Fagin says the financial aid budget of NYU’s program has not increased since before he took the job in 2005, but applications have remained steady and the percentage of students who accept offers to enroll has never been higher. NYU’s sixteen-month program is about $30,000 less than Columbia’s two-year program, however, which costs nearly $89,000. Columbia also offers a separate, one-year master’s in science journalism, but what makes the dual-degree program unique is the rigorous hands-on lab and fieldwork in environmental science.

Given the price, it is no wonder that students are thinking twice about going that route, but cost is clearly only one of many issues that Columbia must address. Kastens and Holloway say that the design and structure of their program could also use a few tweaks. But the most important thing is that Columbia’s science departments and its journalism school begin to prioritize environmental journalism in a way they previously haven’t. It is one of the most important beats in the industry right now, and they will be letting down their colleagues and the public if they do not find a way to revive this crucial program.

[Clarification: This post was changed to reflect the fact that two of the nine graduates of Columbia’s dual-degree program in the last three years have found jobs in journalism. An earlier version of this story reported that none had.]

Curtis Brainard is the editor of The Observatory, CJR's online critique of science and environment reporting. Follow him on Twitter @cbrainard.