Masters in Environmental Science Degrees | Environmental Science Masters Programs

Graduate students with a passion for analyzing, understanding, and protecting the environment might find that earning a Masters in Environmental Science degree may help to prepare them for a variety of potential career paths in a fast growing field. While a Bachelor’s degree might be adequate for some entry-level jobs, earning a master's degree in Environmental Science may be required for career advancement. Graduates aspiring to academic careers will need a doctoral degree in the field. Those pursuing advanced degrees may do well to major in a specific natural science such as chemistry, biology, physics, or geology, rather than a broader environmental science master’s degree.

Environmental Science Masters Degree ProgramsMaster of Science In Environmental Science Programs Overview

MS in Environmental Science tend to be research focused, and usually require students to take full course-loads each semester. However, one or two classes may be fulfilled with an “independent research seminar” in which the student devotes time towards their research project. Typically, an M.S. in environmental science also requires the completion of a thesis, which is often a significant piece of original, independent research that is published by the student at the end of their program.

Usually, a Master's degree in Environmental Science might be obtained in 2-3 years (perhaps longer if working while attending school). One’s admittance to the program of choice may require a few basic steps; application fee, letter of interest, references, transcripts, and Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores. It is wise to verify this with each school.

FUN FACT: The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that more businesses are expected to consult with environmental scientists and specialists in the future to help them minimize the impact their operations have on the environment

What is

Environmental Science?

Considered an interdisciplinary field of study, environmental science is the science that examines the interactions between the physical, chemical, and biological mechanisms of the environment. It includes their effects on all types of organisms, especially to human impact on the environment and human well-being.

Graduates holding a Masters in Environmental Science degree might be considered as Environmental Scientists, who are experts in one or more of the natural sciences and apply their knowledge to environmental and human-health issues. These professionals work with businesses, governments, and other organizations such as non-profits and research institutes to clean up polluted areas, advise on policy issues and best practices, and teach individuals, businesses, and institutions how to effectively and efficiently use natural resources.


How To Search For a Masters in Environmental Science Program has easy to use search tools to help you find Environmental Science Masters programs. If program format is an important consideration for you, use the tabs to select campus programs, or choose a distance learning option. The hybrid format is a combination of campus and online courses, or, if you are a busy working professional you might choose an online environmental science masters degree. 

If location is important to you, use the city, state or country tabs to generate listings, then scroll through, and even request more information from each school. Some of your options might include a Master of Science in Environmental Science, an MS in Environmental Studies, Professional Science Masters (PSM) in Environmental Science, or an MS in Environmental Studies: Conservation Biology.

Make sure to verify the different tuition, admissions requirements, prerequisites, faculty and curriculum with each school. Some programs may require a mentorship, research or internship alongside of coursework. According to the BLS, students should look for classes and internships that include work in computer modeling, data analysis, and geographic information systems. Those who have this type of experience will be the best prepared to enter the job market.

Masters in Environmental Science Degree Program Potential Curriculum

Environmental Science masters level programs allow students to develop breadth of knowledge in the field through core classes in the physical, life, and social sciences. Students typically complete their coursework in environmental science alongside fieldwork and research for a thesis, dissertation, or other final cumulative project or exam. It is common that they work side-by-side with academics and other professionals in the field during their programs to gain meaningful insight and hands-on experience.

Common Courses in Environmental Sciences Masters Programs

Graduate students in environmental science typically take core and concentrative courses. Some examples of common core-course subjects may include:

  • Ecology
  • Environmental Sciences
  • Natural Sciences
  • Social Sciences and the Humanities
  • Environmental Ethics and Human Behavior
  • Research Methods in Environmental Sciences
  • Environmental Law and Policy
  • Aquatic Ecology
  • Geopolitics
  • Geographic Information Systems
  • Conservation and Ecosystem Management
  • Sustainability (including emphases in subjects such as land use, population management, and food systems)
  • Environmental Policy, Law, and Analysis

Areas of Specialization for Environmental Sciences Graduate Students

Environmental scientists may have numerous options for specialization. Some include:

  • Air resources
  • Environmental biology
  • Chemistry
  • Microbiology, or toxicology
  • Surface water resources or groundwater and the subsurface environment
  • Solid waste management
  • Sustainability science
  • Conservation Biology
  • Marine Biology

Potential Jobs in Environmental Science

Careers in Environmental Science are varied, as the field has different goals. Environmental Science explores how the natural world works, to understand how we as humans interact with the environment, and also to determine how we affect the environment. It also attempts to determine how humans affect the environment and includes finding ways to deal with these effects on the environment.

Some of the potential careers that graduates with Masters in Environmental Science might pursue may include:

Professional Environmental Scientists and Specialists use their comprehension of the natural sciences to protect the environment and human health. Their tasks are varied, from cleaning up polluted areas to advising policy makers or researching climate change. According to the BLS, employment of environmental scientists is projected to grow 11% between 2014 and 2024, and the median annual wage in May of 2014 was $66,250.

Some of the types of specialists within the field of Environmental Scientists include:

  • Climate Change Analysts
  • Environmental Health Specialists
  • Environmental Restoration Planners
  • Industrial Ecologists
  • Environmental Chemists

Atmospheric Scientists and Meteorologists study the weather and climate, as well as how these conditions affect earth activity. This field has an expected 9% growth rate in employment between 2014 and 2024.

Conservation Scientists and Foresters manage the land quality of forests, parks rangelands and other natural resources. Employment is projected to grow at a rate of 7% between 2014 and 2024.

Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists study animals and other wildlife and how they interact within ecosystems, and a master’s degree is often needed for higher-level investigative or scientific work in the field. This field has a slower than average growth rate of 4% between 2014 and 2024

Agricultural and food scientists research ways to improve the efficiency and safety of agricultural establishments and products. This field has a 5% projected growth in employment between 2014 and 2024

Sustainability Managers are responsible for developing and implementing an organization's sustainability plans and presenting these plans to senior staff, and   might also be responsible for ensuring that an organization is in compliance with environmental, health, and safety regulations. 

FUN FACT: the BLS definition of a green job involved in green technologies and practices is one whose primary duty is related to the use of environmentally friendly production processes.[i]

Ready To Pursue a Masters in Environmental Science?

Environmental science is a holistic and multidisciplinary field that integrates the biological, physical, and earth sciences. From agriculture to healthcare to industry, environmental scientists teach, research, and consult in businesses to help humans understand the environment and the effect of humans, plants and animals that populate the earth. Why not begin a search for the Environmental Science Masters programs that might help you find a promising career in this vast and fascinating subject!

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