Degree Requirements


The curriculum of the Environmental Science and Policy MS degree has been designed with a five-course core to provide the strong foundation of environmental science and policy required of all professionals in the field. These core courses provide a rigorous study of the primary subjects affecting environmental issues.

Students focus their studies through elective of five elective courses chosen from a broad range of environmental disciplines including science, policy and regulatory-based subjects. These electives provide a rigorous, in-depth exploration of specific environmental topics.

Courses are active, intense, and current, involving a variety of learning methods and techniques. Course work prepares students for science, legislative, and management position.

Course Requirements

Prerequisite Courses

The prerequisite courses below prepare provisional students for graduate work and do not count toward degree requirements. Students must be admitted as provisional in order to enroll in these courses.

Program Course Work

  • Five of the six core courses
  • Five elective courses
  • Capstone project (optional elective)

For more information about core and elective courses, please see the Course Descriptions page. Note: All electives are not offered every semester, and the mode of delivery (on-site or online) varies. It is very important that students consult the environmental sciences and policy course schedule for specific class offerings and times by semester.

The six core courses to choose five from are:

Electives should be chosen in consultation with the student’s adviser and should accommodate individual career goals. In order to customize the ESP experience, each student should choose electives that align with their scholarly and professional interests such as courses in environmental sustainability, monitoring, planning, or management. These electives may be chosen from any combination of the environmental sciences and policy offerings. Students may also consider related courses elsewhere in Advanced Academic Programs or in the schools of Engineering, Public Health, Advanced International Studies, Business, or Education. Students are permitted, with the written consent of the director of the program, to take up to two pertinent courses outside of the ESP degree. Please refer to the Advanced Academic Programs Course Schedule for exact dates, times, locations, fees and instructors.

Tracks (Optional)

Students in the Master of Science in ESP program could choose to follow a track. The tracks are general recommendations of logical course groupings that could be pursued. Our goals to maintain flexibility of the ESP program, and allow students to choose courses that best fulfill their own interests.

Same (5) out of six (6) Core courses would be required, with electives chosen to support the desired concentration.

“Conservation Biology” Track

Sample Elective courses for the “Conservation Biology” track:

  • 420.637 Conservation Biology and Wildlife Management
  • 420.607 Plant Biogeography
  • 420.639 Landscape Ecology
  • 420.667 Analysis of Environmental & Ecological Data
  • 420.671 Global Land Use Change
  • 420.673 Ecology and Evolution of the Galapagos
  • Ecology and Conservation of African Wildlife
“International Environmental Policy” Track

Sample Elective courses for the “International Environmental Policy” track:

  • 420.605 Maritime Law and the Environment
  • 420.650 International Environmental Policy
  • 420.679 International Water: Issues and Policies
  • 420.676 Global Scarcity in Freshwater Systems: Crisis and Solutions
  • 420.671 Global Land Use Change
  • 420.666 Community Development and Sustainability in developing countries
“Sustainability” Track

Sample Elective courses for the “Sustainability” track:

  • 420.612 Sustainability Science: Concepts and Challenges
  • 420.610 Sustainable Business
  • 420.609 Agroecology
  • Ocean Sustainability
  • 420.644 Sustainable Cities
  • 420.648 Sustainable Development
  • 420.646 Transportation Policy and Smart Growth
  • 420.669 Applied Sustainability
  • 420.670 Sustainability Leadership
“Climate and Energy” Track

Sample Elective courses for the “Climate and Energy” track:

  • 420.619 Climate Dynamics
  • 420.606 Climate Justice
  • 420.665 Climate Change on the Front Lines: The Study of Adaptation in Developing Countries
  • 420.616 Environmental Consequences of Conventional Energy Generation
  • 420.674 Applied Energy Policy in the 21st Century
  • 420.704 Practical Engineering Approaches to Climate Adaptation

Residency Requirement

Many courses are offered online, but at least one ESP course must be taken in an on-site classroom or as an in-person ESP field course to fulfill the requirements of the degree. Students may choose to come to D.C. for a whole semester or opt for an intensive field course. These are offered throughout the year, but the majority are scheduled during the summer or in January. Compressed field courses require an additional fee and often include lodging, course transportation, and some food (this is variable). Students are responsible for travel to the location of their residency course. Note: The University does not have lodging facilities in D.C.

Paul Kazyak discusses his approach to our intensive field course in Applied Sustainability.

Bill Hilgartner highlights a few salient aspects of our field based Environmental Restoration course.

Capstone Project

The Capstone Project is optional ESP students. However, students in the MS in Environmental Sciences and Policy program with particular academic or professional interests, including those who are considering a Ph.D. in the future, may wish to pursue independent research by completing an independent research project. Research must be original and bring a new perspective to a field or topic; it may include analysis of previously obtained data and overview and synthesis of published interpretations of such data or original primary research in the field or lab. The general guidelines and timeline for the capstone course can be found on the ESP website.

Accelerated MS for JHU ENVS students

Please see specific requirements for this degree.

*Note: Recent changes to the number of core courses required applies to students admitted for Summer 2017 and beyond. Students admitted prior to Summer 2017 will follow the degree requirements in previous year’s academic catalog.

State-specific Information for Online Programs

Note: Students should be aware of state-specific information for online programs. For more information, please contact an admissions representative.