In the STEM-designated MPA-ESP program, you’ll learn to drive sustainability through the formulation of policy and the management of organizations. The program is unique in anchoring the study of sustainability policy and management in basic applied environmental science, providing you with a complex understanding of the environmental, social, and economic dimensions of sustainability. With the MPA-ESP degree, you’ll learn how to manage organizational change and innovation and explore the connections among policy intent, program design, organizational capacity, and political feasibility.

Who It's For

The MPA-ESP, a STEM-designated degree, is ideal for students in all career phases who are passionate about sustainability and want to gain practical skills through an interdisciplinary approach. The program is designed for both recent graduates and returning professionals who require additional expertise or credentials in environmental policy, sustainability and financial management, or environmental science. Replicating a collaborative and cooperative workplace culture, our students learn how to identify and implement sustainability solutions together. A science or policy background is not required for admission.

Career Paths

MPA-ESP graduates secure sustainability positions in business, government, and the nonprofit sector around the world. Their employers include Apple, the City of New York, The Sierra Club, and The World Bank Group.


Our MPA-ESP program has a unique required, core curriculum with interdisciplinary courses, designed to prepare students for the sustainability job market. Within this interdisciplinary context, you will learn:

  • the fundamental science of Earth systems including their human dimensions
  • applied microeconomics and statistics, which are required for policy formulation and analysis
  • core aspects of management, including organizational analysis, budgeting, and financial analysis

Students also hone the work skills that are required to become a problem-solving professional: project management, teamwork, presentation, and memo and report writing. Plus, the program includes real-world sustainability training, as students undertake projects for client organizations in the Workshop in Applied Earth Systems Policy Analysis course in the spring semester.

Admission Requirements

The MPA-ESP program has the following admissions requirements:

  • Program must be pursued full-time.
  • As our program is designed with a required course sequence, students must begin in the summer semester.
  • Students may not defer admission to a future program year.
  • Students may request a waiver for the GRE requirement. Their application will be evaluated based upon the materials submitted.
  • Students must show English proficiency, with a preferred TOEFL score of at least 110.

Learn more about what SIPA looks for

Learn how to apply to MPA-ESP

Tuition & Fees

Learn more about our Tuition & Fees

What does STEM-designated mean and why is it important?

STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.  The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) supports STEM education in the U.S. by establishing criteria that marks some degree programs as “STEM degrees.”

Students completing STEM-designated programs receive an internationally recognized education in these disciplines, which can help them prepare for and secure jobs after graduation.

International students completing a STEM-designated program are eligible to apply for the F-1 STEM OPT Extension. This designation enables students to apply for an additional 24 months of OPT authorization beyond their standard 12-month OPT.

What is unique about this program?

Our program is the only one of its kind to require 12 points (i.e. six two-point classes) in basic applied environmental science, which ensures that our graduates are able to understand and communicate the scientific issues behind the sustainability issues that they are called to address.

Why is this program offered over a single year?

The one-year structure of the program has several important advantages: 1) It saves you time, allowing you to re-enter the workforce more quickly; and 2) it saves you money, both in terms of tuition and in lost income. The one-year structure also makes for an immersive program, which creates a lifelong camaraderie among the cohort of students who complete the program each year.

Do you offer financial support to attend the program?

The program awards the Dean’s Fellowship, a full-tuition grant and Earth Institute internship valued at about $80,000. In addition, the program offers partial fellowships, ranging from $5,000 – $20,000. In rare occasions, partial fellowship support of up to $50,000 is available. All fellowships are based on academic merit and financial need. In addition to fellowships, the program also offers a small number of Earth Institute internships, valued at about $3,600 per semester; course grading assistantships ($6,000); and financial aid in the form of work-study, and subsidized and private loans. To deadline for fellowship consideration is January 15.

Is a thesis required?

No, a five-credit Workshop in Applied Earth Systems Policy Analysis and Management course in the spring semester takes the place of a thesis. In this course, student teams work as consultants to clients in government and the nonprofit sector. These teams, working under the supervision of faculty advisors, analyze sustainability problems and recommend solutions. Clients have included the New York City Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability, Natural Resource Defense Council, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 

Does the program require an internship?

No, the intensive nature of the MPA-ESP program requires a great deal of dedication and time, so an internship is not required for the completion of the degree. The five-credit workshop in the spring semester allows students to obtain similar professional experience as an internship.

Can I transfer to a PhD program from the MPA-ESP program? 

The MPA-ESP program is a terminal master’s degree, intended to prepare students for professional, not academic, careers. Although some MPA-ESP graduates go on to pursue doctoral degrees, the program is not designed to prepare students for further academic study.

Do you provide campus housing?

On-campus housing is available for approximately 40 percent of incoming MPA-ESP students through the University Apartment Housing Office. All incoming students are given access to Off-Campus Housing Assistance (OCHA). Many MPA-ESP students choose to live in International House, an independent residential community just a few minutes away from SIPA.

Are alumni making an impact after graduation?

The MPA-ESP program boasts an international network of over 800 sustainability professionals. These graduates hold important positions in government, business, and civil society. In these positions, they provide the expertise and leadership that have been integral in advancing sustainability since the program’s first graduation in 2003.

Program Requirements

Students must complete the following as part of this program.

  • 54 Points in three semesters of full-time study beginning in the summer semester.
  • Required core curricula include the three-semester course in Workshop in Applied Earth Systems Management, in addition to applied environmental science, economics, statistics, environmental policy, ethics, sustainability management, and financial management.  
  • Concentration and specializations are not required for the MPA-ESP program. Instead, students may select electives, a topic area within the Workshop in Applied Earth Systems Management course, and if desired, an internship in the spring semester that enhances an area of interest.
  • There is no language requirement.

Application Checklist

  • Official Transcripts
  • GRE Test Scores (or waiver)
  • Professional Resume
  • Quantitative Resume
  • 3 Letters of Recommendation
  • Personal Essay
  • Video Question
  • Application Fee

Additional information on How to Apply to the MPA-ESP program can be found on the MPA-ESP website

Employment Statistics


Employment By Sector

Employment by Sector: Public Sector, 40.6%; Private Sector, 40.6%; Nonprofit Sector, 18.8%; Pursuing Further Study: 0.0%




Employed / Pursuing Further Study


Seeking Employment


Not Seeking Employment

Employment information as reported by the graduates six months after graduation. In 2021, 42 students graduated from the MPA-ESP program, 39 reported.

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