Environmental Economics Degree Programs

This article explores what it means to enroll in a bachelor's degree program in environmental economics. It provides information on admission requirements, course descriptions, career options and how to choose the right program.

Overview of Environmental Economics Bachelor's Degree Programs

Programs in environmental economics blend knowledge of natural resource science and economic theory. The goal is to learn how to use this knowledge base to analyze the decisions businesses or political institutions make in regard to the sustainable use of the natural environment. There are a few topics within environmental economics that a school could choose to focus on, including: natural resource management; reconciling sustainable business practices with delivering shareholder value; understanding complex development issues; or influencing law and policy. This article highlights important information about these programs to help you decide if this is the degree path for you.

Admission Requirements for Environmental Economics Programs

In general, the admission requirements for environmental economics programs are consistent with overall university requirements. The application process should include taking the SAT or ACT, submitting your high school transcript, and completing the university's admissions application. However, some programs might require you to wait to apply to the major until after your first year or two of college, once you've completed some general or prerequisite coursework. Prerequisites might include statistics, calculus and principles of microeconomics. This is to demonstrate that you are strong in math and have an interest in modeling and statistics, on which the practice of economics heavily relies.

Environmental Economics Program Coursework

You will gain knowledge of natural resource science and economic theory in this program, and then use it to branch into coursework that teaches you to apply it to any number of topics. Here are some courses you might see:

Environmental Economics

This course focuses on applying theories and tools of economics to problems around the use and protection of the natural environment. Theories learned in introductory microeconomics and macroeconomics courses such as those of externalities and assessing nonmarket value are directly applied here to environmental issues. This is accomplished using analytical methods and frameworks to assess, for example, the costs and benefits of international policies.

Natural Resource Economics

Natural resource economics uses similar methods and analytical tools as environmental economics, but applies them to the management of natural resources, instead of things like policy decisions and trade practices. This might include both renewable and non-renewable resources such as water, minerals, fisheries, biodiversity or forests. You will learn how to model growth and depletion rates and examine how public interest and management techniques affect natural resource availability.

Applied Econometrics

Understanding, interpreting and visualizing data are key skills for economics. Econometrics covers these data analysis skills as well as economic modeling. You will learn techniques like regression analysis, which is a way to analyze cross-section and time-series data. This course will use real quantitative and qualitative data from environmental economics studies and teach you to formulate and test hypotheses.

Environmental Law and Policy

Topics in this course include the role of various institutions -- administrative offices, courts, federal and local governments -- to form, implement and regulate environmental policies. It looks at economic approaches to legislation as well as public interest group activities. The scope of the policies and laws in this course is broad. It could include any topic in environmental or resource management, from endangered species to land use to food safety.

Corporate Management Practices and the Environment

This course could be beneficial for someone who wants to pursue a career in either consulting with businesses on environmental issues or someone who runs a business and wants or needs to take environmental impact into account. It looks at general management principles like organization, marketing and human resources management. These principles are integrated into topics of sustainability and resource economics. This course might also go in to the broader behavior of resource markets and the conduct of businesses within these markets.

How to Choose a Program in Environmental Economics

Environmental science and economics are two very broad disciplines, so it follows that there are many potential specialties within environmental economics. You should research different programs to find out what their focus is, be it the economics of agri-business, global development or corporate consulting, and choose one that fits your interest. The research interests of faculty members are another clue as to what the program's focus is and what types of research you may get to do yourself. Another important factor to research is the hands-on opportunities offered by each program. Internships, shadowing and field trips are all experiences that could influence how well-prepared you are for the job market.

Career Options for a Degree in Environmental Economics

An environmental economist might work as a consultant or for a government agency. The median pay for economists in general in May 2016 was $101,050 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The job growth is about as fast as average at 6% between 2016 and 2026. Some other potential careers in environmental economics are listed below.

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