Environmental Science Major: Information and Requirements

Undergraduate programs in environmental science combine elements of physical science, environmental affairs, and liberal arts. Learn more about courses in this degree program as well as popular careers and employment statistics in the field.

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Essential Information

Most bachelor's degree programs in environmental science are offered through 4-year colleges and universities that require incoming freshmen to hold high school diplomas or GEDs. Before declaring environmental science as a major, college freshmen and sophomores usually complete courses in basic chemistry, calculus, physical science and speech communication.


Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science

Environmental science majors explore the conservation of natural resources, the effects of human populations on the environment and the management of natural parks and land formations. They also investigate the causes behind pressing environmental concerns, such as global warming and diminishing water supplies. Many of the courses included in an environmental science major combine classroom lectures with indoor and outdoor labs and field research. Some examples include:

  • Air pollution and control
  • Environmental health policy
  • Environmental toxicology
  • Waste management
  • Wetland ecosystems
  • Soil biogeochemistry

Popular Career Info

Environmental science is a broad major and can lead to several different entry-level job opportunities for graduates. Some of these might include:

  • Conservation assistant
  • Restoration ecologist
  • Wildlife ecologist manager
  • Environmental restoration field supervisor
  • Landscape ecologist
  • Geologist
  • Biologist
  • Physical scientist
  • Environmental advocacy director
  • Sustainability consultant

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), wildlife biologists and zoologists are expected to see a slower-than-average job growth of 4% from 2014-2024. The median annual salary for this same category was $59,680 as of May 2015. Meanwhile, conservation scientists have a projected job growth of 7% from 2014-2024, with the 2015 median salary being $61,110. Environmental scientists and specialists have an anticipated growth of 11% over the same period, with a 2015 median salary of $67,460.

Continuing Education Options

A bachelor's degree in environmental science can act as a precursor for a number of related graduate degree programs. These might include a Master of Science degree in Environmental Science, in Soil and Water Science, or in Environmental Management. These 2-year degree programs are designed to prepare students for upper-level leadership and management positions in the fields of environmental research and advocacy. Master's programs often include the completion of a thesis project or paper that further explores a particular issue in the field of environmental science, pollution control, or conservation.

A Bachelor of Science degree in environmental science prepares students for entry-level positions in fields such as conservation, environmental advocacy, wildlife biology, or geology.

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