Environmental and Informal Science Education, MS

Environmental and Informal Science Education, MS

Get an Master's Degree in Environmental and Informal Science Education?

Environmental and informal science education MS

The master of science in environmental and informal science education program is designed for those who wish to further their knowledge of the environmental and informal sciences and educational theory, research, and practice. Students may specialize in either environmental education (EE) or informal science education (ISE).

The program includes graduate courses in science/environmental content, education, and research. This program is open to individuals with experience and/or interest in formal programs (i.e., schools) or non-formal/informal programs (e.g., programs delivered through nature/environmental centers, parks, zoos, aquaria, museums, media, online sites). Education coursework complements students’ previous educational experience.

Who May Apply for This Program?

Typically, this MS program is open to students who have completed a Bachelor’s degree in a related field and who have some volunteer/work experience in education. In addition:

  • This master’s degree is designed to build upon prior knowledge and experience, both broadening and deepening it.
  • This program assumes that students are motivated by and focused on their professional development and career path.
  • All education courses in this program engage students in projects that allow them to explore their interests, and require them to expand, integrate, and apply their course material.

The MS in environmental and informal science education is a 30-credit degree program. it typically takes about two years to complete all degree requirements, including a final examination (either a thesis defense or a comprehensive oral examination). Students who work and take classes on a part-time basis often require additional time to complete their degree requirements.

Options for Each Specialization

From a practical perspective, there are four options available to students in each specialization:

  • a thesis research option;
  • a non-thesis research option;
  • an internship option; or
  • a professional option, which consists solely of coursework (i.e., no research or internship).

It is noteworthy that many students have selected the non-thesis research option, which has not deterred them from entering PhD degree programs either here at Florida Tech or at other universities in the US, as well as in other countries.

Grapple with the Most Vital Issues Facing Global Society

Environmental and informal science education connect us to the world, teaching us about both natural and built environments. These fields raise awareness of issues affecting the environment on which we all depend, as well as actions we can take to improve and sustain it. It also emphasizes science education as the essential tool the world needs to make sense of an increasingly technology-dependent society.

Why Pursue an Master's in Environmental and Informal Science Education at Florida Tech?

Location, Location, Location

The average college simply cannot beat Florida Tech's location. The 130-acre campus is located on the Space Coast (so named because of the presence of NASA and the Kennedy Space Center on Cape Canaveral just north of us). The area has one of the largest high-tech workforces in the country, with more than 5,000 high-tech corporations and government and military organizations located nearby, providing a variety of internship and employment opportunities.

Florida Tech’s location places it near the beautiful Indian River Lagoon, the most diverse estuary in North America; the Atlantic coast; the headwaters of the St. John's River; Pelican Island and Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuges; and the renowned Brevard Zoo.

We have a lengthy tradition of strong academic programs in the environmental and marine sciences; the EE specialization has been offered since 1992, and is well-known at local, state, and national levels. Unlike some programs, students are encouraged to enhance their knowledge and skills in both environmental/marine content and education.

A Firm Grounding in Environmental and Scientific Research

Besides courses in educational statistics and the essentials of educational research, the two specializations have different educational emphases.

EE classwork includes an overview of the history and definition of environmental education, models of environmental literacy and behavior, and published needs assessments and status reports, as well as an analysis of current needs/problems and opportunities in Florida. Classes focus on concepts in ecology and environmental science, and introduces students to models for teaching/learning concepts and generating lessons using selected models. Additional classes emphasize rationales and strategies for teaching citizenship and environmental responsibility, exploring these topics from various perspectives, including social studies, sciences, and environmental education.

ISE courses provide an overview of human development and learning. Topics include behavioral, social, and cognitive learning theories, and emphasizing the application and implications of these theories to educational practice. Students review research articles and other publications that relate to human development and learning theories, and are introduced to the theory, practice, organization, and research of informal science education, with sessions in various science education venues, and presentations by and discussions with informal science educators.

What Environmental and Informal Science Education Research or Other Opportunities Can I Expect?

In this MS program, students have undertaken a variety of research projects, usually toward the end of their degree program. Projects have included:

  • Reviews of educational materials and resources
  • Curriculum development
  • Development and piloting of teaching materials
  • Needs assessment and program evaluation studies
  • Development and piloting of instruments/procedures for participant assessment
  • Studies involving surveys
  • Reviews of research or theoretical literature

Many have done this for a specific program, both within our region and far beyond it.

Students in this program have presented at state conferences (e.g., the League of Environmental Educators in Florida, and the Florida Marine Science Educators Association) and national/international conferences (e.g., the North American Association for Environmental Education, the National Marine Educators Association).

Publications to which students have contributed include:

  • Marcinkowski, T., Bucheit, J., Spero-Swingle, V., Linsenbardt, C., Engelhardt, J., Stadel, M., Santangelo, R. and Guzmon, K. (2013). Selected trends in thirty years of doctoral research in environmental education in Dissertation Abstracts International from collections prepared in the US. In International Handbook of Research on Environmental Education (pp. 45–62). Washington, DC: American Educational Research Association and Routledge.
  • Kaucheck, L., & Marcinkowski, T. (2010). Biological monitoring programs for K-12 students. The Green Teacher 90 (Fall), 26–32.

How will a Master's Benefit My Environmental and Informal Science Education Career?

Career Outlook

Science educators and environmental education officers teach people about the environment and help them understand the issues facing the natural world, alter their actions, and reduce their detrimental impact on the environment.

Informal science educators frequently find employment by government organizations, NGOs, and nonprofits.

Some graduates with the environmental education specialization have gone on to teach in K–12 schools, but most graduates in these specializations work as environmental education officers in education positions in programs in organizations such as:

  • Nature/environmental/marine centers
  • Parks
  • Zoos
  • Aquaria and marine education centers
  • Museums
  • Camps and 4-H clubs
  • Other non-formal/informal education providers

Those with enough experience have served as education directors.