Typically offered by two-year colleges, distance education associate degrees in environmental studies are not common, but they do exist at some schools. Depending on the institution, programs may be fully online or in a hybrid format. Online associate programs in environmental science or environmental technology typically include general education coursework, environmental coursework and a number of science electives. However, some associate programs are designed to transfer to bachelor's programs, and they provide a science foundation supportive of later studies in an environmental field. Proctored exams may be required, and some programs may include a practicum.
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Associate's Degree in Environmental Studies
Science-related coursework is integral to most online associate programs in environmental studies. Students can expect to study biology, ecology, earth science and biodiversity. Some programs focus on a specialty, like water resource management. Students in a specialized program like this take courses in water technology, environmental sampling, water analysis and water treatments.
These programs are designed to prepare students for work as environmental technicians as well as for further undergraduate study in a related area, such as environmental science, environmental management or natural resource management.
Information and Requirements
Courses are usually taught by experienced professors who are available through online chats and offer input into completed online assignments. Science courses often involve hands-on learning, so students should be prepared to conduct lab activities independently in their own homes.
Schools may require students to come to campus or another approved site to complete their examinations under the supervision of a proctor. In addition, some environmental programs -- particularly those with a technical focus -- may include a practicum experience at an approved real-world location.
In core environmental coursework, students may examine environmental concerns from historical, ethical and scientific viewpoints. Course titles may include:
- Physical science
- Water chemistry
- Environmental disasters
- Natural resource management
- Environmental literature
- Environmental politics
- Atmospheric science
Positions open to students with an associate degree in environmental studies, whether through a distance learning or campus program, include:
- Environmental science technician
- Biologist assistant
- Environmental scientist assistant
- Marine and coastal conservation assistant
- Utility arborist
- Utility work planner
Many students who earn an online associate degree in environmental studies go on to earn a bachelor's degree. These programs may cover specific environmental laws, policies and management tactics not covered in a 2-year program, and students with bachelor's degrees may have better job prospects than those with associate's degrees.
Students can enroll in online associate's degree programs in environmental studies to learn about environmental politics, physical science and more. Graduates may pursue bachelor's degrees or work as environmental science technicians and assistants.