Our Students Before Profits Award was created to promote nonprofit colleges and universities offering online degree programs that put students before profits and education before the bottom line.
For our Online Masters in Environmental Science and Sustainability award winners, we selected online programs from accredited, nonprofit colleges and universities offering online or hybrid programs of study leading to a master’s degree in environmental sciences, or related fields and have ranked these programs according to their affordability.
Environmental Science programs typically draw on multiple integrated academic disciplines and explore how the parts of nature and human societies operate and interact. They are devoted to the preservation of natural resources and biodiversity for sustainable development, and the control of biological, chemical and physical agents in the environment (air, water, soil, and groundwater) to prevent adverse effects on human and other living organisms. Graduates of these programs will be prepared for a variety of emerging opportunities in government and the private sector as “greening” the economy becomes increasingly important to the public.
The work of environmental scientists and other environmental management professionals will continue to grow in value. The demand for stricter governmental environmental policies and regulations of company procedures will continue to open doors for scientists working in this field. Thus, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted in 2014, that the number of jobs for environmental scientists and specialists will grow by 15 percent through 2022. A Master’s degree in this field will position candidates competitively for these positions.
Though this ranking is primarily concerned with the affordability of the programs, many programs here have consistently been ranked among the top of their kind by other national publications and we believe they deserve to be considered among the best online master’s in environmental science programs available.
Note that tuition rates listed below are based on cost per credit and individual programs may have additional fees.
Ranking the Best Online Masters Environmental Science
#1. Montana State University—Bozeman
Montana Sate University in Bozeman is a public, land-grant university and the flagship campus of the Montana State University System. The university was established in 1893 as the Agricultural College of the State of Montana and became a comprehensive university under its current name in 1965. The school has since grown to enroll over 15,600 students in over a 110 areas of study at the bachelor, master, and doctoral levels through nine colleges.
The Master of Science in Land Resources and Environmental Sciences offered at MSU through online delivery is designed to provide graduate training opportunities across a substantial breadth of disciplinary interests. Programs are flexible and specifically adapted toe acc graduate student and often address processes at multiple scales through well-integrated, multi-disciplinary efforts. Student projects are directed toward improving understanding of principles and processes important to land resources and environmental sciences, with opportunities for direct ties to management. The program requires a minimum of 30 credits for completion.
Accreditation: Montana State University—Billings is regionally accredited by the Northwest Association of Colleges and Schools.
#2. University of Arkansas—Fayetteville
The University of Arkansas—Fayetteville is a public research university founded in 1871 and is classified by the Carnegie Foundation as a university with very high research activity, a distinction which only two percent of universities and colleges nationwide have received. Enrolling over 25,000 students the U of A is the largest University of the Arkansas University System.
Offered 100% online through the Bumpers College of Agriculture, Food, and Life Sciences at the University of Arkansas—Fayetteville, the Master of Science in Human Environmental Sciences includes concentration options in Apparel Merchandising and Product Development Human Nutrition and Hospitality Innovation, Human Development and Family Sciences, and General Human Environmental Sciences. A minimum of 30 credits are required for completion of the degree.
Accreditation: The University of Arkansas is regionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
#3. University of Illinois—Springfield
Founded in 1969 as Sangamon State University, The University of Illinois at Springfield was originally an “upper-division university” and therefore only offered courses for those in the last two years of their undergraduate program or in graduate school. This changed in 2001, when UIS began accepting freshmen as part of a university-wide honors program, and also in 2006, when freshmen were able to be admitted under the general education curriculum. The public liberal arts university is the newest campus in the University of Illinois system and is part of the American Council of Education, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, and the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges.
The University of Illinois—Springfield’s online Master of Arts in Environmental Studies is designed to allow students to gain an understanding of ways to balance social and economic needs with environmental realities, to learn how to use resources imaginatively for sustainable development, and to become aware of the role of values in issue formulation and policy making. Throughout the program students will develop literacy in natural and social sciences, learn to critically analyze environmental problems, and formulate solutions based in sound research practices. Additionally students can choose to concentrate their studies in Environmental Planning and Management. The program requires a minimum of 40 credits for completion of the degree.
Accreditation: The University of Illinois at Springfield is regionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
#4. Auburn University
Auburn University is a public university designated as a land-grant, sea-grant, and space-grant research center. Founded in 1856 “for the advancement of science and arts”, AU is located in Auburn, Alabama. The school was previously a private all-male institution affiliated with the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and in 1892 became the first coeducational four-year institution in the state of Alabama. Auburn University has been consistently listed as one of the top public universities by U.S. News and World Report, Academic Analytics, DesignIntelligence Magazine, and Peterson’s Guide to Colleges and Universities.
Auburn University’s College of Agriculture offers a Master of Science and Master of Agriculture in Soil, Water and Environmental Sciences as distance education programs. These are multi-institutional, multi-disciplinary programs offered in co-operation with the University of Georgia, North Carolina State University and Texas Tech University. The programs are designed to create a unique opportunity for industry personnel, extension educators and other professionals to enhance their professional skills and expertise essential to protecting the quality of our natural resources while sustaining economic opportunities. Each program requires 36 credits for completion. The Master of Science will require a thesis, while the Master of Agriculture requires a special project.
Accreditation: Auburn University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
#5. University of Idaho
Founded in 1889, and located in Moscow, Idaho, the University of Idaho is the oldest public university in the State. It is the state’s land-grant and primary research university and it enrolls over 11,500 students at the main campus and across its multiple extension offices throughout the state. The university offers 142 degree programs including bachelor’s master’s, doctoral, and specialists’ degrees.
The University of Idaho’s Professional Science Masters in Natural Resources and Environmental Science is a non-thesis program combining science coursework with training in professional skills such as business management and communications and is offered as a distance learning degree online. The PSM curriculum is structured in eight tracks of study, four of which can be completed entirely online: Sustainability Science, Environmental Contamination, Water Resources Management, and Ecohydrological Science and Management, but currently while the PSM is undergoing curriculum restructuring, the only track offered is the Environmental Contamination track. A minimum of 35 credits are required for completion of the degree.
Accreditation: The University of Idaho is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
#6. University of Wisconsin—Stevens Point
The University of Wisconsin—Stevens Point is a public university located in Stevens Point, Wisconsin and is part of the University of Wisconsin System. The school was founded in 1894 as a “Normal School” for the preparation of teachers in the region. Today the university enrolls over 9,600 students in associate, baccalaureate, and master’s degree programs as well as offering a doctoral degree in audiology.
The Master of Science in Sustainable and Resilient Food Systems offered through the School of Health Promotion and Human Development at the University of Wisconsin—Stevens Point is offered as an online program of study and is designed to impart expertise in sustainable food systems and innovative community development. Students develop skills in examining the food system, program planning and evaluation, community development, leadership and grant writing. A minimum of 30 credits are required for completion of the degree.
Accreditation: The University of Wisconsin—Stevens Point is regionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
#7. University of Houston—Clear Lake
The University of Houston—Clear Lake is a public university in the University of Houston System. Located in Pasadena, Texas, UHCL was founded in 1971 out of the Manned Spacecraft Center. Today, the university enrolls over 8,100 students in nearly 90 degree programs at the bachelor, master, and doctoral levels.
The School of Science and Computer Engineering at the University of Houston—Clearly Lake offers an online option of study leading to a Master of Science in Environmental Science with a General track or an Occupational Safety and Health specialization. A minimum of 36 credits are required for completion of the degree. The program includes an interdisciplinary approach and prepares students for opportunities in government and the private sector. Graduates of the program may also pursue further academic training in environmental sciences and occupational health.
Accreditation: The University of Houston—Clear Lake is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
#8. University of Saint Francis
Located in Fort Wayne, Indiana, the University of Saint Francis is a private, liberal arts university affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church. The was founded in 1890 and currently enrolls over 2,300 students. The school is distinctively Franciscan in perspective and promotes values of the Franciscan order.
The University of Saint Francis’ Keith Busse School of Business and Entrepreneurial Leadership offers an online Master of Environmental Health is designed to provide students with an understanding of the major environmental needs of public and occupational health, hygiene, and safety as it relates to pollution, toxicology, epidemiology, regulation, statistics, emergency response, and homeland security. A minimum of 37 credits are required for completion of this program
Accreditation: The University of Saint Francis is regionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
#9. University of Florida
The University of Florida is a major research institution located in the north Florida college town of Gainesville. This school is the oldest public university in the state and has a ranking of 17 on the U.S. News and World Report list of the top twenty national public universities. The Princeton Review finds the school the seventh best value in public education. With over 50,000 students, the campus is quite impressive in size and scope. There are 16 different colleges set on the main campus. Students can choose from a wide selection of online degree programs ranging from Bachelors to Doctorates.
The online Master of Science in Ecological Restoration offered through the School of Forest Resources and Conservation at the University of Florida is a non-thesis degree designed to establish a sound science-based ecological foundation needed for the development and implementation of environmental restoration projects. Graduates of this program will be equipped to become resource managers, environmental scientists, and restoration ecologists and will be equipped with skills and science-based principles that are transportable from one system to another. The program consists of 30 credits at minimum.
Accreditation: The University of Florida is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
#10. University of Colorado—Denver
The University of Colorado—Denver is one of three universities in the University of Colorado system and has two campuses, Auroria in downtown Denver, and the Anschutz Medical Campus located in the suburb of Aurora. The university enrolls over 29,000 students on the two campuses as well as in extensive online program offerings.
The online CU Denver Master of Science in Management with a Specialization in Sustainability program gives students the opportunity to develop awareness, insight, and immediate applicable skills for managing organizations. Students will learn business issues associated with managing for sustainable growth in the context of reducing business’ impact on the environment including the management of scarce resources, supporting local communities and social issues, and addressing the general public’s concern for acting in an ethical and responsible manner. A minimum of 30 credits are required for completion of the degree.
Accreditation: The University of Colorado at Denver is regionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
#11. Colorado State University—Global
Colorado State University’s global campus, known as CSU-Global, is a non-profit, online, public university. Founded in 2007 as part of the Colorado State University system, CSU – Global is a separate and distinct institution headquartered in Greenwood Village, Colorado. Designed specifically for adult students who are unable to travel to a traditional campus, CSU only offers degree completion programs – thereby allowing their students to combine previous college credit and life experience with current course offerings.
Colorado State University’s Global Campus offers an online Master of Natural Resource Stewardship designed for professionals who are seeking the necessary skills and knowledge to advance in the field of natural resources. The program provides a broad natural resources education with concentration options in Rangeland Ecosystem Science or Sustainable Military Lands Management. A minimum of 30 credits are required for completion of the program.
Accreditation: Colorado State University is regionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
#12. University of Findlay
Located in Findlay Ohio, the University of Findlay is a private university enrolling over 3,700 students. UF was founded in 1882 and gained university status in 1989. The University of Findlay has experienced significant growth over the past couple decades and has tripled in size of enrollment, staff, and facilities. UF has nearly 60 majors at the bachelor’s level and offers nine master’s degrees and two doctorates. Findlay is especially noted for its animal science/pre-veterinary medicine and equestrian programs.
The University of Findlay’s Master of Science in Environmental Safety and Health Management is offered online, or as a hybrid degree program. The degree is designed to prepare students for leadership positions in the environmental industry and utilizes an interdisciplinary curriculum in science, engineering, environmental policy, and business concepts. A minimum of 33 credits are required for completion of the program.
Accreditation: The University of Findlay is regionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Additionally, UF is one of just eight institutions to hold accreditation from the Environmental Health Science and Protection Accreditation Council
#13. University of Tennessee—Martin
Located in Martin Tennessee, the University of Tennessee—Martin is a public university and one of five campuses in the University of Tennessee System. The school was founded in 1927 through a merger of the Hall-Moody Institute and Union University in nearby Jackson, Tennessee. Today, the university maintains a strong focus on undergraduate studies in education and agriculture and enrolls just over 7,400 students. The university operates a small graduate graduate school, with most graduate degrees being offered in education.
The Department of Agriculture, Geosciences, and natural Resources at the University of Tennessee—Martin offers an online degree program leading to a Master of Science in Agriculture and Natural Resources designed to meet the growing needs of place-bound agriculture and natural resources professionals. Students choose from among three concentrations: Agribusiness and Risk Management, natural Resources Systems Management, and System Science in Agriculture. The program requires a minimum of 36 credits for completion of the degree.
Accreditation: The University of Tennessee—Martin is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
#14. University of Wisconsin—Stout
The University of Wisconsin-Stout was founded in 1891 in Menomonie, Wisconsin by lumber magnate James Huff Stout. Part of the larger University of Wisconsin System, the university currently enrolls almost 10,000 on-campus students. Approximately 30 of the University of Wisconsin-Stout’s on-campus degrees are also available through their distance-learning program.
The Master of Science in Sustainable Management offered at the University of Wisconsin—Stout is an online degree program that combines coursework in business, sustainability, and environmental management. Graduates will be well-versed in both business and in science and will develop skills of communication about complex issues, ability to analyze the relationship between human activity and various environments, evaluation of social and political impact of sustainability, and more. The program requires a minimum of 34 credits for completion.
Accreditation: The University of Wisconsin—Stout is regionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
#15. Texas Tech University
Texas Tech University is a public research university located in Lubbock, Texas and is the leading institution in the Texas Tech University System. The school was established in 1923 and was originally known as Texas Technological College. The university enrolls over 35,100 students and offers degrees in more than 150 areas of study. The university is classified by the Carnegie Foundation as an institution with high research activity and has ongoing research projects in areas of epidemiology, pulsed power, grid computing, nano photonics, atmospheric sciences, and wind energy.
The Department of Plant and Soil Science at Texas Tech offers an online program of study leading to a Master of Plant and Soil Science. Students in this program can pursue a variety of specializations including: crop science, soil science, crop protection, and fibers and biopolymers. Thesis and non-thesis options are both available as tracks for completion of the degree. Between 30 and 36 credits will be required depending on whether the student is on the thesis vs. non-thesis track.
Accreditation: Texas Tech University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
In-State: $8,100 – $9,720
Out-of-State: $19,800 – $23,760
#16. University of West Florida
Established in 1963, the University of West Florida is a public university located in Pensacola, Florida with multiple satellite campuses throughout the region enrolling over 12,800 students. UWF maintains a strong presence online with over 500 online courses offered and 30 degrees or certificate programs.
The Master of Science in Administration with a specialization in Geographic Information Science offered by the University of West Florida is an interdisciplinary degree offered entirely online. The program is designed to prepare students for leadership roles involving the use of Geographic Information Science in public, nonprofit, and private sectors. Students will become technically proficient in a variety of geospatial technologies through hands-on-instruction. 36-37 credits are required for completion of the degree.
Accreditation: The University of West Florida is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
#17. Oregon State University
Founded in 1856 as Corvallis Academy – a primary and preparatory school – and then later Corvallis College, Oregon State University quickly became an agricultural school, going through various incarnations before obtaining university status in 1961. OSU has been ranked highly by Washington Monthly, U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, QS World University Rankings, and Academic Ranking of World Universities; the school is considered a “selective” university. Oregon State University boasts a number of notable alumni across various fields and disciplines; these include Nobel prize-winning chemist Linus Pauling; Donald Kerr, wildlife biologist and founder of the High Desert Museum; computer scientist credited with the invention of the computer mouse and the concept of e-mail, Douglas Engelbart; many local and national politicians; numerous founders and CEO’s of major corporations; Pulitzer Prize-winning poet George Oppen, and more.
Oregon State University’s Ecampus offers an online program of study leading to a Master of Natural Resources designed to develop students’ analytical and problem solving skills associated with complex natural resources issues. Students can select an area of emphasis from such concentrations as: fisheries management, sustainable natural resources, GIScience, water conflict management, or may work with their advisor to design a custom focus. A minimum of 45 credits are required for completion of the degree.
Accreditation: Oregon State University is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
#18. University of Maryland—University College
University of Maryland University College (UMUC) is a comprehensive virtual university, part of the University of Maryland international system. The college founded in 1947 and is headquartered in Aldelphi, Maryland and has campuses in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, Europe, and Asia. UMUC has frequently been recognized for excellence in online programs that cater to the working adult.
The University of Maryland—University College offers an online Master of Science in Environmental Management designed to equip students with the skills needed to identify options for effectively managing land and water resources for the benefit of all society. Students will build a comprehensive knowledge of pollution prevention, waste management, and development of environmental management systems that will provide them a competitive edge in the rapidly growing field. The program requires 36 credits for completion.
Accreditation: University of Maryland University College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
#19. Arizona State University
Founded in 1885 and located on several campuses across Phoenix, Arizona, Arizona State University is a national space-grant institution and the largest public university in the country by enrollment. Arizona State University’s online campus was ranked #1 in online Student Services and Technology by U.S. News & World Report and offers more than 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
Arizona State University’s School of Sustainability offers its Master of Sustainability Leadership online and the Executive Master of Sustainability Leadership through a hybrid in-person and online option. These program teach organizational leadership skills through the lens of sustainability and offer a high degree of customization through the selection of electives to hone the program to students’s specific areas of interest in addition to the core competencies of strategy, communication, leadership, and global context. The Executive Master is designed specifically for mid-career professionals. The MSL requires 35 credits for completion while the EMSL requires 30.
Accreditation: Arizona State University is regionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Tuition: $21,000 – $24,500
#20. Pennsylvania State University
Established in 1855, Pennsylvania State University is a state-related research university with 24 statewide campuses. In 2010, the university’s enrollment, including online learners, totaled 94,300 students. Pennsylvania State University World Campus is often referred to as “Penn State Online” and is the virtual campus of Pennsylvania State University. The World Campus was founded in 1998, but Pennsylvania State University has been offering distance education courses since 1892, when it developed one of the nation’s pioneer correspondence study programs for statewide farmers.
Pennsylvania State University’s online Master of Professional Studies in Renewable Energy and Sustainability Systems is designed to prepare students as leaders in the emerging green economy. The program will develop technical depth in areas related to renewable energy, and knowledge of the applications of the technology in society, the energy economics, and the project development process. The program features a high degree of flexibility so students can design a curriculum that matches their particular interests and goals by taking 18 credits in electives focusing on wind energy, solar energy, bioenergy, and sustainability management and policy. A minimum of 30 credits are required for completion of the degree.
Accreditation: Pennsylvania State University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
#21. Virginia Tech University
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University is a public research university located in Blacksburg, Virginia on approximately 2,600 acres. Approximately 31,000 students are enrolled in over 225 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Virginia Tech was founded in 1872 as an agricultural and mechanical college, and has since evolved into the third-largest university in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Repeatedly granted accolades by the U.S. News & World Report, Virginia Tech’s internationally-renowned disciplines include engineering, agricultural and life sciences, business, architecture and urban studies, wildlife and fisheries, public administration and policy, and education.
Virginia Tech offers its Master of Natural Resources program through online delivery. The program is the graduate program of the Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability, a center within Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment. The program provides education, research, and leadership needed to prepare students and leaders in environmental and natural resource sustainability to operate in a rapidly changing world. It is a non-thesis, interdisciplinary graduate degree including a 10 day International Field Experience that provides a learning designed to enhance students’ professional capabilities and skills. A minimum of 30 credits are required for completion of the degree including 18 free electives which allow the student to tailor fit the program to their unique interests and career goals.
Accreditation: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University is regionally accredited by he Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
#22. University of Maryland—College Park
The University of Maryland—College Park is a public research university located in College Park, Maryland. It was founded in 1856 and is the flagship university of the University System of Maryland and enrolls over 37,600 students. UMCP is considered a “Public Ivy” offering an education commensurate with that of the private Ivy Leagues.
The Master of Engineering in Sustainable Energy Engineering offered through the A. James Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland—College Park is an online degree program utilizing a unique multi-disciplinary curriculum. Students have the opportunity to customize their degree through the selection of five elective courses that match their specific goals and interests. 30 credits are required for completion of the degree. No thesis is required.
Accreditation: University of Maryland—College Park is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education
#23. University of Denver
The University of Denver is a private nonprofit university founded in 1863 and is the oldest private university in the Rocky Mountain region of the U.S. The school was founded as Colorado Seminary by John Evans, a former governor of the Colorado Territory who also established the noteworthy Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. DU enrolls over 11,800 students.
The online Master of Science in Environmental Policy and Management offered through the University of Denver’s University College of Professional and Continuing Studies offers concentrations in: Energy and Sustainability, Environmental Management, Environmental Policy, Environmental Health and Safety, and Natural Resource Management. The program is designed to develop students’ skills in areas that will serve well in crafting environmental policies that impact our society. Students will gain the strategies needed to address the major environmental challenges of our time and learn how to conduct credible policy analysis, make sustainable decisions, and delivery visionary ideas for future success. The program requires a minimum of 48 quarter hours for completion.
Accreditation: The University of Denver is regionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
#24. University of Washington
Considered one of the “Public Ivies” (publicly funded universities providing quality of education comparable to that of private “Ivy League” schools), the University of Washington is a public research university located in Seattle, Washington and enrolls over 49,000 students annually. UW was founded 1861 and is one of the oldest universities located on the West Coast. U.S. News ranks the University of Washington at #48 in Best National Universities and #14 in Top Public Schools.
The University of Washington’s Department of Geography offers an online Master of Geographic Information Systems for Sustainability Management designed to teach students how to design a more sustainable world using GIS. The program is a part-time, professional program requiring two years of study and focuses on leveraging powerful GIS technologies to develop sustainable solutions to a variety of complex problems, ranging from affordable housing development to land use impacts on water equality improvement. A minimum of 45 credits are required for completion of the program. No thesis is required.
Accreditation: The University of Washington is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Higher Education.
#25. Texas A&M University
Located in College Station, Texas, Texas A&M University is the fourth largest university in the United States and is the flagship institution of the Texas A&M University System. The school was founded in 1876 as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas, but originally offered no classes in agriculture concentrating instead on classical studies, language, literature, and applied mathematics. Today the university enrolls over 62,000 students and offers degrees in over 150 courses of study. Texas A&M University has consistently been ranked a top research university by multiple national and international publications and has formal research exchange agreements with over 100 institutions in 40 countries ranking it 13th in universities with research exchange agreements abroad and student participation in study abroad programs.
Texas A&M University’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences offers a variety of online Master’s degrees including a Master of Natural Resource Development and a Master of Wildlife Science. Both are non-thesis degree programs designed for working natural resource professionals. While the MNRD focuses on training in natural resources and environmental science with a management orientation, the MWSC provides students with an understanding of the interrelationships among ecology, policy, culture, and economics as factors that influence natural resource management. Both programs require 36 credits for completion.
Accreditation: Texas A&M University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
#26. University of Wisconsin—Whitewater
The University of Wisconsin in Whitewater is a public university connected to the University of Wisconsin University System. The University was founded in 1868 as a Normal School for teacher training in the region and has since grown to offer a full range of academic programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
The online Master of Science in Environmental Safety and Health offered through the University of Wisconsin—Whitewater is focused on the needs of businesses and organizations to effectively manage complex environmental safety and health issues in the workplace. The program addresses vital issues beyond traditional regulatory compliance, as risk management, environmental stewardship and sustainability concerns receive increasing attention from employers, communities, and government. The program uses a part-time model to serve working professionals. A minimum of 30 credits are required for completion of the degree.
Accreditation: The University of Wisconsin Whitewater is regionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
#27. Green Mountain College
Green Mountain College is a private nonprofit liberal arts college with a strong emphasis on environmentalism. Green Mountain is located in Poultry, Vermont. The school utilizes a unique cross-disciplinary “Environmental Liberal Arts” curriculum that spans the natural sciences, writing, reading, history, and philosophy. The school was founded in 1834 and went through a series of transformations before arriving at its current iteration in the late 1990s when it began to focus on environmental literacy and citizenship. The school enrolls just over 700 students and offers 25 undergraduate majors as well as distance master’s programs.
Green Mountain College offers a variety of online Master’s programs in Environmental Sciences and Sustainability including: Sustainable Master of Business Administration, Master of Science in Sustainable Food Systems, Master of Science in Environmental Studies, and Master of Science in Resilient and Sustainable Communities. Each of these programs feature online coursework with a short 3-4 day annual residency which provides students the opportunity to meet and build relationships with cohort members and faculty. In addition to coursework, students are expected to apply concepts learned in class to real-world challenges in the particular community or bioregion where students live. These program require between 24 and 39 credits for completion.
Accreditation: Green Mountain College is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
Tuition: $27,300 – $30,525
#28. California State University—Fullerton
California State University—Fullerton is a comprehensive, public university in Fullerton, California. Founded in 1957 the university was originally called Orange County State College. CSUF experienced rapid growth in the first decade of the 2000s and today enrolls over 38,300 students giving it the largest student body in the California State University System and the second (in terms of enrollment in the State).
The College of Engineering and Computer Science at California State University—Fullerton offers a Master of Science in Environmental Engineering online designed to educate and prepare future leaders in environmentally related fields. The program provides students with practical information and technical knowledge on contemporary environmental topics and issues including potable water treatment wastewater treatment and disposal, water reclamation and reuse, stormwater runoff management and treatment, solid and hazardous waste management, and much more. A minimum of 30 credits are required for completion of the degree.
Accreditation: California State University—Fullerton is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
#29. North Carolina State University
Officially North Carolina State University at Raleigh, North Carolina State University is a public land, sea, and space grant institution. Part of the University of North Carolina system, NC State represents one of the corners of the Research Triangle along with Duke University and The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. NC State was founded in 1887 as an agricultural and mechanical college, and currently offers 106 bachelor’s degrees, 104 master’s degrees, 61 doctoral degrees, and enrolls almost 35,000 students. North Carolina State University is the largest university in both North and South Carolina.
North Carolina State University offers a variety of graduate level programs related to environmental science. Included are a Master of Soil Science, Master of Horticultural Science, Master of Forest Biomaterials, Master of Environmental Assessment, and Master of Environmental Engineering. While all related to providing creative solutions to environmental problems, these are each distinctive degrees with their own unique foci. Students in each of these programs will allow students to develop technical knowledge and field skills in their particular area of study. Between 30 and 36 credits are required depending on the degree being pursued.
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
In-State: $11,550 – #13,860
Out-of-State: $26,100 – $31.320
#30. Duke University
Duke University is a private research university located in Durham, North Carolina. The university was founded by Methodists and Quakers in the town of Trinity in 1838 and moved to Durham in 1924 following a generous endowment set up by electric power industrialist, James Buchanan Duke. Today the school is the 7th wealthier private university in America and enrolls over 15,000 students. Duke has consistently been placed among the top universities in the nation and world by multiple national and international publications.
Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment offers an online Master of Environmental Management program that utilizes a multidisciplinary curriculum in environmental science, engineering, policy, and business to give students insight into the many sides of environmental issues. While most of the curriculum can be completed entirely online, the program does require five short, intensive, “place-based” sessions wherein students meet peers and faculty, undergo leadership development trainings, and develop professional relationships that last beyond the duration of the program. Online coursework utilizes a combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning. A minimum of 30 credits are required for completion of the degree.
Accreditation: Duke University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
#31. John Hopkins University
John Hopkins University is a private research university in Baltimore, Maryland. The university was founded in 1876 and adopting the concept of graduate school from Germany’s Heidelberg University, which integrated teaching and research, John Hopkins University is considered the first research university in the United States. The university enrolls over 20,800 students and has been considered one of the world’s top universities throughout its history.
The Master of Science in Environmental Science and Policy offered by John Hopkins University’s Krueger School of Arts and Sciences is offered mostly online, requiring only one course to be taken on-site at the Washington D.C. campus. The program will give students a powerful understanding of where the sciences overlap and inform policy while providing insight into how policy is implemented and affects environmental outcomes. Students may choose a concentration in one of four areas: Environmental Monitoring and Analysis, Ecological Management, Environmental Management, or Environmental Planning. The program requires 30 credits for completion.
Accreditation: John Hopkins University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
#32. Villanova University
Villanova University is a private, Catholic university located in the suburbs of metropolitan Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Named after Saint Thomas of Villanova, VU is the oldest Catholic university in the state of Pennsylvania, established in 1842. Villanova is known to be a highly selective university and has ben named by multiple national publications including U.S. News and World Report, BusinessWeek, Financial Times, and the Princeton Review for it’s exceptional programs and educational offerings.
Villanova University’s College of Engineering offers a Master of Science in Sustainable Engineering available entirely online. This multi-disciplinary degree is designed to develop expertise and knowledge in the full environmental, social, and economic aspects of sustainable engineering. The unique degree will be useful for engineers and non-engineers alike, and graduates will be able to advance in areas such as corporate sustainability, project management, green construction, and more. Thesis and non-thesis options are both available for completion of the degree. A minimum of 30 credits are required in both cases.
Accreditation: Villanova University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
#33. Goucher College
Located in Towson, a suburb of Baltimore, Maryland, Goucher College is a private, nonprofit liberal arts college enrolling approximately 2,400 students. Goucher College was founded in 1885 by the Baltimore Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Goucher College is noted for its undergraduate study-abroad requirements, being just one of a few colleges nationwide with such a requirement.
The Master of Arts in Environmental Studies at Goucher College is a limited residency program with classes administered online. The program is interdisciplinary and draws from the research methodologies and perspectives of such fields as philosophy of science, sociology, applied anthropology, cultural geography, economics, media studies, political science, ecology, and social entrepreneurship. While classes are administered online, the program does require a week long intensive on-campus in Towson, Maryland at the beginning of each semester. A minimum of 45 credits are required for completion of the program.
Accreditation: Goucher College is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
#34. Long Island University
Long Island University is a private nonprofit university with locations throughout the New York metro area. LIU was founded in 1925 in Brooklyn and has since expanded to encompass five distinct campus locations. LIU has recently become known for its experiential learning programs that include student-run businesses on campus as well as startup incubators that offer young entrepreneurs opportunities for collaboration to develop business plans, find investors and grow ideas into small businesses. LIU enrolls over 18,500 students.
The College of Liberal Arts and sciences at Long Island University offers a Master of Science in Environmental Sustainability that is offered in a blended format with up to half of the coursework online. The program is designed to educate and train professionals to develop environmentally sustainable solutions for society via multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary coursework integrating the physical and social sciences. The program centers on issues specific to the Long Island/New York metropolitan region while also considering the global context. A minimum of 33 credits are required for completion of the degree.
Accreditation: Long Island University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
#35. Prescott College
Established in 1966, Prescott College is a private, liberal arts college in Prescott, Arizona with the motto: “For the Liberal Arts, the Environment, and Social Justice.” The school is well known for its environmental studies programs like Agroecology, Natural History and Ecology, Wilderness Leadership, Adventure-Based Environmental Education, and others, maintaining its dedication to nature conservation and sustainability; likewise, most of the university’s buildings are recycled and have been converted to classrooms from their prior purposes.
Prescott College offers a Master of Arts in Environmental Studies and Sustainability through a limited residency program of study. Master’s students in this program create projects that are transdisciplinary, applied, and solutions-based and that focus on real-world issues that matter to them. Graduates will be equipped to contribute to, and create ethical solutions and innovations that promote effective and responsible stewardship of our planet and its inhabitants. The program requires a minimum of 30 credits for completion.
Accreditation: Prescott College is regionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.