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Master of Science in Environmental Policy and Management-Capstone Option




Program Description

This degree provides the student with curriculum and research opportunities in one of the world’s most significant science and policy issues: the environment. Students will study ecosystems management, the impact of industrialization on the environment, economics and resource availability, regulation and law, environmental ethics, landscape-level conservation, political ecology, and environmental technology and management. They also have the opportunity to focus on several emerging fields of study, including global environmental change, environmental planning, and environmental sustainability, as well as to explore a general study option. This degree is applicable for government and industry environmentally related professions. It also can serve as a foundation degree for study at the doctorate level in related fields.

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Program Objectives

In addition to the institutional and degree level learning outcomes objectives, the Master of Science in Environmental Policy and Management also seeks the following specific learning outcomes of its graduates. Graduates in this degree program will be able to:

  • Develop management strategies that incorporate environmental compliance standards and achieve organizational missions.
  • Analyze the social, environmental, political, and economic barriers to the implementation of sustainable environmental practices and programs.
  • Assess the direct and indirect costs of environmental regulation, problems, and corrective actions.
  • Use the theory and practice of environmental policy and management to develop and evaluate global and local environmental strategies and policies including analysis of environmental issues, industrial-environmental relations, public and private environmental issues, and global environmental issues.
  • Evaluate the consequences of ecological destruction on public health, productivity, and social and economic welfare.

Visit Career Services

There are a wide array of career opportunities possible in the field of environmental science working for agencies and departments at the federal, state, and county level. Many federal agencies offer positions for graduates with degrees in environmental science. Some of these agencies include, but are not limited to, the Environmental Protection Agency, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Natural Resource Conservation Service, and Department of Defense. Concentrations in global environmental management, environmental planning, and environmental sustainability prepare graduates for high level environmental manager positions in federal, state, and local agencies, consultancies, and nonprofit organizations dedicated to both global and national environmental protection. The type of jobs associated with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife concentration are biological technician, park ranger (federal, state, county, and local), game warden, environmental technician/assistant, field technician, wildland firefighter, federal law enforcement officer, as well as many others.

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Useful Skills within the Environmental Science Field

Managing Physical Resources - The ability to make appropriate use of equipment and materials to get a job done.

Monitoring Equipment
- Watching gauges and any other types of indicators to make sure equipment is running properly.

Quality Control
- Inspecting and testing products or services to assure they meet the desired specifications.

Decision Making
- Weighing out the options in a situation or a problem and logically choosing the best course of action.

Problem Solving
- Ability to identify a problem, review related information, develop and evaluate options, and implement a solution.

Reading Comprehension
-Ability to understand complex written paragraphs, instructions, or reports.

- Talking, giving speeches, or speaking in a group to convey information, explain ideas, or give instructions.

- Using logic to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.

- Paying attention to what other people are saying, and taking time to understand the points being made.

Managing Money
- Determining how much money is required to get a job done, allocating those monies, and then accounting for all expenditures.

Managing Time
- Allocating and budgeting your time for different tasks so that things get done when needed.


Career Options
Career Spotlight: Environmental Specialists and Scientists

An environmental specialist or scientist is someone who uses their knowledge of the natural sciences to protect the environment. 

Examples of Environmental Specialists and Scientists

Environmental health specialists study how the environment affects human health. They could study food safety or disease, for example. 

Environmental protection specialists study how humans affect their environment. For example, these specialists concern themselves with air pollution and how to control, prevent, and find a solution to the pollution problems facing the environment. 

Environmental scientists focus on a specific science field, such as chemistry, and how that science affects the environment. 

Career Path

Most environmental specialists and scientists start their career out of college in laboratories and agencies as research assistants or technicians. With experience and possibly advanced degrees, the opportunity for growth within this field is high. 

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition,
Getting Started: Internships

Gaining real-life experience is an ideal way to start a new career. The career services website has an extensive list of internships and fellowships. Browse through the internships; they are organized by interest or by federal program. 

There are government-organized internship programs which provide students or recent graduates the opportunity to gain real-life experience. Many require students to maintain either a half-time or full-time student status. The best ways to identify potential opportunities such as these is to contact branch offices directly, to search, or to look at the agencies’ career portals. Keep in mind that these positions are not always posted online, so direct contact with the agency is key. For example, please review the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge Complex Internships and Volunteer opportunities with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

The Pathways Program is a federal initiative that offers internship programs for current students as well as training and career development opportunities for recent graduates. Recent graduates must apply within two years of degree or certificate completion (except for veterans; due to their military service obligation, they will have up to six years to apply). The internship program for current students replaces the former Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) and Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP).

The Presidential Management Fellows Program (PMF)
PMF is designed to attract outstanding federal service members from a wide variety of academic disciplines who have a clear interest in, and commitment to, a career in the analysis and management of public policies and programs. To be eligible, an individual must be a graduate student completing or expected to complete, during the current academic year, an advanced degree. Graduate students who have had their degree conferred in the preceding two years from the opening of the vacancy announcement are also eligible for PMF. 

The Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP)
WRP is coordinated by the Office of Disability Employment Policy and the U.S. Department of Defense, and aims to provide summer work experience and, in some cases, full-time employment to college students with disabilities. The program develops partnerships with other federal agencies, each of which makes a commitment to provide summer jobs and a staff recruiter. Each year, recruiters interview about 1,500 students with disabilities at college and university campuses across the nation and develop a database listing the qualifications of each student.

Getting Hired: Government Agencies, Organizations, and Search Engines

There are several government agencies and organizations that seek candidates with degrees in environmental science. The list below provides some examples of those federal agencies. Each position within the federal government is classified under a series of numbers. For example, the “Natural Resources Management and Biological Sciences Group” is within the 0400 series. You can narrow down the exact series number based on your interests and search for it on across hundreds of federal agencies. Click here to see a list of federal positions by major.

Bureau of Land Management
U.S. Department of Agriculture
U.S. Department of Defense
U.S. Department of the Interior

National Park Service
Natural Resources Conservation Service
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

While many of the major job search engines will have positions in several fields to choose from, the list below is specific to the environmental science field.

Ecological Society of America (ESA)
Environmental Career Center
Environmental Career Guide
Environmental Careers Organization

Student Conservation Association (SCA)
Sustainable Business Opportunities


Keeping Current: Professional Organization and Associations
Conferences and Expositions

American Water Works Association Conference and Exposition
June 7-10, 2015
Anaheim, Calif.

Ecological Society of America 99th Annual Meeting
July 13-25, 2015
Orlando, Fla.

NAEP 2015 Annual Conference
April 13-16, 2015
Honolulu, Hawaii

NEHA 2015 Annual Conference
July 13-15, 2015
Orlando, Fla.

SACNAS 2015 National Conference
Oct. 29-31, 2015
Washington, D.C.

Sustainable Brands 2015 Conference
June 1-4, 2015
San Diego, Calif.

The Wildlife Society Annual Conference
Oct. 17-21, 2015
Winnipeg, Manitoba

Get Connected: Social Media

Environmental Science Program - LinkedIn

Quick Links

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Fish and Wildlife Management Total Credits - 36 Hours
Core Requirements
18 Hours

Note:  EVSP500 - Research Methods for Environmental Science and Policy is the required first course in this program.

Research Methods for Environmental Science and Policy
3 hours

This course presents the research methods commonly used by environmental scientists and professionals. The course will prepare the student to understand the scientific method, the principles of research design, and the statistical analysis of data. The course is intended to provide the student with a foundation in research methods that will be employed throughout the their graduate program

Environmental Management
3 hours

This course focuses on the analysis and resolution of complex environmental management issues. Environmental Management investigates the use of management tools and strategies to resolve complex environmental problems and controversies, including application of adaptive management, structured decision-making, and negotiation principles, and incorporating stakeholders, economic drivers, and the human element. Environmental leadership, collaboration, and conflict resolution will be emphasized, with due consideration to the use of sound scientific data in environmental decision making. Students will be expected to use critical thought, innovation, and creativity to formulate an adaptive management plan for a highly controversial environmental issue or policy as their course final project.

Environmental Economics
3 hours

This course is a qualitative and quantitative study of the public and private economic costs and effects of environmental programs, industrialization, regulation, and international and national environmental policies, among other issues.

Environmental Policy, Regulation, and Law
3 hours

This course is a study of the major legal, regulatory, and policy framework that encompasses environmental programs and projects in the United States and with international political, commercial, and non-governmental institutions. The primary learning approach used in this course will be case studies.

Environmental Ethics
3 hours

This course is an advanced study of environmental issues from a moral and philosophical approach. Issues raised in the course and through student research and writing will include: the moral obligation or lack thereof, to preserve and protect the environment; the ethical presumptions that underlie environmental policy; the traditional theories of moral philosophy applicable to contemporary environmental problems; and the potential for a new concept of the relationship between humanity and nature.

Environmental Toxicology
3 hours

This course presents an introduction to the dynamics of ecosystems and the effects of toxic substances on its living and nonliving components, and incorporating human health issues and concerns. Students will examine the regulatory framework for environmental contaminants issues and detail the federal regulations, policies, and guidelines under which current environmental remediation is done. A key aspect of the course will be the application of risk assessment principles through case studies to gain an understanding of how to develop remediation plans and restoration alternatives that meet or exceed established regulatory guidelines.

Concentration Requirements
12 Hours
Fisheries Management
3 hours

This course examines the principles and theory of fisheries management with major emphasis on the human dimension in fisheries management, fishery assessment, population dynamics, and common management practices. Course Objectives: • Apply ecological concepts and principles to problems in fisheries management. • Select and apply the quantitative methods of fisheries assessment. • Assess the habitat requirements of both common and threatened and endangered fisheries resources. • Apply a variety of methods and techniques used to manage fish populations and their habitats. • Apply the concept of ecosystem management to fisheries management activities. • Analyze the regulations and issues (social, economic, ethical, and ecological) in the management and conservation of fisheries resources.

Wildlife Management
3 hours

This course examines the principles of managing wildlife resources with emphasis on the history of wildlife resources in the United States, population ecology, wildlife values, and the administration of wildlife resources and resources agencies. Course Objectives: • Apply ecological concepts and principles to problems in wildlife management and conservation. • Discriminate between the various methods of estimating population abundance, growth, and survivorship. • Assess the habitat requirements of both common and threatened and endangered species. • Assess the role of collaborative efforts in the management of wildlife populations. • Apply the concept of ecosystem management to wildlife conservation and management activities. • Analyze regulations and issues (social, economic, ethical, and ecological) in the management and conservation of wildlife populations.

Restoration Ecology
3 hours

This course will examine the concept of restoration ecology, which employs science, applied techniques, and environmental design principles to restore ecological processes and biological communities on disturbed, degraded, or altered landscapes. Students will conduct scientific study and explore techniques used in restoring endangered species, native prairie, rare plants, riparian areas, streams, rivers, lakes, wetlands, watersheds, woodlands, and wildlife habitat. Course Objectives: • Explain the philosophy, scientific foundation, and challenges of restoration ecology. • Apply the principles of restoration ecology through the development of a detailed restoration plan. • Analyze habitat requirements, ecosystem function, and anthropocentric influences to determine the restoration approach for a species or population. • Assess the various scales of restoration (organism to landscape) to develop a holistic approach to ecosystem restoration and management. • Analyze the impacts and threat of climate change on ecosystems.

Conservation Biology
3 hours

This course examines the development of major areas in conservation-oriented research that include patterns of biodiversity, extinction, conservation genetics, conservation of populations, communities and landscapes, and ecological sustainability. Course Objectives: • Describe the processes of extinction, species conservation, and biodiversity. • Analyze the regulations, policies, and treaties that support biological conservation. • Assess the role of conservation genetics theory in the preservation of biodiversity. • Select and apply quantitative methods to conduct for population viability analyses. • Identify potential management strategies that incorporate the human dimensions in conserving species. • Develop defendable strategies for conservation of a species or a system of concern.

Watershed Management
3 hours

In recent years, water resource management in the United States has begun a shift away from top-down, government agency-directed decision processes toward a collaborative approach of negotiation and problem solving. Rather than focusing on specific pollution sources or specific areas within a watershed, this course will present this new process, considering the watershed as a whole, and seeking solutions to an interrelated set of social, economic, and environmental problems. Through readings, discussions, and current and historical case studies, students will explore a wide range of threats to the productivity and health of watersheds and explore new, collaborative approaches to watershed management.

Landscape Ecology and Planning
3 hours

Landscape planning and ecology is a rapidly developing area of study that explicitly examines the effects of spatial pattern and scale on ecological processes that unfold over areas of several square miles or larger. Thus, landscape ecology and planning provides many concepts, tools, and approaches that will enhance the effectiveness of endeavors such as watershed management, ecosystem management, design of conservation reserves and green infrastructure, and smart growth. The goal of this course is to give students a firm grasp of the concepts of landscape ecology and planning and how they can be applied to enhance the effectiveness of environmental policy, management, regulation, and assessment.

Environmental Impact Analysis
3 hours

This course focuses on the study and review of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) and related environmental legislation. Emphasis will be on the practical, rather than the theoretical, application of NEPA requirements. Students will conduct detailed analyses of the environmental assessment process, and assess the environmental, societal, and economic impacts of large-scale federal projects and programs. Course assignments will require students to write and review environmental impact documents, formal letters of comment, and procedural documents.

Fish and Wildlife Seminar
3 hours

This course will consist of an internship or practicum at a park, refuge, or other land managed for fish and wildlife or at an approved non-profit organization that allows the student to gain field experience in the discipline. The experiential or practical component of the class aims to apply learning in an aspect of interest related to the field of fish and wildlife management. It is understood to be a supervised practicum that requires approval by APUS before entering into a relationship with the organization. The selection of an organization or site for the practicum must relate to the content of the student’s course. Goals of the applied practicum seminar will be submitted by the student for approval to the Instructor and Program Director. The practicum will serve as an opportunity to experience the practice of an area of fish and wildlife management related to the focus of the student’s degree. This seminar should be completed in one of the student’s last few semesters. Course Objectives: • Apply ecological concepts of fish and wildlife management in applied situations. • Collaborate with professional fish and wildlife managers to implement a project or program. • Demonstrate scientific writing and professional speaking skills. • Analyze contemporary fish and wildlife management problems and develop appropriate approaches to conservation of species and habitats. • Critique fish and wildlife management techniques and methods in a field context. • Exhibits professionalism in the field of fish and wildlife management.

Final Program Requirement
3 Hours
Environmental Policy and Management Capstone
3 hours

The Master's Capstone Seminar option includes a thesis, or a major research project or paper. This course may not be taken until all other courses are COMPLETED and student has a 3.0 GPA.

Graduate Electives
3 Hours
Electives are typically courses available at your degree level that are not currently required as a part of your degree program/academic plan. Please visit the catalog to view a complete listing of courses.

Total Credits (36 Hours)
Program Completion Rates, Median Debt and More

View more details regarding our graduation rates, the median debt of students who completed the program, and other important information.


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