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Environmental Policy Programs


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I am just beginning to look at graduate policy programs in depth and I stumbled across this site, which seems like a great resource. I'm new here, so I apologize if this has been asked already (I searched but couldn't find the answer).

I'm interested in environmental policy programs. My questions are:

1) What are the top env. policy programs?

2) What are the pros/cons of an MPP vs and MEM for env policy?

3) I have strong undergrad econ background and work experience in (non-environmental) policy research. Do the top env. programs require work experience be environmental policy-related? Strategically, am I better off applying for an MPP and then focusing on environment later, rather than going for a MEM straight away?

Thanks in advance for any advice!

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I'll try my hand at a few of these

1) I don't have too much to judge this on but looking at who gets hired at the EPA and the people I'm either working with or whose research I'm sourcing/building off of in my current job (researcher for the China Greentech Initiative - it's a report for multinational companies and policy makers supported by the Chinese government, the US State Dept, and over 50 NGOs, multinationals, and consulting firms) has led me time and time again to the Nicholas School at Duke and SPEA at Indiana. Everything I'm doing enviro related (uh, pretty much anything I'm doing at the moment) is dominated by research and grads from these two programs. The consulting people are all from SAIS (sprinkled with Harvard and Berkeley grads), the enviro people are all from Nicholas and SPEA (punctuated by a couple Princeton and Yale peeps). It becomes really obvious really quick. As enviro policy became more important to me, it became one of the factors in changing my decision to attend Duke instead of Michigan.

2) From what I gather, there is little if any difference between an MPP with an enviro focus vs. an MEM with a policy focus. There's no realistic difference between those. MPP is probably ever so slightly better for the public sector, MEM ever so slightly for the private. If enviro policy is what you're interested in I'd apply to both types of programs and go to the best school you can get into, regardless of the three letters in front of your degree. Assuming the respective programs have the program and alumni connections you want.

3) I've heard the envrio schools want at least some enviro experience. You sound like you have a better application for a policy school than for an enviro school. I'm in a similar boat: for example, I couldn't have gotten into Nicholas this year but I was able to get into Sanford and several other good MPP programs; now that I have some enviro experience and a class or two in it for my MPP I don't think I'll have any trouble getting into Nicholas next year for a dual degree (which is probably the route I'll go). Michigan has a similar setup with their School of Natural Resources and the Environment.

You've got a lot more research to do if you're asking what the top programs are. Look at people who are doing the kind of work you want to do and/or publishing the kind of research that interests you, and see where they're from and what their degrees are. Start looking at schools that have good programs in both (Duke, Indiana, Michigan, etc.) and compare the specific programs and what their grads are doing with their degrees. Good luck!

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Thanks stilesg, that's really helpful.

I guess I already had a small list of schools in mind, but I wanted to see what people said. Anyone else that can add their perspective?

I surprised that you don't see many GSPP grads in the env. area and you do see Princeton folks. Also, could it be the result of alumni networks that everyone on your project comes from Nicholas and SPEA?

What have you heard about the Bren school at UCSB?

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Doesn't have to do with alumni networks for Nicholas and SPEA - the people are working in different companies and don't work together directly. The consortium I'm working for is in contact with a 50+ businesses and organizations, and the enviro people are most often from Nick or SPEA. It can't be coincidence that one of the girls working on enviro issues at the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the guy we're in contact with at the US Embassy working for Todd Stern on climate issues, and the enviro-focused CSR heads that we deal with at PriceWaterhouseCoopers, McKinsey, GE, Phillips, and Nike are all either Nicholas or SPEA grads. Also, the research that I'm doing is being done primarily by those schools and people/groups affiliated with them, along with some others like Oregon and UCSB.

Like I said, the sheer dominance of these programs really surprised me. On the management side of things it's all JHU SAIS alums, on the enviro side it's all Nicholas and SPEA people. Maybe it has to do with China...

UCSB's supposed to be great from what I've heard. I have a good friend from college who just graduated from there with her MEM a couple months ago. As soon as China stops blocking Facebook (six days and counting...) I'll send her a message and see if she'll talk to you about it. Another friend of mine got a masters in BioChem there and he spoke highly of Bren - either he took classes there or dealt with profs from there or something. You can't ask to live in a nicer place for two years :)

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Thanks stiles, it would be great to hear more about the program from your friend, and to know what she is doing now. I'm from california so the ucs are attractive for financial reasons - and for their location, of course.

As an update, I asked a number of faculty involved in public policy and environmental policy at several schools what programs they thought were notable. There wasn't as much overlap as I'd hoped in their answers. Mostly the responses varyied based on the person's background (env. science vs public policy vs economics etc). The names that came up most often were Berkeley, Duke, Indiana and Yale. Also mentioned were a couple of UCs (SB, SC, Davis), Michigan SNR, Washington Evans, UMD, Wisc LaFollete, Minn Humphrey, Chicago-Harris, UT Austin.

Notably absent, I thought, were the big names in more straightforward public policy: Harvard, Princeton, SAIS, Georgetown, Syracuse, and Colombia. But, I was urged once to choose brand name (eg Harvard) over a specialized curriculum (eg Ind SPEA).

Also, the consensus was that the MPP was far more versatile than a MEM and therefore probably better, unless you're certain you want to do environmental management and not policy analysis.

What do people think about that list of programs? Does it make sense to apply to KSG and WWS if I want to work on env policy?

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