University Catalog 2024-2025

Climate Change and Society

NC State's Master's in Climate Change and Society is designed to give students the background knowledge of climate change science required to navigate its implications by supporting the development of informed policy and business decisions. Students from a diverse set of academic backgrounds will receive instruction to bolster their knowledge and skills. Incoming students possessing a math or science background will have the opportunity to learn about the policy process and develop communication skills, whereas those with liberal arts or business backgrounds will gain fundamental knowledge of climate science. The program partners with NOAA NCEI, the NC State Climate Office, the EPA and NC Sea Grant, among others, to provide valuable hands-on experience for students in the program who want to work at the nexus of climate change and society.

More Information

Climate Change and Society Program Website

Applicant Information

  • Delivery Method: On-Campus
  • Entrance Exam: GRE: please provide scores if available. In lieu of GRE scores the program may request an interview or portfolio of professional work.
  • Interview Required: None

Application Deadlines

  • Fall: Applications for the Fall semester may be submitted at any time. Normally admission decisions are made by March 1.

Full Professors

  • Jay Levine
  • Walter Robinson

Practice/Research/Teaching Professors

  • Roberto Javier Mera

Emeritus Faculty

  • Fredrick Semazzi


Applied Ecology

AEC 519/AEC 419  Freshwater Ecology  (4 credit hours)  

The course explores the structure and function of streams, lakes, and wetlands, including physical, chemical and biological controls of productivity and species composition of aquatic plants and animals and effects of pollution on organisms and water quality. The laboratory emphasizes modern, hands-on techniques for answering fundamental and applied questions. One local weekend field trip required. Credit in both AEC 419 and AEC 519 is not allowed.

Prerequisite: C- or better in BIO/PB 360

Typically offered in Spring only

Civil Engineering

CE 578/CE 478  Energy and Climate  (3 credit hours)  

Interdisciplinary analysis of energy technology, natural resources, and the impact on anthropogenic climate change. Topics include basic climate science, energetics of natural and human systems, energy in fossil-fueled civilization, the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on climate, and technology and public policy options for addressing the climate challenge. The course is quantitative with a strong emphasis on engineering and science.

Prerequisite: Senior standing

Typically offered in Fall only


COM 525  Group/Team Communication  (3 credit hours)  

Comprehensive review of principles, theory, research, and practices involving group/team communication; associated with decision making, conflict management, relationship building, and evaluation of group/team effectiveness. Emphasis on guidelines for effective communication in groups and teams. Graduate standing required.

Prerequisite: Graduate standing

Typically offered in Fall only

This course is offered alternate even years

COM 538  Risk Communication  (3 credit hours)  

Comprehensive review of principles, theory, research, and practices involving consensus building; associated with environmental, health and safety; enabling analysis and management of risks. Emphasis on risks associated with emerging science and technology. No quantitative experience necessary. Graduate standing required.

Typically offered in Fall only

This course is offered alternate odd years

COM 546  Nonprofit Marketing and Public Relations  (3 credit hours)  

Survey of the marketing and public relations principles and practices applicable to nonprofit organizations.

COM 562  Communication and Social Change  (3 credit hours)  

Examine persuasive theories and methods including compliance gaining techniques. Evaluate effectiveness of public communication campaigns directed at social change.

Prerequisite: Graduate standing

Typically offered in Fall only

This course is offered alternate even years

COM 579/COM 479  Climate Change Communication  (3 credit hours)  

An exploration of the communication successes and failures surrounding climate change and public opinion. Topics addressed include: agenda setting, media effects, framing, data visualizations, fear responses, naming, risk communication and theory, argumentation and refutation, and persuasion as well as issues and current events related to the challenges associated with communicating climate change to multiple stakeholders.

Typically offered in Spring only

Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media 

CRD 703  Communication Networks  (3 credit hours)  

Intensive study of theories, histories, and practices of networked communication. Emergence, development, acceptance, and dissolution of a variety of networks organized around information and communication technologies. Survey of network theory and methods for studying networks, networked communication practices, and their effects on issues such as identity, labor, organization, power, etc. Research/applications project developed in consultation with the instructor.

Restriction: CRDM students only

Typically offered in Spring only

Environmental Assessment

EA 501  Environmental Stressors  (3 credit hours)  

Introduces students to how organisms are affected by and respond to changes or stressors - both natural and human-induced - in the environment. With a focus on the concepts most significant to the field of environmental assessment, the course emphasizes the fundamental processes and effects of pollutants and naturally-occurring substances in the environment, including emerging issues and historically significant cases.

Prerequisite: Graduate standing

Typically offered in Fall only

EA 502  Environmental Risk Assessment  (3 credit hours)  

This course provides students with an appreciation and understanding of the principles of environmental risk assessment including: Hazard Identification, Toxicity Assessment, Exposure Assessment, and Risk Characterization. Emphasis is placed on contemporary problems in human health and the environment, and it will be based on the most current methodologies described in the "Risk Assessment Guidance for Superfund." Enrollment in the course requires graduate standing or consent of the instructor. Two semester sequence of college biology & college chemistry.

Prerequisite: Two semester sequence of college biology & college chemistry.

Typically offered in Spring only

EA 503  Environmental Exposure Assessment  (3 credit hours)  

Provides students with an appreciation and understanding of the principles of environmental exposure assessment including the sources, transport and fate of chemicals in the environment. Emphasis is on contemporary problems in human health and the environment, covering topics such as: transformation and degradation processes, classes of contaminants a well as predicting environmental fate and exposure. Enrollment in the course requires graduate standing or consent of the instructor. Two semester sequence of college biology & college chemistry.

Prerequisite: Two semester sequence of college biology & college chemistry.

Typically offered in Fall only

EA 504  Environmental Monitoring and Analysis  (3 credit hours)  

Monitoring and analysis of chemical and biological impacts to the environment. Theory of chemical, physical, biological, and ecological monitoring. Planning and conducting environmental sampling and monitoring programs. Management, analysis, and quality assurance and control. Enrollment in the course requires graduate standing or consent of the instructor.

Prerequisite: One Year College Biology and One Year College Chemistry

Typically offered in Summer only

EA 505  Environmental Assessment Law & Policy  (3 credit hours)  

This course provides students with an appreciation for and understanding of the principles of environmental law and policy. Emphasis is on the US legal system and litigation process relevant to environmental law, covering topics such as: the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Pollution Prevention Act (PPA), the Clean Water Act, and the Clean Air Act. Throughout the course, a case study is integrated into the conceptual lecture material with the intent of providing practical examples to conceptual material.

Prerequisite: Graduate Standing

Typically offered in Fall only


ENG 508  Usability Studies for Technical Communication  (3 credit hours)  

Advanced study of usability inspection, inquiry, and testing theories and practices related to instrumental and instructive texts (i.e., computer-related, legal, medical, pharmaceutical, financial, etc.). Practical experience testing a variety of texts using several testing methods, including completion of a substantial, lab-based usability test. For students planning careers in technical communication, human factors, software design, and multimedia design.

Prerequisite: ENG 517

Typically offered in Fall only


FOR 531  Wildland Fire Science  (3 credit hours)  

Physical, chemical, biological, and ecological processes associated with wildland fire, particular emphasis on fire behavior, fuels, weather, climate and the associated effects on ecology, management, fire suppression, prescribed fire, and smoke emissions and exposure. Fire's effect on national policy, social and natural history of North America. In-depth exercises in fire and smoke modeling using established predictive systems.

Typically offered in Spring only

FOR 575  Advanced Terrestrial Ecosystem Ecology  (3 credit hours)  

Views organisms and physical environment as integrated system. Outlines processes governing assimilation and cycling of energy, carbons, nutrients, and water. Evaluates ecosystem responses to intensive management, global climate change, air pollution, biofuels production, fragmentation, large-scale land use change. Illustrates application of ecosystem science approach to important regional and global questions through scaling of empirical, ecosystem-level data, ongoing research. Provides experience in hypothesis testing and experimental design, data analysis and interpretation, proposal development, and publication for research professionals. Graduate Standing.

Typically offered in Spring only

This course is offered alternate odd years

Geospatial Information Science

GIS 510  Fundamentals of Geospatial Information Science and Technology  (3 credit hours)  

This course provides an advanced overview of how geographic information systems [GIS] facilitate data analysis and communication to address common geographic problems. Students improve spatial reasoning and problem definition expertise while emphasizing geographic data models and structures, data manipulation and storage, customization through programming, and the integration of geospatial analysis and modeling into project-based problem solving applicable to a variety of disciplines. Skilled application of both desktop and cloud-based GIS software supports these areas. Extensive independent learning and computer experiences include virtual laboratory sessions, alongside optional online or in-person weekly help sessions to facilitate student learning.

Prerequisite: Graduate Standing or PBS or Permission of Instructor

Typically offered in Fall and Spring

GIS 512  Introduction to Environmental Remote Sensing  (3 credit hours)  

Principles and hands-on techniques for processing and analyzing remotely sensed data for natural resource applications. Topics include review of the electromagnetic spectrum, pre-processing (georectification, enhancements and transformations), processing (visual interpretation, indices, supervised and unsupervised classification) and post-processing (masking, change analysis and accuracy assessment) of digital image data. This course will provide students with fundamental concepts and skills needed to pursue further studies in digital processing of remotely sensed data.

Typically offered in Spring only

GIS 515  Cartographic Design  (2 credit hours)  

Principles of cartographic design and how to apply them to produce high-quality geographic information system (GIS) based maps. Successful students will acquire an understanding of map design and experience applying it with GIS software. Students produce project maps in both print and web media.

Prerequisite: GIS 510

Typically offered in Spring only

GIS 520  Spatial Problem Solving  (3 credit hours)  

Focus on spatial problem solving from a geographic information perspective. Students learn to solve spatial problems through advanced analysis using geospatial technologies, learn to integrate and analyze spatial data in various formats, and explore methods for displaying geographic data analysis results to guide decision making. All course materials are delivered through the Internet, with optional weekly on-campus and synchronous online help sessions.

Prerequisite: GIS 510 or PA 541 or SSC 440

Typically offered in Fall and Spring

GIS 609  Geospatial Forum  (1 credit hours)  

The Geospatial Forum brings together researchers, educators, practitioners, and students of the geospatial sciences in an exciting, weekly series of lively presentations and facilitated discussions centered upon frontiers in geospatial analytics and geospatial solutions to complex challenges. Live discussions are recorded and made available online for students.

Typically offered in Fall and Spring

Marine, Earth, Atmospheric Sciences

MEA 517  Fundamentals of Climate Change Science  (3 credit hours)  

This course will present the basic science of climate change, including chemical and physical systems and processes. The students will be introduced to how the climate system works and the role of greenhouse gases in the climate system. Students will learn about climatological data, climate models and how predictions/projections are made. Emphasis will be placed upon relating predicted/projected changes to manifestations such as sea level rise and changes in the distribution and character of precipitation. Topics include the primary climate components, ocean-atmospheric teleconnections, decadal and multi-decadal climate indices, natural and anthropogenic climate variability, and climate model projections.

Prerequisite: Graduate standing

Typically offered in Fall only

MEA 518  Adaptation to Climate Change  (3 credit hours)  

Climate Adaptation investigates the technological, economic, communication, scientific and legal challenges inherent to adaptation to climate change. This course provides practical hands-on experience for professionals in developing adaptation strategies in climate sensitive sectors. Content draws heavily on case studies in international development, infrastructure, health, energy, and transportation sectors.

Prerequisites: MEA 517 or permission from instructor

Typically offered in Spring only

MEA 519  Barriers to Climate Change Literacy  (3 credit hours)  

Investigates the discipline-based geoscience education lenses of the cognitive, affective, and behavioral barriers to climate literacy and the practical interventions for addressing them. Critically analyzes key aspects of climate science, common misconceptions, mental models, cultural influences, and risk perceptions about climate change. Students engage with the public and design projects for overcoming barriers to climate change literacy. The course features relevant readings, classroom discussions, student peer-review, and summative and formative course feedback though course assignments and exams. Minimum of 50% seats reserved for Climate Change and Society Certificate program students.

Prerequisite: Graduate standing

Typically offered in Fall only

MEA 540  Principles of Physical Oceanography  (3 credit hours)  

Introduction to principles and practice of physical oceanography. The equation of state of seawater; energy transfer to the ocean by thermal, radiative and mechanical processes; the heat budget; oceanic boundary conditions; geographical distributionof oceanic properties; observational methods; conservation equations; simple waves and tides; physical oceanography of North Carolina coastal zone. Application of Fourier analysis techniques to interpretation of low-frequency motions in ocean and atmosphere. Review of Fourier method. Filtering of tidal signals. Spectral estimates and calculation of current ellipses. Identification of coherent motions and their empirical orthogonal modes. Data from field experiments used in lectures and homeworkassignments. Credit is not allowed for both MEA 460 and MEA 540

Prerequisite: MA 231 and PY 212

Typically offered in Fall only

MEA 549/MEA 449  Principles of Biological Oceanography  (3 credit hours)  

Environmental dependencies, biological productivity, and trophic relationships in plankton, nekton and benthos; Sampling methods and experimental design; Human impacts on marine systems.Credit is not allowed for both MEA 449 and MEA(ZO)549.

Typically offered in Fall only

MEA 593  Special Topics in Atmospheric Science  (1-6 credit hours)  

Special topics in atmospheric science, provided to groups or to individuals.

Typically offered in Fall, Spring, and Summer

Natural Resources

NR 520/FOR 420/NR 420/FOR 520  Watershed and Wetlands Hydrology  (4 credit hours)  

Principles of hydrologic science; classification and assessment of watersheds and stream networks; hydrologic, erosion, and water quality processes in natural and managed watersheds; wetlands hydrology; hydrologic measurements and data analysis; applications of hydrology and water quality management for forest agriculture, and urban ecosystems; watershed restoration. Emphasis field study of watersheds and hydrologic measurements. Two weekend field trips are required. Credit will not be given for both FOR(NR)420 and FOR(NR)520.

Prerequisite: SSC 200 and (FOR 260 or PB 360 or AEC 360)

Typically offered in Fall only

NR 571  Current Issues in Natural Resource Policy  (3 credit hours)  

Seminar providing an overview of current natural resource issues for the world and the U.S. Population, sustainable development, food and agriculture, forests, rangelands, biodiversity, energy resources, water resources, atmosphere and climate, international policies and instructions.

Typically offered in Fall only


PHI 816  Introduction to Research Ethics  (1 credit hours)  

Institutional rules guiding the responsible conduct of research (RCR) and their philosophical justification. Rudiments of moral reasoning and their application to RCR. Topics: plagiarism, falsification and fabrication of data, and ethics versus custom, law, science, and religion.

Prerequisite: Graduate standing

Typically offered in Fall and Spring

Public Administration

PA 513  Public Organization Behavior  (3 credit hours)  

Major conceptual frameworks developed to understand organization behavior. Motivation, leadership, group dynamics, communication, socio-technical systems, work design and organizational learning. Application of theories and concepts to public sectororganizations.

Prerequisite: Graduate standing or PBS status

Typically offered in Fall and Spring

PA 550  Environmental Policy  (3 credit hours)  

Focus on formation and impact of environmental policy in the U. S. Examination on decision-making processes at all levels of government. Comparisons between political, economic, social and technological policy alternatives. Emphasis upon applicationof policy analysis in environmental assessment and consideration on theoretical perspectives on nature of the environmental crisis.

Prerequisite: Advanced Undergraduate standing including 12 hours of PS program, Graduate standing or PBS status

Typically offered in Fall only

Political Science

PS 536  Global Environmental Law and Policy  (3 credit hours)  

International organizations, laws and policies addressing global environmental problems including: population growth, atmospheric pollution, climate change, use of oceans, forests and biodiversity. Relationship between environment and Third World economic development.

Prerequisite: Graduate standing or PBS status

Typically offered in Summer only