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Environmental Studies

Program Information

The MA degree in Environmental Studies prepares students to address complex environmental problems using a highly interdisciplinary approach. The program prepares students in the analysis, development, conservation, and management frameworks of environmental resources for careers in business, government, planning, consulting, teaching, and research. 

Students choose from two tracks:

  1. A two-year research track culminating in an individual thesis or field project; or
  2. A one-year applied, cohort-based track in Urban Planning.


Environmental Policy

Emphasizes environmental policy and especially the ecological, economic, political, and social factors that affect environmental governance processes.


Focuses on the science of place and space and links the social and natural sciences together, studying the relationships between human activity and natural systems.

Urban Planning

Concentrates studies in processes of urban planning and decision making with a combination of sustainable design, law, and policy. For more information about the one-year cohort option in urban planning, see the Urban Planning page.

Energy Policy

Emphasizes coursework in energy system transitions, stakeholder engagement, advanced energy policy, and environmental politics/policy.


Students who graduate from the Environmental Studies Graduate Program will be able to:

  • Critically understand an environmental issue using appropriate knowledge
  • Investigate that environmental issue using an interdisciplinary framework
  • Effectively communicate through written, visual, and oral means
  • Independently design, implement, and complete a research project

Application Requirements

  • All applicants must complete the Graduate School's ApplyWeb application and pay the $100 application fee.
  • Within the application you will be prompted to upload an unofficial transcript from each institution attended. If admitted, you will be asked to provide official transcripts.
  • Additional application materials are specified below. Applications will not be forwarded to the department for review until all required materials have been received by the Graduate School.
  • International Applicants: Please review the requirements for information regarding Degree Equivalency, English Language Proficiency and student VISA requirements.

Additional Application Requirements

  • Three (3) Letters of Reference
  • Statement of Purpose: 1‐2 pages addressing the following:
    1. Which specialization (Geography, Environmental Policy, Urban Planning and Sustainable Development, or Energy Studies) are you interested in pursuing and why?
    2. How has your prior experience prepared you to work in that area?
    3. Why do you wish to pursue graduate studies in Environmental Studies at College of the Environment?
    4. A plan for coursework you are interested in taking at WWU (see university catalog) for your specialization and a tentative proposed research topic.

Urban Planning Application Information