Graduate Degree Programs
M.S. and M.P.S. in Environmental Studies
The Environmental Studies graduate program at ESF is dedicated to preparing students to actively support local to global communities working to achieve sustainability. The program integrates social, cultural, and environmental knowledge and skills to address the challenges of the 21st century. Students in this program want to make a difference.
Programs integrate and balance the social sciences, humanities, and natural sciences in creative, interdisciplinary contexts.
Graduate Areas of Study
In addition to a master's degrees in General Environmental Studies, we offer two focused areas of study:
ESF's Environmental Studies master’s degree programs prepare students to support communities working to achieve sustainability from local to global levels. The programs integrate social, cultural, and environmental knowledge and skills to address the challenges of the 21st century.
- Academic Catalog (program requirements)
Our program offers students a focused, yet flexible, interdisciplinary understanding of environmental issues, the problems that underlie them, and the paths that lead to sustainable communities. The program facilitates student engagement with the study of fundamental cultural, social, political, technical, and economic forces that drive environmental degradation as well as the emerging approaches that can foster sustainability.
The Environmental Studies graduate program offers two degree options — M.P.S. and M.S. — which may be completed in 1-1/2 and 2 years of full time study, respectively.
Master of Science (M.S.) in Environmental Studies
The Environmental Studies M.S. degree program is a 30-credit-hour experience focused on advanced academic scholarship and research related to environmental affairs and sustainability. This degree requires the completion of a Master's thesis. Details on thesis proposals and expectations are available in the M.S. in Environmental Studies student handbook. All students must present a Capstone Seminar during their final semester. If necessary, the distribution of required credits may be adjusted to take into account a student's prior academic work and background. It is recommended that students entering this program have some academic background in Environmental Policy or Communication, and Environmental Science or Ecology.
- M.S. Program Requirements (ESF Catalog)
Master of Professional Studies (M.P.S.) in Environmental Studies
The M.P.S. in Environmental Studies degree program is a 30-33 credit-hour experience focused on advanced academic scholarship and its application to environmental affairs and sustainability. This degree requires the completion of a synthesis experience, often involving an individual or group-based professional internship. All students must present a Capstone Seminar during their final semester. See your advisor or the Department Office for information on procedures and deadlines for setting up the Capstone Seminar. The distribution of required credits may be adjusted to take into account a student's prior academic work and background. All courses are 3 credit hours unless noted otherwise. It is recommended that students entering this program have some academic background in Environmental Policy or Communication, and Environmental Science or Ecology.
- M.P.S. Program Requirements (ESF Catalog)
Students in our program draw on the frameworks of social science, humanities, and natural science to enhance their critical, analytical, and communication skills. Coursework combines theoretical, practical, and applied approaches to engage areas such as environmental policy, environmental communication, sustainable communities, human behavior, collaborative governance, public participation, and environmental impact analysis.
Core Environmental Studies courses present its many disciplines and methodologies, and demonstrate its applicability to problem analysis, action, and the quest for sustainability. In addition to completing the core requirements, students may pursue a general program of study or emphasize a particular theme. A general program of study builds on the core and typically broadens it in multiple directions, providing a thorough preparation for diverse professional careers.
A thematic focus builds additional competencies related to specialized academic and career goals. Suggested themes and lists of recommended courses are available in the Environmental Studies graduate program handbooks. Examples include conflict resolution, sustainable development, risk management, media and environmental journalism, watershed policy, and ecosystem-based management.
For M.S. students, a thematic choice is the preferred—though not required—alternative, since it should strengthen substantive content knowledge in an area relevant to the thesis.
Students are expected to begin the program with some academic background in Environmental Policy or Communication; Environmental Science; and Ecology, demonstrated through successful completion of at least one course in each of these three areas. Deficiencies are identified in the letter of admission. If not completed prior to matriculation, these must be taken as co-requisites during the first two semesters of residence. Undergraduate or graduate courses successfully completed for credit may be used to satisfy deficiencies. Undergraduate courses are not included in Grade Point Averages, and do not contribute to the minimum number of required graduate credit hours. Graduate courses will be included in Grade Point Averages, but may not be used to meet program requirements.
- Course transfers: A maximum of six graduate credit hours with a grade of "B" or better that have not been applied to another degree may be transferred via Petition. The Petition must include an attached syllabus, and a justification of how the courses are to be included on the student's Plan Sheet. Petitions for course transfers are submitted following matriculation.
- Credit for prior experience (M.P.S. degree only): Applicants with a minimum of three (3) years of post-baccalaureate, full-time professional experience directly related to the intended area of study may apply for 6 credit hours of advanced standing in the M.P.S. program. Partial credit for experience cannot be awarded. When awarded for prior work experience, the 6 credit hours are applied toward the Synthesis requirement.
Plan of Study
Faculty work with individual students to develop a tailored plan of study to meet their specific goals. The plan of study is an opportunity for students to work out their learning, research and career objectives in narrative form and outline a sequence of courses and other learning experiences to help meet those objectives. The plan of study is also used by their major professor in order to provide effective advising on program, research, and internship choices. Guidelines for preparing the plan of study are available in the Environmental Studies graduate handbooks.
The Environmental Studies graduate program prepares students to address the emerging challenges of the environmental professions by enabling their abilities to critically investigate issues, analyze problems, and implement innovative approaches to environmental affairs and sustainability. As part of one of the world's foremost schools focused exclusively on environmental research and applications, the program is enhanced by SUNY-ESF's diverse expertise in the natural sciences and engineering, as well as by Syracuse University's extensive curriculum.