How to Get a Masters in Environmental Science & Policy

Environmental science seeks to understand both the natural and man made environments that surround us. Environmental science draws from many fields and requires an excellent background in the sciences, including physics, biology, chemistry and ecology among them.

Environmental science also draws much from the social sciences including economics, sociology and business. Because it is somewhat of a general degree, many professionals studying environmental science focus on various concentrations, such as sustainability, climate change, conservation and more.

People often choose to earn their master’s degree in environmental science because it opens the door to many interesting career choices that have to do with preserving and protecting the environment. By earning this two year degree, you may be able to work in many exciting jobs in renewable energy, agriculture, urban planning, natural resources, and environmental education. You also will have the chance to work with many companies to reduce their impact on the environment as they go about their business.

Some of the specific jobs that you may qualify for with this advanced degree are:

  • Environmental scientist: Use their advanced knowledge of environmental and natural science to protect human health and the environment. You may work on cleaning up polluted sites, advise legislators about new environmental policies, or work with manufacturers to reduce waste and pollution. You will often work closely with federal and state workers to ensure that air and water are clean and there are no hazardous materials in the soil from industrial contamination.
  • Environmental science technicians: Monitor the environment in at risk areas and investigate any potential sources of pollution or contamination that may adversely affect public health. They also may conduct environmental inspections to ensure that hazardous situations are avoided or cleaned up as quickly as possible. These workers may work under the supervision of a senior environmental scientist. Many of these workers are employed by local and state governments to do site inspections. They may investigate reports of violations of air quality, water quality and food safety.
  • Environmental engineers: These professionals use advanced engineering, soil science, chemistry and biology to come up with innovative solutions to environmental problems. They are often deeply involved in recycling, waste disposal, public health crises and control of air and water pollution. They also may work on global environmental problems such as contaminated water and climate change.

Why Earn a Master’s Degree in Environmental Science?

Serious environmental problems are becoming very important in the public mind. In the last 50 years, there have been growing concerns about climate change, water and air pollution, overpopulation, overuse of natural resources and other pollution and environmental issues.

More and more Americans and people around the world want to preserve the earth for their children, grandchildren and beyond.

This interest in preserving the environment for the generations of the future can be seen in the fact that there are so many good paying environmental science jobs available today. Consider: Job demand for environmental scientists and specialists will increase by 11% by 2024. Many of these jobs are being created by private consulting companies that help companies to monitor and manage their environmental concerns, and to comply with regulations.

It is important for companies in America today to be good stewards of the environment, and they will pay environmental science professionals well to help them do that.

Admission Requirements

To be admitted into a master’s in environmental science program, you should expect to meet these requirements:

  • GRE scores required
  • 25 GPA or higher
  • Courses in calculus, statistics, chemistry
  • Complete resume
  • Writing sample
  • Statement of purpose
  • Official transcripts

Curriculum and Courses

Johns Hopkins University offers a Master of Science in Environmental Science and Policy, which many graduates use as a springboard to leadership positions in the environmental science profession. This program will give you a very good understanding of how the various sciences overlap and relate to environmental policy. You also will develop keen insights into how environmental policy is implemented and how it affects the environment.

The focus of this curriculum is on studying how current use has an effect on the updating, regulating, creation and communication of modern environmental policy. The program has a broad range of exciting and interesting electives that provide you with a high degree of flexibility, depending upon your career goals. This program is well suited for those who have experience as environmental professionals, and also for those who have limited environmental science experience.

The staff and faculty here include highly distinguished professors with years of valuable experience in the public, academic and corporate sectors. The chance to work with faculty who are this experienced in environmental science and policy will provide you with invaluable experience of theory and practice.

Concentrations are available in these areas:

  • Environmental monitoring and analysis
  • Ecological management
  • Environmental management
  • Environmental planning
  • Sustainability science
  • Energy and climate

Course requirements include:

  • Quantitative Methods
  • Chemistry of Natural Processes
  • Geological Foundations of Environmental Science
  • Oceanic and Atmospheric Processes
  • Principles and Methods of Ecology
  • Environmental Policy Making and Policy Analysis

Career Outcomes and Job Titles

You can look forward to working in these types of positions:

  • Environmental consultant
  • Environmental scientist
  • Environmental educator
  • Public relations specialist
  • Environmental engineer
  • Sustainability specialist
  • Fundraiser

Job and Salary Outlook

  • Environmental Scientist — Employment for environmental scientists is going to increase by 11% by 2024, which is faster than average. There is more concern today about the hazards that are in our environment. There also are more demands being placed on the earth due to growth in population. Companies want to learn how to reduce their environmental footprint in their daily activities, and all of these factors are spurring growth in this field. Median pay in this field was $67,400 in 2015.
  • Environmental Engineer — Demand in this field will rise by 12% by 2024, which is faster than average. There is more concern at the local and state levels about how to manage our resources and environment more effectively. There is a particular focus on how to use water resources more efficiently, and not just treating wastewater or polluted water. Also, there is more focus by the US government to clean up contaminated job sites. Median pay is $84,500.
  • Environmental Science Technician — This job field will grow 9% by 2024, as there is more interest in the various dangers facing our environment. Much of the growth in employment is expected to be in management, scientific and consulting services. More companies will want to use consulting firms to to help them to better monitor their impact on the environment. The median pay is $43,000 per year.

Scholarships and Grants

  • Sierra Club: The Sierra Club offers several scholarships each year to students who are studying environmental science at the bachelor’s or master’s level.
  • EPA: The Environmental Protection Agency sponsors many grants and scholarships for environmental science students, such as the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education Fellowships and the Presidential Management Fellows Program.

Additional Resources