Bloomington Campus

Master of Science in Environmental Science

The Master of Environmental Sustainability program produces trained professionals ready to start confronting environmental issues from the moment they graduate. The degree is designed to combine a solid foundation with immense flexibility to combine science, policy, and tools courses in ways that best match student interests and career goals. A capstone course provides a finishing client-focused experience that requires students to bring many aspects of their degree to the project and to work with people with a diversity of backgrounds and training.

Degree Requirements

(36 credit hours) The core requirements of the M.E.S. degree consist of two three-credit courses: E513 Environmental Project Management and E543 Environmental Management. Each student must also complete the requirements of one concentration (27 credits) and complete one capstone course (3 credits).

Environmental Sustainability Core (6 credit hours)

The following two courses:

SPEA-E 513 Environmental Project Management (3 cr.)
SPEA-E 543 Environmental Management (3 cr.)
Capstone Course

(3 credit hours) The capstone course gives MES students an opportunity to use their knowledge and skills to address a real-world, client-based problem. Students from a variety of backgrounds work together on a semester-long project for an individual, organization, or agency. This requirement may be met in one of the following ways:

SPEA-V 600 Capstone in Public and Environmental Affairs (3 cr.)


Professional Experience Credit

The O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University - Bloomington may grant credit to students who have had relevant professional experience. Credit for professional experience reduces degree-program credit requirements.

Professional-experience credit may be granted in the core, concentration or capstone portion of the MES degree, or in combinations of these, at the discretion of the MES Program Director. Professional-experience credit will result in a reduction in the total number of credit hours required for the MES degree program. Students will see this reflected in their online Academic Advising Report once the decision is shared with O’Neill’s Graduate Records Office.

Students are eligible to apply:

1.  Once they have been unconditionally admitted to the O'Neill-BL MES degree program.
2.  Before they have completed 24 hours of coursework.
3.  If they have relevant, full-time work experience gained prior to the start of O’Neill graduate studies.

  • Relevant experience is above the entry level, involved some independent managerial, analytic, or scientific responsibility and complements the student’s academic program and future public service career. Work in any sector (public, nonprofit, or business) and work in any part of the world is eligible for consideration. All MES students are equally eligible to apply. Experience that is unrelated to a career in environmental sustainability, or has not involved responsibilities beyond entry-level work, generally does not qualify for professional experience. The work is generally assumed to have been paid, full-time work, but students may make the case for highly relevant volunteer and part-time work.

How much can I apply for?

  • PE waivers and credit reductions are granted for experience gained prior to taking courses in the MPA, MIA, MES, and MSES programs.
  • Applications for PE must be submitted within the first 24-credit hours or they will be denied.
  • Students may be approved for more than one type of PE, but the combined credit reduction cannot exceed 6 credit hours.
  • Credit reductions cannot result in the elimination of degree or concentration requirements. Students receiving prior experience credit reductions should carefully plan the balance of their program with an advisor.
  • A student may not apply for PE with any of O’Neill’s outside, dual degree programs (e.g., MPA-MA, MSES-JD). All of O’Neill’s outside dual degree programs reflect a discounted credit hour program in an effort to streamline the academic demands for the student. Further credit reductions are not negotiable. This does not apply to O’Neill’s dual MPA-MSES and MAAA-MPA degree.
  • Determination of PE credit is made separately from decisions about transfer of credit. Under no circumstances will the prior experience credit and transfer credit total more than 15 credit hours.

Suggested application guidelines based on years of professional experience:

  • To receive a 3-credit-hour reduction, a student must have 2-4 years of technical, administrative, scientific, or policy-level work experience with a government, nonprofit, or private agency.
  • 6 credit-hours is generally possible for 4-6 years of relevant full-time analytic, technical, managerial, scientific, and/or science-based policymaking experience in environmental science, environmental management, or science-based, environmental policy, with significant responsibilities, for example, in research design, program leadership, budgetary oversight, organizational or staff development, analysis, or planning.

How do I apply?

1.  Applications must be received before completing 24-credit hours.
2.  If you have held more than one position, select the most relevant one as your primary position, for which additional detail will be required.
3.  Fully complete the Professional Experience Application, found in the Current Student Portal, and include a current, complete resume. A complete resume includes (1) all prior jobs and job titles, including clear information on part-time versus full-time positions, (2) all prior degrees and graduation dates, (3) the month and year in which you matriculated into the O’Neill MES program, (4) relevant volunteer assignments such as board service, and (5) distinguishes full-time jobs from part-time jobs.
4.  Please provide the specific number of credit hours you are requesting for reduction, not a range.
5.  Return the completed application to the O’Neill Graduate Records Office in room A328 or via email to
6.  The MES Faculty Program Director will review your application and determine the amount of Professional Experience credit to be granted.

Military Experience:
Students who have experience with the United States military may qualify for a waiver of the experiential requirement and a credit reduction. See guidelines below:
  • 3-credit hour reduction and experiential waiver:
    • 1 year active duty or full-time guard/reserve service
    • 2 years part-time guard/reserve service
  • 6-credit hour reduction and experiential waiver:
    • 2 years active duty or full-time guard/reserve service
    • 4 years part-time guard/reserve service

(27 credit hours) Each concentration must include at least 6 credits of fundamental science courses and at least 6 credits of applications courses. Courses will be chosen in conjunction with an advisor to ensure the best match to student interests and career goals. Each student should select one of the following concentrations:

Academic Bulletins

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