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Env. Policy Programs thru the Side Entrance

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Hi, everyone.

I'm hoping to apply for a degree in env. policy this fall. As an undergraduate science major I know I'm a non-traditional applicant, but many schools seem to encourage non-social science majors to apply. Does anyone here have any experience with env. programs or knowledge as to how open they truly are to applicants with science backgrounds?

Here are some of my stats:

GPA: 3.62, latin honors + honors in major (top tier liberal arts college)

Granted departmental research awards, member of 2 academic honor societies, AFSA scholarship award

+ Classes in Micro + Macro, IR

I worked/volunteered at a small environmental advocacy group for 6 years through high school and college, and worked as a field researcher for the state dept. of natural resources my senior year. I've volunteered for two presidential campaigns as a community outreach volunteer, and am currently abroad serving as a peace corps volunteer, where I conduct env. surveys, educational campaigns and outreach, and assist with community development projects.

If anyone has any thoughts or ideas I'd very much appreciate it. Good luck to everyone during the app process!

(I'm hoping to apply to SIPA, Yale FES, Michigan SNRE, Syracuse Maxwell, and LSE - all for Env. Policy).

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Hey there moose,

I'm also in a similar boat (though I'm an econ and environmental science double major and plan on applying for fall 2011).

Are you more interested in domestic or international environmental policy? I know this might seem like a no-brainer, but I often find that schools often lump the two under the general "environmental policy". It's definitely useful to look into the course offerings in the field to tell what kind of bent their environmental policy programs have.

I'm currently an undergrad at Columbia, so I can tell you a lot about SIPA (I've taken a bunch of classes there). Are you looking into the MIA, the MPA (both with concentrations in Energy & Environment), or the MPA in Environmental Science and Policy?

Hope this helps.

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Hi, Green,

My ultimate goal is to work domestically for an environmental NGO or government office as a policy analyst/political liaison, or as an organizer/activist. I've very interested in programs that have a strong international focus, however, because so many aspects of energy and environmental policy are tied to international treaties and precedent (that said, I'd also be thrilled to work in a more international setting or organization).

I'm looking more closely at the SIPA Env Policy degree than the regular MPA with EEP focus - mostly because I feel I'd be more competitive going this route, though the fact that it's a one year program doesn't hurt (I'm ready to go into debt for grad school, but two years in NY might be pushing it). I'd love to hear your thoughts on the relative merits/differences between the programs.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm leaning towards the MIA with a Energy & Environmental Policy as my policy concentration, but mainly due to my academic/professional interests.

A few thoughts on the MPA-ESP:

- Great if you're pretty sure that your career will involve environmental science/policy.

- Obviously less internationally focused than the MIA; compared with the regular MPA, however, I don't think there's much of a difference in that they're primarily domestically focused but have international components (as an example, I edited what was originally a term paper for the Hydrology course in the MPA-ESP for the journal I run, and it was on water systems management in the Philippines).

- The fact that it's a one-year program could be a pro or a con; while it's definitely cheaper, it only leaves room for 2 electives (which wouldn't be a problem if your interests are covered by the required classes).

- The higher admit rate could also be a pro or a con; while getting in will be easier (and, from what I understand, fellowship funding for the program is separate from the regular MIA and MPA), it could be less prestigious (but then again, "MPA in Environmental Science and Policy" and "MPA with a concentration in Energy & Environment" from SIPA probably don't look much different to prospective employers... I probably have this bias because I know a lot of the faculty/admin involved in both programs).

The deciding factor for me was the number of electives I could take... my interests are in environmental governance in conflict zones, so I want to be able to take classes in both environmental policy and humanitarian affairs (and they even have a class on the environment-conflict nexus "Environment, Conflict & Resolution Strategies"!). Then again, judging from your interests, it would seem that the MPA-ESP would be the better fit.

Here are the links to the respective curricula if you haven't already come across them:

http://sipa.columbia.edu/academics/degr ... nce09.html

http://www.columbia.edu/cu/mpaenvironme ... culum.html

Hope this helps!

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