Master of Science in Environmental Management (MSEM)
A Master of Science in Environmental Management (MSEM) degree prepares students to address important environmental issues faced by industry, non-profits, governments, and individuals. Our 36-credit-hour non-thesis program provides a wide selection of courses including compliance, regulation and policy, field work, sustainability, chemistry, conservation biology, and project management to ensure a solid background in environmental issues so our students are prepared for an exciting career in this growing industry.
The MSEM degree was the catalyst. It taught me how to solve real-world environmental problems with practical solutions.Bill Peters, MSEM 1996, Director of Environmental Protection, Jefferson County (Retired)
Objectives & Goals
In the MSEM program, students will gain the ability to understand complex, and often difficult, issues in the environmental field and be equipped to make sustainable business decisions. Students will enter the workplace as leaders, prepared to quickly identify potential environmental liabilities by blending policy, science, and management skills to address the environmental problems of our modern world.
Is This Program for Me?
The type of student who will do well in our program includes students who like to learn, are fascinated by the natural world, are interested in complex problem solving, and who want to leave the world a better place. While a science background is helpful, it is not required for success in the program. We do offer biology and chemistry pre-requisite courses for those students who need a basic foundational understanding of science.
In the classroom, I received valuable knowledge about Environmental Management concepts and processes. Small class sizes and the close relationship to a competent professor made the program attractive. Away from my hometown in Berlin, Germany, I integrated quickly into the Samford family. The warm and welcoming manner of the people in the South played a significant role in this process. Leo, Berlin Germany, MSEM 2016
What Makes Us Different?
The MSEM program is unique because it offers a perfect blend of science, policy, and management skills to address the issues facing environmental managers. While other programs lean heavily on either science or technology, the MSEM program offers a bird's-eye view of the environmental landscape, preparing its graduates to see the big picture.
Environmental Management & Law
A joint graduate degree in environmental management and law (M.S.E.M./J.D.) is offered in conjunction with the Cumberland School of Law. Contact the Cumberland School of Law for more information.
Environmental Management & Business Management
A joint graduate degree in environmental management and business management (M.S.E.M./M.B.A.) is offered in conjunction with Brock School of Business. Contact Beth Smith or Elizabeth Gambrell for more information.
The MSEM program offers career preparation in the following ways: 40-hour HAZWOPER certification through the Hazardous Materials course, a strong internship program, directed research with faculty members on a variety of environmental topics, and opportunities to network with professional environmental organizations. Class sizes are kept small to allow for rich classroom discussions and meaningful relationships between faculty and students.
It all started at Samford with the MSEM program. My third career is now my lifelong career: making a difference in my community and in the world.Bill Peters, MSEM 1996, Director of Environmental Protection, Jefferson County (Retired)
- Energy and Utilities
- Government Agencies
- Land Management
- Private Industry
- Safety and Health
- Urban Planning
- Waste Management
- Wildlife Conservation
- Alabama Wildlife Center
- AMEC Foster Wheeler
- City of Birmingham, Storm Water Division
- Freshwater Landtrust
- Oak Mountain Interpretive Center
- Southern Research
- Spectrum Environmental Services
- Terracon Consultants
Accolades, Alumni & Faculty
The professors really seemed to care about my career goals and how I might achieve them. I would say that was the best part of the program for me.Jordan Collins, MSEM 2010, ThyssenKrupp Steel USA
MSEM alumni Anas Althagafi represents the Saudi Arabia delegation at the 17th NIOHC conference in Cairo, Egypt.
- Alabama Gas Corporation
- Alabama Power
- Bhate Environmental
- Birmingham Water Works
- Cardno ENTRIX
- Dauphin Island Sea Lab
- Eco Three
- PM Environmental
- Southern Company
- ThyssenKrupp Steel
- Upper Susquehanna Coalition
- US Corp of Engineers
- US Geological Survey
Three levels of admission status are designated:
Regular admission after three years of relevant work experience:
- Graduation from an accredited college or university with an overall GPA of at least 2.50.
- A minimum of three years relevant work experience
- Two letters of reference from nonrelated persons.
Regular admission for recent college graduates (three years or less since award of undergraduate degree):
- Graduation from an accredited college or university with an overall minimum GPA of 3.00.
- A GRE score of at least 295 combined or a MAT score of at least 396, taken within the last five years.
- Two letters of reference from nonrelated persons.
Provisional admission may be granted upon demonstrating seriousness of purpose and ability to succeed in the program. This status will be considered for applicants who do not meet all requirements for regular admission as listed above. The applicant must furnish two letters of recommendation from two nonrelated persons. If offered provisional admission, the student must complete the first six semester hours with no grade lower than a B. Upon demonstrating this level of work, the student will qualify for admission to regular graduate status.
Required Credentials for Admission
Each student must submit official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended. In order for transcripts to be official, they must be sent directly from the student’s college/university to the Office of Admission, Samford University, 800 Lakeshore Drive, Birmingham, AL 35229. Transcripts sent to faculty or other offices on campus are not official. In addition, GRE or MAT scores must be sent directly to the Office of Admission from the testing agency. Scores furnished from other sources are not considered to be official.
Notification of Admission
Official notification of admission is communicated by letter from the Office of Admission. In the case of provisional admission, the letter may stipulate certain conditions that must be met by the applicant.
Prerequisites for Graduate Admission
While interdisciplinary in nature and accepting candidates with a variety of backgrounds and degrees, the program is heavily technical and scientific in design. Applicants will ideally have some training in the biological and physical sciences. If the admission committee notes a lack of scientific background in an applicant's preparation, it will require the student to complete a cell-based general biology course, specifically approved by the program directors, prior to taking any of the scientifically oriented courses in the program, with the exception of ENVM 501 (Biological and Environmental Chemistry). This cell-based general biology course may be an undergraduate course and will not count toward the 36 credits required for degree completion.
Acceptable Academic Progress (Minimum GPA)
Students in the M.S.E.M. program must maintain an overall 3.00 GPA in all graduate work. If a student earns a grade of D, F, or WF in any M.S.E.M. program course, or if his/her GPA falls below 3.00, the program director and relevant faculty must consider the student’s promise and potential for successful completion of the program.
Up to nine semester credits/hours of appropriate and approved graduate coursework completed at another institution may be substituted for program course requirements. Coursework requested to be transferred must have been completed with a grade of at least B in each course. Such coursework must be the equivalent of a full semester’s work (specifically, a course taken for three quarter-hours is NOT the equivalent of a three semester credit/hour course) and be supported by official transcripts and appropriate syllabi. Acceptance of such credit is solely the authority of the program directors.
All courses required for the master of science in environmental management must be completed within a period of five years from the academic session of first admission.
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Program Core Classes (12 Credits)
All classes are required.
ENVM-501: Biological and Environmental Chemistry
Application of chemical and biochemical principles to environmental problems and solutions. Course provides the nonscientist with the necessary chemical/biochemical concepts to assimilate the scientific aspects of environmental management.
ENVM-502: Environmental Law and Regulation
Broad overview of how environmental issues are addressed in the American legal system. Examines common legal remedies in federal, state, and municipal environmental statutes and regulations. Salient topics include environmental policy making and rulemaking by governmental agencies.
ENVM-504: Basic Toxicology
Examination of the basics of applied toxicology for the non-technician. Course covers experimental toxicology, definitions, biochemical mechanisms, and signs of exposure and insult. Includes an overview of how toxic materials enter the body, how they interact with the body, and how they are eliminated. Students learn specific toxic effects of metals, pesticides, and solvents.
ENVM-505: Environmental Sustainability
Examination of the basic principles of sustainability and how to apply those principles in decision making and green imaging. Students will develop these skills through a group project where they will evaluate the sustainability of an assigned entity (e.g., a company, city government, or organization) and identify recommendations for improving that entity’s sustainability and green image.
Environmental Management Electives (24 Credits)
Choose 8 classes.
ENVM-506: Environmental Risk Assessment and Management
Review of the basic principles and methods for conducting a risk assessment. Students examine both the values and limitations of risk assessment by focusing on environmental and health risks. Includes review of how risk management decisions are made in the public and private sectors and explains how to communicate to the public environmental and health risks, as well as public policy choices and tradeoffs.
ENVM-507: Technology and Management of Hazardous Materials
Review of current technology in storage, handling, and transportation of hazardous materials and wastes. Emphasis on safe, efficient, and legally sufficient management techniques. Includes: presentation of methods for identification and classification of hazardous and toxic materials, substances, and wastes; review of spills and specific procedures to prevent incidents and to protect human health and the environment; and examination of OSHA training requirements, packaging and labeling procedures, storage compatibility and capacity, transportation requirements, and legal responsibilities.
ENVM-508: Ecotoxicology for the Environmental Manager
Introduction to the dynamics of the ecosystem and the effects of toxic substances on the living and nonliving components. Topics include the role of indicator species on ecosystem health, nature of key species in ecosystem functioning, loss of biodiversity under toxicological insult, and methods for monitoring ecosystem health and restoration. Several major case studies are examined to illustrate eco-toxicological concepts.
ENVM-509: Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Environmental Management Issues
Introduction to the basics of Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Overview of relevant theory, software, hardware, databases, and applications. Trends in GIS technology are examined from the managerial perspective. Examples are drawn from current environmental projects.
ENVM-510: Environmental Ethics and Values
Examination of ethical considerations in environmental decision-making. Discussion of personal versus organizational attitudes, cultural economic and historical values, science versus politics, and international and intergenerational issues. Includes study of humankind’s relationship with the environment. Students are encouraged to develop a personal philosophy relative to their role in the regulatory, technical, scientific, legal, or corporate management of the environment.
ENVM-511: Environmental Total Quality Management (TQM)
Introduction to the concepts and techniques of Total Quality Management (TQM) from the environmental perspective. Topics include understanding the fundamentals of environmental TQM, organizing for environmental compliance using TQM techniques, applying total quality auditing techniques, and using TQM for measuring environmental success and costs. Goal communication within the organization is explored. Real-life case studies are utilized throughout the course.
ENVM-512: Environmental Project Management
Examination of basic project management concepts in the context of selecting, developing, and implementing environmental projects to achieve organizational objectives in support of an organization’s mission or purpose. Concepts of strategic planning, team leadership, risk management, public relations, and controlling projects will be explored to prepare students to effectively manage environmental projects.
Introduction to the development, structure, and importance of wetlands, including the background necessary to understand the current controversies concerning wetland protection. Instructional methods include lecture, problem sheets, and field exercises.
ENVM-515: Endangered Species
Study of evolutionary mechanisms, species concepts, and taxonomic and systematic principles as applied to species-level taxon. Includes examination of how federal and state laws relating to endangered species affect decision-making of environmental managers.
Students pursue a research topic of special interest under the direction of an ENVM faculty member or an outside expert jointly agreed upon by course coordinator and student. This research provides an opportunity for senior graduate students to integrate their knowledge in real-world, problem-solving situations.
ENVM-517: Environmental Biomonitoring
Review of the basics of modern environmental analysis. Topics include proper field sampling and preservation, legal aspects, traceability, and chain of custody records. Aspects of a quality assurance and quality control program are addressed, as well as fundamentals of laboratory instrumentation and air quality monitoring.
ENVM-518: Environmental Litigation
Study of the process of environmental litigation, focusing on the role of an environmental manager, commonly litigated issues, and alternatives to litigation.
ENVM-519: Conservation Biology and Natural Resource Management
Study of the basic theories, models, and techniques of the science of conservation biology and their utilization in the conservation and management of natural resources.
ENVM-520: Occupational Safety and Health Law and Policy
Examination of the relationship between federal occupational safety and health statutes to the work environment. Particular emphasis placed on the rights, duties, and responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970.
ENVM-521: Risk Analysis
Exploration of the risk analysis framework, focusing on its interplay between science and politics as an approach to managing health and environmental hazards. “Risk Analysis” is defined broadly to encompass the interrelated tasks of risk assessment, risk evaluation, risk management, and risk communication. Students are exposed to a synoptic perspective on how environmental problems, goals, and policies are actually shaped in the complex world of competing interests, conflicting ideologies, and incomplete understanding.
ENVM-522: Environmental Economics
Policy orientation to environmental issues, focusing on the economic theory which drives the policy. Emphasis on the strong international thrust which integrates economic development with environmental policy.
ENVM-524: Environmental Geology
Application of geological and hydrogeological principles to environmental management issues including groundwater and soil assessment, site remediation, and risk assessment. Includes introductory geology and hydrogeology background necessary to understand environmental geology as related to environmental management, environmental policy, and applicable environmental regulations. Applications of groundwater modeling, aquifer testing techniques, map reading, groundwater regulations, and the application of geology to current soil and groundwater remediation technology, landfill siting, and wellhead protection are introduced.
ENVM-525: Environmental Forestry
Review of the principles of forest ecology and management and the subsequent environmental concerns that occur with various practices. Includes: examination of the historical developments of American forests and comparison of past conditions with current health; study of abiotic and biotic components of forest habitats, including forest soils, productivity, climatic factors, and biological diversity; and discussion of principles of silviculture, including forest regeneration, intensive forest management and best management practices for the control of nonpoint pollution. Students gain a basic understanding of management principles enabling them to balance both economic and environmental forest concerns.
ENVM-526: Environmental Auditing
Study of the fundamentals of environmental auditing. Topics include: elements of the audit process, property transfer audits, waste contractor audits, waste minimization audits, international audits, and managing and critiquing an audit program. Students are required to perform practical exercises individually or in small groups.
ENVM-527: Sociology of the Environment
Introduction to the idea that humans not only react to the environment but also shape it, based on the assumption that human capacity to act on the environment is more complex than that for any other living species. Focus on the capacity of humans to define the environment as something to be manipulated, guided by the constructed aims of human groups. Central concepts include human beliefs, values and institutions, social inequality in power and influence, demographic shifts and technology, political/economic organization, and globalization as an historical process in human organization.
ENVM-528: Challenge to Sustainability: Conserving East Africa’s Biodiversity
Exploration of local, national, and international efforts to manage and conserve East Africa’s biodiversity. Topics include the biogeography of East Africa, its people, history, current conservation issues and the role of sustainable development in the conservation of natural resources. Includes a 15-day safari to East African countries with visits and fieldwork at selected game reserves, discovery centers, and national parks. Cross-listed with BIOL 402.
Offered: Summer 1
ENVM-529: Energy and the Environment
Study of the fundamentals of the science of energy and its applications to technology, issues of a global energy policy, and associated environmental regulations including climate change. Includes a comprehensive discussion of the different types of commercially produced energy and the advantages and disadvantages of each type.
Offered: Summer 1
ENVM-530: Environmental Management Internship
Supervised internship with a private, public, or non-profit organization with exposure to various aspects of environmental management.
Offered: As Needed
ENVM-531: Environmental Management International Studies
An introduction to environmental management, technology, and policy issues within another country or region of the world. Examination of environmental technologies, practices, and policies that might have beneficial application within Alabama, the United States, or other countries and regions. Domestic and/or international travel required.
Offered: As Needed
ENVM-532: Environmental Neuroscience
Examination of basic concepts in neuroscience and an exploration of the effects of environmental stressors on nervous system function during development, disease, and aging. Students will develop a sophisticated understanding of these complex interactions through a research project investigating the impacts of specific environmental and toxicological effects on the neurobiology of individuals.