best environmental planning graduate programs

Last Updated on November 24, 2021 by scaleforce

Masters in Environmental Management is a two year program, which is also known as Environmental Planning Master. The University of Yale provides a diverse environment for the students. In this article, you will learn about the best environmental planning graduate programs and top environmental policy graduate programs. Keep reading to know more!

Collegelearners wrote this article discussing the top environmental planning graduate programs. If you are an environmental student, then it is important that you pick the best environmental planning graduate program that can help you to pass your test and get a better job and find a good and helpful research paper reference.

As a naturally creative person, you know that you want to put your resourcefulness and your unique way of seeing the world to work in whatever occupation you choose. However, careers in the arts aren’t known for being plentiful or particularly lucrative most of the time. You don’t have to choose between your creativity and a great job. Instead, you can consider an unexpected career path like urban planning. Believe it or not, urban planning is among the top 10 degrees for creative people. You can put your creative talents and resourcefulness to work imagining and creating models of physical spaces and structures that are well designed for all members of a community.

Best Environmental Planning Graduate Programs

Top Master’s in Environmental Management Degrees

  1. Stanford University LOCATION, Stanford, CATUITION$16695GRADUATION RATE95% Overview: One hardly needs to introduce Stanford University. It is one of the leading research universities in the world, known for its achievements and ongoing work in sustainability, technology, and much more. More than 9,000 graduate students attend Stanford. Features: Stanford’s MS in Environment and Resources program was specifically designed to be earned alongside a graduate degree in business or law. Students are therefore given a broad introduction to the science and technology behind current environmental issues. But they also become leaders in policy and management. There are even additional ways to specialize, in:
    • Energy
    • Freshwater
    • Cleantech
    • Land Use and Agriculture
    • Community Global and Environmental Health Notables: Stanford is consistently ranked among the top five best schools in the world, by U.S. News & World Report and an array of other sources. Its proximity to the Silicon Valley makes it an elite part of a tech and innovation web. By attending Stanford you will have direct access to not only the School of Earth, Energy, and Environmental Studies, but to all the research facilities and connections you could hope for.
  2. University of Pennsylvania LOCATION Philadelphia, PATUITION$22944GRADUATION RATE96% Overview: Ivy League University of Pennsylvania is located in Philadelphia. It was founded by Ben Franklin, making it one of the oldest, most established schools in the nation. Today Penn is comprised of nearly a dozen colleges and professional schools. And around 22,000 combined undergraduate and graduate students attend. Features: Penn’s renowned Wharton business school houses the Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership program. Through this program you can earned an MBA in Environmental and Risk Management degree that explores both private and public sector relationships to business sustainability. This is a highly interdisciplinary degree. Core courses include:
    • Environmental Sustainability and Value Creation
    • Risk and Crisis Management
    • Environmental Management: Law and Policy
    • Energy Markets and Policy Notables: Another option for studying sustainability at Penn is to earn a joint degree. They offer an MBA combined with an MES (Master of Environmental Studies) program that is even more multidisciplinary. For those searching for a mostly liberal arts approach to environmental management, this is a great way to go.
  3. Yale University LOCATION New Haven, CTTUITION$18319GRADUATION RATE96% Overview: Again, Yale rarely needs introducing. It is an Ivy League university located in New Haven, Connecticut and is one of the world’s best schools. Organized into more than a dozen colleges and schools, Yale is home to 12,000 students. FeaturesAt Yale you can earn a Master of Environmental Management degree that is a blend of science, management, and policy. You will develop a broad understanding of the natural and social systems influencing natural resources issues. And you develop your leadership style while specializing in an area of interest. There are nine concentrations, including:
    • Business and the Environment
    • Climate and Air
    • Ecosystems and Land Conservation and Management
    • Water Resource Science and Management Notables: In addition to your coursework, at Yale you will participate in a capstone independent project. You will also complete nearly three months of summer interning or research. Yale therefore ensures you have practical, sought-after experience upon graduation.
  4. University of California Santa Barbara LOCATION Santa Barbara, CATUITION$15149GRADUATION RATE81% Overview: Part of the illustrious University of California System, the Santa Barbara campus is a public, research university. Though founded as a teacher’s college, today UCSB is comprised of five colleges through which nearly 25,000 students are enrolled. Features: UCSB is home to the highly regarded Bren School of Environmental Science and Management. Bren’s management master’s degree is divided in three units: the first-year core curriculum (see below) and the second year, which is comprised of specialization courses and the Eco-Entrepreneurship Project.
    • Ecology of Managed Ecosystems
    • Environmental Biogeochemistry
    • Earth Systems Science
    • Economics of Environmental Management Notables: UCSB is a Public Ivy University, meaning its academic qualities and research achievements parallel those of its private Ivy League counterparts. This program is a shining reflection of that. With more than half a dozen ways to specialize, and then even further your focus by training in eco-entrepreneurship or strategic environmental media, you’ll graduate from UCSB a fully trained expert in your field.
  5. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign LOCATION Champaign, ILTUITION$16683GRADUATION RATE84% Overview: The Urbana-Champaign campus within the wider University of Illinois System is a flagship university. Offering more than 250 academic programs, UIUC is known for its impressive research activities, facilities, and funding. Approximately 45,000 students attend UIUC. Features: At UIUC you have the opportunity to earn a graduate degree either on campus or online. Both are Master’s in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences and both emphasize leadership and management development. It is also possible to combine this program with a degree in law or agricultural production. Graduates have gone on to secure work as:
    • Environmental Consultants
    • Nature Conservation Officers
    • Environmental Managers
    • Sustainability Specialists Notables: The Sustainable Endowments Institute gives UIUC high marks for its dedication to green education and sustainability. This is due to the university’s commitment to LEED gold standards, a Student Sustainability Committee, and much more. Indeed, UIUC is a leader in climate neutrality.
  6. University of Denver LOCATION Denver, COTUITION$32940GRADUATION RATE76% Overview: The University of Denver is known for its research activity and achievements in an array of fields. DU’s campus is pocked with renowned research institutions, such as the Institute for Public Policy Studies. Around 12,000 students attend DU, half of which are graduate students. Features: The Master’s in Natural Resource Management degree at DU prepares its students for careers in everything from management and research to advocacy, education, and conservation. At DU you will learn how to expertly craft and implement an effective conservation plan. And you’ll learn how to enforce regulatory policies through classes such as:
    • Environmental Finance and Economics
    • Environmental Protection Law
    • Research Practices and Applications
    • Introduction to Ecology Notables: DU understands the importance of interdisciplinary study as environmental conservation becomes increasingly significant in diverse industries and sectors. For that reason, students have a lot of leeway in designing their curriculum and specialty areas. In fact, students can specialize or earn certification in such niche areas as environmental analytics and reporting.
  7. Presidio Graduate School LOCATION San Francisco, CATUITION$34800 Overview: Presidio Graduate School is located in San Francisco but has campuses in downtown Seattle and on Bainbridge Island too. Offering graduate degrees specifically in sustainable management, Presidio was the first of its kind. It provides hybrid learning experiences to its students, combining immersive, distance learning with concentrated campus visits. Features: Because of Presidio’s unique focus, there are many ways to study environmental management. You can earn an MBA in Sustainable Management, a Master of Public Administration, or a dual degree. While the MBA sets you up for a business career – in marketing, finance, or operations – the MPA allows you to work in urban development, public sector finance, and more. Presidio graduates have gone on to become:
    • Sustainable Energy Strategists
    • Sustainability Consultants
    • Program Managers
    • Business Founders and CEOs Notables: Regardless of where you study, even if it’s mostly online, you can study alongside others through the monthly Bay Area or Bainbridge Island residencies. During these immersive residencies you will attend workshops, quick-fire class sessions, and lectures led by leaders in the field. Presidio is literally one of a kind.

The Role of an Urban Planner

Urban planners determine how to use land to establish new communities, alter existing communities to handle population increases and revive the buildings and structures that make up cities. Urban planners analyze data and environmental factors to understand the options for using a particular patch of land. The creative aspect comes in when urban planners create new plans and programs for how to use that land and make models of those plans.

An Advanced Degree in Urban Planning

Aspiring urban planners typically need a graduate degree. Of course, like students in any field, they must begin with their undergraduate studies. About 15 colleges now offer accredited urban or regional planning degrees at the bachelor’s level, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Other popular choices of undergraduate majors among aspiring urban planners include economics, architecture, landscape architecture, environmental design, geography, political science and public administration, the BLS reported.

An undergraduate degree may be sufficient for students to attain entry-level positions like junior or assistant planner, but often will not be enough to qualify candidates for more established roles. For these jobs, candidates must earn a master’s degree from one of the more than 70 accredited graduate degree programs in urban and regional planning. During their master’s-level education, students should expect to develop analytical and problem-solving skills through classroom seminars, laboratory classes, workshops and real-world internship experiences. The subject matters they study may vary from one location to the next, so students should choose their graduate schools carefully to make sure they are learning the material that’s most relevant to their intended career. In certain states, candidates must also earn a license or registration to work as an urban or community planner, though this is not the norm.

The benefits of pursuing a career in urban planning are numerous. The pay for urban planning is substantially above the median salary for all occupations. Urban planners earn a median salary of $65,230 per year (compared to the median of just $34,750 for all careers), the BLS reported. In agricultural, engineering and consulting services, the median wage is even higher. Of course, the opportunity to use your creativity and resourcefulness to make a real, concrete difference in communities is fulfilling work.

University of California-Irvine

  •  Irvine, California

The Department of Planning, Policy and Design at UC Irvine blends the fields of public policy, design and planning to creatively look for ways to solve problems in the natural and built environment. The department offers an undergraduate major in Urban Studies and offers a Master of Urban and Regional Planning and a Ph.D. in Planning, Policy and Design. A dual degree program, resulting in an M.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Master’s in Planning, is available; students in the engineering section of that program specialize in transportation systems or water resources. Many local governments and agencies provide paid or unpaid internships for students in the master’s program.

CAG Score 97.2

30,836 Students2

Texas A & M University-College Station

  •  College Station, Texas

Seven research centers support ongoing work in urban planning at the Texas A&M University-College Station. Students in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning utilize these centers for internships, field work, and service-learning opportunities. The school offers a Bachelor of Science in Urban and Regional Planning, Master of Urban Planning, Master of Land and Property Development, and Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Science. The MLPD program is a unique curriculum that combines business with physical planning. The MUD program requires a thesis or research project. Numerous graduate certificates are offered as well. Urban planning students may qualify for the Center for Heritage Conservation Fellowship, History Maker Homes Endowed Scholarship, or the King Endowed Memorial Student Research Scholarship

CAG Score 97.0

63,813 Students3

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

  •  Chapel Hill, North Carolina

The Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill is part of the College of Arts and Sciences, which brings a social science approach to the study of urban planning. The school offers a Master and Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning. Master’s students have the option to study interdisciplinary tracks that connect four areas of specialization. These are design, real estate, hazards, international development, and Geographic Information Systems. Students take part in community engagement class projects, helping identify sustainable, practical solutions to real-world problems. Six research centers offer internship and research opportunities. The school offers the Stipe Assistantship in Historic Preservation ($10,000), Master’s teaching and research assistantships ($11,100), and Doctoral assistantships ($18,000).

CAG Score 96.9

29,084 Students4

University of California-Los Angeles

  •  Los Angeles, California

Students earning a Master of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of California Los Angeles are expected to select an area of concentration by the end of their first term, selecting from these options: Community Economic Development and Housing; Design and Development; Environmental Analysis and Policy; Regional and International Development; or Transportation Policy and Planning. Students who do not have a background in planning must complete 300 hours of fieldwork. The program requires students to complete 18 courses and write a thesis or pass comprehensive exams. The department offers international study programs and internships. The Ph.D. program is designed to be flexible, with students allowed to select the classes and research projects that best suit their interests and goals.

CAG Score 96.8

41,908 Students5

University of Illinois at Chicago

  •  Chicago, Illinois

The University of Illinois-Chicago College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs offers advanced study in urban planning and community development through its Master in Urban Planning and Policy. The degree is accredited by the Planning Accreditation Board. Students complete an area of specialization in one of the following: globalization and international planning, economic development, community development, spatial planning and design, urban transportation, or environmental planning and policy. All master’s candidates are required to complete an internship and choose a master’s project in applied research or a traditional thesis. Eight research centers in the specialization areas support faculty and student research. A foreign exchange program with University College Dublin is also available. Master’s students are eligible for the Anna B. Memorial Scholarship ($3,000).

CAG Score 96.8

29,048 Students6

University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

  •  Minneapolis, Minnesota

The Resilient Communities Project at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities provides students in the Master of Urban and Regional Planning program an opportunity to work with municipalities on a collaborative, sustainable solution to a community problem. The school also offers research opportunities at the State and Local Policy Program and Project on Regional and Industrial Economics. The program requires students to complete a 400-hour professional internship and a capstone project. Students may choose a degree concentration in areas of environmental planning, housing and community development, land use and urban design, or transportation planning, or design an interdisciplinary program. Graduate certificates complement the degree. Graduate student support is available through the Berrie Fellowship, Howard Award, and Humphrey Fellowship programs.

CAG Score 96.6

50,678 Students7

University of California-Berkeley

  •  Berkeley, California

The urban planning program at the University of California, Berkeley, is built around a mission to improve the ethics, environment and economy of cities and communities by creating spaces that are accessible, enjoyable and sustainable. The Department of City and Regional Planning offers a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies, a Master of City Planning and a Ph.D. of City Planning. The MCP program takes two years and allows students to concentrate in Environmental Planning and Healthy Cities; Housing, Community and Economic Development; Transportation Policy and Planning; and Urban Design. The university offers several concurrent graduate degree programs. The Ph.D. program encourages students to develop a specialty and to seek training in related fields such as architecture or civil engineering.

CAG Score 96.4

38,189 Students8

University of California-Davis

  •  Davis, California

The University of California-Davis offers an Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning major that allows students to take a track in City and Regional Planning. In this track, undergrads gain an understanding of how cities develop and the planning that is necessary to solve problems. Courses required for this program include urban planning and public lands management, transportation planning, and urban politics and community development. The department offers a summer abroad program led by department faculty that investigates the sustainable cities of Northern Europe. Another departmental study abroad program takes students to examine ecological and social issues at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala.

CAG Score 96.4

35,186 Students9

Westfield State University

  •  Westfield, Massachusetts

The Geography and Regional Planning Department at Westfield State University offers a foundation in geographic theory and hands-on learning in its Bachelor of Science in Regional Planning degree. Students may choose a degree concentration in environmental planning or urban and social justice. A certificate in Geographic Information Systems is also offered. Students take part in internships, independent study, and capstone research projects. They also engage the campus and wider community in collaborative projects, such as helping to create community revitalization plans. The school’s Environmental Planning Club organizes a sustainability event on campus each year and a geocaching club offers extracurricular activities. Each year, the department presents the Kelly Award in Regional Planning ($1,000) and awards the Regional Planning Scholarship.

CAG Score 96.4

6,496 Students10

Appalachian State University

  •  Boone, North Carolina

Appalachian State University offers a Bachelor of Science in Community and Regional Planning through its Department of Geography and Planning. Students are required to perform an internship in a professional office to earn their degree. The department also grants a non-thesis Master of Geography with a concentration in Planning that requires students to perform an internship or undertake a directed research project. Grad students can also opt for a Certificate in Planning, which requires 18 credit hours of coursework and emphasizes skills in the geospatial applications of planning. Scholarships available for planning majors include the Robert E. Reiman Planning Scholarship and the ASU Local Government Alumni Association Planning Scholarship.

CAG Score 96.4

17,932 Students11

University of Massachusetts Amherst

  •  Amherst, Massachusetts

The two-year Masters in Regional Planning program at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst offers service learning opportunities through a variety of on-campus research centers and interdisciplinary programs, such as the Springfield Design Center, Center for Economic Development, or the Center for Resilient Metro-Region. All of the centers work with communities throughout the region on issues of social planning and economic development. The Master’s program is offered through the Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning. This allows the program to offer graduate students a certificate in landscape management. Studio courses are a requirement of the Planning Accreditation Board-accredited program. These may be completed on campus or through international courses, such as a climate change field study in Brazil or a tour of urban development in Amsterdam.

CAG Score 96.3

29,269 Students12

SUNY at Albany

  •  Albany, New York

SUNY Albany offers a Master of Regional Planning, a two-year program designed to prepare students for a professional planning practice. Students can choose to specialize in one of three areas: Environmental and Land-Use Planning; Housing, Local Economic Development and Community Planning; or Transportation Planning. The interdisciplinary program emphasizes sustainability, public involvement and creativity. Students gain technical skills and have the opportunity to intern and practice their skills in a real-world setting. The program is accredited by the Planning Accreditation Board. Planning students can also enter a joint master’s program that allows them to earn an MRP and a law degree. The Department of Geography and Planning also offers an undergraduate major in Urban Studies and Planning.

CAG Score 96.1

17,178 Students13

Iowa State University

  •  Ames, Iowa

Iowa State’s Bachelor of Science in Community and Regional Planning is a professional program covering the theory, methods and applications of planning practice. When possible, studios and other classes work with local communities on real world problems. Students in the program can choose from five focus areas: community development and social policy, ecological and environmental planning, regional and international planning, physical planning and urban design, or transportation and land use. The program is accredited by the Planning Accreditation Board. While not required, students are urged to participate in an internship. Iowa State also offers a Master of Community and Regional Planning that allows students to concentrate in land use and transportation, community design and development, or rural and environmental planning.

CAG Score 96.0

35,714 Students14

University of Florida

  •  Gainesville, Florida

The University of Florida’s Master of Urban and Regional Planning program provides students with traditional lecture/seminar classes, studio work in a team environment as students apply their knowledge to real-world situations, professional experience through an internship, and research work for a capstone project. The program, accredited by the Planning Accreditation Board, is known for its emphasis on environmental planning, growth management and transportation, housing, community and economic development, information technologies for planning, and urban design. The university also offers an online program designed for professional planners, a combined degree program that allows undergrads to work on their MURP during their junior and senior years, and a Ph.D. in Design, Construction and Planning with a concentration in Urban and Regional Planning.

CAG Score 95.9

50,645 Students15

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

  •  Champaign, Illinois

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign recognizes that issues of international planning are a vital part of training for urban planning professionals. That is why it offers an integrated transnational planning courses within other areas of specialization. The school offers a Bachelor of Arts, Master, and Ph.D. of Urban Planning, with the BAUP and MUP degrees accredited by the Planning Accreditation Board. Research opportunities and service learning are available through the Land Use Evolution and Impact Assessment Model and Regional Economic Applications Laboratory research centers. Master’s students have the option to pursue an area of emphasis in community development for social justice, land use and transportation planning, local and regional economic development, or sustainable design and development.

CAG Score 95.9

45,842 Students16

University of Iowa

  •  Iowa City, Iowa

University of Iowa’s BSE in Civil Engineering has an Urban and Regional Planning track. In addition to maintaining several hundred scholarships, the College of Engineering distributes grants to undergrads who pursue unpaid internships, either domestically or abroad. The college also hands out scholarships for study abroad through its Global Engineering program, and underclassmen receive free tutoring in STEM courses. Students angling toward an MS in Civil Engineering can join the fast-track degree program, which lets them count some courses toward both degrees and graduate in five years. Alternatively, as undergrads they can enroll in the joint master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning, which has five areas of concentration to choose from.

CAG Score 95.9

30,844 Students17

Michigan State University

  •  East Lansing, Michigan

Michigan State offers a Bachelor of Science in Urban and Regional Planning, a Master of Urban and Regional Planning, and a Ph.D. in Planning, Design and Construction with a concentration in Urban and Regional Planning. The undergraduate program focuses on practical skills to prepare students for the workplace, including a capstone practicum course where students work with a local community on a planning project. Master’s students gain the research and analytical skills needed to be innovative leaders in the field. MURP students can concentrate in areas such as golf course planning, community development, environmental and resource economics, economic development, or urban transportation planning. Students interested in planning law can choose the dual degree option for a MURP and a J.D.

CAG Score 95.7

50,538 Students18

Minnesota State University-Mankato

  •  Mankato, Minnesota

The Urban and Regional Studies program at Minnesota State University takes an interdisciplinary approach to regional and urban issues by combining class work, research and field work for undergrads who are interested in community development or other planning jobs. Students are also encouraged to take internships, take part in community service projects, undertake independent study and participate in field projects. The major requires students to complete 33 semester hours, including taking four courses in the focus area they choose. Minnesota State also offers an M.A. in Urban Planning, a two-year professional program. The Urban and Regional Studies Institute typically hires three or four graduate assistants a year. The institute also offers tuition scholarships for full-time graduate urban planning students.

CAG Score 95.7

15,313 Students19

CUNY City College

  •  New York, New York

City College offers a Master of Urban Design program that is delivered as a two-semester, full-time course of study. The main focus of the program is a design studio. In the first semester, students work on a design project for a large New York City site. During the semester break, students visit another city that is facing unique stresses, which have ranged from New Orleans to Hanoi. Students work on a design for the site in the second semester. The program is open to applicants who hold a professional degree in architecture or landscape architecture. Students must take two required courses and two electives each semester.

CAG Score 95.5

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

  •  Charlotte, North Carolina

The University of North Carolina-Charlotte’s Master of Urban Design is a 36-credit graduate program that can be completed in as little as three semesters. The degree is designed for students with a background in architecture, planning, landscape design, or related fields. The curriculum is balanced between studio and seminar classes. Faculty coordinate a five-week travel immersion program that in recent years has included study of high-density urbanism, historic regeneration, and new town movements in multiple cities in China. Research opportunities are provided through the Center for Integrated Building Design Research, the City Building Lab, daylighting and Energy Performance Lab, d-Arts, and Lab for Innovative Housing. Graduate students may qualify for research assistantships ($1,000-$3,000) or teaching assistantships ($1,000-$1,500).

masters in environmental management yale

This program provides students with an in-depth understanding of natural and social systems that can be applied to environmental and natural resource problem solving in a policy or management context.

Program Overview

The Master of Environmental Management curriculum draws from coursework in the natural and social sciences and focuses on the complex relationships among science, management, and policy. The purpose of the program is to provide students with an in-depth understanding of natural and social systems that can be applied to environmental and natural resource problem solving in a policy or management context. In addition to course work, students are expected to hone their capacities as leaders and managers through summer internships, professional skills courses, and other opportunities.

The MEM curriculum requires students to focus on an area of specialization, while still offering the flexibility to tailor their course programming in a way that exposes them to other disciplines and subject areas. This structure assures that students develop both depth and breadth in their course of study. Students can choose from more than 100 courses offered by YSE faculty and have access to an even larger number of courses from across Yale University.

MEM Goals

  • Provide the broad knowledge necessary to engage in 21st environmental challenges while gaining the depth required to offer expertise
  • Expose students to diverse perspectives and approaches to environmental problem-solving
  • Offer clear pathways for subject immersion through required specializations while encouraging exploration
  • Foster interdisciplinary teamwork focused on developing and validating solutions to environmental challenges
  • Equip students with practical, professional skills needed to be effective organizational leaders
  • Support student learning, training, and engagement through robust learning communities

Degree Awarded

Master of Environmental Management — MEM

Program Duration

2 Years

Required Credit Hours


MEM Specializations

All MEM students are required to choose one specialization.
Specialization are designed to ensure that students obtain sufficient depth in their chosen area of study. Specialization requirements account for 18 of the 48 total credits required for the MEM degree, and it is possible to add a second specialization. Students have until the end of their second semester of study to choose their specialization, which will be listed on their transcript, upon completion.


  • Business and the Environment
  • Climate Change Science and Solutions
  • Ecosystem Management and Conservation
  • Energy and the Environment
  • Environmental Policy Analysis
  • Industrial Ecology and Green Chemistry
  • People, Equity, and the Environment
  • Urban
  • Water Resource Science and Management
  • Self-Designed

top environmental policy graduate programs

What Is Environmental Management?

Environmental management is defined as the attempt to mitigate human impact on and interaction with the environment to preserve natural resources. It includes administrative functions that develop, apply and monitor environmental policies of an organization.

While each program has its own course list, environmental management programs could might encourage students to probe a myriad of modern hot button issues. These could run the gamut from climate change and global warming to pollution, deforestation, soil erosion, landfills, or depletion of Earth’s natural resources.

Many environmental management schools have participants take a range of foundational courses along with research methods and track electives. These could take students in a specific professional direction. Business, finance, policy, health and safety or urban planning are some possibilities discussed below.

Green Business

For instance, an environmental business degree might cover topics such as corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability. These programs often meld the worlds of business and economics with the environmental, social and cultural aspects of sustainability, or “green business”.

For instance, partner school, University of Edinburgh offers a Masters in Carbon Finance through its business school. The curriculum could help students understand climate change science and policy from the lens of how these issues relate to finance and investment. Students could also learn about the procedures and concerns within the energy sector and carbon markets.

Land Management

A land management degree program often focuses on all the ways humans develop and live on the land. As a broad field, it could touch on ecosystem health, conservation through sustainable resource management and other crucial concerns.

For instance, students might discuss how to plan with an eye to preservation of wildlife habitats and water resources. Course lists might include technical, legal, scientific, and policy tools of this field. A course in land measurement and mapping could introduce learners to geographic information systems (GIS).

Environmental Policy

Environmental policy and management programs often cover concepts such as environmental sustainability and change stacked with core sciences, ethics and technology courses. Students might analyze climate change policy to find regulatory and market-based approaches to policy.

Natural Resource Management

By comparison, natural resource management graduate programs highlight sustainable solutions for conserving natural resources. Natural resources include clean water, energy, minerals and biological resources. Topics in natural resource management might allow students to build a variety of skills in the following areas.

  • Land-Use Planning
  • Conservation Biology
  • Energy Use
  • Climate Change
  • Renewable Resource Management
  • Forest and Wildlife Management
  • Natural Resource Policy

Masters in Environmental Management Programs

Masters in Environmental Management programs often aim to help students refine leadership skills in the environmental sciences. Students could gain the ability to analyze and use the natural environment proactively while considering the needs of the community and ecology.

Applicants need a Bachelors degree although things like GPA and specific undergraduate coursework or major is a variable. Apart from transcripts, students often need to submit several letters of recommendation, a resume, and essay.

Some Environmental Masters may take full-time students between two and three years, though there may be accelerated and part-time options available.

There are a variety of universities that offer environmental management masters programs, and several types of degrees may be available. Course lists and program objectives vary, so it is important to factor professional and personal aims into a search.

MEM: Master of Environmental Management

A Master of Environmental Management curriculum tends to draw coursework from both the natural and social sciences. Students often study at the intersection of science, management and policy to understand how to factor ecology into policy and business decisions.

MEM students might be required to take a series of courses in three major areas: (1) foundations, (2) electives, (3) capstone. Students might also have the option to enroll in a concentration.

  • Environmental Policy Analysis
  • Water Resource Science Management
  • Ecosystem Conservation
  • Sustainable Land Use
  • Industrial Ecology and Green Design

Foundation coursework could cover topics such as economics, physical sciences, statistics, politics and conservation. At the same time, students could build leadership skills through courses in communication, finance and conflict resolution.

MSUS: Master of Sustainability

A Master of Science in Sustainability could help students think systematically about sustainability as it relates to the ecological, economic, social and business worlds.

The blend of topics, research and hands-on practice could help students develop a holistic grasp of the complex actions that lead to environmental problems. Students could build an ability to collaborate with multiple disciplines to identify and implement sustainable practices.

Curriculums could have students first take basic courses which could cover socio-ecological history, applied ecology, leadership and ethics. Along with key concepts, students could learn GPS mapping, statistics and how to perform a sustainability audit.

For instance, partner school, Pratt University might offer a class that discusses the sustainability indicators footprint. Students could learn how to use the Ecological Footprint Analysis. An EFA measures how much biologically productive land and water area an individual, a city, a country, or a region requires to produce the resources it consumes and to absorb the waste it regenerates.

Electives could challenge students to thoroughly explore a specific aspect of sustainability. These course topics are different in each school, so make sure to read lists and program descriptions.

  • Urban and Energy Systems
  • Ecology and Resource Management
  • Business and Innovation
  • Food Systems
  • Policy and Regulation

PSM: Professional Science Masters – Environmental Informatics

A Professional Science Masters degree in Environmental Informatics fuses science, technology and business courses. A relatively new type of degree, it is often designed for students who have a Bachelors degree in natural resources.

Curriculums could start students out with a class in GIS and GPS theory, then move onto required segments. A well-rounded business section could include topics such as accounting, organizational leadership, linear statistics and strategic marketing.

Core courses could blend internship experience with topics in environmental social policy, GIS programming and environmental statistics. A course in remote sensing could survey key concepts and techniques of image analysis for natural resources, geomorphology and Earth surface processes.

Electives might allow students to learn experimental design and applied statistics. Additional topics might draw from the ones listed below.

  • Web-Based Database Systems
  • GIS Project Management
  • Data Mining
  • Industrial Pollution Prevention Systems

Students at partner school, Tennessee Tech could also take a class in Energy Management Systems. The course is a case study that presents the student with the techniques, technologies, regulations, and strategies that define industrial pollution prevention.

MS: Energy Policy and Climate

A Master of Science in Energy Policy and Climate could address the challenges posed by climate change. Students could develop a firm grasp of climate change science as well as the impacts of climate change through time.
A diverse curriculum could enable students to build substantial expertise in energy law and policy making, as well as a basic sense of primary energy technologies such as fossil fuel-based systems and renewable energy options.

MS students might be required to take a series of compulsory courses and electives, then synthesize program content in a capstone project. Sample required topics could cover the following.

  • Policy Analysis
  • Energy and Climate Finance
  • Energy Law and Policy

Students at partner school, John Hopkins could choose electives in some fascinating topics. For example, a class in wind energy could discuss wind turbines and power transmission, electric markets, legal issues and more. A course in climate modeling might appeal to the students who want to survey climate models and predictions.

Environmental Management PhD Programs

Students who aim for a terminal degree structured around research might consider a PhD in Environmental Management. Course work varies from program to program and could include a hands-on component, research in regional to international study areas, and publication of research findings.

Curriculums may be well-rounded to help candidates develop fluency in natural and physical sciences, statistics, economics, and policy.

Topics of study may be:

  • Climate Change
  • Soil and Water Quality
  • Environmental Remediation
  • Biofuels Markets
  • Storm Water, Coastal, Natural Resource Management
  • Biodiversity and Ecosystem Preservation

Admission requirements may be similar to those for a Masters degree with one possible exception. Applicants may need the sponsorship of a faculty member within the program. This faculty member might only provide a potential student his or her sponsorship if it is felt that one could be a good fit and likely to succeed.

In addition, applicants to some Environmental Management PhD programs may need to provide evidence of their completed Masters capstone of thesis.

Environmental Management Graduate Certificates

A Graduate Certificate in Environmental Management is a non-degree award that could help students build skills and refine knowledge. Credits earned through a graduate certificate may apply toward a Masters degree in grad schools with this feature.

An Environmental Management certificate might cover just a few courses (E.g. six) and could be structured or provide room to choose an elective or two. Students might gain managerial skills and strategies to navigate organizational structures, environmental issues, and technical problems.

Online or On Campus?

There are both campus and online graduate programs in environmental management. Online programs often have flexible formats though a dynamic program abroad or one that is walkable from work could have their own merits.

Do you live too far from university? Are you an at-work professional? How far are you willing to travel to university? Would you relocate? Do you need day or evening classes? All of these answers, and more, could help you determine what university and program might be appropriate. Take the time to research options. Then, use preferences to filter programs on this directory.

What Could You Do with a Degree in Environmental Management?

A graduate degree in environmental management could prepare students for diverse career paths, some of which are spotlighted below. Use your professional goals to help you plan out your studies.

Sustainability Specialists: Address organizational sustainability issues, such as waste stream management, green building practices, and green procurement plans.

Chief Sustainability OfficersTake charge of corporate strategies and communications with management, shareholders, customers and employees.

Industrial Ecologists: Apply principles and processes of natural ecosystems to develop models for efficient industrial systems. 

Urban and Regional PlannersDevelop all-inclusive plans and programs for use of land and physical facilities.

Climate Change AnalystsResearch and analyze policy developments related to climate change.

How much does an environmental manager make a year?

Based on Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data for Environmental Scientists and Specialists, the average annual salary (May 2016) was $ 68,910.

Best Master’s in Environmental & Sustainability Management for 2021

1. Yale University

Yale University gives students an opportunity to enroll in the best environmental management Masters’ programs in the northeastern United States. Coursework includes instruction on how to manage natural resources and oversee many different levels of operation within both natural and business environments. With a Master of Environmental Management degree, a graduate can find employment in many different industries and in a variety of positions, including human resources and government positions.

Yale University is one of the oldest and most revered schools in the country. Its long-standing history of providing quality education and valuable resources to its students makes it a leader in its field. With a Master of Environmental Management, graduates can continue to build a solid career with a bright future.

HIGHLIGHT Students at Yale are guaranteed to receive a top of the line education taught by experienced instructors.

DEGREEMaster of Environmental Management

2. Columbia University

Columbia University offers one of the best environmental management Masters’ programs in New York and the surrounding states. The skills that are provided include the ability to manage different types of environments as well as the resources they offer. Management tools and strategies are also provided that will allow graduates to be an effective and skilled leader. By graduating with an MS in Sustainability Management, you can find work in organizations and agencies that are committed to managing our sustainable resources for the future.

Columbia University is dedicated to providing each student with the highest quality education possible so that they have the tools and resources they need to succeed. Taught by professional faculty members with many years of experience, each course requires all of the information a student will need to perform the duties associated with their position. 

HIGHLIGHTEarning a Masters’ degree from Columbia offers the best chance for landing the type of position you want.

DEGREEMS in Sustainability Management

3. Georgetown University

Georgetown University offers the best environmental management Masters‘ programs for students who are interested in finding work as an environmental metrology technician or manager. Each student receives the training they need to be proficient in weights and measures and how they are used in an environmental setting. With an MS in Environmental Metrology & Policy, graduates can assist in managing the harvesting and use of vital natural resources.

Georgetown University offers the highest quality Masters’ programs in Environmental Management. The award-winning curriculums are taught by instructors with years of professional experience. Georgetown has won numerous awards for its different types of curriculums, including those in an online format. 

HIGHLIGHTStudents who choose to attend Georgetown University are guaranteed an education that will provide all of the necessary resources that are needed to be proficient at their job.

DEGREEMS in Environmental Metrology & Policy 

4. University of Michigan

The University of Michigan offers students the best environmental management master’s programs available in the world. The Masters’ programs offer skills and abilities that give students what they need to be able to monitor and evaluate ecosystems and manage the resources available within them. Enrolling in an MS in Ecosystem Science and Management program gives students an opportunity to enter the workforce with the skills they need to succeed. The program also builds a foundational understanding of the intersection between life and the environment, and how humans both manage and impact ecosystems. With a focus on experimental field-based learning, this environmental master’s program will prepare you to become a change-driven scientist capable of developing novel approaches to the sustainable management of wildlands, protected areas, and aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.

The University of Michigan is one of the most technologically advanced universities in the field. Each degree program is created to provide the most innovative and up to date information and skill sets possible for a student to succeed in whatever position they pursue when it comes to the ecosystem sciences and sustainability fields.

HIGHLIGHTGraduates can rely on the faculty and staff at the University of Michigan to provide them with the guidance they need to build lucrative, long-lasting careers.

DEGREEMS in Ecosystem Science and Management

Other degrees include: Master of Science, MS Landscape Architecture

5. University of California, Santa Barbara

The University of California, Santa Barbara provides each student with the best environmental management master’s programs on the west coast. Each course provides the most current and up to date information available. Students learn about both the environment as well as effective management skills that will allow them to be valuable leaders. A Master of Environmental Science and Management offers those skills and abilities to its graduates

The University of California, Santa Barbara has a tradition of providing quality coursework and technologically advanced tools to help students gain the edge they need to succeed. Instructors who teach at the university have long-standing careers and are respected by the professional peers. 

HIGHLIGHTGraduates leave UCSB with the confidence that comes from utilizing every opportunity at their disposal to move forward with their career. By the time they graduate, they are prepared and ready to go to work. 

DEGREEMaster of Environmental Science and Management

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