Environmental Management and Sustainability (MSEM)

The Professional Science Master’s (PSM) in Environmental Management and Sustainability at St. Edward’s prepares you to tackle ecological issues through the combined disciplines of environmental science and project management. You’ll learn to evaluate and manage the impacts of the increasing human impact on the environment. You’ll gain an international perspective on sustainable development through field experience in Costa Rica.

Watch the video to see Program Director Peter Beck, PhD, Professor Russ Forhardt, PhD, and two students share their insights about the program, why it stands out as our world becomes more interconnected and how it will help you meet the growing demand for sustainability managers in business, government and nonprofit organizations.

“Being in Austin,
an environmentally
focused city, and taking advantage
of a number of internships gives me the experience I need to move on.”

— Tommy Lapoint MSEM ’15

According to a Council of Graduate Schools survey: “PSM alumni are earning salaries that reflect their unique training.”

Professional Science Master's in Environmental Management and Sustainability

Two-year, Full-time Program:

Spanning two fields, the two-year Professional Science Master's in Environmental Management and Sustainability is the first degree of its kind offering students the opportunity to conduct fieldwork in four different ecosystems in two different countries. In this intensive program, each daytime class (Monday–Thursday) meets twice a week for one semester. You’ll study in Austin, Texas, and spend a month in Costa Rica conducting field research and learning from St. Edward's faculty and prominent local scholars.   


In the PSM in Environmental Management and Sustainability program, you will use quantitative methods and analytical tools to manage natural and urban environments. You will learn the fundamentals of ecology and project management including scope definition, work planning, and resource and risk management, along with human relations skills such as effectively communicating, mentoring and negotiating. Project management and Geographic Information Systems software will be used to help plan, execute, monitor and control a project in ecological research.

The program strikes a balance between theoretical lessons and practical application using qualitative and quantitative analytical techniques to explore alternative natural resource management scenarios. Students explore topics such as the impact of urban development on ecosystem health and services as they propose and test hypotheses for the abundance and distribution of organisms. Coursework includes case studies, field research and peer learning networks.

Students conduct research in Austin, Texas, at Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve, a 227-acre eco-laboratory of St. Edward’s University. Wild Basin provides interdisciplinary research opportunities that protect and maintain urban wilderness, and promote the importance of environmental education, research, conservation and preservation.

In May of the first year of the program, students travel to Central America for four weeks to participate in an in-depth exploration of sustainable development strategies that integrate environmental conservation and economic development. Students learn the skills needed to conduct independent field research projects that include direct observation and data collection, research design, and field methodology.

Industry and agencies seek scientists with project management skills, and graduates of this program will be in high demand. This program trains future managers in the ecology of natural resources, urban ecology, environmental management, business and project management. Job roles for graduates include planning and implementation of resource management for public agencies, helping corporations develop and implement sustainable practices, analyzing how well a private agricultural firm’s policies meet sustainability standards, and overseeing new urban construction projects to minimize environmental impact.

Graduates can pursue a variety of positions in the public and private sectors such as sustainability coordinator, policy analyst, urban planner, project manager and field ecologist.

Degree Plan:

9 credit hours
• Population Ecology
• Principles of Project Management
• Statistical Analysis of Decision Making

12 credit hours

• Community Ecology
• Applied Project Management
• Geographic Information Systems
• Topics in Global Environmental Management and Sustainability (4-week course in Costa Rica, mid-May to mid-June. Required for all students.)

9 credit hours
• Applied Research
• Biodiversity Conservation
• Environmental and Sustainability Policy

6 credit hours

• Internship