Sustainable Living Education Programs and Degrees

Learn about bachelor's and master's degree programs in environmental science that cover concepts of sustainable living. Find out about popular career options in this field.

Essential Information

While programs in sustainable living are rare, many colleges and universities offer related bachelor's and master's degree programs in environmental science. These programs explore the impact that humans have on the environment and sustainable solutions for lessening that impact. Bachelor's programs are typically more broad in scope than master's programs; students pursuing master's degrees can usually choose a specialization and complete a research project.

Bachelor's Degrees in Environmental Science

These programs scientifically analyze the environmental issues that affect our surroundings, such as pollution, extinction, and scarcity of resources. They are enrolled by those with a high school diploma or its equivalent, especially those with a strong interest in earth sciences. Graduates may seek careers investigating the environment and related issues for government agencies, private environmental industries, or consulting firms concerned with environmental-related issues.

Program Coursework

The curriculum of a bachelor-level environmental science program draws from several disciplines including geology, biology, geography, and the social sciences. Course topics might include:

  • Weather and climates
  • Hydrology
  • Evolution and ecology
  • Field methods
  • Biological environment

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Employment of environmental scientists and specialists is expected to grow at a fast as average rate from 2010-2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, This growth is due in part to the increased impact that our growing population is having on the environment, combined with an awareness of the immediate need to provide sustainable living solutions. The median salary for environmental scientists and specialists was $63,570 in May 2012.

Master's Degrees in Environmental Science

Master's degree programs focus on the research of environmental issues and sustainable living. Typically, a bachelor's degree is needed to enroll; while no area of study is mandatory, a background in the sciences is strongly desired. Students learn to analyze ecological and geographical systems, predict long-term outcomes, and lead advocacy efforts to manage the environment. Those who want to achieve advanced scientific research positions may wish to pursue a doctorate in environmental science.

Program Coursework

Many programs allow students to choose a concentration and participate in research surrounding that focus. A research project or thesis is generally required. Topics of study may include:

  • Research methods
  • Statistical analysis
  • Water resource sustainability
  • Land resource management
  • Regional ecosystems

Popular Career Options

Environmental scientists work for national research labs, academic research institutions, governmental agencies involved with resource management as well as private organizations concerned with environmental issues. Job titles include:

  • Natural resource specialist
  • Environmental compliance manager
  • Naturalist
  • Research ecologist
  • Science specialist
  • Natural resources project manager
  • Environmental hygienist

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