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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 $76,530. 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 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. In-state attendees pay an average tuition of $21,600.

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

Choose your area of study

Environmental management programs typically fall under the umbrella of a Master of Science (M.S.) program. M.S. degrees prioritize research and analysis and prepare graduates for further scientific study or doctoral work.

Environmental management is a broad field, so participants should choose a specific area of study on which to focus their coursework. Standard concentrations 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. It’s important to narrow your professional interests to ensure your chosen program meets your academic needs.

Research schools and programs

Only consider accredited institutions. To be eligible for financial aid and credit transferability, a school must meet the academic standards set by a nationally-recognized third-party agency. Environmental management degrees don’t have a separate programmatic accreditation.

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

  • How do faculty facilitate online coursework? Some programs implement more asynchronous, independent study. Others have students attend scheduled sessions via a remote classroom. Attendees interested in completing a degree online should determine which modality better meets their learning style and personal schedule. Certain programs also feature occasional in-person requirements.
  • How does the program incorporate practical application? Most online master’s in environmental management 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.

Connect with a program advisor or attend a virtual FAQ session for specific questions or accommodations.

Prepare for tests and applications

Research the admissions requirements for each program 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 must prepare a resume, a personal statement, and letters of recommendation. Be mindful of application deadlines, as these materials can take several weeks to organize.

Select your program

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 agencies 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 tuition assistance opportunities you might qualify for.

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. A Master of Science (MS) is the most common type of advanced degree in this subject.

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 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 foundation for 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 in-person 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 looking hopeful as the awareness of environmental sustainability becomes more mainstream. With the increasing emphasis on renewable energy and responsible resource management, the demand for skilled professionals in this field has increased.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs for environmental scientists and specialists are projected to grow by five percent through 2031. This growth is driven at least partly by concerns about the environment and the need for businesses and organizations to adopt sustainable practices for the benefit of all.

As of the most recent BLS data, the median annual wage for environmental scientists and specialists was $76,530. However, salaries can vary based on factors such as industry, location, and level of experience.

Career paths

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:

  • Energy manager — Develop and implement strategies to reduce energy consumption, increase efficiency, and promote the use of renewable energy sources
  • Waste management specialist — Manage the disposal and recycling of waste materials, implementing sustainable waste management practices for businesses and communities
  • Climate change analyst — Analyze and assess the effects of climate change, develop adaptation strategies, and contribute to policies aimed at mitigating its impact
  • Corporate social responsibility (CSR) manager — Lead an organization’s efforts in environmental stewardship, social responsibility, and sustainable business practices
  • Wildlife biologist — Study and manage wildlife populations and ecosystems in an effort to promote biodiversity and conservation best practices

Environmental Manager

Earning Potential: $70,000-$120,000 annually

Education Required: Online master’s in environmental management or related field

An environmental manager oversees an organization’s environmental policies, ensuring that they are compliant with local and regional regulations. They promote sustainability, minimize environmental impact, and collaborate with various departments to integrate eco-friendly practices into the organization’s operations. Environmental managers conduct ecological assessments, monitor pollution levels, and implement waste reduction programs. They play an important role in promoting environmentally responsible practices, helping organizations become more aware of sustainable operations.

Sustainability Consultant

Earning Potential: $60,000-$100,000 annually

Education Required: Online master’s in environmental management or related field

A sustainability consultant advises businesses and organizations on adopting environmentally friendly practices, reducing their carbon footprint and undertaking initiatives for improved sustainability. They conduct audits, analyze operations, and develop strategies to enhance environmental and social responsibility. Sustainability consultants provide recommendations for energy efficiency, waste reduction, ethical sourcing, and green technologies. They guide their clients in aligning their practices with sustainability goals, promoting a more eco-conscious and socially responsible approach to business.

Natural Resource Manager

Earning Potential: $50,000-$90,000 annually

Education Required: Online master’s in environmental management or related field

A natural resource manager oversees the use of natural resources such as forests, bodies of water, and wildlife habitats. They develop and implement plans to ensure resources are used sustainably, assess the environmental impact of activities, and collaborate with stakeholders to balance the needs of a particular habitat with human activities. Natural resource managers may conduct surveys, manage ecosystems, and enforce regulations to preserve biodiversity and maintain habitats. By promoting wise resource management, they contribute to the long-term health of ecosystems, support biodiversity, and enable communities to benefit from natural resources.

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)
  • An admissions interview

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?

The average cost of an online master’s in environmental management degree is $21,600, with some as low as $8,000 and others topping $50,000. While online programs can be more affordable than traditional degrees, many schools charge a flat tuition rate regardless of course delivery. Busy professionals choose online coursework for its flexibility, but you might not save that much on tuition. In-state tuition is significantly more affordable than out-of-state charges, so consider pursuing programs within your state.

When calculating the total cost of an online master’s degree, remember to weigh out-of-pocket expenses for occasional travel, books, computer equipment, specialty software programs (GIS), 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. This degree equips graduates with a valuable skill set that will allow them to play a role in a variety of potential career pathways that feature rewarding and lucrative work.

According to the BLS, green careers are growing faster than the economy as a whole, offering well-paying jobs to skilled professionals. Environmental engineers, for example, make a median annual wage of $96,820.

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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