Environmental management draws from several disciplines, including business, law, and physical science. In light of issues like global climate change, environmental management is an increasingly vital area of study, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 11% growth in environmental science careers through 2026. Environmental managers work with corporations and organizations to implement sustainable growth solutions, continually monitoring the implementation of these solutions to ensure compliance with internal goals and international standards. Environmental managers are crucial for mitigating disaster and anticipating further environmental damage.
Should I Get a Master's in Environmental Management?
Though a bachelor’s degree in environmental management is often sufficient for entry-level positions, the scope of the field and its growing global importance means governments and organizations seek professionals with the deepened expertise a master’s degree imparts.
Some schools offer online environmental management master’s degrees, the flexibility of which benefits students with work or family obligations. However, most master’s degrees in environmental management require students to complete an internship or practicum, which must be completed in person. Traditional programs often assist their students with internship placement, while online students are typically responsible for securing their own opportunities.
Regardless of modality, students study pollution prevention, environmental regulations, and strategies for innovative, comprehensive environmental management. A postgraduate degree trains students to design and implement sustainability programs for water distribution, waste management, and erosion prevention on local and global levels.
What Can I Do With a Master’s in Environmental Management?
Because of the field’s breadth, you can pursue multiple career paths after earning your environmental management master’s degree, including work as a scientist, policymaker, or environmental legal expert. Students can also focus their studies to address environmental challenges unique to specific regions. Below are five possible career options for students who complete a master’s degree in environmental management.
- Conservation Scientists
A master’s degree in environmental management trains conservation scientists to manage natural resources and find sustainable solutions to overconsumption.
Median Annual Salary: $60,970
Projected Growth Rate: 6%
- Environmental Scientists and Specialists
Environmental specialists work with governments, organizations, and companies to minimize negative impacts of daily activities on the environment. They often assist in reclaiming land, water, and air from pollution and natural disasters.
Median Annual Salary: $69,400
Projected Growth Rate: 11%
Hydrologists seek to reduce the environmental impact of erosion, drought, floods, and other water-related phenomena. They enhance water quality and improve access to clean drinking water for populations globally.
Median Annual Salary: $79,990
Projected Growth Rate: 10%
- Environmental Engineers
Environmental engineers develop solutions to environmental problems like soil erosion, nonpotable water, and air pollution. They present research and prepare investigative reports on environmental issues.
Median Annual Salary: $86,800
Projected Growth Rate: 8%
- Natural Sciences Managers
A master’s degree in environmental management prepares science managers to perform supervisory duties, including coordinating with program directors, budgeting resources, and communicating with stakeholders about research proposals.
Median Annual Salary: $118,970
Projected Growth Rate: 10%
How to Choose a Master's Program in Environmental Management
When choosing schools, consider the benefits of both online and on-campus degrees. If you’re a working professional or have family obligations, online degrees — especially those delivering course materials asynchronously — allow you to complete coursework around your schedule. Most programs allow students to specialize in a particular discipline, taking coursework that aligns with their professional goals.
Programmatic Accreditation for Master’s Programs in Environmental Management
Though many master’s degrees are accredited programmatically by independent institutions, which verify that coursework prepares students professionally, there is not currently an agency that offers accreditation for environmental management programs. Students should still check prospective programs’ accreditation status to ensure the institution as a whole meets standards of academic excellence.
Master's in Environmental Management Program Admissions
Master’s degree applications often require a significant time commitment. Unlike bachelor’s programs, no Common App exists for master’s degree applications, so students must complete each school’s requirements individually. Check deadlines for applications, and be aware that online programs often require meetings with admissions counselors prior to applying.
- Bachelor’s Degree: Applicants are required to have a bachelor’s degree in environmental management or a closely-related field from an accredited school.
- Professional Experience: Most master’s in environmental management programs require applicants to have professional experience in the field. The number of years varies by school, though the average is two.
- Minimum GPA: Most schools require a minimum GPA of 3.0 for prospective applicants, though some may require higher averages for students in specific concentrations.
- Application: Some programs offer multiple start dates, so deadlines may vary. Schools with rolling admission processes typically make admissions decisions within eight weeks.
- Transcripts: You must submit transcripts from every prior institution. Most schools charge a fee to send official copies of these documents.
- Letters of Recommendation: Most master’s programs require applicants to submit at least two letters of recommendation, preferably from former professors or work supervisors.
- Test Scores: Several schools require applicants to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Schools usually do not list minimum scores for acceptance, but often offer information about average scores for previous students.
- Application Fee: Application fees for environmental management master’s degrees generally range between $75 and $100. Most schools allow applicants with demonstrated financial need to apply for a fee waiver.
What Else Can I Expect From a Master's Program in Environmental Management?
Because of the array of jobs in the field, environmental management programs offer several coursework concentrations that allow professionals to take courses aligned with their career goals.
|Business and the Environment||Students in this concentration merge business knowledge with innovative, environmentally sound solutions to industry challenges involving pollution and resource consumption.||Environmental consultant for businesses|
|Ecosystems and Land Conservation and Management||In this concentration, students explore socio-ecological systems, including resource allocation in urban and rural landscapes. These classes emphasize biodiversity conservation and sustainable land use.||Agent for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; environmental conservationist|
|Energy and the Environment||Students in this concentration focus on the environmental consequences of traditional and emerging alternative energy sources. They learn to address the challenges of energy generation and distribution and how to influence global energy policy.||Private sector energy companies or renewable energy start-ups|
|Environmental Policy||Students examine industry and global policies that affect the use and allocation of natural resources. They learn to balance competing interests and accommodate various objectives to come up with ecologically sustainable environmental management strategies.||Environmental policy advocate for government agencies or private organizations|
|Water Resource Science and Management||In this concentration, students learn about water scarcity and water pollution. They investigate the effects of human activity and climate change on water supply and quality and develop the expertise necessary to craft environmentally sustainable solutions to these problems.||Consultant for state or federal environmental agencies; advocate for private environmental organizations|
Courses in a Master’s in Environmental Management Program
Every school with an environmental management master’s degree, regardless of concentrations, has a curriculum that includes foundational courses in the field.
- Global Issues in Environmental Management
Students learn about environmental threats, including natural disasters, unsustainable industrial practices, and biodiversity loss. This course imparts the fundamental understanding of ecological systems interconnectedness.
- Emerging Environmental Technologies
Students study environmental management technologies at local and global levels, learning about developing tools that can remediate and mitigate the negative effects of untenable environmental practices.
- Environmental Health
Students in environmental health courses study the adverse effects of environmental hazards on human health. Topics include air pollution, soil contamination, and food supply chain disruption.
- Environmental and Natural Resources Economics
In this course, students investigate efficiency in natural resource use, study macro- and microeconomic principles, and examine the economic impact of global environmental policy. The course provides a framework for sustainability advocates to assess the costs of environmental problems like overdevelopment and habitat loss.
- Principles of Waste Management and Pollution Control
This basic course in waste management and pollution control teaches students about trash disposal strategies, waste recycling and treatment, and contaminated land recovery.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Master’s in Environmental Management?
Like many postsecondary degrees, students usually complete their environmental management master’s degree in two to three years. However, some institutions offer accelerated programs, which allow students to graduate more quickly. Often, these are online programs with courses taught asynchronously, though some on-campus degrees offer year-round classes. Some schools allow students to transfer credits from other academic or professional training programs or convert professional experience into coursework credit.
How Much Is a Master’s in Environmental Management?
Tuition for an environmental management master’s degree varies between institutions. Public in-state schools are typically much more affordable than out-of-state or private schools. In-state public tuition can be as low as $14,000, while private or out-of-state tuition can cost $35,000 or more. Typically, online environmental management master’s degree programs are more affordable than on-campus programs. Some online programs will charge all enrolled students in-state tuition, regardless of residency status.
Certifications and Licenses a Master’s in Environmental Management Prepares For
- Certified Environmental Auditor
This certification is designed for environmental compliance officers with a bachelor’s degree and four years of work experience. The exam covers topics like environmental laws and regulations, geology, environmental ethics, and environmental technology.
- Certified Environmental and Safety Compliance Officer
Applicants must have at least two years of environmental work experience in private or government sectors. The examination covers the laws and regulations that directly relate to air and water pollution and solid and hazardous waste safety.
- Registered Environmental Manager
This is the initial certification for environmental management professionals. To qualify, applicants need a bachelor’s degree in a related discipline and five years of experience, or 12 years of experience with no degree. The test covers topics such as the Clean Air Act, environmental laws, and basic regulatory processes.
- Registered Environmental Professional
This certification is recommended for project managers or coordinators. An exam is not required, but you must hold a master’s degree in an environmental field. In lieu of this, you can still obtain the REP certification if you are a licensed professional, such as a certified hazardous materials manager or a state-licensed environmental assessor.
Resources for Graduate Environmental Management Students
This monthly magazine is a comprehensive guide to sustainable farming. Articles from farmers, researchers, and environmental consultants discuss topics like soil fertility management and alternative crop marketing.
Environment Magazine features research and peer-reviewed articles about sustainable development projects and environmental education initiatives from a global perspective.
This organization features hundreds of open-access publications on its website, including several journals devoted to the study of environmental management and sustainability.
This website covers breaking news and new developments in environmental science and fields like health and technology.
This online publication is curated by graduate students in Yale’s environmental management program and reports new environmental research findings.
Professional Organizations in Environmental Management
Addressing complex environmental challenges requires the concerted efforts of dedicated professionals from various disciplines. Professional organizations facilitate communication and coordination among these individuals, making it possible to develop and share solutions.
More than 110 years old, AWMA’s members span 65 countries. The association provides networking opportunities, including an active forum to engage in discussions with fellow members, and professional development opportunities like webinars.
The NAEM website features an active job board for environmental safety professionals. The organization also runs a conference each year, and attendance can count as continuing education credit for some industry certifications.
Members pay discounted fees for NAEP’s annual conference and continuing education courses, seminars, and webinars. They can also access the organization’s career center, where they can search and apply for open positions and sign up for new job notifications via email.
This organization provides a forum for interdisciplinary exchange of information between environmental professionals committed to finding sustainable solutions to global environmental problems.
Members have full access to the Journal of Soil and Water Conservation, which contains the latest conservation news and research, an exclusive career center, and several educational, networking, and professional training opportunities.