A Unique One-Year Program

Since its inception in 2002, Columbia University’s Master of Public Administration in Environmental Science and Policy has remained the only public policy program in the country to require science.

The achievements of our graduates – more than 700 leading professionals in business, government and civil society – speak to the effectiveness of the curriculum. The program also stands out in its one-year structure, which makes for an intensive learning experience that saves students both time and money, and allows graduates to re-enter the workforce better prepared to meet the increasing demands on leaders.

The program attracts students from countries around the world, who want to study in New York City, a global nexus of sustainability, policy, finance, and technology. The program also situates the cohort of some 60 students in both Columbia University – one of the world’s premier academic institutions – and in the Earth Institute, a university-wide research center that takes an interdisciplinary approach to addressing the world’s most important sustainable development issues.

An Appreciation of Sustainability

Only by combining an understanding of natural systems issues with management strategies will it be possible to cope with the threats to sustainability. The program’s curriculum reflects the interplay among nature, organizations, policy, and the economy, as it comprises courses that teach students how to analyze and manage the interactions between human and natural systems. The world’s governments, the largest firms, and the most important nonprofit organizations look to our graduates in order to manage for sustainability.

A Hands-On Craft Approach to Learning Public Policy

ecology field tripThe program trains sophisticated public managers and policymakers, who apply innovative, systems-based thinking to sustainability issues. The teaching of public policy and administration is the core of the program. Classes focus on professional and vocational skills: teamwork, project management, memo and report writing, briefings, leadership, strategic thinking, and financial analysis. The principal goal of the core curriculum is to provide students with the analytic, communication, and work skills required to be problem-solving earth systems professionals.

The skills and concepts include an understanding of:

  • the connections between policy intent, program design, organizational capacity, and political feasibility;
  • the relationship of program to organization and organization to budget;
  • the design of studies that are methodologically rigorous and defensible within the constraints of available resources;
  • environmental economics, politics, policy, and management;
  • public and environmental ethics;
  • perceptions of environmental quality and environmental values, and how to explain science to non-scientists and manage the work of scientists;
  • how to manage organizational change and innovation;
  • how to work in groups and deal with group conflict;
  • professional communication, including memo and report writing and the conduct of formal oral briefing