Environmental Policy and Planning

Changing the world requires new public policies and visionary plans, along with innovative decision-making processes and well-managed organizations. The Environmental Policy and Planning field of study focuses on building the professional skills to design and implement effective policies and plans while considering the human and institutional behaviors that underlie environmental problems.

As a SEAS Environmental Policy and Planning student, you will be grounded both in the science of underlying environmental issues and in the political, economic, and institutional factors that can be used to promote change. You will develop the ability to create decision-making processes that are scientifically credible, consider a diverse set of interests, and lead to the development of organizations that can protect natural systems and move society toward sustainability.


Working with an adviser, you will tailor your Environmental Policy and Planning coursework to your specific career goals. A typical curriculum includes classes in institutions, politics, law, policy analysis, and planning. You will also learn negotiation and dispute resolution, and develop expertise in a specific issue you choose, such as water, climate change and energy, public lands, biodiversity and ecosystem management, environmental justice, and sustainable land use.

The Environmental Policy and Planning curriculum provides a solid foundation for dual-degree programs in public policy, urban planning, law, or business. 

Course Sampling

“After five years working in the environmental realm, I realized the significant impact that laws and regulations have on the behaviors of public agencies and private enterprises. I wanted to learn how to influence these ‘guiding hands of policy’ to suit the interests of environmental conservation, and I found the Environmental Policy and Planning field of study at SEAS a perfect fit to do so.”

—Gianna Petito, Environmental Policy and Planning student track leader


Environmental Policy and Planning graduates work as policy analysts, advocates, planners, program managers, and leaders in nonprofit environmental organizations, land trusts, all levels of government, consulting firms, and corporations. The collaboration and dispute resolution training integral to this field of study opens job opportunities at environmental mediation firms and regional partnerships. Some graduates decide to pursue research careers at academic institutions and with nonprofit organizations.

Other career options span the range of geographic scales, including community-based conservation, state-level environmental management, federal policy-making, and work at international institutions, such as the United Nations Development Programme and World Wildlife Fund. The following are select employers of EPP graduates:

Top  Environmental Policy and Planning employers

For more information on Environmental Policy and Planning, contact seas-admissions@umich.edu.