Environmental policy analysts lend their expertise to organizations that have a stake in the health of our environment, including businesses, non-profit organizations, and government agencies. Because our understanding of the impact that human activities have on the environment is growing, keeping up on environmentally sound practices has become a full-time job for many organizations. It takes the expertise of environmental policy experts to help society tackle the challenges brought by climate change, the depletion of our natural resources, and the rise in air and water contamination. An environmental policy degree prepares students to analyze environmental policies and propose solutions to protect both the environment and society.
Environmental Policy Courses of Study
The study of the environment requires a multi-disciplinary approach that encompasses science, law, and politics. Environmental policy students will take science courses that prepare them to understand how man-made actions affect all components of our ecosystem. Students also must understand the regulatory environment that is currently in place to protect human and animal life. But most importantly, an environmental policy degree program will provide students with the tools to analyze regulations and laws that pertain to the environment and to recommend a better course of action.
An environmental policy degree program may include the following courses:
- Energy Politics
- Environmental Economics
- Environmental Law
- Environmental Policy Analysis
Students may choose a specialty to increase their understanding of a specific aspect of environmental policy. Many environmental policy degree programs offer the following areas of specialization:
- Climate Change
- Ecosystem Management
- Energy Management
- Forestry and Wildlife
- Public Lands
- Water Management
Environmental policy students will review case studies, court decisions, and regulations that influence our approach to analyzing these policy issues.
Types of Environmental Policy Degrees
Environmental policy students may choose to obtain the following degrees:
- Bachelor’s Degree
A bachelor’s degree program can be completed after four years of study and qualifies students for many entry-level positions. Obtaining a bachelor’s in environmental policy will also provide students with a strong foundation that they can use to continue on to graduate school.
Students attending a school that does not have an environmental policy degree program may be able to select environmental policy as a concentration instead. Students may major in public administration or public policy and then select public policy courses that focus on environmental topics.
- Master’s in Environmental Policy
A master’s degree is typically required for mid-level public policy positions. Students who already hold a bachelor’s degree can increase their earning potential by completing a master’s degree in environmental policy.
A Ph.D. opens the doors to top-level positions in public policy. Students with considerable work experience who are interested in research or careers in academia should consider a obtaining a doctorate degree.
Environmental Policy Careers
Policy analysis is a common career that environmental policy majors pursue. Private businesses rely on the expertise of environmental policy analysts to ensure compliance with environmental regulations. However, the federal government is a top employer of environmental policy analysts. The government relies on well-trained experts to assess the impact of laws and regulations on the environment and to recommend policy solutions to pressing environmental problems.
According to the Georgetown Public Policy institute, public policy majors can expect median earnings of $48K. However, well-qualified graduates can expect to earn a salary well above this figure. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, analysts who work for the federal government typically earn between $93K and $145K annually.
Environmental policy majors are not just limited to roles as analysts. An environmental policy degree prepares students for careers in public administration, urban planning, law, or business. No matter your career aspirations, you will find a degree in environmental policy to be a great asset.
Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2007). Policy Analysts: Shaping Society through Research and Problem-Solving.
Georgetown Public Policy Institute. (2011). The Economic Value of College Majors – Law and Public Policy.