Master of Science in Environmental Policy

Master of Science in Environmental Policy

Lead the Change for a Better Future

The environmental challenges the world faces today require innovative thinkers and political will. The experts that will shape a more sustainable future need to understand the impact of politics, economics and other human dimensions on the environment. They also need to develop the skills to come up with out-of-the-box solutions grounded in science and social analysis. Clarkson University's Master of Science in Environmental Policy prepares the next generation of environmental professionals to rise to the occasion. 

Why Earn a Master of Science in Environmental Policy?

Offered through the Institute for a Sustainable Environment, the master's in environmental policy is an interdisciplinary degree with applied project or research-intensive thesis options. The curriculum is designed to be flexible and personalized toward your specific interests. As a student, you will determine a theme of focus with your research advisor and plan your studies accordingly. To graduate, you will either present a project or thesis founded on your own research.

Our program is rigorous and widely recognized in the field. In 2023, our Environmental Policy graduates boasted a 100-percent placement rate, and the average starting salary for Clarkson graduate students was $90K. In addition to being ranked as a top-tier national university by U.S. News & World Report and a top research university by Forbes, we take pride in putting our sustainability education into action. We have been named one of the Top-75 Most Eco-Literate Colleges by the Sierra Club and have also received a gold rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. 

What You'll Learn

  • Environmental and energy policy
  • Environmental economics
  • Environmental philosophy and theory
  • Environmental science
  • Quantitative research methods
  • Topics focusing on the environment and society

Review the full curriculum below. 

The MS in Environmental Policy consists of 30 credit hours, including two credits of seminar courses and at least six credits of research. The degree can be completed in 12-18 months. As part of their studies, students must choose a theme that will guide their coursework. Suggested themes include the environment and society, corporate social responsibility philosophy and theory, and policies for an energy transition.

The degree is structured as follows:

  • POL570 (Environmental Policy) or POL571 (Energy Policy).
  • EC660 Environmental Economics.
  • A research methods course: one of SS580 (Research Methods) OR EC611 (Econometrics) OR CE502 (Applications of GIS) OR EV591 Special Topics (Methods) under the direction of the advisor OR other methods course approved by the Graduate Chair.
  • Additional elective courses following a theme determined by the student and approved by the advisor and the chair of the graduate committee. At least two of the electives must have an environmental or sustainability focus as defined in the ISE Graduate Handbook.
  • Students completing a thesis must take at least three additional elective courses for a total of at least 18 credit hours. Students completing a project must take at least four additional elective courses for a total of at least 21 credits of coursework.
  • Two credits of seminar courses (EV610 or the equivalent).

Example Elective Courses

Environment and Society

  • ANTH 570 Environment, Technology and Society
  • ANTH 581 Culture & Consumption
  • ANTH/SOC 586 Food and Society or What to Think About What you Eat
  • SOC 530 Health, Wealth, Inequality and the Environment

Environmental Philosophy & Theory

  • POL 592 Environmental Political Theory
  • PHIL 505 Sustainability Theory & Practice:  A Critical Assessment
  • PHIL 510 Where the Wild Things Are; Environmental Philosophy & the Ecosphere

Environmental Policy

  • POL 571 Energy Policy
  • POL 572 Biofuel and Farm Policy
  • POL 575 Environmental Law

Environmental Science

  • CE/EV 535 Groundwater Hydrology & Geochemistry
  • CE 577 Atmospheric Chemistry
  • CE 580 Environmental Chemistry
  • CE 584 Chemo-dynamics
  • CE 586 Industrial Ecology
  • ES 532 Risk Analysis
  • ES 531 Environmental Sustainability & Risk Analysis
  • EV 536 Global Climate Change: Science, Eng., & Policy

MS/MBA EP Double-Degree Option

There are 16 credits of overlapping coursework between the MBA and MSEP programs, allowing for the MBA and MSEP degree requirements to be completed in a combined 52-credit program of study spanning two years, including an MS thesis (6 credits) supporting the MSEP degree.

All students must complete either a thesis or a project. Recent environmental policy projects range from establishing a carbon-offset program through agroforestry in Africa to developing a business plan and regulatory analysis for a startup company that treats harmful algal blooms to establishing a governance structure for a municipality-scale emergency microgrid. 

An interdisciplinary hub for faculty and students, the Institute for a Sustainable Environment focuses on environmental education, sustainability efforts and research initiatives. It also houses a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs, including the MS in Environmental Policy. Learn more about the Institute for a Sustainable Environment.

A complete application consists of the following:

  • Online Application Form
  • Résumé
  • Statement of purpose
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Official transcripts
  • GRE is strongly encouraged but not required.
  • For international applicants, submitting the results of an English proficiency test is required:
    • Minimum test score requirements: TOEFL (80) and TOEFL Essentials (8.5), IELTS (6.5), PTE (56) or Duolingo English Test (115).

MS Prerequisites: Students are expected to have taken a course on American politics or American society (sociology), as well as an introductory course in environmental science, and obtained a BS, BE or equivalent degree from an accredited institution.

The program allows each student to build rapport and establish relationships with professors. I come from a small hometown and I am more comfortable in smaller class-size settings where I do not feel like I am just another number in a sea of people. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to have a research assistant position while I was at Clarkson. The relationships I had with the professors that I worked for made me feel like I was truly part of a team and the work experience was invaluable for helping me prepare for my future career. I also had the opportunity to pursue a dual degree and also received a Master of Science in Data Analytics (now Applied Data Science). I found the combination of the dual degrees enhanced my skill set.

Chelsea Hotaling '19 MS in Environmental Policy, '20, MS in Data Analytics, '12, MBA

Career Possibilities

The MS in Environmental Policy prepares you for roles in government, nonprofits and the private sector, both nationally and internationally.

Possible job titles include:

  • Compliance specialist
  • Director, community engagement
  • Energy policy analyst
  • Environmental advocate
  • Environmental lobbyist
  • Environmental policy analyst
  • Environmental reporter
  • International NGO spokesperson
  • Sustainability consultant
  • Vice-president, regulatory affairs


Our graduate students have secured leadership and research positions in many organizations, including:

  • Brookings Institution
  • Brown Ledge Camp
  • Energy Futures Group
  • Intertek
  • Louisiana Tech University
  • Opinion Dynamics
  • Quantis
  • Wegowise

| STEM OPT Eligible

Contact Us

Graduate Admissions Team
Phone: 518-631-9831

Interested in learning more about the Master of Science in Environmental Policy? Contact the Office of Graduate Admissions today with your questions.

Find out more in the Institute for a Sustainable Environment. 

100% Graduate Placement Rate - Program Specific

Dual Degree Options

Accelerate your career by combining your MS in Environmental Policy with a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or Master of Science in Applied Data Science. International student Paul Rechberger gives an overview of the benefits of earning a dual degree from Clarkson University.

Achieve Your Purpose Here

Make a positive impact on the world with a master’s degree from Clarkson.