Online Master’s Programs In Environmental Science

Graduates with bachelor's degrees in environmental science may find it beneficial to choose a specialization. Learn more about environmental science.

Updated September 23, 2022

Reviewed by ACO Rankings Team
Online Master’s Programs In Environmental Science

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Online Master's in Environmental Science Rankings, Salaries and Courses

Graduates with bachelor's degrees in environmental science may find it beneficial to choose a specialization. Some might want higher-level jobs in environmental science or to change their careers. These students can benefit from an environmental science master's program online.

Environmental science covers a broad area of topics, but environmental science master's programs provide opportunities for students to focus on specific areas of interest. Concentrations include climate change, ecology, energy, natural resources, policy, and sustainability. This page introduces master of environmental science programs with the goal of helping learners decide whether to pursue an advanced degree path.

What Can I Learn in an Online Master's in Environmental Science Program?

A master's in environmental science online allows students to focus their studies and provides extensive training in research, data, and analysis. It also opens doors to professional paths identifying and formulating policies and remedial action plans to combat problems like increased carbon emissions, rising sea levels, natural disasters, and resource depletion. Because environmental science degree programs involve fieldwork, field trips, and lab work, students should expect a hybrid of online classes and in-person experiential learning.

What Common Courses Are Offered in a Master's in Environmental Science Program?

Environmental science course content varies depending on the school, program, master's degree type, and concentration area. The list below contains five examples of common courses offered by environmental science master's programs, giving you a general idea of what to expect from a master's in environmental science. These courses cover topics ranging from computer modeling and data analysis to environmental monitoring and policy.

What Exams or Projects Should I Expect?

Environmental science master's programs typically require a capstone, thesis, or final project. Some programs allow students to graduate if they log enough fieldwork hours instead. A thesis or final project comprises a student's original research, demonstrating their skills in critical thinking, design, and data analysis. Students work with advisors to produce papers of publishable quality in peer-reviewed, academic, or professional journals.

A capstone often entails applying skills and knowledge gained in the program to a specific environmental problem under the direction of a faculty member.

What Specializations Are Available in a Master's in Environmental Science Program?

Specializations vary significantly by program and degree, such as environmental science, environmental management, environmental safety and health, resource management, and sustainability. The list below offers three examples of specialty areas.

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What Can I Do with a Master's in Environmental Science Degree?

Master's in environmental science graduates can pursue careers as regulators, analysts, specialists, restoration planners, and ecologists. Consulting firms and state government agencies employ nearly half of environmental scientists, followed by local government, engineering firms, and the federal government.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the following five positions to grow by 8% from 2018 through 2028.

How Much Can I Make with a Career in Environmental Science?

A wide range of occupations fall under the umbrella of environmental science, and opportunities in all categories should increase in the coming years. The positions below can't guarantee set wages, but the following information provides information regarding salary potential and projected job growth for each profession related to a master's in environmental science.

Career Salary Projection
Career Median Annual Salary Job Growth (2016-2026)
Climate Change Analyst$71,13010%-14%
Environmental Health and Safety Specialist $46,170 10%-14%
Environmental Restoration Planners $71,13010%-14%
Environmental Scientists $71,130 11%
Industrial Ecologists$71,13010%-14%

Online Master's in Environmental Science Program Accreditation

Top environmental health and protection master's programs receive accreditation from the National Environmental Health Science & Protection Accreditation Council, whose criteria include a strong academic natural science curriculum and hands-on fieldwork opportunities for students.

Otherwise, no accrediting organizations exist specifically for environmental science programs. Because environmental science master's programs tend to anchor in research, students should look for schools with regional accreditation from agencies approved by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Regionally accredited schools undergo rigorous review to validate their academic quality.

How to Pay for a Master's in Environmental Science Degree

Funding sources for master's in environmental science degrees typically include loans, scholarships, and fellowships. Other ways to pay for your degree include working while studying online and campus research assistantship positions or tuition waivers. While online students qualify for financial aid, other funding sources may require some individual research.

Techniques for Financing a Master's in Environmental Science


Online Study

Master's in environmental science online programs typically charge lower tuition rates than traditional on-campus programs. Students in these programs can also keep their jobs while earning their degrees.

Research Assistantships

While more common in doctoral programs, some master's programs in environmental science may offer research assistantships and/or may waive tuition costs. Prospective students should check with their schools of interest to see if those options exist.

Federal Loans

Online environmental science master's students can apply for direct unsubsidized loans of up to $20,500 per year from the federal government. To apply, complete the FAFSA online.

Scholarships for Master's in Environmental Science Students
Scholarship Amount Who Can Apply

Eckenfelder Scholarship

$5,000 This scholarship helps full-time graduate students in environmental science pay for their education. Applicants must submit a resume, a 250-word essay, recommendations, and an official transcript evidencing a 3.0 GPA.

The Garden Club of America Fellowship in Ecological Restoration

$8,000 This fellowship supports graduate students at accredited institutions who study and conduct research in restoration conservation and ecology. Applicants submit research proposals and budgets, along with a resume, a cover letter, and recommendations.

National Environmental Health Association and American Academy of Sanitarians Scholarship

$2,500 This scholarship assists graduate students in environmental health sciences at accredited colleges and universities with their tuition and fees. Applicants submit online applications, transcripts, and recommendations, one of which must come from a NEHA member.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program

Up to $42,000 Full-time master's students in resource management of coastal or ocean areas who maintain a 3.3 GPA can apply for up to two years of funding. Recipients must submit annual reports on their academic activities.

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program

$46,000 This program supports students early in their graduate education who conduct research in science, math, technology, or education. Prospective students must submit their applications online and include statements on their research plans and career goals.

Professional Organizations and Resources

Current and aspiring environmental science students can find additional information and support through professional organizations, which offer networking opportunities, career development resources, and useful information on current topics in the field.

Environmental professionals and students benefit from industry publications, continuing education webinars, conferences and other networking events, volunteer opportunities, and a career center. Students can join at a discounted rate. This nonprofit provides board certification, training workshops and seminars, and research publications. Student members can join for free, and the academy sponsors a university lecture series and chapters. An association of faculty and students, AESS seeks to support environmental scholars and scientists with research information, networking and idea sharing, model curricula and professional standards, career development and mentoring, and professional advice. This community of ecologists, researchers, educators, and policy makers advocates for its members and offers online access to publications, an annual meeting, certification, networking, and publishing grants. Students receive a discounted rate. This organization seeks to develop high-level standards of proficiency and ethics within the environmental profession. It offers an annual conference, member events, webinars, workshops, professional certification, and online research materials. NEHA supports its members through advocacy, a "day in the life" of an environmental health professional blog, training and networking events, credentialing, and discounted student memberships. Taking a science-based, multidisciplinary approach to finding solutions to environmental problems, this organization offers professional and student memberships. Benefits include online publications, annual meetings, resume posting, mentoring, and networking. Students can join SER at a discounted "emerging professionals" rate and gain access to training tools, networking opportunities, job and internship listings, and current research on climate change, desertification, and land and water degradation. Working for healthy land and clean water, member benefits include newsbriefs and publications, conferences and networking events, committee service opportunities, and advocacy. It offers a discounted student rate. This nonprofit educational and technical organization posts water quality and sustainable development news. It also hosts an annual water quality conference and a stormwater symposium, and it provides certification and offers continuing education resources.

Online Master's in Environmental Science Programs 2022

#1

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

School Information
Location Champaign, Illinois
Admission Rate 59%
Graduation Rate 85%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 39% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign educates graduate degree-seekers online and at its Champaign campus. Distance learners can earn master's degrees from the public institution in a fully online format. The school's online offerings include a flexible master of science in natural resources and environmental sciences.

The online program begins with core classes. Degree-seekers take advanced environmental science courses and customize the program through electives. Faculty members provide mentorship, and graduate students can pursue internships to prepare for careers in the field.

A master's in environmental science often leads to leadership roles and increased earning potential. During their master's studies and after graduation, individuals can receive support from faculty advisors and career counselors.

Information on the school's cost per credit is unavailable. Degree-seekers with financial need can submit the FAFSA to qualify for federal grants and loans. Scholarships, fellowships, and employer-sponsored tuition reimbursement programs can help distance learners fund their master's studies. The school reports that 64% of students receive financial aid.

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#2

University of Houston-Clear Lake

School Information
Location Houston, Texas
Admission Rate 74%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 42% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Distance learners can enroll at University of Houston-Clear Lake to pursue a master of science in environmental science. With a variety of online offerings, the public institution enrolls 3,781 distance students. Degree-seekers with personal or professional obligations often benefit from online programs' flexible scheduling options.

Degree candidates develop field-specific knowledge and skills that apply to many professional environmental science roles. Graduate students work closely with faculty mentors to tailor the program based on their professional goals. Master's graduates can apply for positions in the field or advance their current career. Current and former students work closely with career services to transition from the program into the workforce.

Learners pursuing a master's degree from the school can access support services including career advising and financial aid counseling. The school charges online learners affordable tuition rates, making graduate studies more accessible. Learners who need additional funding can secure private scholarships and institutional fellowships. The institution's average cost per credit is unknown.

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#3

University of Illinois at Springfield

School Information
Location Springfield, Illinois
Admission Rate 77%
Graduation Rate 54%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 70% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

University of Illinois at Springfield enrolls students in an online master of science in environmental sciences. The school educates 1,258 students in its online courses. The accredited curriculum provides a rigorous education valued by employers. The degree emphasizes advanced knowledge and skills for careers. The university maintains a student-to-faculty ratio of 12-to-1, which gives learners one-on-one attention from faculty.

Prospective applicants can learn more about online support services at the college's website. The institution charges affordable tuition rates and offers financial aid. This makes the master's degree an affordable option for learners on a budget. The institution reports a 54% graduation rate for its programs.

University of Illinois at Springfield Fast Facts:

Total Online Enrollment: 3,006

Number of Online Master’s Programs: 12

Graduate Tuition: $8,270 per year in-state, $15,240 per year out-of-state

Average Amount of Aid Awarded: $12,821

Average Net Price: $11,534

The school holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

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