Master of Environmental Studies/Master of Public Administration (MPA)

This dual degree program combines a practical approach to the study of public management with a better understanding of environmental problems and potential solutions. Courses are designed to deliver specialized knowledge, practical experience, and valuable connections. The program develops core concepts and analytical tools, which provide students with the necessary skills needed for effective public administration in the face of ever-changing environmental conditions. This multi-disciplinary approach provides graduates with the breadth necessary to address the complexities of public administration as governments are faced with climate resilience and adaptation concerns. This dual degree program enables students to meet complex challenges of the public sector through critical analysis and an understanding of context. This combination gives graduates a competitive advantage in careers focused on leadership and policy in the environmental science field, locally and nationally.

About the program

The MES/MPA dual degree is designed as a full-time program. Students wishing to complete the program part-time should contact the directors of both programs to create a plan to complete the program. Full-time students complete a minimum of 7 course units in the MPA program and 9 course units in the MES program.

  • Of the 9 course units taken in MES, the MPA will accept 2 at the graduate level (one MES Foundation course in place of one elective and the MES Capstone ENVS 699 in place of GAFL 799 MPA Capstone, provided that the capstone is focused on public policy and is shared with GAFL faculty for review and file), bringing the dual degree student to the minimum 9 course units required for the MPA degree
  • Of the 7 course units taken in the MPA, MES will accept 3 course units at the graduate level (GAFL 611 Statistics for Public Policy in place of the MES Research Methods course and two core GAFL courses as two of the Professional Concentration courses), bringing the dual degree student to the minimum 12 course units required for the MES degree
  • This format reduces the typical residency for the two programs from 6 to 4 semesters and reduces the total required course units from 21 to 16

Course sequence


Recommended courses

Course load
1 (Fall)
  • ENVS 601 Proseminar
  • GAFL 611 Statistics for Public Policy
  • GAFL 631 Public Law and Public Process
  • MES Foundation Course 1
4 course units
2 (Spring)
  • ENVS 699 Capstone Seminar
  • MES Foundation Course 2
  • GAFL 640 Program Evaluation and Data Analysis
  • GAFL 732 Public Management and Leadership
4 course units
3 (Fall)
  • MES Foundation Course 3
  • MES Foundation Course 4
  • MES Concentration Course 1
  • GAFL 621 Public Economics
4 course units
4 (Spring)
  • GAFL 651 Public Financial Management
  • GAFL Elective
  • MES Concentration Course 4
  • MES Concentration Course 5
4 course units
  Total 16 course units

Capstone requirement

Both the MES and MPA programs require a capstone—an independent research exercise. However, students are not required to write two separate capstones, but instead may do research on the same topic and write a capstone on that topic with a government/policy emphasis for the MPA program and an environmental emphasis for the MES program.

Career opportunities

Students completing the MES/MPA dual degree may choose careers focused on leadership and policy in the environmental field, locally and nationally. The program prepares students for leadership roles in government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and private firms engaging in public sector work. Recent alumni have found positions with Wells Fargo and the Mexico Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

How to apply

Dual degree applicants must apply for and be accepted independently into each program. Applicants must declare on each application their intention to become a dual degree student at the time of application according to the directions on the application. Students should apply to the MES and MPA programs concurrently. Students who desire to apply to the second program while already enrolled in the other will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and all requirements still apply. The applications are reviewed separately by the admissions committees for each program. Acceptance into one program of the dual degree does not guarantee acceptance into the other program. Once the student is admitted to both programs the dual degree program will be initiated.

See details about the MES application >
See details about the MPA application >

Contact information

MES program:

Yvette Bordeaux, PhD, Director, Professional Masters Programs in Earth and Environmental Science

MPA program:

Mindy Zacharjasz, Director, Master of Public Administration
Visit the Master of Public Administration website to get more details about the dual degree.

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Building bridges to reach people where they are

MES in the Community

As an MES instructor, freshwater ecologist and graduate program alum Lauren McGrath (MES ’16) teaches the importance of connecting with people in protecting the land.