Waste Management Degree Programs

There are several different undergraduate degree programs that are related to waste management. Program coursework, admission requirements, and possible career pathways will be discussed in greater detail below.

Overview of Waste Management Degree Programs

At the bachelor's degree level, there are no specific programs available in waste management. However, there are a number of other bachelor's degrees that would prepare students for a career in waste management; relevant degree fields include environmental management, environmental science, and sustainable practices. These programs sometimes allow students to select a focus area or specialization related to waste management.

Students in these programs can expect to take a number of science and mathematics courses, like chemistry, biology, statistics, and calculus, as well as more specific environmental and waste management courses like environmental regulations and policy and hazard management. These programs also often require students to complete some sort of capstone project before graduating. We will discuss these programs in greater detail below.

Admission Requirements for Waste Management Degree Programs

Students who are interested in enrolling in these programs will have to complete the general admission process at the university to which they are applying. This usually means students will need to submit an application form, academic transcripts, and standardized test results. Some schools may also require or allow letters of recommendation and a personal statement.

These degree programs typically do not have any prerequisite course requirements. However, some programs may require students to complete introductory coursework prior to declaring the major. Less commonly, programs may require that students already have an associate's degree in a related field or significant prior coursework and experience.

Waste Management Degree Programs Coursework

As there are multiple different degree programs that could prepare a student for a career in waste management, coursework is likely to differ among programs. However, there are some courses and central topics that are common across programs.

Environmental Management

Programs generally include courses focusing on different aspects of environmental management, including waste management, natural resources management, and sustainable management. Advanced courses may even focus on the management of specific geographic areas. Students in these courses may look at various environmental management issues that have been tackled in the past to identify what kinds of methods were used and how they can be applied to the existing issues of today. The course may also focus on how new technology can be used to solve various waste management problems.

Government Environmental Regulations

In this course, students will explore the various governmental regulations that deal with environmental issues, including waste management. They will learn how to properly read and interpret government laws and policies to determine how they apply to real life situations. The course will also highlight how laws and policies may differ from the federal to state or local level.

Pollution and Human Impact on the Environment

These programs also typically include at least one course that discusses the human impact on the environment, including how human made waste is affecting the environment. In addition to discussing the ways in which humans have negatively affected the environment, the course will focus on ways in which we can work together to mitigate these negative effects and create sustainable waste management and pollution solutions.

Research Methods

In this course, students will learn different ways that they can design and create their own environmental studies and conduct independent research. Students learn about both qualitative and quantitative research methods. The course may be offered to help students prepare for their thesis or as an opportunity to work on faculty-directed research. Students can likely tailor the course toward specific research in waste management.


In this course, students will focus on the different types of toxins that are present in the environment, how they came to exist through human involvement, and what has been done or what is being doing to manage the environmental toxicity. Students will likely study major events throughout history, like the bombing of Hiroshima, and the resulting environmental problems they created.

How to Choose a Degree Program in Waste Management

When selecting which waste management-related program is right for you, there are a number of factors you may want to take into consideration. As all of these programs differ slightly in content, you will likely want to choose a program that most closely aligns with your interests and career goals. In this case, confirm a concentration or significant coursework in waste management prior to enrolling. Also, some of these programs are offered as a Bachelor of Science, while others are a Bachelor of Arts; the science-oriented degree typically requires more science coursework and may result in a wider range of career opportunities.

You will want to consider the geographic location of the school that offers the program since field studies will center on local environments and habitats. If scheduling is a concern, check to see whether or not it is possible to complete the program partially or entirely online. You also want to consider whether internship or externship opportunities are required or sponsored by the program since these will help you find a job after graduating.

Career Options with a Degree in Waste Management

Graduates of waste management-related degree programs have a number of options when they enter the career field. Many choose to become environmental scientists or specialists; these professionals earned a median salary of $68,910 in 2016. This field was expected to grow by 11% between 2016 and 2026. Some other jobs graduates of these programs may want to consider are listed below.

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