Environmental science includes the examination of social aspects of environmental policies and regulations, as well as the natural biological, chemical and physical processes that affect the planet. Found at several four-year institutions, distance learning environmental science options include bachelor's and master's degree programs. These programs are fully online and typically do not include laboratory or fieldwork classes, but students may have to complete internships to gain environmental science real-world experience.
Online programs in environmental science often use an interdisciplinary approach to educate students on issues facing the planet from multiple angles. Four-year bachelor's programs provide foundational knowledge in the field and may allow distance learners to specialize in a certain area of study, such as environmental policy, fisheries and wildlife or water science. Many distance learning bachelor's degree programs are designed to accept transfer students who have earned their general education credits at other institutions.
Distance learning master's degree programs, which typically take around two years to complete, generally include core courses and then offer a variety of electives to allow students to tailor their studies to a particular career interest; some programs incorporate social science coursework as well. Online students usually complete some type of research project as a culminating experience. Schools offering these programs often require applicants to have a bachelor's degree with several undergraduate credits in the sciences.
Distance learners access a virtual classroom to get class assignments, view lectures and interact with peers or instructors. Environmental science distance learning instruction includes natural science classes, courses in policy and law, and classes that bridge social and natural issues, such as conservation biology and resource protection programs. Students can expect to take online classes in the following areas:
- Atmospheric science and air quality
- Conservation biology
- Environmental risk analysis
- Natural reserve design
- U.S. and international environmental policies and regulations
- Waste management
Graduates of online environmental science degree programs are qualified to compete for positions with government regulatory agencies, non-profit conservation and environmental organizations and environmental consulting firms. Corporations interested in making their products and processes more environmentally-friendly also employ environmental science degree graduates.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs for environmental scientists and specialists are projected to grow 11% from 2014-2024, with most of the demand generated by consulting firms (www.bls.gov). The average salary for these professionals, based on 2015 BLS data, was $73,930.
Environmental science degree programs are available online for interested students at the bachelor's and master's levels. Graduates of these programs will be qualified to work as environmental scientists and specialists after studying topics in the field, such as hydrology, conservation biology and waste management.