You are here: Master of Arts in Global Environmental Policy

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The intersection of environment and policy

Our planet faces a combination of threats unseen in human history. Finding and implementing solutions to these challenges requires engaging the political process. The Global Environmental Politics Program provides essential tools for creating a more just and sustainable world. It trains students to identify leverage for addressing the injustices of climate change, downward spiral of species extinction, and growing dangers of global toxification. It offers intellectual resources and political experience for confronting freshwater scarcity, environmental racism, and the challenge of building sustainable and just urban infrastructure. Focused on the Earth as a whole and the world's various cultural, economic and political systems, the program invites students into the demanding yet exciting field of global environmental protection. It aims to help students translate their passion for justice, ecological well-being, and humane governance into concrete form so as to build collectively a more sustainable world. 

You'll emerge equipped with the knowledge and skills to work in government, environmental NGOs, or environmentally-focused private sector organizations around the world. You'll be ready to become a leader in a field that is crucial to Earth's future.

The GEP degree requires 39 credit hours of graduate coursework and a capstone that can be completed in 2 years (full-time) or up to 6 years (part-time). The curriculum is an interdisciplinary exploration of efforts to advance environmental protection and focuses on natural science, economics, and policy studies. Students will build a thorough and integrated understanding of environmental politics and policy. Through core seminar courses, electives, internships, a substantial research project, and a myriad of events, students learn about and engage with the forces that shape global and international environmental behavior.

Explore degree flexibility options

Full degree and admission requirements

GEP faculty have a wide array of research interests and routinely contribute to scholarly and policy debates through essays in popular media, academic articles, and full-length books. They are regularly invited to speak and present their work at regional, national, and international conferences. In total, nearly 20 core, adjunct, and associate faculty make the program one of the strongest of its kind anywhere in the world.

Faculty devote full attention to master's students in the program; doors are always open, and professors often find ways to involve students in their work. Small class sizes mean students develop relationships with their professors that lead to mentorship, friendship, and academic collaboration.

GEP offers a master’s degree at a top-10 international affairs school located at the heart of environmental politics and policy. Washington, DC, offers more opportunities for meaningful internships in the field than any other city in the world. Capitol Hill is a magnet for organizations interested in making and changing environmental policy.

The Global Environmental Policy (GEP) degree is housed within the Global Environmental Politics Program at the School of International Service. Students pursuing their MA in Global Environmental Policy collaborate and work closely with students pursuing the MA in Natural Resources and Sustainable Development, GEP’s sister degree.

We Know Success

% of Graduates are now Working, Grad School, or Both

Exploring a world of natural solutions

I'm seeking to serve the planet and its people.

As a farmer and a GEP student, I seek locally tailored, globally impactful, soil-powered solutions to harmful activities that threaten human flourishing. Recently I completed a summer seminar on oil and gas industries in Azerbaijan, where I quickly became knowledgeable about these critical global industries and travelled to amazing natural sites, like mud volcanoes.

Frequently Asked Questions

When you should apply to the program depends on what semester you want to start taking classes in and whether you are a domestic or international student.

Application deadlines for the GEP program are as follows:

  • Fall semester (all applicants): January 15
  • Spring semester (domestic applicants): October 1
  • Spring semester (international applicants): September 15

View required application materials

Missed a deadline but still interested in applying? Email the SIS Graduate Admissions office.

Graduates of the GEP degree program work in a wide range of settings, including government agencies, non-governmental organizations, consulting firms, the private sector, activist networks, think tanks, universities, and community groups.

Recent GEP graduates have found jobs at employers including the World Bank, the World Resources Institute, the US Department of State, the US Agency for International Development, the World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace, the Nature Conservancy, private consultancies and major corporations, and many other leading organizations in Washington, DC and around the world. Within six months of graduation, 88% of graduates are working or continuing graduate studies.

Looking for more information or help? SIS has a dedicated career development center to assist current students and alumni.

In common with more general degrees in international affairs, the GEP degree is deeply anchored in a global perspective. Our program is different, though, in that it is truly a degree focused on environmental protection and sustainability. Our students receive more than an introduction to environmental issues. Instead, our students become specialists. Some of our students focus on water, others on food and agriculture or climate change or security concerns, others on international environmental law. Whatever the specialization, almost all of our students know they have come “home” to work on the issue that defines their passionate concern for the future of the planet. Students are free to take additional coursework within the School of International Service and across American University and, through our consortium arrangement, at other universities in the DC area.

The School of International Service offers merit-based aid in the form of scholarships and fellowships at the time of admission. SIS also has partnerships with a number of organizations like the Peace Corps and Pickering Fellowship that provide qualified individuals with funding.

Financial aid information for prospective students

Global Environmental Policy students may choose to research other relevant fellowship opportunities.

Need-based aid is available through AU Central Office and generally takes the form of a federal low-interest loan package.

Federal loan and work study information for graduate students

Still have questions? Send us an email at gep@american.edu