Masters in Environmental Science

What Do You Learn in a Masters In Environmental Science?

A Master of Science in Environmental Science is a complex degree. Typically, students complete this type of degree study to learn about the interactions between the biosphere, geosphere, atmosphere, and hydrosphere, as well as the way in which they interact with people and projects. Students may study environmental problems and the issues faced by nature while also working to develop solutions and policies aimed at helping to restore or prevent further problems.

Environmental Science Masters Programs

Environmental Science Courses May Include

Many times, students study the natural and unnatural processes that occur and how they interact with the planet and environment as a whole. This type of degree path may allow students to select numerous electives to focus their education in areas that interest them specifically. This program may include courses such as the following.

1st course Environmental Safety

Environmental Safety

This course typically covers a number of topics in the field of environmental safety. Topics may include the proper use of equipment and safety gear. Learning of chemical and physical hazards to the environment as well as the adverse effects of chemical exposure may also be discussed.

2nd course Sustainability, Climate Change, and Society

Sustainability, Climate Change, and Society

Many aspects of sustainable development are usually covered in this course. This may include environmental, economic, and social aspects, including how these affect water, food, climate change, and the roles that humans play in creating sustainable development through institutions and relationships.

3rd Course Toxicology and Risk Assessment

Toxicology and Risk Assessment

The environmental toxicology of chemicals and pollutants are the typical main topics in this course. Biochemical reactions, toxicity testing methods, and dose-response assessment are also usually topics in this course. Estimating risk to the environment and the perception of those risks may also be included.

4th Course Environmental Regulations

Environmental Regulations

This course typically looks at federal and state environmental regulations and how they are handled and enforced and what is done regarding certain environmental issues. Examples in topics may include air pollution, waste generators, and hazardous products and chemicals.

5th Course Sources of Contamination

Sources of Contamination

This course typically looks at the various types of contaminants to soil, water, and air as well as how they get there, what may be done about them, and the effects these contaminants have on the population and the environment. How to measure levels of contaminants and interpret results of data collection are also common topics.

6th Course Environmental Compliance

Environmental Compliance

This course typically covers environmental compliance and how it applies to various industries throughout the country and world. Topics often covered include land filling, waste generation, and writing proposal requests.

Top 25 Schools Graduating Students with a Masters in Environmental Science

The following are the top 25 schools for a master’s degree in environmental science based on the number of students graduating from the program during the 2019/2020 school year, as noted by data from NCES.

College / University GraduatesAcceptance Rate 
University of California-Santa Barbara7530%
Indiana University-Bloomington6278%
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill3423%
University of Idaho2778%
University of Hawaii at Hilo2652%
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign2659%
Columbia University in the City of New York245%
George Mason University2287%
University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus2067%
University of Illinois Springfield2077%
California State University-Fullerton1953%
University of Wisconsin-Green Bay1885%
Yale University186%
Oregon State University1782%
The University of Tennessee-Chattanooga1782%
North Carolina State University at Raleigh1645%
University of South Florida1648%
The University of West Florida1531%
University of Massachusetts-Boston1576%
University of New Haven1483%
Clark University1353%
Florida Gulf Coast University1367%
The University of Texas at Arlington1383%
Oklahoma State University-Main Campus1270%
University of Oklahoma-Norman Campus1280%
  • Some of the nation’s most affordable tuition rates, from a private, nonprofit, NEASC accredited university
  • Qualified students with 2.5 GPA and up may receive up to $20K in grants & scholarships
  • Multiple term start dates throughout the year. 24/7 online classroom access

5 Most frequently asked questions (FAQs) about a Masters in Environmental Science

Completing a master’s degree in environmental science may help individuals to tackle a range of topics that may be helpful in a range of fields. Students may work to help protect the environment or learn more innovative and modern skills in this field.

Completing a master’s degree in environmental science may provide students with the skills they need to work in careers such as a nature conservation officer, agricultural scientist, environmental consultant for the government or company, or as an environmental educator.

This graduate level degree program is designed to provide students with insights and skills in how science impacts policy. This may include studying environmental policies and helping to create new policies and regulations.

Depending on the school and the program selection, most environmental science master’s degrees take 2 to 3 years to complete. There may be some schools that offer a shorter version through an accelerated learning path. Others allow students to attend part time with more flexibility.

This may vary from one position to the next. Some entry-level positions may allow a person to have just a bachelor’s degree. Others may want a student to complete a master’s degree, especially for leadership roles in the company.

Find Funding for a Masters in Environmental Science

The cost of a master’s degree ranges widely from one university and program to the next. However, NCES data shows that, during the 2019/2020 school year, students paid on average $19,792 for their graduate degree. For many people, that means obtaining funding to help cover the costs.

Several funding options may be available. Many graduate students may wish to take a closer look at several of these funding options to find the best combination of financial support to help them continue their degree.

Scholarship

One starting point for finding funding may be through the use of scholarships. These are awarded without the need to repay them, in many cases. They may be complex to locate. Students typically need to apply to them by meeting all of the criteria required and then hope to be awarded the funds. While it may take some time, it may be worth it to many students. Take a closer look at some potential scholarships for environmental science majors. These may change at any time.

Semper Solaris Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Semper Solaris was founded March 2012 and is a residential solar power installation company based in San Diego, California. This $2,000 scholarship will go to a student who can best offer creative creative insights into the future of renewable energy.

Amount: $2,000

Deadline: April 15

Water Safety Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Students must be presently pursuing studies at an accredited community college, junior college, undergraduate or graduate school situated within the United States. The award is also open to those who hold GEDs and high school graduates whose college programs are set to commence before the scholarship deadline.

Amount: $1,000

Deadline: October 31

Solar Action Alliance Scholarship Program

Who Can Apply: Arizona State University awards a $1,000 Friends of History Scholarship to an undergraduate student who has a declared major in history.

Amount: $1,000

Deadline: July 1

TAPPI Environmental Working Group Douglas Barton Memorial Scholarship

Who Can Apply: This scholarship is available for international and U.S. college sophomores, juniors, seniors, and graduate students who have a strong desire to pursue a career in environmental control as it relates to the pulp, paper and allied industries. Students must have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher.

Amount: $2,500

Deadline: February 15

Federal Loans

Federal loans are backed by the U.S. federal government. That means that the lenders offering them typically need to meet specific requirements and offer competitive terms and conditions. There are options available for graduate students, though they are typically a bit different than those offered to undergraduate students.

Be sure to consider the terms and conditions for these loans to determine if they fit your needs.

Here is a look at some of the options for graduate degree programs through federal student loans:

  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans: These are available to graduate schools and professional students. Unlike direct subsidized loans, which are made available to undergraduate students with demonstrated financial need, direct unsubsidized loans often do not have a need based requirement. More students may be eligible for them.
  • Direct PLUS Loans: These are made available to professional or graduate level students. They are designed to pay for educational expenses that are typically not paid for through other loans. Eligibility for these loans is not based on financial need. However, some require a credit check to be performed, and borrowers may not qualify without meeting other requirements in some cases.
  • Direct Consolidation Loans: These loans enable a student to combine all of their undergraduate and graduate level federal debt into one new loan. This consolidation loan is typically provided after a student completes their education.

Private Student Loans

Private student loans are provided by third-party organizations and are not backed by the U.S. federal government. The biggest difference here is that lenders may be able to set more of their own terms and conditions. This may make it a bit harder for the borrower to know what to expect.

Before selecting a private loan, be sure to focus on the details of the loan, including if it requires a credit check, employment history, a GRE score, or a maintained GPA. In addition to this, some private student loans have repayment requirements to meet during school and may not offer the same options for forbearance or refinancing.

Is environmental scientist a good career?

Working as an environmental scientist may be a career choice for some people completing this master’s program. These individuals typically conduct research and perform investigations with the goal of identifying, minimizing, or eliminating the course of hazards and pollutants to the environment. Sometimes they also focus on public health. They may use their knowledge of various scientific disciplines to do this including synthesizes, studying, collection, and reporting. They may work with air, food, soil, water, and other environmental factors.

The tasks performed as an environmental scientist may include providing scientific or technical guidance and coordination to various organizations, including environmental programs, government agencies, industry, or even the public. They may also review and implement environmental technical standards, policies, and regulations that help to meet specific requirements. Many times, they also collect, analyze, and report environmental data. This may include emissions information, pollution levels, or metrological or mineralogical data, including soil and water samples.

These professionals take all of that data and then communicate to various organizations and the public through workshops, conferences, public hearings, or other ways. The advice they offer may help to create standards or regulations for the industry.

Day-to-day tasks may include compiling environmental and climate data, advising others about management or conservation of the environment, and developing sustainability plans. They may also conduct research on the impact of various factors and private technical information to the public.

To complete this work, many people need to have at least a bachelor’s degree. Some employers may want a person to have a master’s degree and 5 or more years of experience in the field. Some of the skill building may happen on the job, but many employers expect people to already have some of these skills.

Environmental Science Masters , important skills for environmental scientists
  • Active Listening – Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Critical Thinking – Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Reading Comprehension – Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

2020 Median Salary for Environmental Scientist

The following is the median salary for those working as an environmental scientist in 2020 based on state, according to Bureau of Labor Statistic information.

StateSalaryStateSalary
Alabama$58,080Alaska$75,940
Arizona$58,200Arkansas$68,570
California$92,240Colorado$81,240
Connecticut$73,410Delaware$58,150
Georgia$64,840Florida$48,810
Idaho$62,110Hawaii$65,930
Indiana$60,460Illinois$80,980
Kansas$65,610Iowa$73,630
Louisiana$63,710Kentucky$48,920
Maryland$79,270Maine$55,760
Minnesota$77,410Massachusetts$86,030
Montana$61,610Michigan$69,000
Nevada$70,200Mississippi$41,830
New Jersey$77,340Missouri$54,290
New York$75,970Nebraska$56,320
North Dakota$59,670New Hampshire$71,060
Oklahoma$63,410New Mexico$69,840
Pennsylvania$67,020North Carolina$61,860
South Carolina$55,770Ohio$78,360
Tennessee$61,960Oregon$81,540
Utah$64,210Rhode Island$83,140
Virginia$76,430South Dakota$58,260
Wisconsin$61,100Texas$70,940
Washington$79,620Vermont$62,350
West Virginia$50,880Wyoming$64,510

Is environmental restoration planner a good career?

An environmental restoration planner is a person who typically collaborates with field and biology staff to implement the restoration and development of new products. They use complex scientific data to create practical strategies for monitoring, restoration, and management of environmental factors.

Those who work in this field typically develop environmental restoration projects, including schedules and budgets. They then may direct others in environmental planning, including biologists, geologists, and energy engineers who wish to develop restoration strategies for various projects. These professionals may also create habitat management and restoration plans and strategies, such as providing insight on weed control or native tree restoration. To do this type of work, they may conduct site assessments to certify the habitat or to ascertain the type of restoration needed based on the damage present.

The day-to-day work of an environmental restoration planner may include planning and creating natural resource conservation and restoration programs, advising other people and organizations about conservation and environmental management, and performing inspections of natural environments. They may also work to analyze environmental data and collect environmental samples to create plans.

To do this type of work, many employers expect these specialists to have a master’s degree in environmental sciences or a related field. They may have very little skill building on the job but rather need to rely on their education to help them to do this type of work.

Environmental Science Masters , Important skills for Environmental Restoration Planners
  • Critical Thinking – Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
  • Active Listening – Giving full attention to what other people are saying, understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Complex Problem Solving – Identifying complex problems and reviewing information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.

2020 Median Salary for Environmental Restoration Planner

The following is the median salary for those people working as an environmental restoration planner in 2020 based on each state, developed from data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

StateSalaryStateSalary
Alabama$58,080Alaska$75,940
Arizona$58,200Arkansas$38,570
California$92,240Colorado$81,240
Connecticut$73,410Delaware$58,150
Georgia$64,840Florida$48,810
Idaho$62,110Hawaii$65,930
Indiana$60,460Illinois$80,980
Kansas$65,610Iowa$73,630
Louisiana$63,710Kentucky$48,920
Maryland$79,270Maine$55,760
Minnesota$77,410Massachusetts$86,030
Montana$61,610Michigan$69,000
Nevada$70,200Mississippi$41,830
New Jersey$77,340Missouri$54,290
New York$75,970Nebraska$56,320
North Dakota$59,670New Hampshire$71,060
Oklahoma$63,410New Mexico$69,840
Pennsylvania$67,020North Carolina$61,860
South Carolina$55,770Ohio$78,360
Tennessee$61,960Oregon$81,540
Utah$64,210Rhode Island$83,140
Virginia$76,430South Dakota$58,260
Wisconsin$61,100Texas$70,940
Washington$79,620Vermont$62,350
West Virginia$50,880Wyoming$6,510
Sandy B CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Sandy Baker

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Sandy has extensive experience writing educational articles for topics ranging from online education to college degrees. She’s worked with several Ivy League colleges to create blogs, newsletters, sales material for recruiting as well as “how to manage” college lifestyle pieces. Additionally, she’s written for well-respected study abroad programs helping students to find international opportunities spanning the globe from South America to Africa and Asia.

Sandy’s experience also includes writing about financial aid, FAFSA, scholarship searches, and managing college loans and grants. This includes aiding both students and parents in managing the application and financial aid process from start to finish. Her writing in this area has been featured in The New York Times, Cleveland Magazine, and several blogs.

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