Education: Environmental Journalism Programs and Courses

Individuals who are interested in studying environmental journalism (and complementary fields) may choose from the following list of communications programs and courses offered by American universities and other educational endeavors.

  • Bodie McDowell Scholarships are usually given annually to three or more students of outdoor communications fields including print, photography, film, art or broadcasting. The awards, offered by the Outdoor Writers Association of America, can range from $1,000 to $5,000. Open to eligible undergraduate and graduate students, from all communications and journalism disciplines and all schools. Deadline: March 30, 2024.
  • Boston University's College of Communication offers a master's degree in science journalism in which environmental reporting plays a critically important part, as well as a BS in journalism. Request information.
  • University of California, Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism offers classes in environmental journalism. Contact.
  • University of California, Santa Cruz's Science Communication Master's Program has produced professional science writers since 1981. The program is one academic year long, with internships throughout the school year and the following summer. It focuses entirely on practical training through classroom work and diverse internships, and it's the only graduate science writing program in the nation that requires a degree in science and experience in research. All lecturers in the Science Communication Program are professional journalists and editors in the San Francisco Bay Area. They teach courses in their specialties, and serve as mentors after students graduate. Contact.
  • Colorado State University's Department of Journalism & Media Communication offers an M.S. in Journalism and Media Communication related to health, environment, science and more. Contact.
  • University of Colorado's Center for Environmental Journalism has an environmental journalism emphasis and a certificate in environmental journalism available to master's and doctoral students in the journalism program at CU. Contact.
  • Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism offers a Master of Arts, Science Concentration. The two-semester M.A. program is designed for experienced journalists with a proven mastery of journalistic skills, as demonstrated by his or her writing, resume or academic career. The course of study in the science concentration covers: in physics, the importance of scale and relativity; in the earth sciences, how systems work; medicine and health; the processes of innovation and discovery and history of science. Scholarships are available; prospective students can contact the Office of Admission and Financial Aid. Contact.
  • Cornell University's Department of Communication offers opportunities for undergraduates and graduates in environmental, science and health communication through several courses such as Communication and the Environment, taught by Katherine McComas. The concentration includes courses in the communication process, applications, science and environmental communication, and introductory and advanced environmental science and policy. Contact Katherine McComas.
  • George Washington University is committed to enhancing and promoting its sustainability research, academics and programs. GW is home to over hundreds of courses on topics related to sustainability that students take across multiple academic programs at the undergraduate and graduate level. These courses serve as the foundation for many of sustainability-related academic programs offered at the university. GW offers degree programs in sustainability-related fields across the ten different schools, including a unique undergraduate minor in sustainability. Launched in Fall 2012, this 18-credit program is pan-university and serves as a model for inter-disciplinary teaching.
    Research also plays an important role in the academic experience, and GW is home to five world-renowned institutes and programs that conduct research across the spectrum of sustainability-related topics — from renewable energy to poverty reduction. GW is also home to over 120 green leaf faculty who conduct cutting edge research and bring leading expertise in areas such science, health, policy, business, education, communications and development. Contact Lisa Benton-Short, (202) 994-6188.
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Agricultural Communications Program trains students to be communicators able to navigate and communicate complex issues in agriculture, food, fiber, fuel and the environment. The College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences and the College of Media jointly offer this interdisciplinary program. Contact.
  • Indiana University's Media School offers a joint graduate degree with the university's School of Public & Environmental Affairs. Students earn a dual Master of Arts and Master of Science in Environmental Science. Contact Joshua Bennett, (812) 855-1701.
  • Lehigh University's Science and Environmental Writing Program offers a B.A. in Journalism/Science Writing. The program is interdisciplinary, requiring courses in science or engineering plus a core set of journalism courses as well as courses in science and environmental journalism. Contact.
  • Marquette University's Diederich College of Communication offers a course, "Health, Science, and Environmental Communication" (COMM 4330). The course is for advanced undergraduates. Available for graduate credit. Contact Robert Griffin, (414) 288-6787.
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) offers a one-year Master's degree program in science writing for English and science majors, freelance writers or journalists seeking a specialty, working scientists, and others in which to learn the art and discipline of science writing. The program provides an opportunity to contribute to public understanding of science, medicine, engineering, and technology. Students work closely with a distinguished core faculty of award-winning journalists, authors, and scholars within one of the most exciting scientific communities in the world. Learn to produce news articles, features, essays, and radio/video broadcasts about lasers and genes, capillaries and quarks. Contact.
  • Michigan State University, home of the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism, offers courses in environmental journalism at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Students may earn bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in journalism or mass media with a specialty in environmental journalism. Among the specialized courses offered are environmental reporting, health and science writing, investigative reporting, nature reporting and computer-assisted reporting, as well as seminars in specialized topics, such as reporting about land use issues, wilderness issues and current controversies in environmental, health and science journalism. A specialized master's degree program in environmental journalism, offered by the MSU School of Journalism, includes courses in environmental journalism, science or policy courses. A number of graduate assistantships and scholarships will be awarded to members of the incoming class. The center produces Great Lakes Echo, an award-winning non-profit environmental news service.
    The center is the home of the Meeman Archives, a collection of more than 10,000 newspaper articles on environmental topics; and a library of 2,500 books, videotapes and audiotapes dealing with environmental and environmental journalism topics. The center's faculty, staff and students publish resource guides in environmental journalism; videotapes; and moderate listservs for environmental journalism students and educators and for Mexican environmental journalists. The center also conducts research on environmental journalism.
    The center is directed by Eric Freedman, a journalist, author and Fulbright Scholar who holds the Knight Chair in Journalism. The associate director is Dave Poulson, a former environmental reporter for Booth Newspapers. The center organizes workshops to help journalists better report on the environment in the U.S. and abroad, bringing many prominent speakers and environmental experts to campus. The Knight Center organized the 10th annual conference of the Society of Environmental Journalists held on the MSU campus in October 2000. The center has also organized workshops on environmental journalism in Russia, China, Mexico, South Africa, England and many other countries. Contact.
  • University of Missouri-Columbia's School of Journalism offers a two-year Master's degree in environmental reporting within its schools of journalism and natural resources. This program requires a sequence of courses in basic journalism, science writing, investigative reporting and environmental writing — as well as natural resources science. The goal is to provide students with a background in both the science that underlies environmental issues and in news media studies, writing and reporting. The combined program gives students the option to do an M.A. thesis or a professional project. All students also receive commercial daily newspaper or television experience. Contact.
  • University of Montana School of Journalism's graduate program in Missoula specializes in Environmental Science and Natural Resource Journalism. MA students are expected to bring an undergraduate journalism degree, significant experience as working journalists or considerable expertise in the environmental sciences. The two-year program combines practical training in print, photo, broadcast and online media with courses in the hard sciences, ethics and law. It culminates in a professional project suitable for Web publication. Contact program director Nadia White, (406) 243-2227.
  • IJA/AAJA Pacific Islander Journalism Scholarship: This funding from the Indigenous Journalists Association and the Asian American Journalists Association aims to help Indigenous peoples of the Pacific pursue careers in journalism. The goal is to improve Oceania representation and storytelling in the news media industry. Two scholarships of $5,000 are available to both students and journalists for a variety of needs. Deadline: May 31, 2024.
  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln's College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources offers a Bachelors of Science in agricultural and environmental sciences communication. Contact: email or 402-472-4030.
  • New York University's Carter Journalism Institute offers the Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program (SHERP), one of the oldest, largest and best regarded science journalism training programs in the world. Aspiring reporters, authors, editors, producers and videographers who complete the intensive sixteen-month program receive a Master of Arts degree in Journalism and an Advanced Certificate in Science, Health and Environmental Reporting. They join an extended family of graduates committed to covering scientific, medical and environmental issues with precision, nuance and passion. Our faculty of nationally prominent science journalists offers rigorous instruction in research, reporting, writing and editing through coverage of cutting-edge science, from nanotechnology and epigenetics to global climate change and cosmology. Coursework is built around case studies and learning by doing, not academic theory or rote memorization. A key focus is reporting, writing and editing features and news for magazines and online, but students also dive into all forms of modern journalism, from books and long-form narratives to blogs, videos, audio podcasts, data visualization and social media. Entrepreneurial skills, including self-marketing, are emphasized throughout. Admission is highly competitive; an undergraduate or graduate degree in science is helpful but not essential. Contact.
  • University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill's Hussman School of Journalism and Media offers a dual degree program in environment and science communication: Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies or Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science, as well as a Master of Arts in Media and Communication. Contact.
  • Northern Arizona University's School of Communication offers an integrated program in Journalism that allows students to focus on reporting stories from the geographically and culturally diverse American Southwest. Students receive a well-rounded education based on traditional skills in reporting and writing, but also learn to explore contemporary storytelling methods in photography, video and audio. Specialized courses include environmental communication and environmental reporting classes taught by award-winning professional journalists. Degrees offered include a B.S. in Journalism or Journalism and Political Science, and minors in Journalism and Photojournalism and Documentary Studies. Contact Brian Rackham, (928) 523-0024.
  • Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications offers a graduate specialization in health, environment and science. Students take a companion seminar that includes a hands-on laboratory experience and may also cover related beats in other Medill graduate courses. Contact Donna Leff.
  • Point Park University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania offers a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. The degree program includes classes in writing, editing, multimedia, video production, newsgathering and reporting, among others. The environmental journalism program — made possible through a grant from The Heinz Endowments — provides the core foundation of journalism and environmental science training and hands-on experience via a partnership with the School of Communication and Department of Natural Sciences and Engineering Technology. Contact.
  • University of Southern California's Annenberg School of Journalism offers a unique eleven month M.A. program in specialized journalism for mid-career journalists. Students may select areas of focus such as politics, education, health and environment, science, religion, arts and culture, entertainment, sports, business and economics, urban affairs, and the law. In addition to the journalism classes taught at USC Annenberg, students will take courses with faculty from USC's other highly regarded academic units, such as the Price School of Public Policy, Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, School of Communication, School of Cinematic Arts, and the Rossier School of Education. Contact.
  • Stanford University: Thomas Hayden teaches an environmental journalism course for graduate and undergraduate students through the Graduate Program in Journalism. He also teaches environmental communication and multimedia storytelling, primarily for science students, in the School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences. Ongoing projects include the SAGE eco-advice column. Biology professor Susan McConnell teaches conservation photography as a field course. Contact Thomas Hayden.
  • University of Tennessee's School of Journalism & Electronic Media and College of Communication & Information offer a Science Communication Program. The courses are environmental writing; science and medical writing (including nature and environmental writing); science writing as literature; mass media health communication; issues management and crisis communication; and contemporary issues in science, technology, engineering, and medical communication and information. There are no prerequisites for any of these courses, so they can be and are taken by students in any field. These courses provide a concentration for a B.S., M.S, or Ph.D. degree. Some graduate fellowships are available. Paid internships for undergraduate and graduate students are also available, including some at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Contact Mark Littmann, (865) 974-8156.
  • Texas A&M University offers an M.S. degree in science and technology journalism. Students select courses in both science and science journalism. Contact Barbara Gastel, (979) 845-6887.
  • University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign: Master of Science in Journalism. Graduate study in the Department of Journalism comprises a dynamic and practical series of courses that prepare graduates for jobs in digital media and newsrooms. Students from any academic background are welcome. A bachelor’s degree in journalism is not required. Students can pursue the degree on campus or, if they choose the focus on Science and Technology Journalism, they can complete the degree entirely online.
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison's School of Journalism and Mass Communication offers a professional master's degree that allows individuals to construct their own science, health or environmental communication programs. The school also offers both M.A. and Ph.D. degrees for those interested in scholarship training. Contact.


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