Master of Environmental Management

fletcher in lab


The Masters in Environmental Management (MEM) degree teaches students how to analyze and manage natural environments for human benefit and ecosystem health. The Environmental Science and Management MEM course curriculum similar to that of the Professional Science Master (PSM). The primary difference is that the PSM requires 12 additional credits in “PSM Plus Courses.”  These PSM “Plus Courses” give students knowledge in the discipline of professional management and practices. The MEM program is also similar to that of the Master of Science (MS) degree.  The primary difference between the MEM and MS degrees is that MEM students must complete a project instead of a thesis. 

A Masters of Environmental Management degree prepares students for work in: 

  • Environmental consulting
  • Resource agencies
  • City, county and state government
  • Industry

MEM Curriculum

The MEM curriculum requires students to complete four core courses (16 credits), three seminar courses (3 credits), one course in advanced statistical analysis (4 credits), three courses in the student's area of concentration (12 credits), one elective or supporting courses (4 credits), and a project and practicum (6 six credits).  Your area of concentration must include at least one management course.  Course selection must be approved by your major professor.

MEM Planning Grid 

MEM Core Courses

Course Planning Guide


MEM Project Overview

The culminating experience of students seeking a Master of Environmental Management (MEM) degree is completion of a project. This element of the curriculum serves to integrate coursework, further develop skills required to function effectively in a professional setting (e.g. communication, presentation and project management) and provide an opportunity to participate in the solution of a real environmental problem.  Working with local agencies or/and organizations and an Environmental Science & Management (ESM) faculty advisor, the student identifies a problem, formulates a project with the community partner, formally proposes a project, completes the scope of work detailed in the proposal, and documents and presents the results of the project to an appropriate audience.

Because the MEM project is meant to serve the community partner, the projects will range in scope.  For instance, past projects have ranged from a review and recommendations of statewide wetland policies to recommendations for a site-specific restoration.  Despite the diverse nature of the projects, they do have the following common elements:

  • projects are applied to a real-world problem or issue
  • projects require student knowledge and thinking at a level that is substantially above an undergraduate senior internship
  • projects require a detailed analysis of a problem/issue and recommendations
  • students work independently on the project
  • most projects take between 4 to 9 months to complete (proposal acceptance to presentation of the final project to the committee)

Click here for a list of selected project titles and community partners.

Project Timeline

Below is the general timeline for the Master of Environmental Management degree. Students usually start in the fall quarter (1st quarter) and work through the summer (4th quarter) on their projects and finish their degree program in the spring quarter of their second year (7th quarter). This timeline may vary with the individual student.                              

Task Completed By
MEM Practicum Course (ESM 509). Identify ideal project 1st quarter
Select Project Advisor 2nd quarter
Project Prospectus 2nd quarter
Select Community Partner 3rd quarter
Project Proposal 3rd quarter
Work on Project 4th through 7th quarter
Select Committee 5th quarter
Complete project and written draft of project report 7th quarter
Revise Draft 7th quarter, at least 2 weeks before presentation
Presentation of project 7th quarter
Final Project (2 bound copies and a digital version) 7th quarter, last of finals week

MEM Practicum Course

Incoming MEM students take the MEM Practicum course, ESM 509, to focus their interests and develop a prospectus of their "ideal" project.

Select Project Advisor

The student's initial advisor may or may not also serve as the project advisor. If a student wants to change their advisor they must consult with their initial advisor and desired new advisor for approval.

Project Prospectus

Students should consult with their project advisor as early as possible to help select and define their project. A one to two page prospectus is due to the project advisor at the end of the second quarter. The project advisor should approve the prospectus before the student approaches a potential community partner.

Select Community Partner

With their project advisor, the student should select a potential community partner. The ideal partner is a community entity with strong interests in the student focus area and a source potential funding.  Most student projects are not funded; lack of funding should not be a determining factor in the selection of a community partner.  At the beginning of the third quarter the student should approach the potential community partner to present and discuss their project prospectus.  It is not unusual for the student to refine their project prospectus in response to the partner's needs.  The ultimate decision regarding selection of a community partner should be based on the community partner's interest and willingness to work with the student on their MEM project.

Project Proposal

Once the student has met with the community partner and discussed their potential project, the student should prepare a draft MEM project proposal. The proposal should include a brief literature review, the needs of the community partner for the project, a scope of work with detailed tasks to be completed, a schedule and a budget. The draft proposal is due to the project advisor by the middle of the third quarter. Once the proposal is approved by the advisor, the proposal should be submitted to the community partner for their approval. Click here for Project Proposal format guidelines.

Work on Project

Once the proposal is approved, the student should conduct the project.  Meetings with the community partners should be expected throughout the duration of the project.  In addition, all students need to maintain close contact with their project advisor during the project period.  Communication by e-mail or phone during the summer and regular meetings during the academic year will be needed to ensure progress toward completion.

Select Committee

With their project advisor, the student should select his/her committee.  The committee must be made up of at least three members: the project advisor; the representative of the community partner; and a third reader who is an associate of the ESM department.  Click here for information about the responsibilities of the committee members.

Complete Project and Written Draft

Once the project work is completed, the student should prepare a draft report of the project.  It is recognized that the diverse nature of the MEM projects will result in end products that vary from implemented, on-the-ground projects to in-depth reports.  Regardless of the type of project, each student is required to prepare a report describing, in detail, the project they performed. Click here for the report format guidelines.

A complete draft of the report must be submitted to the advisor at least six weeks before the student's desired presentation date.  MEM reports often go through several drafts before the final version. Advisors typically need ten days to two weeks to edit each draft and revisions may take longer than expected. Once the advisor has reviewed the draft report and assessed the revisions necessary, the student can set a tentative date for the project presentation with their advisor's approval.

Revise Draft

A revised draft incorporating the advisor's comments is due four weeks before the student's desired date of presentation.  Within 10 days, the project advisor will tell the student if they are approved to present their project on the tentative date.  The standard for such approval is (a) no need for additional collection of raw data, (b) no need for major re-analysis, and (c) the advisor is confident the student can accomplish any additional analysis and re-writing successfully before the final deadline. The purpose of this standard is to avoid last-minute discovery that the MEM project is not adequate for graduation.

The student should submit their final draft report to their committee at least two weeks before the date of presentation.

Presentation of Project

Each student must present his/her masters project in an oral presentation open to the public. These presentations are to be of professional quality.  Most student use PowerPoint® as a visual aide to their presentation.  The presentation must be announced via printed notice and email at least one week before the presentation date.

You should coordinate the time for your presentation with your major professor and committee members. Once you have a date and time, you should reserve a room through the Environmental Science & Management office.  Your presentation should be 30" - 40" in length, followed by approximately 30 minutes of questions by the general public and your committee. You should expect your committee to ask you more detailed questions about your report and presentation after the general public leaves. The committee will then outline any further action steps that need to be completed before recommending that you receive your degree.

A week or so before your presentation students should email a pdf flyer announcing their presentation;  she will forward this on to the department listserves and website. The information in the announcement should include the project title, student's name, adviser's name, date, time and room number. In addition, students should print out copies of the flyer and post them around Science Research & Teaching Center and Science Building II. Most students provide light refreshments and drinks for the attendees at their presentation. 

It is highly recommended that you attend at least one other project presentation prior to your own.

Final Project

When an MEM or PSM student finalizes their project write-up, their graduate adviser will upload a copy of the project write-up to the i-drive in the folder:




If for some reason the graduate adviser does not have access or this otherwise doesn't work, then submit the project to the ESM office using

Graduate advisers will also archive any past MEM and PSM student projects from their lab that are not in those i-drive folders.

Advisers will ask their student to submit the project to PDX Scholar by emailing a copy of the project to (curated by Karen Bjork, Head of Digital Initiatives, Students can request an embargo for their work for a period of time, usually one year. The projects will be added to PDXScholar without an embargo unless requested in the email submission. 

Note: The project report must have an Abstract/Executive Summary and list the student name, the adviser's name, and the name of the community partner (and other committee members as appropriate). 

Be sure to email the ESM Chair to request that they submit the DARS Non-Course exception to verify the student is done with their project write-up and presentation. Please include in this email the typical info for a DARS exception (the student's PSU ID#, the degree program (in this case MEM or PSM), and the catalog year to be used (usually the current term or the student's starting term) and also the date of the project presentation and the date of the final paper acceptance. 


MEM/PSM Project Report Signature Page 

Graduate Candidate Deadlines

Forms (Graduate School)

Graduate Student Services

Academic Calendar

Graduate School