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Master’s in Environmental Sciences & Policy
The Master’s of Science (MS) in Environmental Sciences & Policy offers opportunities to build your research skills in interdisciplinary science and policy. In our Environmental Sciences and Policy emphasis, students engage in research related to a range of natural resources (such as air, water, and land) from integrated perspectives of natural sciences and environmental policy. In our Paleoenvironmental Sciences emphasis, students develop broad competence in earth and environmental sciences, while specializing in an analytical technique used to reconstruct long-term environmental variability.
Explore research in this area
Remember, a successful graduate experience depends on finding the right program for you, and also the right advisor – a faculty member who shares and can support your research interests. You should plan to identify one or more potential faculty advisors well in advance of the application deadline, and to have at least one conversation about the match between your interests and opportunities in their lab.
- Past & Present Climate Change
- Water Management, Policy & Science
- Ecology & Conservation
- Environment & Society
The Master’s of Science in Environmental Sciences & Policy (MS ES&P) degree program combines required interdisciplinary core courses with a breadth of specialized classes from across NAU. The degree program is characterized by strong advising by accomplished faculty for individualized student programs of multidisciplinary study, as well as research and applied projects that often reach across campus and into the greater community. The diverse student population including international and minority students forms a strong peer cohort that provides support for study and extracurricular adventures. The two-year program’s rigorous training in the natural and political sciences prepares graduates for successful environmental careers in industry, government, and the non-profit sector.
Once admitted to the MS ES&P program, students have the option to select between two distinct emphases: Environmental Sciences and Policy or Paleoenvironmental Sciences. Each emphasis area has a unique program of study as well as outstanding faculty support.
What do our graduates do?
Most alumni of the MS ES&P program have gone on to work for federal and state government agencies and in the non-profit sector. Other alumni have successfully transitioned into the private sector and have undertaken innovative, environmentally-progressive entrepreneurial projects. Others still have chosen to pursue Ph.D. degrees in related fields throughout the country and abroad.
One of the many reasons that our alumni succeed across professional sectors is that the research, program of study, and faculty advising are tailored to the interests and strengths of our students.
How to apply
First, get to know our faculty and review current opportunities for students. It is very important that you reach out to faculty members you would be interested in working with before you apply. Faculty expect to receive emails from prospective students. To get the best response, be as specific as possible about why you are interested in their research or their lab (reading one or more papers from the lab is a great place to start!), and what you are hoping to get out of grad school. They can then tell you more about their research and if they have space available in their labs.
Second, entry into any SES Graduate Program requires an online application through the Graduate College.
A completed application for admission will include:
- An online application for admission to the NAU Graduate College, with the required application fee;
- A statement of your interests and goals, and your reasons for pursuing an advanced degree;
- A sample of your academic or professional writing;
- Unofficial transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate course work;
- Names of the faculty advisor(s) you have been in contact with and would like to work with;
- Three letters of recommendation from academic or professional supervisors (you will only have to provide contact information, and then recommenders will submit letters directly to NAU. Give them time to submit before the deadline);
- Submission by the January 1st application deadline.
Funding your graduate education
Graduate students in this program are supported via Research Assistantships (funded by grants obtained by individual faculty within the School), and/or Teaching Assistantships. Both RA and TA positions include a yearly stipend of at least $15,000 (higher if an advisor can supply summer support) plus funding for tuition and health insurance. Decisions about RA/TA support are made together with admission – there is no separate application process required. Talk to your potential faculty advisor about funding availability, including summer support.
The MS ES&P program is also a host school for the Western Regional Graduate Program, which provides tuition-reciprocity for students from western states.
Once students are in the program, there are also scholarships and fellowships available to cover some research costs, student fees, and/or stipend supplements.
Wyss Scholars program
The ES&P program at NAU is one of only four universities selected as a host school for the prestigious Wyss Scholars program, which provides financial support and internship opportunities both during and after the degree. Learn more about the Wyss Scholars Program at NAU and the broader mission of the Wyss Foundation. Congrats to our latest NAU Wyss Scholars!
2023 Wyss Scholars
Adriana Garcia Rivera recognizes the importance of science, community-based collaboration, and education in creating effective conservation efforts. She has made it her goal to work with a federal agency to help develop these initiatives. As she looks toward the future, she is committed to continuing her work in conservation and pursuing opportunities to collaborate with other organizations and local communities to create innovative solutions to complex environmental challenges. As a first-generation university student from a Hispanic family, she has noticed a lack of diversity in the discipline and plans to use her experiences to connect with students from diverse backgrounds. In alignment with her long-term goals, Adriana seeks to bring conservation awareness to underserved communities—working with young people from all backgrounds to empower the next generation of conservationists to become leaders in the field. She has become a powerful advocate for diversity in conservation, and believes fostering a more diverse student, and workforce body can build a stronger, more resilient movement toward a sustainable future.
Isaiah Meza intends to work on the conservation of watersheds and the restoration of ecological systems in the American West. Specifically, he aims to build upon his interdisciplinary experiences with watershed restoration, principles of ecology, science-policy interface, and wetland management to support environmental protection. Through applied research and government (or tribal) work experiences, he aspires to refine his skills in resilience-based ecosystem stewardship, science communication, and stakeholder advocacy. As an underrepresented, first-generation student, he is determined to leverage his multidisciplinary and collaborative outlook to become a groundbreaker and leader in conservation.
Dusty Reed would like to work on conservation and restoration projects to support ecosystem function in the American West. Dusty strives to work at the interface of community engagement and applied conservation. He has a strong interest if connecting local communities and stakeholders to their local landscapes and engaging them in the process conserving and restoring those landscapes. Working with land managers and nonprofits Dusty hopes to make meaningful contributions to landscape health in the West.
2022 Wyss Scholars
Sarah Colombo hopes to connect her passion for research in conservation to support social/environmental justice efforts as she believes there is an inextricable connection between them. She also plans to support others in BIPOC communities to connect with the earth, identify available resources, and foster their own diverse voices in conservation.
Yazhmin Dozal’s goal upon graduation is to engage policy, science, and collaboration with vulnerable communities of the Southwest to take on major conservation issues around land use and water. Yazhmin is the Director of Climate Action for the Graduate Student Organization at NAU. Yazhmin will intern this summer with the National Forest Foundation on their Wood for Life Tribal Fuelwood Initiative.