An Annotated Guide to Environmental and General Advocacy Degree Programs in the United States of America


Advocacy is a critically important subfield within environmental studies and sciences and an essential knowledge and skill domain for environmental professionals, scientists, and citizen activists. Training for effective advocacy builds the necessary skills, knowledge, networks, and capacities that facilitate engagement in public policy decision-making processes and other arenas where environmental outcomes, impacts, and solutions are determined. Advocacy typically focuses on three scales: specific cases, issue areas, and systems-level change. Advocacy work includes community education and organizing, strategic campaigning, tactical research, formal legal actions, creating and advancing petitions and referenda, informing regulatory rules and legislative processes, nonviolent direct action, and media work. This guide was compiled from a search of college websites and online search engines for Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programs, as well as graduate certificate programs, with a focus on advocacy. Criteria included the presence of one or more of the following keywords in academic course catalogs and/or program websites: advocacy, sustainability, social justice, environmental policy, environmental planning, and environmental justice. This guide includes the programs that best fit this description. The guide is not intended to be definitive, as more programs that match this description may continue to emerge within higher education. Directions for future research include an international survey of similar programs; details on program enrollment, completion, and employment; and examination of emerging trends in credentialing, certification, and professional practice. This guide is anticipated to be a reference for students and educators.

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Data availability



  1. 1.

    The Graduate Specialization in Gender, Justice, and Environmental Change is administered by the College of Agriculture and the College of Social Science and is available to graduates students enrolled in a graduate degree program at Michigan State University.

  2. 2.

    The Graduate Certificate in Environmental Justice is offered to any student currently enrolled at the University of Michigan or a person who has received a post-baccalaureate degree from the University of Michigan in the previous five years.

  3. 3.

    Certificate credits can be transferred into the M.A. in Social and Public Policy degree program.

  4. 4.

    Coursework can be transferred to the Master’s in Strategic Public Relations program.


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Correspondence to Abigail Abrash Walton.

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For the Symposium on Environmental Advocacy

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Abrash Walton, A., Hoskins, M. & Sinnes, E. An Annotated Guide to Environmental and General Advocacy Degree Programs in the United States of America. J Environ Stud Sci (2021).

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  • Advocacy
  • Public policy
  • Engagement
  • Decision-making
  • Education
  • Curricula