Some people may think of ecology and activism when environmental science comes up in conversation.
But an innovative environmental science master’s program at Oklahoma State University-Tulsa translates into readily available jobs in a variety of industries, said Dr. Ken Ede, associate director of the environmental science graduate programs.
“Our graduates work in industry to ensure companies stay in compliance with federal environmental standards and deal properly with hazardous waste disposal and sustainability issues,” he said. “This is our bread and butter. This is where the jobs are.”
The Professional Science Master’s Program in Environmental Management is the first and only program of its kind in Oklahoma, providing students a direct springboard to industry-specific job opportunities.
Unlike traditional programs, the PSM degree specifically focuses on preparing graduates to help industry comply with regulations, reduce waste, produce cost savings and improve sustainability.
The OSU-Tulsa program is accredited by the National Professional Science Master's Association and prepares professionals who are increasingly in demand in nearly every industry and currently boasts a 100 percent employment rate for graduates of the PSM program.
“On day one, our graduates can start their job and hit the ground running,” Ede said.
The program attracts many students who have undergraduate degrees in biology, chemistry, ecology, geology and other science degrees who are unable to find work in their field.
“I’ve had students who have a degree in chemistry or biology but work at Taco Bueno because they can’t find a job in their field,” Ede said. “They go through this program in two years – just 36 credit hours – and they get a position that changes their whole life.”
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for environmental scientists and specialists is expected to rise 11 percent between 2014 and 2024, a faster-than-average growth rate than all occupations.
Growing public interest in hazards facing the environment and increasing demands placed on the environment by population growth is expected to spur demand for environmental scientists and specialists, the BLS said.
Shrav Rashatwar, who earned her bachelor’s degree in biology at Rutgers University, found when she moved to Tulsa there were few jobs available in which she could utilize her degree.
“It was then that I realized I needed to go back to school to get my master’s degree in order to get a good stable job in the industry,” she said. “One of the great things about the program is that it’s very flexible and can be conformed to your schedule.”
Rashatwar said the professors are knowledgeable and provided one-on-one attention and hands-on experience.
“Even before graduating from the program, I was offered multiple full-time positions in the environment, health and safety field,” she said. “Getting my degree from OSU-Tulsa gave me an advantage in the job market and I was able to start working before graduating from the program.”
She is now an environment, health and safety specialist at ERI Solutions, Inc. in Wichita. Kansas.
Ede said the OSU-Tulsa program has a robust internship program through relationships with local industry. Many of those internships evolve into full-time positions.
As evidence of the high demand for his graduates, Ede said five of six environmental scientists employed by a large aerospace company in Tulsa graduated from the OSU-Tulsa environmental science master’s degree program.
“As industry grows and more companies are brought back to the U.S., the demand for environmental science professionals is only going to increase,” Ede said.
One student who will soon graduate with her master’s degree has already received four job offers.
In addition, the OSU-Tulsa environmental science graduate program recently partnered with the OSU Spears School of Business to add a business sustainability option for OSU undergraduates pursuing a bachelor’s degree in management.
Those undergraduates can move right into the master’s degree program and successfully begin a career upon graduation, Ede said.
“I think business sustainability will be one of the foundations of industry in the future,” he said. “It’s about the three P’s – people, profits, the planet.”
To learn more about the Master of Environmental Science degree, visit https://www.osu-tulsa.okstate.edu/degrees/envscience-ms.php.
To learn more about the Bachelor of Management degree with the Business Sustainability Option, visit https://www.osu-tulsa.okstate.edu/degrees/bus-sustain-option.php.