Fels launches new dual-degree program
Beginning this semester, students interested in government administration and environmental studies will be able to integrate both disciplines by enrolling in a new dual degree program.
Jointly offered by the Fels Institute of Government and the College of Liberal and Professional Studies, the program will enable students to earn a Masters of Environmental Studies and Governmental Administration over a period of two years.
According to Yvette Bordeaux, director of the professional master’s programs in Earth and Environmental Science, both schools finalized the decision to introduce the dual degree this summer.
“Both state and local governments are starting to deal with issues of sustainability,” Bordeaux explained, adding that individuals capable of bridging the gap between environmental science and government are currently in high demand.
While the degree will require students to complete both Master’s programs, it permits some courses to be double-counted, reducing the overall number of requirements. Under the dual degree curriculum, students will finish 18 courses instead of the 24 they would have been required to complete had they pursued each degree separately.
In addition, the program will enable students to complete both degrees in significantly less time than that required to earn each individually. While each of the MGA and MES Master’s degrees requires one-and-a-half years — including summers — to complete, the dual degree program can be finished in two years.
Students must apply to each degree program separately and be admitted to both to gain entry.
Over the course of their studies, dual degree students can also opt to work with nonprofit organizations to gain firsthand field experience.
In the past, the MES program has placed students at internships with the Environmental Protection Agency, Philadelphia Water Department and Philadelphia Global Water Initiative. Likewise, the MGA program also allows students to work in the nonprofit sector.
“We need people in government and policy-making that understand the issues,” Bordeaux said. “The leaders who can go out and understand environmental science and make policy from that are going to be extremely important as we go forward.”
According to Penn President Amy Gutmann, the program is “in an area in which [faculty] are leaders in teaching and research,” and the dual degree will “increase Penn’s strength.”
While some other Ivy League and top public and private universities — such as Yale, Duke, Johns Hopkins and Columbia Universities — have Master’s of Environmental Management programs that compete with Penn’s MES degree, College of Liberal and Professional Studies Enrollment Management Director Nora Roberts [Lewis] said, none of these institutions offer a similar dual degree program that trains students in both environmental studies and public sector management.