Best Master’s in Environmental Science Degrees

Are you ready to find your fit?

Cultivate and conserve a rewarding career with one of the nation’s Best Masters in Environmental Science Degrees.

Do you envision yourself in the field, working directly with endangered plants or wildlife? Or perhaps you see yourself on the Senate floor, arguing passionately for effective conservation policy? Either way, an advanced degree in environmental science will help you get there.

What kind of master’s in environmental science degree should you get?

There are about as many different kinds of environmental science degrees as there are ecosystems! This diversity only serves you and your future.

With a Masters in Environmental Science degree you can specialize in an area that aligns with your passions and career goals. And the programs listed offer a diverse range of specialties, from hydrology to soil studies, wildlife preservation, climatology, and much more.

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Though these programs are all on campus, you may want to consider earning your degree online. Distance education is both an affordable and flexible way to advance your education and career.

So, be sure to check out College Choice’s Best Online Master’s in Environmental Science Degrees.

How much money do people make with a master’s in environmental science degree?

There are many ways to use your environmental science degree after graduation. From environmental engineer to policy mover, the opportunities are endless.

And all those opportunities lead toward financial and vocational stability. For example, environmental scientists make on average $68,910 annually. Environmental engineers make more than $84,000 a year. And, natural science managers make nearly $120,000 a year.

And each of those jobs are in high demand. For example, the projected growth of the environmental scientist is 11 percent, far above the national average.

What are the requirements for a master’s in environmental science degree?

Though each of these programs vary in emphasis and title, they each provide a strong foundation in the natural sciences.

Each program is approximately two years long. In the first year you will take a number of core environmental science courses that cover research methodology, conservation principles, and ecology.

In your second and final year you will take specialized classes that correspond with either a formal concentration or that fulfill elective requirements. These classes include everything from policy to biostatistics.

On top of your course and lab work, you may also have to complete a field experience or write a thesis. We’ve been sure to note which.

Rankings

See our rankings methodology page.

  1. Stanford University
    Location

    Stanford, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Needing little introduction, Stanford is a world-renowned leader in academia. Unequivocally one of the best universities in the nation (and world!), many of Stanfords individual departments and schools are top-ranked. More than 16,000 students attend the University.

    Features

    Stanford offers a MS in Environment and Resources degree that is distinctively a joint graduate program. You will also study either business, law, or medicine. Once you complete your core courses in environmental science and management, you will then choose from among eight course tracks. Among them, are:

    Climate and Atmosphere Cleanteach Land Use and Agriculture Oceans and Estuaries And more

    Notables

    Known for its cutting-edge research and its proximity to the Silicon Valley, Stanfords strengths lay in medicine, law, the natural sciences, and entrepreneurship (among many others).U.S. News World Reportranks it 5th in the nation.

  2. Yale University
    Location

    New Haven, CT

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Again, hardly needing an introduction, Yale University is one of the most prestigious universities on the planet. It is an Ivy League, research-driven school with dozens of well-ranked departments and colleges. Around 12,000 undergraduate and graduate students attend Yale.

    Features

    This research-based Master of Environmental Science degree from Yale is a two-year program that provides hands-on experience through research-related projects and fieldwork. Students work closely with advisors to design their program and research, resulting in a highly individualized degree experience. Some of the classes you can take at Yale include:

    Sustainable Finance Renewable Energy Watershed Science Global Resources, International Resource Exchanges, and the Environment

    Notables

    Founded before the American Revolution, Yale is one of the nations oldest universities. Hundreds of Nobel laureates, Fields Medalists, MacArthur Fellows, and Rhodes Scholars have graduated from Yale. It is ranked 3rd in the nation byU.S. News World Report.

  3. Duke University
    Location

    Durham, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    An elite research university, Duke is located in Durham, North Carolina and is home to nearly 40,000 students. Though many of Dukes colleges and departments are highly regarded, the University is perhaps best known for its research in medicine, biology and botany, public policy, and environmental science.

    Features

    Duke offers a Master of Environmental Management degree that emphasizes leadership formation. Students therefore not only learn how to analyze natural environments and ecosystem health, they also learn how to manage said environments. This is a two-year program that culminates in a masters project. Of the many areas of concentrate, you can specialize in:

    Business and Environment Coastal Environmental Management Energy and Environment Water Resource Management And more

    Notables

    Duke produces some of the greatest numbers of Fulbright, Rhodes, Truman, and Goldwater Scholars.U.S. News World Reportconsistently includes Duke among the top 10 best schools in the nation. And it is globally and nationally ranked byForbes, Times Higher Education, Washington Monthly, and much more.

  4. Columbia University
    Location

    New York, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The darling of Manhattan, Columbia University is a prestigious Ivy League with innumerable well-ranked departments and colleges. Columbia is one of the original nine colonial colleges, making it one of the oldest schools in the nation. Its long history has produced numerous distinguished alumni, academic programs, and research initiatives.

    Features

    Columbia offers a Master of Public Administration degree in Environmental Science and Policy. This program is ideal for those who want to enact sustainability through policy and organization management. So in addition to courses covering the fundamentals environmental science (below), you will also take classes on budgets, economics, probability theory, and management.

    Principles of Ecology Hydrology Climatology Environmental Chemistry

    Notables

    Columbia has graduate Nobel laureates, U.S. Presidents, Pulitzer Prize winners, National Medal of Science recipients, and much more. The University is known for its commitment to sustainability, hosting regular farmers markets and earning top grades from the College Sustainability Report.

  5. The University of Chicago
    Location

    Chicago, IL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of Chicago (UChicago) is highly regarded for many of its colleges, professional schools, and interdisciplinary departments. More than 20,000 students attend UChicago, a majority of whom are graduate students.

    Features

    UChicagos MS in Environmental Science and Policy program is one of the best in the nation. This two-year program works closely with the Argonne National Laboratory to give students a hands-on, research-based academic experience. This is also a policy-focused program, requiring classes such as:

    Environmental Science and Policy The Policymaking Process Principles of Microeconomics and Public Policy Environmental Economics

    Notables

    Among the many famous and renowned alumni of the University of Chicago are Carl Sagan, David Suzuki, Edwin Hubble, and more.U.S. News World Reportranks UChicago as the third best university in the U.S. It is also a globally ranked top-ten university.

  6. University of Pennsylvania
    Location

    Philadelphia, PA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of Pennsylvania (Penn) is a private, Ivy League institution. It is research-based and located in Philadelphia. Approximately 22,000 undergraduate and graduate students attend Penn.

    Features

    Penns Master of Environmental Studies degree allows students to tailor the curriculum to their passions and career goals. Working closely with an advisor you will narrow your focus and develop research skills in an area of your interests, whether its urban environment studies or policy. Four core courses are required, however:

    Contemporary Issues in Environmental Studies Research Methods Foundations in Environmental Studies A Professional Concentration course (there are six to choose among)

    Notables

    Founded before the American Revolution, Penn was one of the nations first universities to emphasize an interdisciplinary approach to education. The University of Pennsylvania is ranked among the top 10 best schools in the nation byForbes, U.S. News World Report, andWashington Monthly.

  7. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    Location

    Chapel Hill, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is the flagship school within the wider UNC System. It is a large research-driven university that offers nearly 100 academic programs. UNC is organized into 14 schools and colleges and has over 30,000 students.

    Features

    UNC offers a unique opportunity for students: a MS in Environmental Sciences and Engineering degree with a focus on environmental policy analysis. This program emphasizes the intersection of business, problem-solving, climate change, and policy. Therefore, some of the classes youll take as a UNC student include:

    American Environmental Policy Environmental Risk Biostatistics Public Investment Theory

    Notables

    UNC Chapel Hill is a Public Ivy. It is ranked among the top 5 best public universities in the nation byU.S. News World Report. And it is nationally ranked among the top 50 best schools in the U.S. byARWU, Forbes, Washington Monthly, and more.

  8. Northwestern University
    Location

    Evanston, IL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Located outside of Chicago in Evanston, Illinois, Northwestern University is a prestigious research university. Though strong in countless areas and departments, Northwestern is a known leader in law, medicine, business, and STEM education. Around 20,000 students attend Northwestern.

    Features

    Northwestern offers a rigorous MS in Environmental Engineering and Science degree. You will learn the technical skills necessary for identifying and designing solutions for environmental problems. Northwesterns curriculum is therefore chock full of advanced physical and biological science classes, such as:

    Environmental Microbiology Aquatic Chemistry Environmental Modeling Molecular Microbiology

    Notables

    Northwestern University has produced dozens of Pulitzer Prize winners, Rhodes Scholars, Nobel laureates, MacArthur geniuses, and more. It is ranked 11th among all national universities byU.S. News World Report. Likewise, it is globally ranked by several sources.

  9. University of Southern California
    Location

    Los Angeles, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    A private school located in Los Angeles, the University of Southern California (USC) is known for its research in medicine, environmental science, business, and more. More than 40,000 students attend USC.

    Features

    For those who want a humanities-based education, USC offers a MA in Environmental Studies. This program focuses primarily on environmental policy. In addition to taking classes on law, policy, and risk analysis, you will also have the opportunity to take unique classes such as the following:

    Sustainable Cities Multivariate Analysis Environmental Impacts California Coastal Zone Science and Policy

    Notables

    USC is globally and nationally ranked by many sources, includingU.S. News, The Princeton Review, Reuters, and much more. It is praised for its academic excellence, its commitments to sustainability, and its innovative education models.

  10. University of Michigan
    Location

    Ann Arbor, MI

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    A Midwest darling, the University of Michigan is located in Ann Arbor. It is a sprawling research university with renowned programs in medicine, the STEM fields, and much more. Nearly 45,000 students attend Michigan.

    Features

    Michigans School for Environment and Sustainability offers a graduate degree in Environmental Informatics. This is an ideal program for those who want to collate and evaluate crucial data sets in service to sustainability. Not surprisingly, this is an interdisciplinary program with a range of course options:

    Remote Sensing of Environment Applied Ecosystem Modeling Environmental Spatial Data Analysis GIS and Natural Resource Applications

    Notables

    A member of the Big Ten Academic Alliance, Michigan is also a founding member of the Association of American Universities. Dozens of its individual departments are nationally ranked, from the English department to the Earth Sciences program. As a whole, Michigan is among the top 30 best universities in the nation.

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