Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy (STEP)

The STEP certificate allows students to develop a deeper understanding of the current scientific, technological, and environmental issues, as well as potential location, national, and international policy responses.

Certificate Faculty Advisor
Elke U. Weber

Certificate Administrators
Madeline Hehir

Keely Swan


Certificate students are required to complete four approved courses on science policy-related topics. A list of courses that fulfill the requirements is posted at the beginning of each year.

Two half-term courses count as one course credit. Additionally, students may propose courses not on the preapproved list to the STEP certificate faculty advisor for consideration. Students must take at least two courses from the preapproved list as part of the four-course requirement.

All elective courses to be applied toward the STEP certificate requirements must be approved by the STEP certificate faculty advisor. A list of preapproved electives will be made available in the fall term. Please find the current list of approved STEP courses on the C-PREE website.

Courses by Petition

Students are permitted to petition for a course not on the STEP list to count towards the certificate. Credit for such courses requires a prior approval from the STEP certificate faculty advisor and may require additional reviews for course relevance, course level, and focus of assignments.

Science Course Option

MPA students with little or no background in the natural sciences can take a science course as one of their four STEP-approved courses. This requires the prior permission of the STEP certificate faculty advisor, and the courses can be either graduate or undergraduate level. Graduate students must receive preapproval from the MPA faculty chair to count any undergraduate courses toward their degree.

Paper Requirement

Students pursuing the STEP certificate must also submit a capstone policy paper to the STEP certificate faculty advisor for approval. Generally students will use a final paper from one of their certificate courses, and the paper must have received a grade of B+ or better.

Doctoral Certificate & Fellowships

PhD students from outside of the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs may pursue a Doctoral Certificate in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy. The certificate program allows PhD candidates to broaden their education to include SPIA courses and an advanced policy research project, typically related to their thesis, that draws on the policy-relevant social sciences.

Doctoral Certificate students must identify a STEP advisor in addition to their dissertation advisor. They are also required to:

  • Complete three graduate-level courses in the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs.
  • Produce an advanced policy paper of publishable quality, often conceived as a policy chapter of their dissertation.

PhD candidates interested in environmental policy topics may apply for the HMEI-STEP Fellowship, a two-year program that provides additional structure and funding support to pursue a STEP certificate. Princeton graduate students, typically in their second or third year of study, may apply for the fellowship. For more information, visit the HMEI website.