What Can I Expect from an Online Master’s in Environmental Management?

Completing your master’s in environmental management degree through a distance learning program makes it easy to advance your career in a way that works for you. Attendance policies are gracious and often allow you to engage weekly at times and on days that work best for you, making it possible to still hold down a full-time job as you earn your degree. With a curriculum that meets the same standards as traditional on-campus college programs, you sacrifice nothing for the added convenience and may even pay less for your degree. Before you decide in which program you want to enroll, compare several to ensure you choose the one that will help you meet your professional goals and has requirements that work with your lifestyle.

Concentrations Offered for an Online Master’s in Environmental Management

CONCENTRATION DESCRIPTION POTENTIAL CAREERS FOR THIS CONCENTRATION
Sustainability Explores the relationship between environmental resource management and sustainability, the management of social, economic and ecological systems, and recognizing an entity’s ability to sustain itself and its environmental system. Environmental manager, sustainability manager, environmental or resource planning agent in an office setting or in the field
Ecosystem Science and Conservation Covers management and policy issues facing natural resource conservancy efforts, with an in-depth look at natural science. Environmental manager, environmental lobbyist, conservation consultant

Curriculum for an Online Master’s in Environmental Management

When choosing an online master’s in environmental management program, keep in mind that the curriculum offered by different schools is likely to vary. It’s important to look for a program that supports your career goals by including courses that focus on your professional interests. Be aware that some online programs may include a few classes that require on-campus attendance, and these may not work for you if they are out of your local range.

The concentration you choose also affects your overall curriculum, but there are some courses that most programs include. When pursuing your graduate degree in environmental management, you may encounter one of these courses, such as:

COURSES DESCRIPTION
Ecosystem Science Explores the principle concepts of ecosystems, including biodiversity, species-area relationships, patterns and process, whole-system metabolism and food web interactions.
Economics of Environmental Management Students learn how natural resource economics relates to the variety of environmental challenges we face.
Environmental Law and Policy Examine the environmental laws and policies, including how they are created, passed and enforced.
Water Resources Management Provides students with all the factors involved in today’s water resource planning, including legal aspects, current challenges, distribution and management.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Master’s Degree in Environmental Management?

Calculating the time needed to complete an online master’s in environmental management program depends on several contributing factors. Most programs require between 30 and 48 credit hours and were developed for full-time students to complete in two years. Part-time students will need to extend that time line and allow for additional semesters to make up for the fewer credit hours taken at once. Accelerated programs can cut completion time down to as little as one year by increasing the course load each semester. This can help students earn their degrees faster but can be rigorous, making it potentially unsuitable for anyone with significant work or personal obligations.

The structure of the curriculum also makes an impact, so you’ll want to check to see if the program you select is synchronous or asynchronous. Synchronous programs follow a fixed schedule and generally only include one or two possible start dates a year. This means you may have to wait for the next start date after you enroll, and you will then move through the program at a set pace with your peers. An asynchronous structure is self-paced and often offers several start dates throughout the year — sometimes as many as one each month. This kind of program can be started almost immediately, and you have the freedom to set your own pace while working through the curriculum.

Certifications and Licenses an Online Master’s in Environmental Management Prepares For

CERTIFICATION DESCRIPTION
Registered Environmental Manager The REM certification is granted through the National Registry of Environmental Professionals and provides the certification needed to manage environmental health and safety projects.
Certified Environmental Professional The CEP is offered by the Academy of Board-Certified Environmental Professionals and identifies environmental professionals who have established themselves as experts in their field. Certification is obtained by following the rigorous qualifying standards, including nine years of professional experience in your field, with five of those years in a supervisory or managerial position.

Accreditation for Online Master’s in Environmental Management

Before enrolling in an online master’s in environmental management program, check to make sure the program or school has accreditation from a respected agency. Accreditation shows that the education offered meets or exceeds the agency’s standards, ensuring your training prepares you for job placement. Accreditation is important when it comes to licensing and certification because many organizations don’t recognize a degree that comes from a school that isn’t accredited. Some employers also turn away applicants who obtained their degrees from non-accredited schools.

When checking for accreditation, keep in mind that there are three types of accrediting agencies you could find. National accrediting agencies, like the U.S. Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) or the Department of Education, offer the designation to schools that meet the country’s educational standards. Regional agencies, such as the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools or the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, limit themselves to overseeing the schools in their designated area. Accreditation from one of the six regional agencies shows the school or program meets the agency’s standards and makes it much easier to transfer any credits you earn to another accredited school should you need to switch institutions. Finally, some programs may receive accreditation from industry-specific agencies. These agencies are looking for programs that provide the training needed to turn students into competent professionals by the time they receive their degree.

Employment Outlook for Master’s in Environmental Management Graduates

Job Placement: Master’s v. Bachelor’s

Taking the time to earn your master’s degree in environmental management shows professional dedication, a trait many employers look for when they’re trying to fill an open position. The additional education that comes with a master’s degree is more than enough to shut down most of the competition with bachelor’s degrees. This means your graduate degree gives you the freedom to confidently apply for any job you choose within your industry.

Expected Salary

Entry-level salaries hover between $35,000 and $48,000 for positions in environmental management. However, the range goes up significantly, showing that careers in this field have the potential to command a respectable living wage. The table below shows the salary range for a few common job titles for graduates of a master’s in environmental management program.

Job Title Salary Range
Environmental Scientist $37,665-$74,167
Environmental Engineer $48,567-$94,834
Forester $35,978-$75,752
Hydrologist $40,801-$90,696

Source: PayScale.com

The experience and knowledge you bring to the table has a significant impact on the amount of money you can earn with an environmental management career. Taking the time to earn your master’s degree adds to your knowledge and experience, giving you the tools to negotiate a higher salary. If you look at the following table, you can see how experience within your field can almost double your salary potential over time.

Average Wage vs Experience Level for Environmental Management Careers

Source: PayScale.com

Career Opportunities

Completing your online master’s in environmental management program opens the door to a variety of professional opportunities. Along with building a career that helps protect the environment, your advanced degree gives you the opportunity to move up within your organization or seek out a better position with another company.

JOB TITLE JOB DESCRIPTION MEDIAN SALARY PROJECTED GROWTH RATE
Environmental Scientist An environmental scientist leans on the principles of natural sciences to protect the environment and improve human health. This is done by analyzing collected data to identify environmental threats and develop plans to solve environmental issues. Environmental scientists often work with businesses and government officials to influence policy. $69,400 per year 11%
Environmental Engineer Environmental engineers approach environmental problems using scientific principles from biology, engineering, soil science and chemistry. Air pollution control, recycling, public health, water pollution control and waste disposal are all issues environmental engineers work on. $86,800 per year 8%
Conservation Scientists and Foresters Conservations scientists and foresters are responsible for the management of parks, forests and range land, seeking to improve land quality. They develop plans for management of these areas, work with the public to encourage responsible stewardship, monitor forest health and regulate forest harvesting contracts. $60,970 per year 6%
Agricultural and Food Scientists roving the safety and efficiency of agricultural products is the responsibility of agricultural scientists and food scientists. By analyzing data collected on field crops and farm animals, these scientists develop solutions to improve sustainability and productivity. $62,910 per year 7%
Hydrologist Hydrologists focus on water movement on a global scale. They measure the impact of weather patterns on various bodies of water and analyze the impact water has on the environment around it. The information they gather is used to solve issues regarding water availability. $79,990 per year 10%

Professional Organizations

Professional organizations offer an excellent way to advance your career through use of their educational and networking opportunities. As an environmental professional, here are a few respected organizations that can offer you significant benefits.

National Association of Environmental Professions: The NAEP is open to all professionals who work in the environmental industry and offers its members career development tools, access to a variety of industry publications and resources, discounts on educational opportunities and hosted events to promote professional networking.

American Academy of Environmental Engineers & Scientists: The AAEES provides its members with opportunities for professional certification, a comprehensive career center, the latest in industry news and a variety of hosted professional networking opportunities throughout the year.

Financing Your Online Master’s in Environmental Management

Most online graduate degree programs are cheaper than their on-campus counter parts. However, you may still find yourself in need of financial aid to help pay for your online master’s in environmental management program. If this is the case, your first step should be filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to see if you qualify for any of the available government grants and loans. If more is needed, there are also scholarships and private loan options that could help cover the cost of your tuition. The resources below can help you begin your search for financial assistance.

Resources

Scholarships

Scholarships

Details

Dr. W. Wesley Eckenfelder Jr. Scholarship

Award: $5,000

Deadline: April 15

Eligibility: Open to graduate students enrolled full-time at an accredited college or university who have declared a major in an environmental science subject and who are U.S. citizens with at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA.

Windstar Environmental Studies Scholarship

Award: $1,000

Deadline: June 1

Eligibility: Open to students who are pursuing graduate environmental studies, have a 3.0 or higher GPA and are enrolled in an accredited U.S. college or university.