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.

  • Antioch University New England publishes annually Whole Terrain, a nationally renowned journal which explores emerging ecological and social issues from the perspective of practitioners. Each issue's specific theme examines the relationship between an evocative social topic and the environment, attracting renowned writers widely recognized for their contributions to nature literacy and environmental awareness as well as novice authors with unique perspectives to offer. The journal is distributed to an extensive national network. Whole Terrain internships and work-study positions offer hands-on publishing experience to students interested in writing, editing, and marketing. Inquire via email or contact Chair of the Editorial Board, Rowland Russell, (603) 283-2377.
  • Boston University's College of Communication offers a master's degree in science journalism in which environmental reporting plays a critically important part. For more information, contact the program co-director, Douglas Starr, (617) 353-3484.
  • The Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley offers classes in environmental journalism. Contact dean of school Edward Wasserman, (510) 642-3394.
  • California State University, Northridge's Department of Journalism offers a course in environmental reporting for seniors and graduate students. Contact Lawrence Schneider, (818) 677-3135.
  • The University of California, Santa Cruz's Science Communication 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 Program Director and Senior Lecturer Robert Irion, (831) 459-4764.
  • Colorado State University's Department of Journalism and Technical Communication offers an undergraduate and graduate course in environmental journalism. See the J&TC website for more information.
  • The Center for Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado 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 Associate Director Michael Kodas, (860) 212-9920.
  • The Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University offers a one-year Master of Arts degree program with a specialization in science journalism. The 9-month 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. Generous tuition scholarships funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation are available. Deadline: January 15 annually. Contact Brett Cione, Assistant Director, Admissions & Financial Aid, (212) 854-6344.
  • 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.
  • As a university, George Washington University is committed to enhancing and promoting its sustainability research, academics and programs. GW is home to over 140 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 40 undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate programs in sustainability-related fields across the ten different schools. The most recent among these is GW’s 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. Several environmental related journalism/communication classes are offered. Contact Lisa Benton-Short, (202) 994-6188.
  • The Agricultural Communications Program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 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: Lulu Rodriguez, Program Director, (217) 300-1045.
  • Indiana University's School of Journalism 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 a minimum of four courses in science or engineering plus a core set of journalism courses and four courses in science and environmental journalism. Contact Sharon Friedman, (610) 758-4179.
  • Marquette University's Diederich College of Communication offers a course (Comm 4330/5330), "Health, Science, and Environmental Communication." The course is for advanced undergraduates (4330) and graduate students (5330). A master's-level specialization in "Communication about Health, Environment, Science and Sustainability" (CHESS) is also available. This specialization provides master of arts students with the theory, research and fundamental professional knowledge needed to (1) understand the processes, roles and effects of communicating about science, health and the environment interpersonally, in organizations and in society, and (2) to apply this understanding to the task of communicating technical, specialized information to a variety of audiences, especially non-expert, lay audiences. 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 Program Head and Professor Thomas Levenson, (617) 253-4069.
  • 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 all college students, undergraduates in their Junior or Senior year of study and graduate level, from all communications and journalism disciplines and all schools. March 1, 2014 deadline.
  • 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, launched in the fall of 2007, is offered by the MSU School of Journalism. The new program 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 Knight Center for Environmental Journalism will offer assistantships to students who can help design and edit EJ, the Knight Center's award-winning magazine; assist in developing a television program on the environment; and other Knight Center projects.
    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 a magazine, EJ; an electronic newsletter, EJ Update; resource guides in environmental journalism; videotapes; and moderates 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 Dave Poulson, (517) 432-5417, or Barb Miller, assistant to the Knight Chair, (517) 432-1415.
  • University of Missouri-Columbia's School of Journalism offers a Master of Arts 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 Rob Logan, (573) 882-4714.
  • The graduate program at the University of Montana's School of Journalism 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 Henriette Lowisch, (406) 243-2227.
  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln's College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources offers a Bachelors of Science in agricultural and environmental sciences journalism. Contact Roger Terry, (402) 472-2817, or Karen Cannon, (402) 472-7800.
  • The Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program (SHERP) at New York University's Carter Institute of Journalism is 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 (377 at last count) 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 Director Dan Fagin.
  • The School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offers courses in medical, science and environmental reporting. Contact Tom Linden, (919) 962-4078.
  • Northern Arizona University's School of Communication offers an integrated program in Journalism and Documentary Studies 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 Photojournalism and Documentary Studies, an M.A. in Documentary Studies, and a minor in Environmental Communication. Contact Peter Friederici (928) 523-6378.
  • Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism offers a graduate course in medical, science and environmental reporting. 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, (312) 503-0768.
  • Annenberg's School of Journalism at the University of Southern California offers a unique nine-and-a-half 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 USC Annenberg Admissions office at (213) 821-0770 for more information.
  • At 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 Sciences. Ongoing projects include the SAGE eco-advice column, and the Generation Anthropocene podcast series. Biology professor Susan McConnell teaches conservation photography as a field course. Contact Thomas Hayden, (650) 721-5722.
  • University of Tennessee's School of Journalism & Electronic Media and College of Communication & Information offer a Science Communication Program composed of 8 courses, each available at least once a year. The courses are environmental writing, science and medical writing (including nature and environmental writing), science writing as literature, health communication, risk communication, interpersonal health communication (2), and science communication and information sciences. The first four courses can be taken for graduate or undergraduate credit. Three courses are for graduate students only. 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 Wisconsin-Madison's School of Journalism and Mass Communication offers a professional master's degree that allows individuals to construct their own science or environmental communication programs. The school also offers both M.A. and Ph.D. degrees for those interested in scholarship training. Contact Lisa Aarli, 608-263-4858.