Master of Arts in Environmental & Sustainability Policy

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The Master of Arts in Environmental and Sustainability Policy (MA-ESP) at the Trachtenberg School offers an interdisciplinary approach to environmental and sustainability studies. This STEM program prepares students to enter and excel in environmental policy careers in government, nonprofit organizations, the private sector, and environmental advocacy groups.

Students will take courses in the areas of science, law, policy, culture and ethics, economics, research, and more. The program curriculum is integrative, flexible, and reflects the knowledge and skills required of environmental policy leaders.  

The program culminates in a capstone project, during which students collaborate in small groups on a pro bono product for a client of their choice.

Program Highlights

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The ESP curriculum draws on disciplines including environmental economics, environmental law, public policy, research methods and a two-semester environmental science course. This STEM program teaches students to craft policy using science-based evidence, understand economic incentives and develop a clear-eyed understanding of environmental law and politics.

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Practical and Theoretical

The curriculum blends theory and practical experience, culminating in a professional, client-oriented capstone project based on a real-world environmental policy issue. Through group work, students gain experience collaborating on environmental policy issues.

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Tailored to You

Master's students can customize their coursework around the required core curriculum by choosing electives from virtually any academic department in the Columbian College. Additionally, GW offers courses at consortium partner schools including American University, George Mason University and Georgetown University.


MA-ESP Course Requirements

The MA-ESP curriculum consists of 36 credit hours. Full-time students typically complete the MA-ESP in two years. Part-time students complete the degree in three to four years. The MA-ESP program is available at the George Washington University's Foggy Bottom campus in downtown Washington, D.C. It is not available as a distance-learning program.

Students complete a common core and select elective coursework in a field of study tailored to their unique interests and career objectives. Other core requirements provide the broad intellectual base and tools necessary for making multidisciplinary environmental and resource decisions.

Note: Students who feel that their prior undergraduate coursework duplicates one of the core requirements may seek a waiver of the requirement. If approved, an elective course can be taken instead. All core courses and most electives are three credits. Please also note that some courses outlined below may have prerequisite requirements.

The following requirements must be fulfilled:

The general requirements stated under Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, Graduate Programs.

36 credits, including 24 credits in required courses and 12 credits in elective courses.

The following requirements must be fulfilled: 36 credits, including 24 credits in required courses and 12 credits in elective courses.

PPPA 6140Introduction to Environmental Law
PPPA 6066U.S. Environmental Policy
or IAFF 6151 Environmental Policy
One course in physical or life sciences selected from the following:
PPPA 6101Environmental Sciences I: Physical Sciences
or PPPA 6102 Environmental Sciences II: Life Sciences
or PUBH 6011 Environmental and Biological Foundations of Public Health
One course in ethics and culture selected from following or similar course selected in consultation with advisor:
PHIL 6281Environmental Philosophy and Policy
or PMGT 6428 Cultural Aspects of Global Engagement
Economics and tools courses
PPPA 6002Research Methods and Applied Statistics *
ECON 6237Economics of the Environment and Natural Resources
And one additional economics and tools course selected from the following:
PPPA 6006Policy Analysis
PPPA 6007Microeconomics for Public Policy I **
PPPA 6013Regression Methods for Policy Research
PPPA 6014Microeconomics for Public Policy II
PPPA 6015Benefit-Cost Analysis
PPPA 6016Public and Nonprofit Program Evaluation
PPPA 6020Decision Modeling for Public Policy
PPPA 6021Data Visualization
PPPA 8022Econometrics for Policy Research
PPPA 8023Mixed Methods in Research Design
PPPA 6198Environmental Resource Policy Capstone
or PPPA 6008 MPA/MPP Capstone
12 credits of approved courses from various University departments selected in consultation with the advisor.

*Students with a strong statistics background can request to be exempt from taking PPPA 6002 and take an additional 3-credit economics and tools course from the list above.

**Students with limited economics background must take PPPA 6007. PPPA 6007 must be taken before ECON 6237 and students may substitute ECON 6217 for PPPA 6007.