Environmental Psychology Degree Programs & Schools

Environmental psychology studies the interrelationship between humans and their environment; behavior and cognition. Environmental psychology has, since its early origins, studied both built and natural environments. Yet, in the last few years as sustainability has become an important issue, this field has increased its focus to include how humans affect and are affected by their natural environment.

In short, environmental psychology makes use of the fundamental principles of psychology to help people understand and, therefore, do good things for the environment.

Environmental Psychologist Licensing Requirements

Generally speaking, only psychologists who practice clinical or counseling psychology are required to be licensed. Environmental psychologists who carry out research or teach are not required to be licensed. Many employers still require that an environment psychologist be licensed. This is especially true in positions as a member of psychology faculty, as their role involves mentoring and advising students who one day may themselves become psychologists.

It's important to keep in mind that licensing requirements are constantly changing, so it would be wise to check out the requirements in the state in which you choose to practice prior to beginning a career as an environmental psychologist.

Environmental Psychology Bachelor’s Degree Program

Environmental Psychologists often coordinate with researchers and other psychologists in related disciplines, such as ecology, biology, sociology, and anthropology. They also work with urban and community planners, landscape architects, and engineers, among others. This means that as students begin their studies in the field of environmental psychology, it would be judicious to keep these fields in mind when selecting course electives, in research opportunities, or internships.

Typically, environmental psychologists earn a degree in psychology, and opt to take courses, such as:

  • Environmental psychology
  • Research methods
  • Social Psychology
  • Healthy Psychology
  • Environmental science
  • Engineering
  • Urban planning
  • Geography
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Environmental Psychology Master’s Degree Program

A master’s program in environmental psychology gives students an advanced understanding of the relationship between humans and their natural, social and constructed environments. At this level, an individual has the knowledge to predict human behavior in relation to the design and management of the environment.

Courses, which typically focus on research and theories, within the master’s degree program in environmental psychology, include:

  • Preferred environments for humans
  • Human attention to the environment
  • Conservation behavior and psychology
  • Environmental stress
  • Perception and cognitive maps
  • Human coping mechanisms

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Environmental Psychology Doctoral Degree Programs

A master’s or doctoral degree in psychology is typically required to work in the field of environmental psychology. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programs in environmental psychology are typically more popular than master’s degree programs. Doctoral programs often require extended studies in one specialty (within the environmental psychology program), such as environmental stress factors. Completing a committee-approved dissertation paper is also required of most PhD programs.

Regardless of the college or university, courses in environmental psychology, include:

  • Social Ecology
  • Urban Planning
  • Environmental Science
  • Cultural Studies
  • Architectural Psychology
  • Statistics
Often environmental psychologists will also go on to do postdoctoral research.

Some environmental psychologists work in counseling and in clinical roles, such as nature and outdoor therapy, or treating patients based on their understanding of environmental factors. In these cases, licensure is required as patients and counseling are involved.

A few of the specializations/concentrations in environmental psychology include:

  • Environmental interior design
  • Community development
  • Energy efficiency
  • Population density
  • Human factors/ergonomics
  • Ecological literacy

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Continuing Education for Environmental Psychologists

In order to stay up-to-date with trends and advances in the field of environmental psychology, and for professional development opportunities, graduates should consider continuing education. In many states, sources for continued education credits include:

Environmental Psychologist Career Outlook

in 2015, the American Psychological Association (APA) Task Force began promoting opportunities for environmental psychologists, due to increased concerns about climate change, environmental preservation, conservation and sustainable environmental behaviors. As a result, the industry has seen substantial growth in the overall number of people employed in the field of environmental psychology and other closely related professions.

Listed below are several industries where Environmental Psychologists are commonly employed:

  • Government
  • Environmental Planning
  • Business
  • Health
  • Environmental Management
  • Research Organizations
  • Government Agencies
  • Urban Design
  • Academia
  • Environmental Policy