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Master of Environmental Studies/MS Nonprofit Leadership (NPL)

A dual degree program between the Master of Environmental Studies (MES) and Master of Science in Nonprofit Leadership (NPL) provides an avenue to make change in the fields of environment, climate, and environmental justice. A large part of environmental work is done through nonprofit and NGO groups; thus, this area of study is relevant to a wide range of students.

About the program

The MES/NPL dual degree program may be completed either full- or part-time. Part-time students work with the directors of both programs to create a plan to complete the program in nine semesters or less. Full-time students are in residence at the School of Social Policy and Practice for two semesters and complete a minimum of 8 course units, including the core course curriculum. The MES/NPL student is in residence in the Department of Earth and Environmental Science for three semesters, where they complete a minimum of 9 course units of classes that qualify for the MES degree.

  • Of the 9 course units taken in MES, the NPL will accept 2 at the graduate level, bringing the dual degree student to the minimum 10 course units required for the NPL degree
  • Of the 8 course units taken in the NPL, MES will accept 3 course units at the graduate level, 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 5 semesters and reduces the total required course units from 21 to 17

Course sequence

There are two options for the timeline that have been designed by the faculty of both NPL and MES. Students must choose one option and follow that timeline unless express permission is obtained from both program directors.

OPTION 1 MES NPL

Fall semester year 1

  • ENVS 601 Proseminar
  • MES Concentration Course 1
  • MES Foundation Course 1
  • MES Foundation Course 2
4 course units  

Spring semester year 1

  • ENVS 699 Capstone Seminar
  • MES Foundation Course 3
  • MES Foundation Course 4
  • MES Concentration Course 2
4 course units  
Summer semester year 1
MES Research Methods Course
1 course unit  

Fall semester year 2

  • NPL Core Course 1
  • NPL Core Course 2
  • NPL Elective Course 1
  • NPL Elective Course 2
  4 course units

Spring semester year 2

  • NPL Core Course 3
  • NPL Core Course 4
  • NPL Elective Course 3
  • NPL Elective Course 4
  4 course units
Total 9 course units 8 course units
OPTION 2 MES NPL
Fall semester year 1
  • NPL Core Course 1
  • NPL Core Course 2
  • NPL Elective Course 1
  • NPL Elective Course 2
  4 course units
Spring semester year 1
  • MES Foundation Course 2
  • ENVS 699 Capstone Seminar
  • MES Foundation Course 1
  • MES Concentration Course 1
4 course units  
Summer semester year 1
MES Research Methods Course
1 course unit  
Fall semester year 2
  • ENVS 601 Proseminar
  • MES Foundation Course 3
  • MES Foundation Course 4
  • MES Concentration Course 2
4 course units  
Spring semester year 2
  • NPL Core Course 3
  • NPL Core Course 4
  • NPL Elective Course 3
  • NPL Elective Course 4
  4 course units
Total 9 course units 8 course units

Capstone requirement

The capstone component of the MES program provides students in this dual degree with the opportunity to participate in a research initiative related to their field of study. In addition to the capstone, the student completes the Nonprofit Leadership Practicum. The Leadership Practicum consists of:

  • A supervised mentoring and leadership development experience with either an executive director or senior level leader at a Philly-area nonprofit organization or foundation
  • A partnership with the goal of learning about the organization and providing student support on various levels that can include strategic planning, succession planning, branding or marketing, development and philanthropy, or other targeted projects
  • A commitment of 180-225 hours of practicum time with the sponsoring organization during the academic year beginning in early October and ending in mid-April

Career opportunities

Students that complete this dual degree program can go on to careers such as nonprofit resource management, environmental justice advocacy, and urban resilience and adaptation policy development. Many graduates of the program become leaders of nonprofits, international NGOs, or advocacy organizations that work to improve the environment. A solid foundation in nonprofit leadership aids these future leaders in innovative approaches to address the challenges we face today and will face in the future.

How to apply

Ideally, students should apply to both programs simultaneously, but they may also apply in the first year of the MES program. Separate applications are submitted, and the student should indicate on each separate application that they are applying to the MES/NPL dual degree program. 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 NPL application >

Contact information

MES program:

Yvette Bordeaux, PhD, Director, Professional Masters Programs in Earth and Environmental Science
lps@sas.upenn.edu

NPL program:

Adam Roth-Saks, MSEd, Administrative Director, Master of Science in Nonprofit Leadership Program
adamsaks@sp2.upenn.edu
Visit the Master of Science in Nonprofit Leadership website to get more details about the dual degree.

Master of Environmental Studies Virtual Café

Join us on the first Tuesday of every month for an online chat, hosted live from noon - 1 p.m.

Ready to apply?

See deadlines, review our application materials checklist, and get ready to apply.

A Penn alumna cultivates a career in environmental communication

MES in the Community

Communicating science is a little like translating, says Mollie Simon (MES ‘19). MES coursework provided her a broad knowledge base to understand and share energy research.