Components & Concentrations

Discover an area of study that’s truly your own—and get the best of both worlds

As an MPA-MSES dual-degree student, you’ll complete a 60-credit hour curriculum that includes the following components: core courses and competencies; tool skills; concentration requirements; an experiential requirement; and a capstone project. These components are supplemented by an array of concentration options across both the MPA and MSES degree programs. Please work with an advisor to ensure you are meeting your degree requirements.

MPA-MSES Requirement I: Public Affairs Core Courses (18 credit hours)

  • Statistics for Environmental Science (E 538)
  • Environmental Management (E 543)
  • Public Policy Process (V 512) OR Comparative and International Policy Process (V 538)
  • Public Management Economics (V 517)
  • Social Equity and Justice (V 532)
  • Rights and Responsibilities: How Law Shapes Public Affairs (V 536)
  • Designing and Managing Complex Projects (V 537)
  • Evidence-Based Decision-Making (V 550)

MPA-MSES Requirement 2: Environmental Science Core Courses (12 credit hours)

  • Applied Mathematics for Environmental Science (E 526)
  • Applied Ecology (E 527)
  • Environmental Chemistry (E 536)
  • Environmental Engineering (E 552)

Your remaining course work and credit hours will be filled by your concentrations requirements, experiential learning component, and a capstone.

You will obtain professionally relevant experience through one of these options:

  • An approved internship, typically during the summer
  • Research project (available on a limited basis)
  • Thesis project
  • Credit for prior professional experience or volunteer service, such as the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, or Teach for America

During your Capstone, you’ll work in student groups on a semester-long, detailed analysis of a complex problem—often for a real-world client. You’ll consult with a faculty advisor on an appropriate Capstone selection.

Alumni Spotlight: Jelling Lai, MPA-MSES'09

"What makes O'Neill special is definitely the people. Even  today, I have contacts in different countries because of the friendships I've made."

Description of the video:

To me, O'Neill was a really obvious choice. I remember my first time visiting during Experience Day. Seeing all the faculty and the staff and the current students being so eager and excited to meet prospective students. I think that really gave me a sense of warmth and comfort about a very new and unfamiliar environment. I think since then that sense of community has only deepened and become more concrete.

What makes O'Neill special is definitely the people. Even now today, I have contacts in different countries because of the friendships I've made. I got my first job through an O'Neill professor and that's how I got into environmental consulting

I did my undergrad in environmental sciences but focused on geology. I realized I wanted to learn more about the science, but I also wanted to think about impact, because sustainability is about driving impact through people. I wanted the technical skill set of what the environmental policy degree would bring for me. O'Neill was one of the rare schools at the time that offered the joint degree. It really helped me think about application on a large scale. It's also a program that has a lot of variety to offer.

I was very confident that such a reputable program with a rigorous curriculum would bring a very talented cohort - and indeed it did.

After 12 years in environment consulting and a multinational corporation, I'm excited to start a new position with Owens Corning in global sourcing - sustainability standards and compliance.

Select a concentration tailored to your interests

Choose among our 12 MPA, four MSES, and five unique MPA-MSES dual-degree concentrations to turn your interests into an area of expertise that is highly marketable—and uniquely your own. Our faculty advisors will work with you to develop your concentration's course of study or even help you tailor a one-of-a-kind, individualized course of study.


50 years at O'Neill