Students can earn environmental leadership training and certificate programs or master's degree programs in environmental studies. Graduate programs usually allow students to choose a specific concentration like environmental leadership, education, health or resource conservation.
ELPs have varying prerequisites for admission. Some training programs allow high school students or community members to register. For others, primarily certificate programs, applicants are usually required to be current students at the university, and they may need to be majoring in a field related to environmental studies. Master's degree program applicants must be experienced environmental professionals who have a bachelor's degree in a related field. These programs may last from three weeks to two years, depending on the level chosen.
Environmental Leadership Training and Certificate Programs
Environmental training programs are available to students at varying levels of education. Participants can learn through lectures, debates, panels, service-learning projects, group activities and field trips in environmental problem-solving. Environmental leaders aim to decrease environmental problems related to socioeconomic status or gender, conserve resources, increase environmental education, restore habitats and species, monitor various aspects of the environment and improve the environmental, social and economic health of their communities and others throughout the world.
Many ELPs do not have traditional classes, but there are important subjects that are covered in other formats. They can attain leadership, networking, report writing and presentational skills. Some of the topics that are included in these training programs can include:
- Environmental policy
- Water sanitation and treatment
- Sustainable lifestyles
- Climate change
- Green planning
Master's Degree in Environmental Studies
A master's degree program in environmental studies trains students in a variety of subjects, including environmental problems. Schools may offer Master of Arts (M.A.) or Master of Science (M.S.) degrees, depending upon the program's focus. Areas of study such as environmental leadership or environmental education would more likely result in an M.A. degree, while environmental health or resource conservation would probably result in an M.S. degree. To finish some master's programs, students usually complete a research or community development project that culminates in a report or a thesis.
Courses in writing or speech may be necessary for environmental studies programs so leaders can effectively communicate with employers, lawmakers and the public. Most classes are specifically related to some aspect of the environment. The particular courses that students choose depend on their concentrations, which can include subjects like environmental biology, resource management and environmental policy. Common courses may include:
- Environmental law
- Natural resource conservation
- Environmental health and hazards
- Urban environmental planning
Popular Career Options
Numerous businesses, government organizations, nonprofit organizations and other institutions are converting to more sustainable operations and practices. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, environmental scientists as a whole made a mean annual salary of $73,930 in May 2015. Environmental studies graduates may be hired by various employers to fill jobs such as:
- Environmental planner
- Environmental consultant
- Environmental manager
Some certificate program participants have already earned degrees and have chosen an ELP as a continuing education option. High school students who have participated in an ELP and are entering college may choose an undergraduate major in biology or earth science. Those who hold bachelor's degrees can further their education in a master's degree program, which is more likely than an undergraduate program to focus on environmental leadership.
Graduates of master's degree programs can go on to earn doctoral degrees in environmental science and management. These programs could qualify students for advancement in the field, as well as positions in academia or research.
Typically, students interested in environmental leadership should first earn a bachelor's degree and then pursue environmental leadership training and certificate programs or master's degree programs. Graduates of these programs are qualified to work as environmental consultants, planners and managers.