Program in Environmental Science and Policy School of International and Public Affairs Columbia University

Program in Environmental Science and Policy School of International and Public Affairs Columbia University

New York, NY
student ratio
total students
Not Reported
average amount to complete degree
November 1
fall application deadline
Not Reported
acceptance rate
1 Degree Offered
degrees offered


MPA in Environmental Science and Policy

Students enrolled in the Master of Public Administration in Environmental Science and Policy program are awarded an MPA degree from Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) after a single year of intensive study. The program is affiliated with The Earth Institute, a Columbia University research institution dedicated to finding solutions for sustainable development and addressing some of the world's most difficult problems. The curriculum, designed by The Earth Institute and SIPA, requires students to complete a total of 54 points over three semesters, starting the day after Memorial Day.

Two fundamental insights shape this master's program: the realization that institutional, social, and economic processes interconnect to both sustain and endanger the planet and the need for professionals who can maintain the health of this interconnected system. Only by combining an understanding of earth systems issues with management strategies will it be possible to cope with the threats to planetary sustainability.

Career Opportunities for MPA Degree Holders

Upon graduating from the MPA Program in Environmental Science and Public Policy, students are prepared to excel in a variety of professional positions in government, private, and non-profit sectors to address the environmental issues that threaten the long-term sustainability of life on Earth.

Since 2002, the MPA in Environmental Science and Policy program has given our 682 graduates the hands-on experience and the analytical and decision-making tools to implement effective environmental and sustainable management policies. Alumni have advanced to jobs in domestic and

international environmental policy arenas, and work in the government, private, and nonprofit sectors. Their work focuses on issues of sustainability, resource use, and global change, and the fields include air, water, climate, energy efficiency, food, agriculture, transportation, and waste management. They work as consultants, advisers, project managers, program directors, policy analysts, teachers, researchers, and environmental scientists and engineers.

MPA Program Curriculum

The intensive study begins in the summer term with natural science courses, including Ecology and Urban Ecology, Climatology, Risk Assessment and Toxicology, Environmental Chemistry and Hydrology. Additionally students enroll in an Earth Systems and Environmental Policy course as an introduction to the field of Environmental Policy. In the fall and spring, students take the core curriculum which focuses on sustainability management, financial management, microeconomics, and quantitative techniques, all of which provides the skills for developing policy and managing public organizations. Physical and social sciences are also linked throughout the program so that students gain an integrated understanding of earth systems and sustainable development.

The Workshops in Applied Earth Systems Management and in applied Earth Systems Policy Analysis are a key part of the curriculum in the program.

The summer and fall semester workshops emphasize management issues. Students explore a piece of proposed, but not yet enacted, state, federal, or local environmental law (or a treaty or U.N. resolution), and develop a plan to implement and manage the new program. In the summer, the workshop focuses on the science aspects of the management problem, while in the fall students work to complete the operational plan for implementing the program. In the spring semester, new groups are formed and students work on projects for real world governmental or nonprofit clients. The students complete the workshop by writing a report that analyzes an actual environmental policy or managerial problem faced by their client.

Faculty and Research

The MPA in Environmental Science & Policy program faculty members are experts in their fields of study and come from a variety of professional backgrounds including management, consulting and government work. Their research spans an extensive range of subjects including development of environmental movements, ecology, economic and political development, energy and nuclear waste policy, environmental justice, global climate change, marine science, plant community ecology, and urban policy and politics.

For Faculty profiles, please visit Columbia's website at

MPA Program Costs and Financial Assistance Programs

The program's tuition and fees for 2014-2015 total $71,615.

Additional costs may vary according to personal choices. For more information about the cost of the program, please visit

Applicants who are citizens or permanent residents of the United Sates are typically eligible to receive federal Stafford student loans. Applicants may also finance their education through private loans and scholarships and fellowships from independent organizations.

In addition, the School of International and Public Affairs and Earth Institute at Columbia University awards fellowships and scholarships to a limited number of incoming students (domestic and international). These awards are based on both merit and need.

If applications are submitted by the November 1 or January 15 deadlines, students will be considered for partial fellowship awards from the program.

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Higher Education at Its Best

Columbia University consistently ranks in the top Universities according to US News and World Report (#4 in 2012). The Environmental Science and Policy Program was ranked #3 for graduate programs in environmental policy and management within the category of Public Affairs.

Graduate Student Experience at Columbia University

Columbia University offers a wide-variety of student organizations, a well-equipped fitness center, and graduate student housing.

New York City offers an extensive array of cultural, recreational, and entertainment options such as Central Park, Broadway, and the Lincoln Center of Performing Arts.

Columbia University

Established in 1754, Columbia University in the City of New York is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York and the fifth oldest in the United States. With over 250 years of experience in higher learning, this esteemed university is the academic home to over 4,000 faculty members and more than 24,000 students who originate from 150 countries.

The university emphasizes cutting-edge research and first-rate academics and includes 3 undergraduate colleges, 14 graduate and professional schools, and 4 affiliated schools. Because of its unyielding commitment to scholarship and diversity, students gain the knowledge, abilities, and confidence needed to excel professionally and contribute to the global community.

Library and Computing Services

Columbia University's wide-array of academic resources includes a comprehensive library system and computer services. Its library system -- one of the tenth largest academic libraries in the country -- includes 22 libraries, 7.5 million volumes, and 84,000 serials as well as broad collections of electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, and other non-print formats.

Location & Contact

Program in Environmental Science and Policy

School of International and Public Affairs
Columbia University

420 West 118th Street, Suite 1408 MC 3328
New York, NY 10027
United States

Dr. Steven Cohen


Phone: 212-854-3142
Fax: 212-864-4847

Sarah Tweedie

Assistant Director

Phone: 212-851-0261

Request More Info

Degrees & Award

  • Degrees Offered
    • Major Degree Levels Offered
    • Environmental Sciences Master of Public Administration (MPA)
  • Degrees Awarded
    • Master's Degrees 62
    • Doctoral Degrees Not reported
    • First Professional Degrees Not reported
    • Other Advanced Degrees Not reported
    • * Shows the number of degrees awarded for the last academic year that data was reported.
  • Earning Your Degree
    • Part-time study available? No
    • Evening/weekend programs available? No
    • Distance learning programs available? No
    • Terminal master's degree available? Not reported
  • Degree Requirements
    • Master's Degrees
    • Doctoral Degrees Not reported
    • First Professional Degrees Not reported
    • Other Advanced Degrees Not reported


  • Acceptance Rate
    • Applied Not Reported
    • Accepted Not Reported
    • Acceptance Rate Not Reported
    • Enrolled Not Reported
  • Applying
    • Application Fee - Domestic $95
    • Application Fee - International $95
    • Electronic applications accepted? Yes
    • Applications processed on a rolling basis? Yes
  • Application Deadlines
    • Type Domestic International Priority Date
    • Fall deadline November 1st November 1st Yes
    • Winter deadline January 14th January 15th Yes
    • Spring deadline February 15th February 15th Yes
  • Entrance Requirements
    • Master's DegreesGRE, previous course work in biology and chemistry, and earth sciences (recommended), economics (strongly recommended)
    • Doctoral's DegreesNot Reported
    • First-Professional's DegreesNot Reported
    • Other Advanced DegreesNot Reported
    • International DegreesTOEFL required

Tuition & Fees

  • Tuition & Fees *
    • Tuition & FeesNot Reported
    • *Average dollar amount (tuition & fees) required to complete the degree
  • Financial Support
    • Financial award applicants must submitFAFSA
    • Application deadlines for financial awardsJanuary 15
    • Types of financial support availableFellowships, Federal Work-Study, Scholarship and/or loans

Student Body

  • Gender
    • Total Graduate Students70
    • Female Percentage64%
    • Male Percentage36%
  • Participation
    • Total Graduate Students70
    • Part-time Percentage0%
    • Full-time Percentage100%
  • Ethnicity
    • Hispanic / Latino1%
    • Black / African American1%
    • White / Caucasian70%
    • American Indian / Alaskan Native0%
    • Asian16%
    • Native Hawaiian / Other Pacific Islander0%
    • Two or more races0%
    • Unknown12%


  • Faculty Breakout
    • Total Faculty18
    • Full-time Percentage44%
    • Part-time Percentage56%
    • Female Percentage50%
    • Male Percentage50%


  • Existing Research
    • Focus of faculty researchEcological management of enclosed ecosystems vegetation dynamics, environmental policy and management, energy policy, nuclear waste policy, environmental and natural resource economics and policy, carbon sequestration, urban planning, environmental risk assessment/toxicology, environmental justice
    • Externally sponsored research expenditures last yearNot Reported