Environmental Studies Undergraduate Degrees and Majors

Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies students explore topics related to ecosystems, wildlife and the relationship between human development and the environment. Learn more about the program requirements and career outlooks here.

Essential Information

While traditional environmental science programs focus on hard science, environmental studies programs hone in on current environmental issues. Students seek to understand the effects of and solutions to wind and air pollution, land usage, biodiversity loss and global warming. A Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies degree may also be known as a Bachelor of Science in Sustainability Studies. A high school diploma or equivalent is required to apply to this program, along with a strong background in biological and physical sciences.

Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies

The courses included in an undergraduate degree program in environmental studies combine the study of natural sciences with an exploration of environmental issues. In addition to learning about the physical and biological causes of environmental degradation, students examine the political and social policies that can affect the environment. Most classes in an undergraduate environmental studies program use a lecture or seminar format, with some fieldwork required to observe various ecosystems and gain experience with cartography, geographic sensing and GIS. Some course examples include:

  • Environmental geosciences
  • Statistical research
  • Physical geology
  • Advanced biology
  • Natural science
  • Oceanography

Employment Prospects and Salary Info

Graduates of an undergraduate degree program in environmental studies have several different career options. Many graduates look for work as policy makers or researchers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), earning a bachelor's degree in environmental studies can also lead to entry-level work as an environmental scientist or specialist. As of May 2015, those professionals earned a median annual wage of $67,460. Some other possible job titles include:

  • Sustainability program manager
  • Environmental construction manager
  • Clean transportation official
  • Sustainable resources consultant
  • Environmental engineer
  • Water quality specialist
  • Social policy advocate
  • Political lobbyist
  • Government contract director

Continuing Education

Those who have earned a bachelor's degree can continue with graduate studies. A Master of Science in Environmental Science is a 2-year program that focuses specifically on humanistic and scientific approaches to reducing pollution and improving sustainable environmental practices. Master's degree students often focus on a specific topic, such environmental policy or land resources. Ph.D. programs are also available.

Environmental studies is an interdisciplinary field that draws from science, social studies and the humanities. Those with a bachelor's degree in environmental studies are prepared to pursue careers in fields like research, consulting or policy, or they may continue on to a graduate program.

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