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Oregon State Everywhere: ‘Consider where you want to go, not where you are’

Justin Nelson, a graduate of Oregon State's online environmental sciences master's degree program, kneels down atop a peak with mountains in the background.

Justin Nelson says the topics covered in Oregon State’s online environmental sciences master’s degree program are ideal for helping students who want to change careers “break into new markets and industries.”

Online environmental sciences master’s degree gives Oregon State alum the skills to help lead the discourse on sustainability in business

By Justin Nelson
Oregon State Ecampus 2022 graduate
Professional Science Master’s in Environmental Sciences

I am currently a research consultant with an environmental consulting firm called Environmental Resources Management (ERM). I work on a specialized team that produces thought leadership pieces on the topic of sustainability in business, called the SustainAbility Institute by ERM. We cover all subjects under that wider umbrella, including corporate climate strategies, sustainability reporting, diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, and so on.

On a daily basis I use the skills and knowledge from the PSM in Environmental Sciences degree I earned online with Oregon State, pulling back from many of the useful courses and topics covered in the program to inform my research and outputs. The program prepared me well, with a number of different relevant topics such as energy economics and ecosystem services, which are topics we have covered in our research and public facing materials.

The content and focus of the program was very relevant to the material we focus on every day, and I strongly believe that the PSM program does a phenomenal job of setting up professionals for a career in the environmental industry.

This investment was very worthwhile, as without the degree and the opportunities afforded to me throughout the process, I would not be in the position I am in today. It would have taken me many more years, if possible at all, to transition from my position in financial analysis and reporting to my current role working in corporate sustainability strategy. It was the catalyst I needed to shift my career focus, and it was the perfect blend of business and environmental factors that have remained constant in my career. It was a worthwhile investment and then some.

Consider where you want to go, not where you are. There are so many different paths you can take with an advanced degree, and the programs allow for you to break into new markets and industries. The options are endless, so don’t limit your future path to the direction you are currently on. With the help of a degree earned online with Oregon State, you can go whichever direction you’d like!

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The flexibility of the program allowed me to continue working while pursuing my master’s degree, and although the internship project I was placed in was not through OSU, it would not have been possible without the internship requirement and program pushing me and my company to find a viable position for me.

Ultimately this internship led to a full-time role with that team, where I remain today. This internship requirement was possibly the best thing that my career could have experienced, as it forced me to step out of my comfort zone at the time and pursue a role that I had previously thought not possible for me to hold.


Find a new path forward in your career like Justin did, and earn a graduate degree or certificate in conservation and natural sciences online with Oregon State.

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