Master of Arts in Climate and Society

Master of Arts in Climate and Society

The Program of Study

The Master of Arts in Climate and Society, offered by the Department of Earth and Environmental Studies in collaboration with the Earth Institute, is a twelve-month interdisciplinary program that trains professionals and academics to understand and cope with impacts of climate variability and climate change on society and the environment. The rigorous program emphasizes the problems of developing countries. At the end of twelve intensive, rewarding months, our graduates are prepared to address environmental issues from positions in government, business, and nongovernmental organizations. Some continue their academic careers in the social or natural sciences.

Decision makers need clear and reliable guidance on impending climate shocks, as well as practical information and tools to deal with their consequences. Building on improved scientific understanding of climate and improved coping mechanisms, the M.A. Climate and Society Program is training a new generation of academics and professionals at the nexus of social science, climate science and public policy.

The Curriculum

Columbia is at the forefront of research on climate and climate application, and is supported by an extensive network of research units and faculty. Drawing on the superb educational and research facilities of Columbia University, the M.A. Program in Climate and Society combines elements of established programs in earth sciences, earth engineering, international relations, political sciences, sociology, and economics with unique classes in interdisciplinary applications specially designed for the program’s students.

A set of tailor-made core courses provides a scientific basis for inquiry and stresses interdisciplinary problem solving. The following courses have been developed specifically for the Climate and Society Program:

  • EESC W4400 Dynamics of Climate Variability and Change
  • EESC W4401 Quantitative Models of Climate-Sensitive Natural and Human Systems
  • EESC G4402 Managing and Adapting to Climate
  • EESC W4404 Regional Dynamics, Climate and Climate Impacts

In addition to the courses designed specifically for the program, Climate and Society student can be taken across Columbia’s graduate schools, which include the School of International and Public Affairs, the Mailman School of Public Health, and the Law School, as well as in the many academic departments that constitute the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.


Courses are taught be an expert faculty, including researchers who are leaders in the fields of climate science, climate predictions, earth and atmospheric sciences and social science.

The Students

The M.A. Climate and Society Program will be welcoming its 10th class in the fall of 2013. As an interdisciplinary program, Climate and Society attracts students from various backgrounds including finance, communications, earth sciences, geography, biology, anthropology and ecology. Students begin the program as cohort in September and finish in August, after completing a summer internship. A large component of the Climate and Society Program is the relationships built among the students with varying backgrounds. Students truly learn how to work together to address climate’s impacts on society using an interdisciplinary approach.

The Community

Columbia University has a great community of researchers and scientists working on issues of climate variability and climate change. The International Research Institute for Climate and Society located at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory offers students a chance to work directly with cutting edge researchers in the climate field. The Earth Institute also offers numerous opportunities to engage in climate and sustainability issues around campus.

To Apply

Admission to the program is highly selective. Prospective students who are interested in the program should contact Cynthia Thomson, with any inquiries.

Applications to the program are handled through the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Columbia University. To apply to the program, please register for an application ID and fill out the online application.

The priority application deadline is February 3, 2014 and the final deadline for the application is March 17, 2014. For more information on the application process please visit the Climate and Society website.


MA Climate and Society
1200 Amsterdam, Schermerhorn Extension 554
New York, NY 10027
Cynthia Thomson
Assistant Director


School of International and Public Affairs
Mailman School of Public Health
Law School
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
The International Research Institute for Climate and Society
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory