Windmills - ESP

MPA in Environmental Science and Policy

Application Deadlines

Early Action:
November 1

Fellowship Consideration:
January 15

Final Application:
February 15

Program Length

1 Year

Degree Awarded




The application for the 2024-2025 academic year is now open.

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Learn to drive sustainability through the formulation of policy and the management of organizations.

MPA-ESP Website on a Laptop

This immersive STEM-designated one-year program prepares future environmental sustainability leaders to address the most serious and complex environmental problems the earth will face. Launched two decades ago, it is the world’s premier program of its kind, and is offered jointly by the School of International and Public Affairs and Columbia's Earth Institute. It seamlessly integrates science with environmental policy and management. Graduates hold key positions in important organizations worldwide in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. 

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The MPA-ESP program prepares students to become sustainability professionals in government, business, and the nonprofit sector.

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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.

Explore the MPA-ESP course Structure »

Explore our Tuition & Fees »

Program Information

  • 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.
  • 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 must show English proficiency, with a preferred TOEFL score of at least 110.
    • Official Transcripts
    • GRE Test Scores (Optional)
    • 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


Employed/Further Study


Seeking Employment


Not Seeking Employment

Employment information as reported by the graduates six months after graduation. In 2023, 51 students graduated from the MPA-ESP program, 48 reported.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Contact Us

Maya Lugo
Assistant Director, MPA-ESP
School of International and Public Affairs
420 West 118 Street
+1 212-853-8164
[email protected]