2024 Best Online Master’s in Environmental Management (MEM) Programs

By Joy Cromwelle
Edited by Briana Sukert
Updated on May 17, 2024
Edited by Briana Sukert
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A masters in environmental management could help you become a leader who plays a pivotal role in problem-solving environmental issues.

Best Online Masters in Environmental Management Programs

In this degree program, you’ll study science, leadership, public policy, sociology, technology and more. You could graduate as a well-rounded professional who’s ready to tackle environmental problems.

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A master’s degree in environmental management could be the next step in developing your career in environmentalism, conservation, safety, and sustainability.

Universities Offering Online Masters in Environmental Management Degree Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

American Public University

American Public University offers a Master of Science in Environmental Policy and Management program online. Concentrations include Global Environmental Management, Environmental Sustainability, Fish and Wildlife Management, and Environmental Planning. Courses typically start every month and are usually 8 or 16 weeks long. Most courses use Open Educational Resources to minimize costs.

APUS is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Colorado State University

Colorado State University offers a Master of Natural Resources Stewardship program online. Specializations include Ecological Restoration, Forest Sciences, and Rangeland Ecology and Management. The program requires the completion of 30 credits. Tuition is typically charged at the same rate regardless of residency.

Colorado State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Columbia Southern University

Columbia Southern University offers an online program for an MS in Occupational Safety and Health with a concentration in Environmental Management. Potential coursework includes Fire Protection Technology, Industrial and Hazardous Waste Management, Safety Engineering, and more.

Qualification to apply for the Graduate Safety Practitioner designation from the Board of Certified Safety Professionals may be available after completion of the program.

Columbia Southern University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Duke University

Duke University offers a Master of Environmental Management program online. Common courses include Economics of Environmental Management, Ecosystem Science and Management, Environmental Law and Policy, and Professional Writing.

The program also requires completion of a hands-on master’s project that seeks to apply the skills learned in the classroom to real-world projects. The program is typically completed in 4 semesters.

Duke University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Harvard University

Harvard University offers a master’s degree in sustainability program online but with 1 thesis or capstone course that must be completed on campus. The capstone project aims to apply skills learned in the classroom to a real-world problem. The program requires the completion of 12 courses with enrollment of typically 1 course per semester. Elective courses usually provide a flexible program tailored to personal interests.

Harvard University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University offers an online, part-time master’s degree program in environmental planning and management. Courses typically use interactive learning tools to examine real-world problems and how to solve them while taking financial constraints into account. The specifics of US environmental laws and policies are also commonly explored.

Johns Hopkins University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

North Carolina State University

North Carolina State University offers an online Master of Environmental Assessment program online. Potential courses include Environmental Stressors, Environmental Risk Assessment, Environmental Exposure Assessment, and Environmental Monitoring and Analysis. The program requires the completion of 30 credit hours, and 1 or 2 courses are commonly taken at a time. A professional project is also a required part of the curriculum.

North Carolina State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Pennsylvania State University

Pennsylvania State University offers an online program for a Master of Professional Studies in Ecosystem Management and Administration. The program requires 30 credits of courses such as Environmental Law and Policy, Making Maps That Matter With GIS, Communication Skills for Leaders in Groups and Organizations, and more. Courses are typically taught asynchronously.

Pennsylvania State University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Samford University

Samford University offers a Master of Science in Environmental Health, Policy, and Management program online. The program requires 36 credit hours, but no thesis, and may be completed in just 1 year. Dual degree options may be available in environmental management and law and in environment and business management.

Samford University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Texas Tech University

Texas Tech University offers a Professional Science Master’s in Environmental Sustainability and Natural Resource Management program online and on campus. The program typically offers 2 concentrations, Ecology and Environmental Sustainability and Natural Resource Management. A required 30 credit hours of classes plus 3 to 6 hours of either an internship or capstone project must be completed.

Texas Tech University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Tuskegee University

Tuskegee University offers a Master of Science in Environmental Management program online, with no thesis required. The program aims to provide technical and managerial skills in a variety of public, private and nonprofit organizations. It typically focuses on environmental protection, sustainable practices, and compliance in the workplace.

Tuskegee University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Connecticut

The University of Connecticut offers a Master of Energy and Environmental Management program online. Specializations in Planning and Management, Environmental Law, and Geographic Information Systems provide 18 of the required 30 credit hours. The program is customizable according to interests. A practicum or internship is also required.

The University of Connecticut is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

University of Denver

The University of Denver offers a Master of Science in Environmental Policy and Management program online or evenings on campus. Potential courses include Environmental Finance and Economics, Environmental Protection Law, and Research Practices and Applications. Courses are typically 10 weeks long, and the program is completed in an average of 18 months.

The University of Denver is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Findlay

The University of Findlay offers a Master of Science in Environmental, Safety, and Health Management online or on campus. The program may lead to qualification as a Registered Environmental Health Specialist granted by the National Environmental Health Association. Qualified students may receive the Choose Ohio First Scholarship, which is designed to increase Ohio’s competitiveness in STEM education.

The University of Findlay is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Houston – Clear Lake

The University of Houston–Clear Lake offers an MS in Environmental Management primarily online but with some class meetings 1 evening per week. Core courses typically include Survey of Business Principles, Environmental Law, and Pollution Control Technology. Hands-on experience through internships and community outreach projects is often offered in addition to courses.

The University of Houston-Clear Lake is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Kentucky

The University of Kentucky offers an online master’s degree program in applied environmental and sustainability studies. Classes are typically taught through project-based, experiential learning. The program requires the completion of 30 credit hours, and applications commonly open in the fall or spring semester. GRE or GMAT scores are not usually required.

The University of Kentucky is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Maryland Global Campus

The University of Maryland Global Campus offers a Master of Science in Environmental Management program online. Some courses may also be available in a hybrid format. Potential courses include Fundamentals of Environmental Systems, Environmental and Energy Law and Policy, and Environmental Auditing. The program requires the completion of 36 credits.

The University of Maryland Global Campus is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

University of Wisconsin – Stout

The University of Wisconsin–Stout offers a Master of Science in Sustainable Management program online. The program requires the completion of 34 credits and coursework in both business and environmental issues is typically offered. Admission typically occurs on a rolling basis with new start dates in the fall, spring, and summer.

UW – Stout is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University offers a Master of Natural Resources program online. Potential courses include Global Issues in Environmental Sustainability, Constructing Sustainability, Strategies for Sustainability, and Sustainability Systems.

The program requires the completion of 30 credits of classes plus a 10 day in-person global study at a location overseas. No thesis is required.

Virginia Tech is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Webster University

Webster University offers an MS in Environmental Management with an emphasis in Environmental Sustainability program online and on campus.

Potential courses include Environmental Science, Operations and Project Management, and Environmental Law. The program requires the completion of 36 credit hours and aims to teach skills such as assessing environmental-related risk and employing project management processes to achieve solutions to environmental problems.

Webster University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Online Masters in Environmental Management Programs

Man taking Online Masters in Environmental Management

Do you care about the earth and making sure that people have safe places to live and work? If so, you might want to become a leader in the field of environmentalism. Getting your master degree in environmental management online could help you work toward that goal.

Environmental management is all about finding solutions to problems. Whether the issue at hand involves restoring an ecosystem, preventing forest fires, increasing sustainability in manufacturing, or developing environmental policies, your expertise could be useful.

Topics studied in this degree program might include:

  • Climate change
  • Communication
  • Conservation science
  • Ecology
  • Law and public policy
  • Risk assessment and management
  • Sustainability

In addition to taking core classes in environmental management, you might also study a specific area of this field. You’d take several classes dedicated to that topic. Your choices for a degree concentration could include:

  • Public lands
  • Urban development
  • Climate science
  • Ecological restoration

Some environmental management degree programs are tailored toward students who have recently finished a bachelor’s degree and want to quickly advance their careers. In fact, there are schools that offer combined bachelor’s and master’s programs. Those allow you to earn the two degrees back-to-back and save time in the process.

Other programs are intended for professionals who have been working in an environmental career for a while. A resume that lists several years of relevant experience may be one of the requirements for admission. In such a program, you could build on your experience and develop leadership skills for the next phase of your career.

As you get toward the end of your master’s program, you may have a major project to complete. To go along with your project, you might develop a portfolio of your work that you can show to prospective employers. Such employers might include government agencies, research firms, conservation organizations, manufacturers, and energy providers.

Common roles related to environmental management include:

  • Environmental engineer
  • Urban developer
  • Forester
  • Environmental specialist
  • Industrial production manager

These are just some of the possible job titles that are possible with this degree program.

Common Online Masters in Environmental Management Concentrations

Environmental Engineers meeting for a project

As a graduate student, you’ll likely want to focus your studies in an area that’s relevant to your career goals. Environmental management is a rather large field, so you can narrow down your training by selecting a degree concentration.

Examples include:

  • Climate Change. If you choose to focus your studies on climate change, you’ll study the science involved and also discuss relevant policy initiatives.
  • Ecology. If your goal is to be a hands-on conservationist, then you might benefit from a program that emphasizes the science of various ecosystems.
  • Energy. In this concentration track, you’ll learn about current energy sources, such as fossil fuels, and you’ll also explore new avenues for energy production.
  • Social Issues. Environmental issues are often closely linked to societal issues, such as poverty and health equity, so you may spend your grad program contemplating those connections.
  • Urban Development. Studying land use and sustainability in city environments could be useful for a career in urban development or public policy.

Most master’s degree programs require at least two or three courses that focus on the concentration area.

Environmental Management Careers & Salaries

Environmental Management Masters Careers & Salaries

With a masters degree in environmental management, you could begin a career in environmental engineering. There are technologist and technician positions that could help you break into the role. With a master’s degree, though, you’ll probably qualify to take a position as an environmental engineer.

The natural sciences are another key career area for this degree. Two related fields to consider are environmental science and conservation science. Government agencies and consulting firms often hire people for such jobs. For those with experience, working as a natural sciences manager could be a promising option. There may be positions open in research facilities, manufacturing companies, and government agencies.

Another management track to consider is in the field of industrial production. The job might involve being responsible for safety and sustainability during manufacturing processes.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, people with this degree might work in the life, physical, and social sciences. The median annual salary for that job category is $72,740.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Natural Science Managers $137,900
Industrial Production Managers $103,150
Environmental Engineers $96,820
Urban and Regional Planners $78,500
Environmental Scientists and Specialists $76,530
Foresters $64,110
Conservation Scientists $63,750
Fish and Game Wardens $60,730
Environmental Engineering Technologists and Technicians $48,390
Environmental Science and Protection Technicians $47,370

Studying environmental management could also contribute to a career focused on environmental issues in a discipline like policymaking or economics.

Some environmental science graduates become urban or regional planners. People in those roles often make decisions about land use and development, so an environmental background could be beneficial.

People who study environmental management often want to work outside. Outdoor jobs could provide opportunities to do the hands-on work of conservation. Potential careers include being a fish and game warden or a forester.

Forest fires are another important issue for environmental management graduates to tackle. Some people become inspectors who study fires after they occur. Others focus their efforts on preventing forest fires.

Master of Environmental Management Curriculum & Courses

Master of Environmental Management students discussing about their project

To get your masters degree in environmental management, you’ll probably be required to complete between 36 and 50 credit hours.

Here are some examples of courses your program might include:

  • Air Quality: You might study carbon dioxide emissions and air pollution as you discuss indoor and outdoor air quality.
  • Auditing and Compliance: An auditing class would teach you to evaluate organizations’ sustainability efforts, safety practices, and regulatory compliance.
  • Environmental Microeconomics: This class will address the interplay between environmental issues—both policies and problems—and economic conditions.
  • Environmental Technology: There might be a class that introduces you to current and up-and-coming technological tools for environmental professionals.
  • Legal and Policy Issues in Environmentalism: Your law and policy class will cover current federal regulations regarding the environment and look at ways to influence policy developments.
  • Principles of Land Use: This course will provide geographical, sociological, and environmental tools for making the best decisions about land use and development.
  • Regulatory Reporting: You might need to learn how to fill out and submit official reports that are required by federal regulations.
  • Risk Assessment Practices: As you learn to evaluate ecological and safety risks, you’ll glean insights from real-world case studies.
  • Understanding the Earth’s Systems: In this class, you’ll explore scientific disciplines as they relate to the planet’s land, water, and air systems and their interactions.
  • Watershed Management: You can learn to steward water resources and protect the water supply for current and future generations.

Typically, colleges have a core set of classes for all environmental management students, and then there are also concentration-specific courses.

How to Choose an Online Master’s in Environmental Management Program

Friends checking for Online Master's in Environmental Management Programs

Going back to college is a big decision, and it’s strategic to find a program that fits your goals and learning style.

As you consider schools, you might take a look at factors such as:

  • Accreditation. One of the first things to consider when searching for colleges is whether an institution holds regional accreditation.
  • Course selection. Different schools offer different classes, so you can read through the catalog and see if the choices interest you.
  • Faculty. It’s helpful to consider who teaches the classes—what degrees they hold, how much industry experience they have, and where their research interests lie.
  • Online format. Online programs come in all different styles. A program might be 100% online, or it might have you come to campus one or more times during your studies. The classes might be self-paced or have a set schedule. You may be able to do the work when it fits into your days, or there might be live sessions.
  • Professional requirements. Some programs only take applicants who have several years of experience in the field, so it’s beneficial to check out the admissions requirements before you settle on a program.
  • Specializations. The concentration you choose may influence what jobs you’re best suited for after graduation, so it’s strategic to search for a school that has a program aligned with your interests.

It’s also beneficial to look into graduation and employment rates to see what kind of results a program produces.

Admissions Requirements

Woman preparing Environmental Management Masters requirements

The qualifications for environmental management master’s degree admissions can vary from one school to the next.

In general, you might need:

  • Accredited bachelor’s degree and supporting college transcripts
  • Online application form and a nonrefundable fee
  • Recommendation letters from supervisors or past teachers
  • Resume or portfolio that shows experience in an environmental role
  • Writing sample that talks about your goals for the program and your career

A minimum GPA, such as 3.0, maybe one of the admissions criteria as well. Some programs also require you to have taken relevant prerequisite courses.

Accreditation

University offering Environmental Management Masters

A graduate school that holds regional accreditation has been assessed by an independent organization to testify to its academic quality. You can trust that you’re receiving a quality education at a regionally accredited institution.

Accredited courses are also more likely to transfer to another school or program than nonaccredited ones. Plus, if you want additional education, an accredited master’s degree could help you qualify for a doctoral program. An accredited education can also impact career success.

Holding a regionally accredited degree might qualify you for industry certification programs or help you secure a promising job.

Environmental Management Licensure and Certifications

Certified Environmental and Safety Compliance Officers

Earning industry certifications shows that you are an expert who knows what you’re doing in the field of environmental management. You can list certifications on your resume, and they may bolster a hiring committee’s confidence in you.

Some popular environmental management certifications include:

  • Certified Environmental and Safety Compliance Officer (CESCO)
  • Certified Environmental Scientist (CES)
  • Certified Environmental Systems Manager (CESM)
  • Certified Professional Environmental Auditor (CPEA)
  • Registered Environmental Manager (REM)

To earn some certifications, you’re required to pass a test. Others require a set amount of relevant work experience or certain college degrees.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Environmental Management Masters Financial Aid

Financial assistance makes grad school possible for many students. Whether you need help paying your full tuition or just a portion of it, there may be one or more programs that can help.

Government aid can be a key source of funding. People in grad programs often secure student loans, which may have lower interest rates than private loans. You can look into state and federal student loans.

To learn more, you can complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You may want to consider your scholarship opportunities as well. The more scholarship programs you apply to, the more chances you’ll have of winning awards.

Some colleges automatically consider all students for institutional scholarship funds. You might be able to bolster your financial aid package with outside scholarship awards as well. Finally, you can also check whether your employer will help pay for your schooling.

What Is an Environmental Management Master Degree?

Environmental Engineers discussing while doing field survey

An environmental management masters degree is a graduate program for students who want to play a role in environmental problem-solving.

This degree focuses on scientific studies but also includes courses in areas like public policy, business leadership, and economics. Concentrations are common for this degree. Students may specialize in a subfield like ecological conservation, energy production, or law and public policy.

Students often graduate from this program ready to assume leadership roles related to land use, energy production, conservation, industrial sustainability, and policymaking. It’s a degree that helps equip students with in-demand knowledge and prepares them for diverse career possibilities.

What Can You Do with a Master in Environmental Management?

Forester measuring tree branches for yearly evaluation

After graduating with a masters degree in environmental management, there may be job opportunities for you in government, manufacturing, resource conservation, or scientific research.

One potential line of work is environmental engineering. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, environmental engineers typically make between $59,820 and $153,200 annually. Environmental science is another field to consider. Specific jobs within environmental science include climate change analysts and restoration planners.

Some people in this field are urban and regional planners who make decisions about land use and sustainable communities. The majority of people in that field work for local governments.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Masters in Environmental Management Online?

student taking Masters in Environmental Management Online

Master’s degrees in environmental management often take about 2 years of full-time study to complete. That’s an average timeframe, but it can help you start to make plans for your graduate education.

Online college programs may end up being shorter than 2 years because the students often take classes year-round. Also, the course schedule may be arranged in 8-week blocks so that students can quickly move from one program to the next.

If a program consists of around 36 credits, you may be able to complete it in 1 year if you study full-time and year-round.

What’s the Difference Between an MS vs. MBA in Environmental Management?

Environmental management graduate degrees come in different forms. The most common varieties are the Master of Science (MS) in Environmental Management and the Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Environmental Management.

MS in Environmental Management MBA in Environmental Management
  • Focuses primarily on environmental management
  • May allow specialization with a concentration track
  • Useful for careers in environmental engineering or conservation science
  • Focuses primarily on business principles with some courses on environmental management
  • Doesn’t usually have opportunities for further specialization
  • Useful for jobs in corporations’ sustainability or compliance departments

Some schools offer a joint program in which you can earn both an MS and an MBA at the same time.

Is a Master’s Degree in Environmental Management Worth It?

masters of environmental management

Yes, a master’s degree in environmental management is worth it for many students. Sustainability and conservation are popular topics these days, and organizations are looking for professionals to support their environmental research or green initiatives.

Several jobs related to the environment are experiencing job growth in line with the national average. Over the next ten years, environmental engineering jobs are expected to grow at a 4% rate, and environmental scientist and specialist jobs are projected to increase at a rate of 5% (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Management positions in the natural sciences are expected to see 6% job growth.

Getting Your Environmental Management Masters Online

student pursuing Environmental Management Masters Degree Online

With a degree in environmental management, you could be ready to make a difference in the world around you.

This course of study can help develop your expertise in caring for the planet, protecting people’s safety, and developing earth-friendly policies and programs. For convenience and speed, you could earn your environmental management master’s degree online.

Accredited online environmental management degrees can often be completed in less time than traditional programs. Plus, you can do the work on your own schedule from the comfort of your own home. This may be the case whether it’s an online masters or even an online PhD in environmental management degree program.

You can start exploring accredited schools today to take a look at the benefits that environmental management programs have to offer you!

Ready to start your journey?