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MS in Environmental Science and Policy

Photo by Efe Kurnaz on Unsplash

If you are interested in this program, please reach out to Director of the MS in Environmental Science and Policy Program, Dr. Brian Helmuth, to talk.

Northeastern’s new Master’s in Environmental Science and Policy, a joint program between the College of Science and the College of Social Sciences and Humanities, provides interdisciplinary training and environmental problem-solving expertise to the next generation of environmental professionals. The program is co-taught by faculty in the Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences, in the COS, and faculty from the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs in the CSSH.

Many critical challenges of our time relate to the complex and multi-layered interactions between humans and our environment. Human society is becoming increasingly aware of its reliance on natural ecosystems and the services they provide—such as food production, carbon sequestration, nutrient cycling—and yet human activities continue to compromise the delivery of these services at an accelerating rate. Striving toward sustainability and resilience of coupled human-natural ecosystems is among the greatest challenges confronting our society because it mandates a major shift in the prevailing way of life, reaching into the institutional systems that involve production, transportation, urban and suburban development, and governmental regulation.

“As societies seek solutions to environmental challenges, the integration of science and policy is becoming increasingly vital. This interdisciplinary program will train professionals to meet these challenges, providing the skills necessary to navigate the often complex interface of cutting edge science and its implementation into policy.”

— Brian Helmuth, Director, Environmental Science and Policy MS Program, Professor, Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences and School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs


The program emphasizes a broadly interdisciplinary and synthetic approach that integrates knowledge in environmental science (conservation biology, climate change, fisheries science, ecosystem function, biodiversity, and restoration ecology) with social sciences (environmental sociology, economics, public policy and development) and humanities (environmental history, philosophy, and ethics). The goal is to equip professionals with the substantive breadth in knowledge and skills necessary for integrated analysis in this era of global change, and to empower environmental professionals to think critically about the underlying causes of environmental problems, the reciprocal relationship between coupled human-natural ecosystems, and the range of potential policy approaches available to decision-makers to address these critical challenges.


Degree Requirements

The Environmental Science and Policy program is a 36 semester hour Master’s degree whose curriculum includes the requirements listed below. The acquisition of relevant skills will occur by requiring four courses in areas such as GIS, statistics, spatial planning, and experimental design. The emphasis on practical problem solving will be addressed by enabling students to tap into the problems facing organizations and practitioners in the field of environmental science and public policy.

Course Requirements:
Environmental Science and Policy Seminar: Two courses to be taken in the fall and spring of the first year, one each semester. Creates a unifying cohort experience for students while providing background information of central importance for the program as a whole. These courses will provide foundational content in Environmental Science and Policy including natural science, social science, and policy. Students will be introduced to coupled social-ecological systems, with a focus on the complex interactions among human systems, natural ecosystems, and technological systems.

Skills courses: Students will select three skills courses from variety of skills-based offerings including statistics, GIS, spatial planning, and experimental design.

Electives: The remaining credits (typically four additional courses) will include elective courses that students will select based on their area of interest.

Check out the course list here.

Admission Criteria and Process

This program is available either to those applying with an undergraduate degree in hand or those that complete their undergraduate degree before the start of the program.

Students may start in either the fall or the spring.

Application materials must be sent directly via the Apply Yourself website, and will be forwarded to the program’s Admissions Committee with representatives from both College of Science and College of Social Sciences and Humanities. Admissions standards will be based on an assessment of undergraduate academic record, relevant work experience, a written statement, and letters of reference.

All applicants must submit the following materials:

  1. An online application form;
  2. A one- to two-page personal statement describing their relevant academic and professional experiences and interest in the program;
  3. Submit unofficial transcripts for all institutions attended. Official transcripts for all institutions attended are required of all enrolled students by the first day of the entry term.
  4. Three letters of recommendation (at least two of which must be academic references)
  5. Proof of English Proficiency for all applicants (from one of the following):
    • Degree earned or in progress at an U.S. institution – or –
    • Degree earned or in progress at an institution where English is the only medium of instruction – or –
    • Official exam scores from either the TOEFL iBT, IELTS, or PTE exam (Recommended scores for TOEFL, IELTS or PTE: 100 iBT, 250 CBT, 600 PBT TOEFL score; 7.0 IELTS score; 68 PTE score)



  • International Deadline: June 1
  • To be considered for a Fellowship: March 31
  • Domestic Deadline: August 15


  • International Deadline: October 1
  • To be considered for a Fellowship: October 15
  • Domestic Deadline: December 15

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