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The green sector, defined by public and private initiatives to reduce pollution and enhance energy efficiency, is a rapidly growing industry. An online master’s in environmental management prepares graduates for a leadership position within this expanding field. This interdisciplinary curriculum includes environmental policy, planning, and geographic information systems courses.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), environmental scientists and specialists earn an annual salary of $76,480. While a bachelor’s degree in environmental science or a related field will qualify individuals for entry-level positions, a master’s degree will open doors for career advancement and higher earning potential.

Online master’s programs in environmental management require an average of 36 credit hours (12 classes), including a three-credit internship or comprehensive project. Most participants can graduate within two years if they attend school full-time.

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

Choose your area of study

Master’s in environmental management degrees are typically offered as a Master of Science (MS), which prioritizes research and analysis and prepares graduates for further scientific study or doctoral work. This degree may also be available as a Master of Business Administration (MBA), which typically covers a wide range of business-related topics.

Environmental management is a broad field, so participants should choose a specific area of study on which to focus their coursework. Common concentration options include environmental policy, natural resource management, and environmental analytics. While core topics are similar across institutions, not every school offers the same specializations and electives. If you already know what you would like to do after you graduate, look for programs that closely match those career goals.

Research schools and programs

You should only consider institutions that have been approved by a DOE-recognized regional accrediting organization, such as the New England Commission of Higher Education or Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. These organizations evaluate schools to ensure they provide students with a high-quality education. Those who attend a school that isn’t regionally accredited may be unable to access financial aid or transfer credits to another institution if needed.

Ideally, your master’s in environmental management program will also be accredited by a respected industry group like the Association for the Advancement of Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). This programmatic accrediting organization has particularly high standards for business education.

After confirming a school’s accreditation status, compare other aspects between programs.

  • How does the program incorporate practical application? Most online master’s in environmental management programs include a capstone assignment, usually as an internship or hands-on project. Consider how each program supports you in this endeavor; will you receive internship placement assistance or a dedicated project advisor?
  • Can online students access additional resources? Online students should receive a similar experience as traditional students. Look for schools that invest in building an online community with orientations and supportive measures for remote learners. Online students should have access to mental health counseling, tutoring, tech support, military student aid, disability services, and library databases.

To learn more about any schools that you’re interested in, you can visit the school’s website, contact an admissions counselor, follow the school on social media, or attend an in-person or virtual open house.

Prepare for tests and applications

Application requirements vary by school and program, so you should research each option that interests you. Some have specific eligibility requirements, such as prerequisite coursework, a minimum undergraduate GPA, significant field experience, and even written sponsorship from a current employer.

Applicants must have an undergraduate degree in a related field from an accredited institution. Most programs do not mandate standardized test scores (i.e., GRE or GMAT), though you will likely need to prepare transcripts, a resume, a personal statement, and letters of recommendation. Be mindful of application deadlines, as these materials can take several weeks to organize.

Before submitting an application, always contact an admissions counselor to ensure you have the most accurate information regarding requirements and deadlines.

Select your program

Before deciding where you will apply to, review your needs and goals again. Do you plan to attend school full-time or part-time? Are you only interested in 100% online programs, or are you fine with a hybrid program that has a few in-person requirements? Some programs offer asynchronous courses, which can be completed at your own pace, while others only offer synchronous courses, which involve remotely attending lectures and completing assignments at the same time as other students — which of these two online learning formats do you prefer?

Select programs that best meet your professional interests and personal needs based on your research. For example, working adults may decide only to apply to asynchronous programs. You might prioritize those programs that fit within your budget or provide the best accommodations for online students. Some programs are very competitive, so you may want to apply to a few to increase your chances of acceptance.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

All master’s students should first submit the FAFSA to determine their eligibility for federal assistance. From there, share your academic goals with your employer. Some organizations provide tuition assistance to their employees, especially if you commit to contributing your acquired knowledge and skills to the company.

Then, contact your chosen school’s advisor and financial aid office. These individuals can identify transfer credits, scholarships, or other ways for you to save money on tuition.

Best 50 Accredited Online Master’s in Environmental Management Programs

Best Online Master's in Environmental Management Degree Programs

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Columbia University Engineering

Johns Hopkins University

University of Wisconsin

University of Florida

NC State University

University of Missouri

Worcester Polytechnic Institute

University of Denver

University of Connecticut

California State University at Fullerton

Duke University Nicholas School of the Environment

University of California at Riverside

University of Houston at Clear Lake

Virginia Tech

Texas A&M University

University of Idaho

University of Central Florida

Rochester Institute of Technology

Colorado State University

Louisiana State University

Villanova University

University of Vermont

Harvard Extension School

Webster University

University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Samford University

Tuskegee University

Texas Tech University

Black Hills State University

Oregon State University

University of Maryland Global Campus

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How We Rank Schools

For this list, we focused on programs that offer master’s degrees in environmental management or related fields. We specifically looked at programs that deliver all or most of their coursework through distance learning. Some programs may give students the option to complete their degree through a combination of on-campus and online classes.

As a measure of quality, we only included programs offered by regionally accredited institutions, ensuring they meet the highest quality standards for postsecondary education. Some programs are also accredited by the Association for the Advancement of Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

We evaluated the programs based on their outcomes, cost, reputation, faculty, and flexibility. Then, we calculated an Intelligent Score of 0 to 100 for each program. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

What Can You Expect from an Online Master’s in Environmental Management Degree Program?

Students attending an online master’s degree program in environmental management develop a comprehensive understanding of environmental policy, green economics, and resource conversation.

A graduate degree in the field teaches participants how to design and apply sustainability programs to address waste, water, land, and energy management at local and global levels. Coursework combines independent study and class discussion about real-world implications. Individuals hone their leadership styles and prepare for advanced positions within the environmental sector. Programs cater to working adults with prior experience in environmentalism.

For full-time students, most programs necessitate a two-year commitment, though some accelerated options could expedite that timeline. To graduate, students complete an internship or other capstone assignment. While most coursework is entirely online, some degrees mandate occasional in-person networking events and intensives.

Potential courses you’ll take in an online master’s in environmental management program

  • Environmental Finance and Economics. Students receive an overview of economics and financial principles from an environmentalist perspective. Coursework outlines a framework for economic decision-making and environmental analysis. Students discuss real-world scenarios involving natural resource use and environmental consequences.
  • Environmental Protection Law. By analyzing environmental laws, policies, and court cases, this course offers students a basic understanding of health and environmental safety legislation. Topics include the Clean Air Act (CAA), Clean Water Act (CWA), and habitat protection statutes.
  • Leadership for Environmental Managers. Students practice leadership skills relevant to the environmental management profession. Topics include effective communication, personal leadership styles, and constructing a vision or mission.
  • Systems, Standards, and Certifications for Environmental Management. Participants practice systemizing and standardizing processes for environmental management projects. Students discover how management systems and performance metrics are necessary for career success.

What Can You Do With an Online Master’s in Environmental Management?

Career outlook

The career outlook for individuals with an online master’s in environmental management is positive, as the awareness of environmental sustainability is becoming more mainstream. With the recent emphasis on renewable energy and responsible resource management, the demand for skilled professionals in this field has increased.

Indeed, graduates with an online master’s in environmental management have a wide array of impactful career paths available that span a variety of industries. Here are some potential career options for individuals with this degree:

  • Environmental scientist or specialist — Collect and analyze environmental data, help clean up pollution, and advise policymakers and other stakeholders.
    • Median annual salary: $76,480
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 6%
    • New job openings projected: 6,900 annually
  • Project management specialist — Oversee all aspects of a project, including budgeting, staffing, and progress monitoring.
    • Median annual salary: $95,370
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 6%
    • New job openings projected: 68,100 annually
  • Training and development manager — Design and manage an organization’s employee training programs.
    • Median annual salary: $120,000
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 6%
    • New job openings projected: 3,500 annually

Online Master’s in Environmental Management Degree Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to an online master's in environmental management degree program?

To apply, navigate to the application portal via each program’s website. While each graduate school has its specifications, most application packets include the following:

  • A completed application (with a processing fee)
  • Letters of recommendation
  • A letter of employer sponsorship (if applicable)
  • A statement of purpose
  • A resume
  • Undergraduate transcripts
  • Proof of English language proficiency (if applicable)

Before hitting “apply,” contact an admissions advisor with any questions or concerns about your eligibility or the application process.

How much does an online master's in environmental management degree cost?

Graduate degree programs have an average tuition of $20,513 per year. Private schools tend to be more expensive than public schools. At public schools, out-of-state tuition is usually much higher than in-state tuition, so consider pursuing public programs within your state.

When calculating the total cost of an online master’s degree, remember to account for out-of-pocket expenses such as occasional travel, books, computer equipment, specialty software programs (e.g., GIS software), and reliable at-home internet.

How long does it take to earn an online master's in environmental management degree?

Full-time, online attendees can earn their environmental management master’s degree in two years. There may be opportunities to graduate sooner if you qualify for transfer credit or an accelerated course of study. Part-time students, particularly those who continue to work full-time alongside their studies, may need upwards of three years to graduate.

Is an online master's in environmental management worth it?

Pursuing an online master’s in environmental management is a worthwhile investment for individuals who are passionate about protecting the planet and hope to make a lasting impact on environmental practices in their profession.

Since the field is new, there is a limited pool of trained workers who are equipped to handle the needs of an increasingly environmentally-conscious society. Individuals with master’s-level training are likely to find a broad range of positions available to them in the private sector as well as the nonprofit world.

The online format offers flexibility, enabling you to balance your studies with personal and professional commitments. The knowledge gained—from sustainable policies and conservation strategies to eco-friendly technologies—empowers graduates to drive positive change, influence policy, and guide organizations towards greener practices.

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