Most Affordable Online Master's In Environmental Science Degrees

Check out our list of affordable online environmental science degrees and advance your career in the field. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Our natural resources have been in the news a lot recently, and for good reason. From fossil fuel drilling and transport to global warming to public wilderness ownership to carbon emissions, our use and abuse of the natural environment are hot topics.

If these things are important to you and you happen to have a knack for science, you’re in luck! A career as an environmental scientist, the professionals tasked with diagnosing and remedying environmental problems, could be a good fit if you’re willing to put forth the effort to complete an online master’s degree in environmental science.

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

Graduate programs in environmental science can be terminal master’s programs or doctoral programs. Programs will also feature varying emphases, for instance, in marine biology, forestry, geology, or chemistry.

Most programs require extensive field world and empirical research and involve extensive competency in data and data analytics. A strong background in the hard sciences will be beneficial and in some cases required. For more information on online education, see our Best Online Colleges and Universities ranking.

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

Compensation will vary according to what exactly you intend to do with your degree. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary from an environmental scientist was $63,570, and the role is projected to grow between now and 2022.

The environment faces a growing number of threats, and that will require an increasing number of professionals trained to address the problems.

What can you do with an online master’s degree in environmental science?

Environmental science is not limited to the role of environmental scientist, however. That is certainly an option, but graduates can also pursue careers and geologists, chemists, natural resource managers, game wardens, wildlife and fisheries experts, and more.

Each program on our list offers different areas of specialization, so be sure to research each one to discern which ones match your interests.


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

Ordinarily students applying to graduate programs in environmental science will need to hold a bachelor of science degree in one of the hard sciences or in environmental or a related science.

Beyond these general requirements, some schools will have minimum GPA requirements as well as advanced coursework prerequisites. Some programs will allow conditional admission for students from other disciplines, so be sure to check with the school.

What are the best online master’s in environmental science degrees?


We’ve compiled a list of the best online master’s in environmental science degrees with you and your needs in mind. Here’s how we did it.

First, we located the best programs in the country by taking an objective look at the best schools in the country as measured by reputation and return on investment. Then we looked at the bottom line—how much does it cost? We combined these factors to reach our College Choice Score, which determined where each school fits into the big scheme of things.

Our data for this ranking was drawn from a variety of public sources, such as U.S. News & World Report, the National Center for Education Statistics,, and the U.S. Census. The end result is a list of schools that not only represent the best education you can get and a good return on investment but also one that will fit your budget.


See our rankings methodology page.

  1. Duke University

    Durham, NC




    The Duke Environmental Leadership Master of Environmental Management (DEL-MEM) program offers working professionals the opportunity to continue their education, advance their careers, and become leaders in their organizations. The innovative, flexible format of this online program lets participants maintain their careers and personal lives while earning a master’s degree over the course two years (four semesters).


    Examples of coursework in the program includes classes such as

    • Business Strategy for Environmental Sustainability
    • California Water Crises: A Case Study Approach
    • The Science of Climate Change
    • Community-Based Environmental Management
    • Community-Based Environmental Management in Mexico
    • Survey of Environmental Leadership
    • Energy, Environment, & the Law


    Duke’s program prides itself on a number of features, including a relevant curriculum, case studies, a multidisciplinary approach, experienced and diverse participants, a top-notch faculty, a flexible and innovative format, and leadership development.

  2. Johns Hopkins University

    Baltimore, MD




    The Masters of Science in Environmental Science and Policy is a springboard to leadership for environmental professionals. The program gives students a powerful understanding of where the sciences overlap and inform policy while providing insight into how policy is implemented and affects environmental outcomes. The focus is on studying the environmental effects of current use on the creation, updating, regulating, communicating and enforcing of environmental policy.


    The program at JHU features several areas of concentration:

    • Environmental Monitoring and Analysis
    • Ecological Management
    • Environmental Management
    • Environmental Planning
    • Sustainability Science
    • Energy and Climate


    The core curriculum provides a strong foundation of fundamental environmental science and policy required to work at the forefront of the field. A broad range of electives provides flexibility to allow students to tailor their academic experience to suit personal needs and interests. It is also a suitable program for career changers or those new to the environmental workforce.

  3. University of Illinois-Springfield

    Springfield, IL




    UIS offers an online Master of Science in Environmental Sciences designed to help students gain strong scientific understanding of ways to study, evaluate, and interpret environmental realities and their impacts, as well as to manage and mitigate environmental problems. The department recommends that students interested in the Environmental Sciences degree have prior knowledge of chemistry, algebra, statistics, and biology.


    Relevant coursework in the program includes classes such as

    • The Public and Environmental Planning
    • Natural Resources: Policy and Administration
    • Environmental Policy and Analysis
    • Sustainable Development
    • Environmental Issues and the Media
    • Research Methods in Environmental Studies
    • Environmental Social Sciences and Humanities


    Stated outcomes of the program include the ability to develop a basic literacy in the natural and social sciences and the humanities as they contribute to an understanding of environmental issues; critically analyze environmental problems; identify, research, and evaluate environmental problems; and compare, contrast, implement, and manage short- and long-term solutions to environmental problems.

  4. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    Champaign, IL




    Also part of the University of Illinois system, the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign offers an online graduate program in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences. It enables students to continue their education in disciplines related to natural resources and environmental sciences through part-time study at locations away from the University of Illinois Campus at Urbana/Champaign.


    Examples of courses in the program include

    • Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences
    • Agricultural Education
    • Crop Sciences
    • Horticulture
    • Plant Pathology
    • Civil and Environmental Engineering


    UIUC’s program addresses some of the most pressing environmental issues of the day, and the courses are taught by experts in the field. Students have the opportunity to network and build community even though the program is offered online. Students are able to gather virtually at set times for lectures, class discussions, quizzes, exams, and other activities similar to what you would experience on a college campus.

  5. University of Arkansas

    Fayetteville, AR




    Arkansas features an online Master of Science in Human Environmental Sciences designed to offer students diverse options in a diverse field. The program will prepare them for advanced careers in a variety of settings.


    Three areas of concentration are available to online students:

    • Apparel Merchandising and Product Development, which provides advanced studies in quality assurance, product development, retail buying, merchandising, and brand management.
    • Human Development and Family Sciences, which offers a focus in gerontology through the GP*IDEA consortia, with a multidisciplinary curriculum on the aging processes from middle age through later life.
    • General Human Environmental Sciences, which provides an advanced interdisciplinary education for diverse careers, including international programs and community service occupations.


    Arkansas’s program is accredited by the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools as well as the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences.

  6. University of Wisconsin - Madison

    Madison, WI




    Wisconsin offers an online Master of Science in Sustainable Management designed to help students lead the way to a more sustainable future. Designed for working adults with real-world experience, the online UW Master of Science in Sustainable Management will strengthen and expand your knowledge of sustainability and environmental issues, preparing you for high-level leadership positions at your current organization or at top companies around the world.


    Wisconsin’s program covers a variety of important topics, such as

    • The relationship of natural, social, and economic environments
    • Waste management
    • Law and ethics of sustainability
    • Sustainable design of products and communities
    • Corporate social responsibility
    • Leadership in sustainable organizations
    • Supply chain management.


    The program requires twelve courses and is available entirely online. All courses are developed and taught by distinguished faculty from each of the five partnering campuses—UW-Green Bay, UW-Oshkosh, UW-Parkside, UW-Stout, and UW Superior—bringing you diverse expertise from some of the top experts in the state.

  7. Webster University

    Saint Louis, MO




    Webster University offers an online Master of Science in environmental management designed to provide students with the tools and techniques to navigate the business aspects of environmental management. Students learn to assess and convey the business, ethical, and legal information to those who make or are affected by the decisions that shape our natural resources and environment.


    Students will be exposed to a wide variety of coursework in the program, including

    • Environmental Science
    • Operations and Project Management
    • Environmental Law
    • Environmental Regulations and Compliance Auditing
    • Environmental Accounting
    • Management of Land and Water Resources
    • Waste Management and Pollution Control
    • Environmental Risk Management and Strategies


    Upon completion of the program, students will be able to apply key terminology, facts, concepts, principles, historical perspectives and theories concerning environmental management and global sustainability toward solving environmental challenges; align sustainability initiatives with organization mission and core values; manage environmental-related risk from an organization’s operation; and much more.

  8. Auburn University

    Auburn University, AL




    Auburn University offers a specialized online master’s program in the environmental sciences in its Master of Science, Master of Agriculture and Master of Turfgrass Management degrees in three different fields of study. It is an excellent option for professionals who have already developed their specific interests and are looking to advance their career.


    Coursework in Auburn’s program includes

    • Analyses of Plant, Soil, and Animal Data
    • Bioenergy and the Environment
    • Advanced Crop Science
    • Forage Production and Utilization
    • Plant Genetics and Crop Improvement
    • Chemistry and Use of Herbicides
    • Advanced Turfgrass Management
    • Introductory Mycology
    • Plant Nematology


    One of Auburn’s leading programs is its distance education graduate degree in Agronomy and Soils, a 30 credit hour program that closely follows its residential program. Our graduate degrees are based on a customized curriculum that you develop with your major professor. Courses in this program include classes in soil science, crop science, weed science, entomology, and plant pathology.

  9. University of Findlay

    Findlay, OH




    The University of Findlay’s Master of Science in Environmental, Safety and Health Management is offered online, on-campus, or through a convenient blend of both. Findlay’s graduate-level classes prepare students for leadership positions in the environmental industry as well as advanced knowledge of science, engineering, environmental policy and business concepts.


    Findlay’s curriculum emphasizes five key areas:

    • Business knowledge
    • Analytical skills
    • Managerial skills
    • Technical knowledge
    • Integrative skills


    Among Findlay’s students is a recent recipient of The Association of Environmental Health Academic Programs (AEHAP)’s Student of the Month, one of just nine in the country. Findlay’s program is one of just nine graduate degrees in the United States accredited by the Environmental Health Science and Protection Accreditation Council (EHAC).

  10. University of Saint Francis

    Fort Wayne, IN




    Saint Francis offers an online Master of Environmental Health program designed for individuals who wish to develop a stronger, broader foundation of knowledge in the field, or in the private or public sector. This program will appeal to students who are passionate about caring for the environment and want to better grasp how improved environmental health can benefit all of humanity.


    MEH program addresses the major environmental needs of public and occupational health, hygiene, and safety in such areas as

    • Pollution
    • Toxicology
    • Epidemiology
    • Regulation
    • Statistics
    • emergency response
    • Homeland security


    Saint Francis’s program also includes an introduction to techniques in risk assessment, exposure and communication, GPS/GIS, environmental sampling, and remediation. Courses are led by experience professionals in the field. Full-time students can complete their program in as little as 12 months, while part-time students can complete the program in two years.

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