Become part of the global community whose work is dedicated to sustainability

Spanning two fields, the two-year Professional Science Master's in Environmental Management and Sustainability (MSEM) is the first degree of its kind. It offers 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.

This program uses high-level interdisciplinary approach and focuses on ecological issues through the combined disciplines of environmental science and project management. Students gain an in-depth knowledge of ecosystems and enhance their ability to apply tools and methods for assessing the effects of human impact on ecosystems. 

See MSEM Program Director Peter Beck, PhD, BSS faculty member Professor Russ Forhardt, PhD, and two students share their insights about why the program stands out as our world becomes more interconnected and how it helps meet the growing demand for sustainability managers in business, government and nonprofit organizations.

In this program, students:

  • Use quantitative methods and analytical tools to manage natural and urban environments
  • Learn the fundamentals of ecology and project management including scope definition, work planning, and resource and risk management
  • Develop human relations skills such as effectively communicating, mentoring and negotiating
  • Learn how to use project management and Geographic Information Systems software to plan, execute, monitor and control a project in ecological research
  • Explore topics such as the impact of urban development on ecosystem health and services
  • Propose and test hypotheses for the abundance and distribution of organisms

Degree Plan

For detailed descriptions and timing of courses, please see the Graduate Bulletin (Course Catalog).

Overview:

In the PSM in Environmental Management and Sustainability program, students will benefit from the resources and support provided by St. Edward's' memberships with the Professional Science Masters Association and with the Organization for Tropical Studies consortium of 56 affiliated universities conducting research in Costa Rica. 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.

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. 

FIRST YEAR – FALL

9 credit hours

  • Population and Community Ecology
  • Principles of Project Management
  • Statistical Analysis of Decision Modeling

FIRST YEAR – SPRING

9 credit hours

  • Environmental and Sustainability Policy
  • Applied Research
  • Geographic Information Systems

SECOND YEAR – FALL

12 credit hours

  • Advanced Topics in Ecology
  • Topics in Global Environmental Management and Sustainability (includes 4-week course in Costa Rica, mid-May to mid-June. Required for all students.)
  • Biodiversity Conservation
  • Applied Project Management

SECOND YEAR – SPRING

6 credit hours

  • Internship

Outcomes

Graduates of the program will have the knowledge and skills to design and implement collective projects for the management of renewable resources. Their know-how and skills will also help technical teams and institutions to ensure a more effective management of environmental issues.

“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 ’15, MSEM

Career Opportunities 

The MSEM program is closely aligned with employers’ objectives and prepares students for science carriers in business/industry, government, and nonprofit sectors. 

Careers in the field include:

  • Policy Analysis
  • Ecological Restoration
  • Land Management
  • Sustainability Assessment
  • Environmental Education
  • Environmental Regulation
  • Program Management
  • Urban Planning

Students Have the Opportunity to Shape Their Environment

“This program is a chance to make a difference in the world and open doors to new places and ideas that will shape the environment in which we live. I’m broadening my undergraduate knowledge of the sciences to many different fields, providing a wide variety of job opportunities after graduation.” — Adrienne Paquette ’14, MSEM 

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

Outside the Classroom

Research

Students conduct research in Austin, Texas, at Wild Basin Creative Research Center, 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.

Gwendolyn Bailey and Thomas LaPoint, both MSEM '15 graduates, were published in the scientific journal Sustainability. Their research, titled “Comparing Greenhouse Gas Emissions across Texas Universities,” explores whether schools with sustainability offices have lower emissions than those without, and whether St. Edward’s emissions have decreased since the institution of a sustainability program.

Field Experience

Students gain an international perspective on sustainable development through field experience in Costa Rica. 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.

Internships

You will have the opportunity to take on internships for the chance to engage in practical application of your knowledge. Dive further into an area of interest at a site anywhere in the world. You can stay local, work for a United Nations agency in Europe, or find something completely unique to you.

Culminating Experience

You'll also get the opportunity to conclude your studies with a culminating experience. Examples of past student projects include how development affects stream ecosystems and the motivation and actions of corporate sustainability.