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Guide to the Best Online Master’s in Environmental Science

Do you want to take the lead in protecting our oceans, forests, and wildlife? Then you’ll want to learn more about earning an online environmental science master’s degree. Find top-ranked schools and discover the types of careers available to you once you secure a graduate degree.

Author: James Mielke
Editor: STEPS Staff

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An environmentalist holding a clipboard looks up at a tree while walking through a forested area.

Environmental issues impact everything from climate change to construction. Whether you’re interested in environmental advocacy or consulting on environmental regulations affecting businesses, an online master’s in environmental science or an online master’s in environmental studies offers rigorous scientific study alongside topics like business, public policy, and anthropology—all of which combine to improve our future and our world.

The following guide highlights flexible options for pursuing a master’s in environmental science online degree and showcases several standout programs. Plus, we take a close look at popular careers for graduates, how much they pay, and how the job market looks. Keep reading for answers to your pressing questions about this versatile degree, and see what this online master’s program can do for you.

2024’s Best Master’s in Environmental Science Online Programs

Below we highlight this year’s best online environmental science master’s programs to help you get started on your school search. These colleges offer flexible online degrees that take an interdisciplinary approach to addressing various global environmental issues. The list of top online environmental science master’s degree programs was based on reviewing several key program components, including accreditation, online program availability, overall affordability, and student support services. Discover a school to meet your needs now.

About the ranking

College Ranking Methodology

Generate List of Eligible Schools and Programs

To be eligible for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria based on government data provided by The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

  • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • At least one program in the subject area offered partially or fully online.
  • Career placement and academic counseling services.

Assign Weightings

After generating the list of eligible schools, the STEPS data team then assigned weights and ranked schools based on their performance in a variety of key categories. Affordability metrics received the heaviest weightings, followed by online learning and academic quality metrics (equally weighted).

Online Learning

  • Number of online programs in subject area self-reported by school to the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Percentage of graduate students at the school taking at least one class online.


  • Relative cost of attendance compared to peer schools on the list. Based on in-state tuition for graduate students per academic year.

Academic Quality

  • Student-to-faculty ratio: Schools with lower ratios ranked higher.
  • Percentage of students admitted. More selective schools ranked higher.

About Our Data

All STEPS rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Most recent data pull: August 2023

Accreditation Glossary

ABHE: Association for Biblical Higher Education, Commission on Accreditation

ABHES: Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools

ACCJC: Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges

ACCSC: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges

DEAC: Distance Education Accrediting Commission

HLC: Higher Learning Commission

MSCHE: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

NECHE: New England Commission of Higher Education

NWCCU: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

SACSCOC: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

TRACS: Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools, Accreditation Commission

WSCUC: Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission