Social Sciences

Environmental and Energy Policy—MS

Students enter the Master of Science in Environmental and Energy Policy program with bachelor’s degrees in an array of disciplines, including the various social sciences and disciplines such as biology, environmental science, and engineering. The intent of the Masters program is to provide you with the skills and knowledge necessary to be effective in a position involving the implementation of environmental programs. Regardless of the specific organization with which you become involved—whether it is a non-governmental agency (NGO), a corporation that needs to manage its environmental uses, a consulting firm, or a local, state, or federal agency—the same set of skills and knowledge is valuable.

In your coursework you will develop an understanding of:

  • The existing policy framework that governs our use of the environment, including policies that influence energy choices and the use of natural resources
  • How and why the existing policy framework has come to be structured in the way that it has
  • Methods for analyzing policy choices and for facilitating decision-making processes involving a range of participants, including the general public
  • The sociopolitical facets of environmental policy issues

In addition, you will be expected to complete a report or thesis that allows you to investigate a specific topic in detail. The thesis option is recommended for students who may, at some point, be interested in entering a PhD program, either here or elsewhere.


Because of the interdisciplinary nature of environmental policy and the rigorous curriculum, students accepted into the MS program must have strong undergraduate credentials and a high level of proficiency in written and oral communication skills. We also expect applicants to have taken at least one undergraduate-level course in the environmental sciences, one in statistics, and one in microeconomics; however, if necessary, students can complete these courses during their first year of graduate study.

Degree Requirements and Options

The Master of Science in Environmental and Energy Policy requires 30 credits. At least 20 of the 30 credits must be taken in courses at or above the 5000 level.


Typically, the program involves two years in residence. During the first year, students take mostly required core course work in environmental policy analysis and the social context of environmental issues. Most of the second year is devoted to concentration courses and to the project or thesis.

Career Pathways

Industrial firms, governments, and nonprofit organizations recognize the need for professionals with combined technical and sociopolitical expertise. Those with skills in environmental policy analysis and citizen participation fill an important niche.