The need to sustain the earth’s environment has created an opportunity for skilled individuals to manage the continuously developing programs of environmentally responsible organizations. With an increasing number of oil spills, growing air pollution, and the need to treat and manage contaminated land, employers and agencies are addressing these issues with new policies and laws. The dynamic nature of environmental awareness and advocacy requires experts who receive training in many fields of study and are able to apply academic approaches to real-life problems.
An online master’s degree in environmental policy familiarizes students with solid techniques of data collection and observation of human impact on the environment. Professional environmental scientists stay abreast of changing policy and issues surrounding business development, land use, and projects affecting the wildlife and outdoors (such as fisheries and parks). Master’s-level students often make prime candidates to serve as a “green” expert for organizations and businesses.
Why a Master’s Degree in Environmental Policy?
Environmental policy master’s degree online programs introduce a multidisciplinary approach toward policy and environment. The degree builds on the study of environmental sciences and policy in the bachelor’s degree while introducing a specific focus, such as environmental policy, advocacy and education, sustainability, environment and biology, resource management, and city planning. Many master’s students use predefined courses to build on work experience. Others will develop an individual plan of study to more closely build on the bachelor’s and integrate it with a planned area of work.
With the challenge of new regulation, environmental changes, and commercial impact on the outdoors and wildlife, organizations and businesses are calling for a skilled approach to projects and commercial activity that is sensitive to sustainable needs. Environmental policy master’s degree online programs give students the creative skills and expertise needed to clearly define, understand, and develop new policy, that conserves life and nature within the footprint of humanity.
Getting into an Environmental Policy Master’s Program
Those who enroll in an online environmental master’s program usually have professional experience as scientists. Most programs also require completion of several undergraduate environmental courses; in some cases, the student must have earned a degree in this discipline. Course prerequisites vary based on the number of science courses taken and are specific to program focus. Other general requirements include the following:
- Undergraduate transcript from an accredited university — usually a GPA of 3.0 or higher
- GRE test scores
- Resume of relevant work experience
- Two to three letters of recommendation, from recent professors, or from work supervisors.
Inside an Environmental Policy Master’s Degree Program
The online environmental master’s curricula includes courses in environmental chemistry, sustainability management, financial management, microeconomics, and policy analysis. The student explores the causes of environmental degradation, as well as the socio-economic, cultural, and political behaviors that lead to environmental protection regulation. Many universities and colleges seek to provide courses from multiple departments, including law, economics, science, and mathematics. The multidisciplinary courses illustrate how policy can creatively serve economic and societal needs while preserving nature and affected ecosystems.
Completion of a master’s degree in environmental policy typically requires one to two years to complete. In the final year of study, the student focuses on an area to write a thesis approved by the faculty. Possible thesis topics include environmental monitoring and analysis, ecological management, water resources, land resources, atmosphere/climate, policy, and environmental planning. As specializations can vary between institutions, the student will want to research master’s programs to best pair possible specializations with his or her own academic and career plans.
What’s Next for Environmental Policy Master’s Degree Holders?
Graduates of a master’s degree in environmental policy typically work as field research managers, field ecologists, project managers, or environmental scientists. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects job growth of 19% in this sector from 2010 to 2020. Environmental scientists earn a median salary of $61,700. Zoologists and botanists may pursue advancement with a master’s degree, with job growth projected at 7% between 2010 and 2020.
Other graduates advance their career from the position of scientist or engineer to natural sciences manager. According to the BLS, the median salary of natural science managers is $116,020, and the number of jobs is expected to grow 8% between 2010 and 2020. Natural sciences managers plan with presidents, corporate leaders, and agency managers to develop detailed environmental plans on wildlife, land use, and policies of day-to-day operations.