The Master of Science in Environmental Science and Policy program emphasizes a broadly interdisciplinary and synthetic approach that integrates knowledge in the environmental sciences with the social sciences.
Duration of Program
Meets F1 Visa Requirements
Northeastern’s new MS in Environmental Science and Policy, a joint program between the College of Science and the College of Social Sciences and Humanities’ School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, provides interdisciplinary training and environmental problem-solving expertise to the next generation of environmental professionals.
Many critical challenges of our time relate to the complex and multi-layered interactions between humans and our environment. Human society is becoming increasingly aware of its reliance on natural ecosystems and the services they provide—such as food production, carbon sequestration, nutrient cycling—and yet human activities continue to compromise the delivery of these services at an accelerating rate. Striving toward sustainability and resilience of coupled human-natural ecosystems is among the greatest challenges confronting our society because it mandates a major shift in the prevailing way of life, reaching into the institutional systems that involve production, transportation, urban and suburban development, and governmental regulation.
The program emphasizes a broadly interdisciplinary and synthetic approach that integrates knowledge in environmental science (conservation biology, climate change, fisheries science, ecosystem function, biodiversity, and restoration ecology) with social sciences (environmental sociology, economics, public policy, and development) and humanities (environmental history, philosophy, and ethics). The goal is to equip professionals with the substantive breadth in knowledge and skills necessary for integrated analysis in this era of global change, and to empower environmental professionals to think critically about the underlying causes of environmental problems, the reciprocal relationship between coupled human-natural ecosystems, and the range of potential policy approaches available to decision-makers to address these critical challenges.
Multidisciplinary program, featuring opportunities to work with faculty across a wide range of disciplines.
Flexible course offerings to meet specific student interests and supplement current skill sets.
Co-op opportunities to enhance academic course offering.
Can be completed within three semesters.
The MS in Environmental Science and Policy equips professionals with the substantive breadth in knowledge and skills necessary for integrated analysis in this era of global change, and empowers environmental professionals to think critically about the underlying causes of environmental problems, the reciprocal relationship between coupled human-natural ecosystems, and the range of potential policy approaches available to decision-makers to address these critical challenges.
Students graduating from Northeastern’s interdisciplinary MS in Environmental Science and Policy will be prepared for a growing number of environmental careers that require integration of science and policy. This program trains students to be resourceful environmental professionals who will be competitive applicants for jobs in the private sector (such as environmental consultants), nonprofits (i.e. The Nature Conservancy, Envioronmental Defense Fund, and World Wildlife Fund), and the public sector (including local, state, federal, and international government bodies, such as serving as environmental science and policy experts within environmental conservation and natural resources angencies).
"Integrating science and policy is increasingly important in environmentally oriented careers. This exciting new interdisciplinary program prepares environmental professionals for dynamic opportunities focused on the science and policy of sustainability and resilience."
Jennie Stephens, Dean’s Professor of Sustainability Science and Policy
"As human society becomes increasingly reliant on natural ecosystems and the services they provide, ecosystem degradation and service loss is accelerating, making achieving sustainability one of the top challenges facing environmental scientists and policy makers globally. The Master of Science in Environmental Science and Policy aims to prepare the next generation of environmental professionals with interdisciplinary training and problem-solving expertise."
Jonathan Grabowski, Associate Professor of Marine and Environmental Science
"Coming out of a primarily biology-focused undergraduate Environmental Science degree, it was always frustrating when the science on some topics was very clear, yet the policy would lag far behind. Being able to take courses in public policy and political science has allowed me to gain a greater insight as to why the disconnect between science and policy exists, both from a structural and psychological perspective. This knowledge has allowed me to develop research questions that are much more likely to be produce actionable results in the "real world." "
Peter Garneau, Environmental Science and Policy '19 cohort
"The ES&P program at Northeastern has allowed me to be extremely flexible not only in scheduling courses that align with my work schedule, but in customizing my course load to choose classes most related to my interests. For example, I have a heavy science background, so I have the freedom to take mostly policy courses rather than taking science courses in which I already have experience."
Troy Langknecht, Environmental Science and Policy '19 cohort
"Entering this masters program, I was not totally sure which direction I wanted to take in terms of my career. So far in the first year, Northeastern’s Environmental Science and Policy graduate courses have offered me the gamut of trajectories and outlets to pursue, providing me the ability to further hone this search. Given the broad scope of material offered, the program encourages one to holistically approach both science and policy-oriented courses, while ensuring that every course touches on the interplay and interconnection of the two in society. The professors and advisors offer immense knowledge and real-time experience, as many are working on supplementary projects in the field, outside of teaching. Despite accolades or additional obligations, each of my professors have made themselves available for genuine one-on-one support, whenever myself or my classmates have needed it."
Elizabeth Buechell, Environmental Science and Policy '19 cohort
"I’m pleased with my decision to study environmental science and policy at Northeastern because of the dedication to holistic learning in policy, technical sciences, and economics. Having a background in only political science, I feel that I am learning practical skills from other disciplines that I wasn’t exposed to in undergrad. Also, the professors are extremely helpful, well-connected, and very approachable."
Gregory Coppola, Environmental Science and Policy '19 cohort
A graduate degree or certificate from Northeastern—a top-50 university—can accelerate your career through rigorous academic coursework and hands-on professional experience in the area of your interest. Apply now—and take your career to the next level.
Master of Science in Environmental Science and Policy General Requirements
The Environmental Science and Policy program is a 36-semester-hour master’s degree whose curriculum includes the requirements listed below. There are two required courses that focus on the intersection of environmental science and policy, and the acquisition of practical professional skills will occur with three required skills courses in areas such as GIS, statistics, spatial planning, and experimental design. The emphasis on practical problem solving will be addressed by enabling students to tap into the problems facing organizations and practitioners in the field of environmental science and public policy.
Environmental Science and Policy Seminar
Two courses to be taken in the fall and spring of the first year, one each semester, thus creating a unifying cohort experience for students while providing background information of central importance for the program as a whole. These courses will provide foundational content in environmental science and policy including natural science, social science, and policy. Students will be introduced to coupled social-ecological systems, with a focus on the complex interactions among human systems, natural ecosystems, and technological systems.
Students will select skills courses from variety of skills-based offerings including statistics, GIS, spatial planning, coding, field skills, and experimental design.
The remaining credits (typically four additional courses) will include elective courses that students will select based on their area of interest. Current and prospective students should refer to the 2020-2021 Graduate Catalog for a description of the curriculum.
Please note: This curriculum is for marketing purposes only and is subject to change. Official curriculum can be found within the course catalog.
The Co-op program is Northeastern University’s cornerstone experiential learning program. By alternating semesters of academic study with periods of full-time work, students are able to transform work across academic and professional contexts. Co-op provides students the opportunity to explore or refine potential career paths, make valuable industry connections, broaden perspectives, and acquire the skills and knowledge needed to succeed —all while learning and growing outside the comfort zone of the classroom. Students are encouraged to participate in the coop program, but it is not required. Participation provides students with direct work experience, networking options, and may potentially generate future job opportunities in some cases. Here is a list of current and past co-ops.
Our faculty represents a wide cross-section of professional practices and fields ranging from finance to education to biomedical science to management to the U.S. military. They serve as mentors and advisors and collaborate alongside students to solve the most pressing global challenges facing established and emerging markets.
By enrolling in Northeastern, you gain access to a network of more than 255,000 alumni and 3,350+ employer partners, including Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, and global nongovernmental organizations. Our current students and faculty across strategically located regional locations further foster a lifelong, global community of learning and mentoring.
Students graduating from this program will have unique practical professional experience related to environment, sustainability and resilience. Students will also gain professional skills that are complementary to their prior backgrounds and experiences, i.e. students who enter the program with science undergraduate degrees will gain more policy and social science skills, while students who enter the program with more policy or social science backgrounds will gain more environmental science skills. All students will also gain knowledge about cutting-edge environmental science and policy research.