What is a degree in environmental science?

Are you looking to solve the problems of global warming, deforestation and overpopulation? Get your degree in environmental science and embark on a career that influences our culture, economy and public policies.

Environmental science has a major impact on society and contributes to best practices for the conservation of our natural resources, our ecosystems and our environment. Through environmental science, we gain a better understanding of climate change, air pollution and waste management.

Consider the following career list to explore your options:

  • Hydrologist
  • Industrial ecologist
  • Climate change analyst
  • Environmental engineer
  • Environmental specialist

What is environmental science?

Environmental science is the study of living and non-living organisms. It integrates basic and applied sciences to solve complex environmental problems, as well as the scientific study of urban, forested and agricultural lands.

Throughout your program, you will participate in scientific research and apply key principles and theories of biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics. You will use these sub-disciplines along with social sciences, education and communication.

After gaining technical skills and field experience, you will be ready to seek employment leading to a degree in environmental science.

What do you learn in a degree program in environmental science?

As an environmental investigator, you will acquire key technical, practical and theoretical skills.

Technical skills

  • Conduct research and fieldwork on soil, sediment and groundwater
  • Develop policies and procedures to prevent and manage environmental problems
  • Provide advice on reducing environmental and health risks to public, private and government agencies


  • Data management and processing
  • Software skills for basic and applied sciences
  • Communication for collaboration and dissemination

Theoretical skills

  • Scientific method
  • Scientific theory
  • Scientific laws

Examples of environmental science courses

Problems in the environment

Students examine the interrelationships between people and the environment as well as fundamental societal, political, ethical and economic considerations. Other studies focus on the importance of science, technology and politics.

Earth and its surroundings

Students study global change and environmental elements as well as the impact of volcanoes, earthquakes, and associated physical processes that shape the Earth.

Ecology of managed systems

In this course, students identify the ecology of ecosystems in managed forests, rangelands and nature reserves, as well as associated plant communities.

Soil conservation and land use management

Students acquire a historical view of soil erosion from a regional and global perspective. Learners apply scientific reasoning for assessment, define prediction processes and methods, and explore socio-economic factors and policies of social erosion.

How difficult is a degree in environmental science?

While pursuing your studies in environmental science, you must excel in research, cultivate strong faculty and student mentors, and demonstrate academic excellence with high quality teaching.

Professors in the program observe and assess students’ analytical and logical communication skills, theoretical understanding of environmental science, and the practical application of research and data collection using scientific computer programs.

Even with a rigorous curriculum, you can graduate. To be successful in your program, apply your critical thinking skills, inquiry spirit, and team-oriented approach.

What types of environmental science degrees are there?

Consider the benefits of each degree, course, program length, and job prospects. Check out the many environmental science degrees for the next step in your career.

Associate Degree in Environmental Sciences

Prospective students typically complete an associate’s degree in environmental science within two years. The program’s courses include general chemistry, academic algebra, and the earth environment, as well as other general and program-specific educational requirements.

Program courses:

  • Physics survey
  • Environmental sciences
  • Introduction to environmental studies

An associate’s degree in environmental science prepares students for entry-level positions such as a fish ranger and game warden and a soil and water conservator. For career advancement, students can continue their education and pursue a bachelor’s degree.

Bachelor of Environmental Sciences

Bachelor of Environmental Science programs typically last four years. Prospective students combine courses in biology, chemistry and physics with additional natural and physical sciences.

Students can specialize in natural resources and the conservation or analysis of scientific data and participate in real-world laboratory experiments.

Program courses:

  • Fundamentals of chemistry
  • Ecological principles and field methods
  • Research methods in environmental sciences

With a bachelor’s degree in environmental science, there are countless professional opportunities, including those as a marine biologist and a wildlife biologist.

Graduate Certificate in Environmental Sciences

New graduates and working professionals have the option of obtaining a graduate certificate in environmental health sciences, environmental and energy policy, or environmental modeling and analysis as well as sustainability, observational science. of the Earth and management of floriculture and nursery production.

Students can take courses in energy and environment, environmental law and regulation, and environmental policy and analysis. Certificate requirements and program length vary by individual college and university. Many programs can be completed in a year.

Program courses:

With a graduate certificate, students can work as a public policy analyst or an environmental planner. Additional career roles may include a conservation scientist, hydrologist, and environmental engineer.

Master in Environmental Sciences

Courses may include special topics in environmental science, advanced topics in geographic information, and sampling and analysis in environmental science.

Students can specialize in geospatial science, plant science, or natural resources as well as ecology, water resources, and climate change. Master’s programs typically last two years.

Program courses:

  • Environmental chemistry
  • Applied watershed management
  • Remote sensing of the environment

Graduates can seek a position as a microbiologist or water quality scientist as well as several other environmental science jobs.

Doctorate in Environmental Sciences

To graduate, students must submit a publishable research project to a leading peer-reviewed journal, as well as pass a candidacy exam and oral thesis defense. Students are evaluated for their academic achievements and research interests.

Many programs require students to conduct student seminars, manage teaching labs, and act as a primary instructor. Students can choose a concentration in Ecology and Conservation Biology, Geosciences, Human Ecology, Toxicology, and Science Education Research.

The duration of the program is generally three to six years. After graduation, students can seek a position as a biochemist or a university professor.

Program courses:

  • Principles of evolution
  • Global environmental change
  • General toxicology

Accreditation for environmental science programs

Environmental science programs apply for accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Engineering and Technology, the Council for Engineering and Scientific Specialty Advice and the National Council for Accreditation of Science and Protection of environmental health.

Before applying, research the accreditation status of your program. Accreditation means that a college or university has presented a rigorous curriculum, has met industry standards, and excels in preparing graduates for health and safety, technological developments, and innovative practices.

In conclusion

Environmental science degrees all boil down to protecting our environment. You can make a difference by saving our endangered species, protecting the Amazon rainforest, and advocating for cleaning up the environment.

If you are inspired by a career in the outdoors and travel the world, sign up and join your colleagues in environmental science.

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