal statement, and letters of recommendation. The two concentration areas offered are political science and economics.
State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry
The State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) also offers a PhD in Environmental Resources and Policy. For this, admission requirements include a 3.0 GPA, three letters of recommendation, a resume, and a statement of intent. There is plenty of financial aid available, but students must apply for each type and there are no guarantees. The scholarships, fellowships, and assistantships are merit-based.
University of California Berkeley
The University of California Berkeley offers a PhD in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management. This program has three courses that every student must take: Environmental Science, Policy, and Management Colloquium; Environmental Forum; and Research Approaches in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management. The latter course is split up into three units, while the others are each one unit. Students in this program choose an area of specialization. Berkeley only admits students to this program in the fall semester, and it takes five and a half years to complete. All students in this program are provided with some financial support, and other forms of aid can be applied for as well.