Environmental Psychology Degree and Training Program Overviews

Environmental psychology, also known as ecopsychology, is an interdisciplinary field aimed at improving interactions between the environment and human behavior. There are degree programs at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels.

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Essential Information

Environmental psychology has applications to behavioral psychology, architecture, geography, tourism, political science, advertising and criminology. In addition to core and elective coursework, some programs might encompass research and dissertation requirements.

For a four-year bachelor's program, applicants must have a high school diploma and a certain GPA to be considered for entry. Graduate programs typically expect prospective students to have completed a bachelor's degree in psychology or a related field. They may also expect completion of up to five certain undergraduate classes, such as social psychology, statistics, or other psychology-related topics. Master's degrees take about two years to finish while doctoral degrees could require four years of full-time study.


Bachelor of Science in Psychology

Undergraduate training programs in environmental psychology are typically found as concentrations within a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Psychology. Undergraduate students learn about research methods, personality development and conservation behavior. Students in these programs study social psychology, engineering and political science and apply concepts to real world situations, such as how they can help workplaces become safer, more creative places for employees.

Students may select courses in biological roots of behavior, environmental studies and interpersonal relationships. Elective courses in environmental psychology allow students to study applications, such as how to make hospital environments less stressful and more conducive to healing. Courses offered include:

  • Abnormal psychology
  • Cognition
  • Developmental psychology
  • Environmental studies and ethics
  • Statistics
  • Ecopsychology and sustainability

Master's Degree with a Concentration in Environmental Psychology

Graduate-level environmental psychology and ecopsychology degrees are offered through departments of psychology or natural resources. These programs are typically non-clinical and thus do not train students to become psychologists or counselors. Graduate students in environmental psychology research everything from human behavior and physiology to how noise levels in classrooms affect long-term learning in children. Topics of study include:

  • Perception
  • Research methods
  • Psychology and climate change
  • Statistics
  • Environmental activism
  • Technology's effect on behavior

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Ph.D. in Psychology

Environmental psychology programs at this level are typically concentrations or minors within broader programs in psychology or applied social psychology. Location-based psychology includes how work environments impact feelings of loneliness and claustrophobia and how city structure impacts a criminal's path along a crime spree. Research in this field can lead doctoral graduates to work for fire departments, botanical gardens, universities, planning departments and museums. Core doctoral coursework includes:

  • Cultural theories
  • Ecological concepts in psychology
  • Ethics
  • Environmental social policy
  • Statistics

Popular Careers

Graduate degrees are generally required for individuals interested in working in the field of environmental psychology. The federal government is one of the few organizations that doesn't require a graduate degree in order to qualify for a psychology job. Graduates with bachelor's degrees in psychology may find work as:

  • Community relations officers
  • Human resources assistants
  • Environmental quality coordinators
  • Statisticians
  • Environmental planning assistant

As of 2015, there were 16,600 non-clinical, non-organizational psychologists working mainly for the federal government, according to the BLS. Other places that employed a significant number of these professionals were health practitioners' and physicians' offices, as well as hospitals. To become a clinical environmental psychologist, Ph.D. graduates must obtain a license from the state in which they work. Positions for which doctoral-program graduates are eligible include:

  • Ecological counselor
  • Environmental psychologist
  • Environmental psychology professor
  • Researcher

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

In 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that from 2014 to 2024, employment in the field of psychology would grow about 19% overall. During this same period, industrial-organizational psychologists were expected to see 19% job growth. BLS reports from May 2015 place the median annual wage of clinical, counseling and school psychologists at $70,580, while the median yearly salary for non-clinical psychologists was $94,590.

Environmental psychology programs are available at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels and provide students with coursework and clinical experience about the environment and human behavior. Graduates work in a number of environments and fields.

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