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Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science




Program Description

This degree is for students interested in environmental policy and analysis as well as environment management including stewardship of natural resources, pollution management, fish and wildlife management, and hazardous materials. The program requires course work in both the natural and social sciences with a particular focus on the complex relationship among science, management, and policy. The ultimate purpose of the degree program is to provide students with a scientific understanding of ecological and social systems, which then can be applied in a policy or management context.

Software and/or lab equipment required for some courses in this program are not provided through the undergraduate book grant and will need to be purchased by any student registering in those courses. Please see the course materials section of those courses for more information prior to registration.

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Program Objectives

In addition to the institutional and general education level learning objectives, this degree also seeks the following specific learning outcomes of its graduates. With reference to each of the respective areas of environmental science, graduates in this degree program will be able to:

  • Assess the political, legal, economic, and social dynamics associated with the environment and management of the environment.
  • Examine environmental compliance in terms of moral, political, and economic factors.
  • Analyze environmental issues within their economic, historical, and theoretical context.
  • Assess an environmental perspective that includes alternative approaches to economic development and incorporates a code of responsibility.
  • Evaluate the consequences of ecological disasters on public health, productivity, and social and economic welfare.
  • Explain the social, environmental, and economic barriers to the implementation of sustainable environmental practices and programs.

Visit Career Services

There are a wide array of career opportunities possible in the field of environmental science working for agencies and departments at the federal, state, and county level. Many federal agencies offer positions for graduates with degrees in environmental science. Some of these agencies include, but are not limited to, the Environmental Protection Agency, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Natural Resource Conservation Service, and Department of Defense. Concentrations in global environmental management, environmental planning, and environmental sustainability prepare graduates for high level environmental manager positions in federal, state, and local agencies, consultancies, and nonprofit organizations dedicated to both global and national environmental protection. The type of jobs associated with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife concentration are biological technician, park ranger (federal, state, county, and local), game warden, environmental technician/assistant, field technician, wildland firefighter, federal law enforcement officer, as well as many others.

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Useful Skills within the Environmental Science Field

Managing Physical Resources - The ability to make appropriate use of equipment and materials to get a job done.

Monitoring Equipment
- Watching gauges and any other types of indicators to make sure equipment is running properly.

Quality Control
- Inspecting and testing products or services to assure they meet the desired specifications.

Decision Making
- Weighing out the options in a situation or a problem and logically choosing the best course of action.

Problem Solving
- Ability to identify a problem, review related information, develop and evaluate options, and implement a solution.

Reading Comprehension
-Ability to understand complex written paragraphs, instructions, or reports.

- Talking, giving speeches, or speaking in a group to convey information, explain ideas, or give instructions.

- Using logic to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.

- Paying attention to what other people are saying, and taking time to understand the points being made.

Managing Money
- Determining how much money is required to get a job done, allocating those monies, and then accounting for all expenditures.

Managing Time
- Allocating and budgeting your time for different tasks so that things get done when needed.


Career Options
Career Spotlight: Environmental Specialists and Scientists

An environmental specialist or scientist is someone who uses their knowledge of the natural sciences to protect the environment. 

Examples of Environmental Specialists and Scientists

Environmental health specialists study how the environment affects human health. They could study food safety or disease, for example. 

Environmental protection specialists study how humans affect their environment. For example, these specialists concern themselves with air pollution and how to control, prevent, and find a solution to the pollution problems facing the environment. 

Environmental scientists focus on a specific science field, such as chemistry, and how that science affects the environment. 

Career Path

Most environmental specialists and scientists start their career out of college in laboratories and agencies as research assistants or technicians. With experience and possibly advanced degrees, the opportunity for growth within this field is high. 

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition,
Getting Started: Internships

Gaining real-life experience is an ideal way to start a new career. The career services website has an extensive list of internships and fellowships. Browse through the internships; they are organized by interest or by federal program. 

There are government-organized internship programs which provide students or recent graduates the opportunity to gain real-life experience. Many require students to maintain either a half-time or full-time student status. The best ways to identify potential opportunities such as these is to contact branch offices directly, to search, or to look at the agencies’ career portals. Keep in mind that these positions are not always posted online, so direct contact with the agency is key. For example, please review the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge Complex Internships and Volunteer opportunities with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

The Pathways Program is a federal initiative that offers internship programs for current students as well as training and career development opportunities for recent graduates. Recent graduates must apply within two years of degree or certificate completion (except for veterans; due to their military service obligation, they will have up to six years to apply). The internship program for current students replaces the former Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) and Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP).

The Presidential Management Fellows Program (PMF)
PMF is designed to attract outstanding federal service members from a wide variety of academic disciplines who have a clear interest in, and commitment to, a career in the analysis and management of public policies and programs. To be eligible, an individual must be a graduate student completing or expected to complete, during the current academic year, an advanced degree. Graduate students who have had their degree conferred in the preceding two years from the opening of the vacancy announcement are also eligible for PMF. 

The Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP)
WRP is coordinated by the Office of Disability Employment Policy and the U.S. Department of Defense, and aims to provide summer work experience and, in some cases, full-time employment to college students with disabilities. The program develops partnerships with other federal agencies, each of which makes a commitment to provide summer jobs and a staff recruiter. Each year, recruiters interview about 1,500 students with disabilities at college and university campuses across the nation and develop a database listing the qualifications of each student.

Getting Hired: Government Agencies, Organizations, and Search Engines

There are several government agencies and organizations that seek candidates with degrees in environmental science. The list below provides some examples of those federal agencies. Each position within the federal government is classified under a series of numbers. For example, the “Natural Resources Management and Biological Sciences Group” is within the 0400 series. You can narrow down the exact series number based on your interests and search for it on across hundreds of federal agencies. Click here to see a list of federal positions by major.

Bureau of Land Management
U.S. Department of Agriculture
U.S. Department of Defense
U.S. Department of the Interior

National Park Service
Natural Resources Conservation Service
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

While many of the major job search engines will have positions in several fields to choose from, the list below is specific to the environmental science field.

Ecological Society of America (ESA)
Environmental Career Center
Environmental Career Guide
Environmental Careers Organization

Student Conservation Association (SCA)
Sustainable Business Opportunities


Keeping Current: Professional Organization and Associations
Conferences and Expositions

American Water Works Association Conference and Exposition
June 7-10, 2015
Anaheim, Calif.

Ecological Society of America 99th Annual Meeting
July 13-25, 2015
Orlando, Fla.

NAEP 2015 Annual Conference
April 13-16, 2015
Honolulu, Hawaii

NEHA 2015 Annual Conference
July 13-15, 2015
Orlando, Fla.

SACNAS 2015 National Conference
Oct. 29-31, 2015
Washington, D.C.

Sustainable Brands 2015 Conference
June 1-4, 2015
San Diego, Calif.

The Wildlife Society Annual Conference
Oct. 17-21, 2015
Winnipeg, Manitoba

Get Connected: Social Media

Environmental Science Program - LinkedIn

Quick Links

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General Total Credits - 122 Hours
Core Requirements
33 Hours
General Biology I with Lab
4 hours

This course provides a foundational basis for the study of basic biology. It is the first in a two-part biology series that is designed for students who intend to complete a degree that requires a major's level biology course. Topics in in this course include an introduction to the molecular basis of life, biology of the cell, genetic and molecular biology, evolution and diversity of life on Earth. The laboratory portion of this course will include hands-on as well as virtual laboratories that complement the topics and concepts covered in the lecture component. NOTE: This course requires the student to purchase additional materials at substantial cost that are not covered by the book grant. Please refer to the Course Materials section for additional details.

General Chemistry I with Lab
4 hours

This is the first course of a two part general chemistry sequence that introduces students to the principles, terminology, methodology and worldview of chemistry. Topics are both descriptive and mathematical and include matter, measurement and problem solving, atomic theory and structure, the periodic table, nomenclature, physical properties of gases, liquids, and solids, molecular bonding and geometry, stoichiometry, thermochemistry, types of chemical reactions, and solution chemistry. The laboratory component of this course is designed for students in the sciences to learn how to make qualitative and quantitative observations about physical and chemical phenomena, to make calculations, and to test their own reasoning. Students will acquire skills in laboratory techniques designed to help reinforce and build upon the concepts presented in the lecture portion of the class. In order to be successful in this course, it is recommended that students will have completed high school chemistry or a basic college equivalent, and be comfortable with basic algebra, including manipulation of equations

Environmental Economics
3 hours

This course focuses on the design of environmental policy under uncertainty and asymmetric information. Topics include the theory of public goods, theory of renewable and non-renewable resources, externalities and common pool resources, the theory of pollution and pollution control, and trade-environment issues.

Water Science
3 hours

An overview course on water sources, uses, management and conservation; biological, economic, and health issues. The course will use chemical and engineering approaches to water and waste water treatment. It includes studies for assessing chemicals in water and waste water. Students will cover the application of standardized analytical methods for evaluating water quality.

Soil Science
3 hours

A fundamental study of soil properties and reactions critical to the evaluation of how contaminants, as well as essential nutrients, behave in the soil environment. Interactions of potential pollutants with soils and the aquatic and atmospheric environments are emphasized. Methods of soil management or remediation to minimize pollution are presented.

Environmental Policy, Regulation, and Law
3 hours

This course is an introduction to environmental policy, regulation, and law in the U.S. Subjects covered will include command and control of regulation, air quality, water quality, control of toxic materials, waste management, energy, and natural resources.

Environmental and Ecosystems Management
3 hours

This course focuses on contemporary theories and practices associated with environmental and ecosystems management. Industrial, economic, commercial, political, developmental, and other issues and concerns that influence environmental and ecosystems management are addressed.

3 hours

This is an interactive course designed to help students achieve a greater understanding of the statistical methods and models available to analyze and solve the wide variety of problems encountered in business, science, medicine, education, the social sciences, and other disciplines. Successful completion of this course will provide students with a working knowledge of the principles of both descriptive and inferential statistics, probability, averages and variations, normal probability distributions, sampling distributions, confidence intervals, statistical hypothesis tests, and correlation and regression analyses. The emphasis of the course will be on the proper use of statistical techniques and their application in real life -- not on mathematical proofs. This course will use Microsoft Excel for some of the work. Students should have a basic familiarity with Excel and have access to this software application. (Prerequisite: MATH110 OR MATH111 OR MATH225)

Pre Reqs: College Algebra(MATH110),College Trigonometry(MATH111),Calculus(MATH225)

Environmental Ethics
3 hours

This course is a study of environmental issues from a moral and philosophical approach. Issues raised in the course include the moral obligation, or lack thereof, to preserve and protect the environment, the ethical presumptions that underlie environmental policy, the traditional theories of moral philosophy applicable to contemporary environmental problems, and the potential for a new conception of the relationship between humanity and nature.

Introduction to Physical Geology with Lab
4 hours

Geology encompasses the study of our planet, and students in this course will explore: how it formed, the nature of its interior, the materials of which it is composed, landforms, earthquakes and volcanoes, geologic resources, and geologic history. Current events that students learn about in the news, ranging from volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, landslides, and more will fit into a larger picture of how Earth works and why such things happen. The Geology lab provides students with a laboratory manual, 36 rock and mineral samples, a topographic map, and other tools to give students a hands-on opportunity to explore geologic concepts covered in the lecture portion of the course as well as virtual field trips related to the geologic sciences.

Concentration Requirements
12 Hours
Introduction to Sustainability
3 hours

This course will introduce students to the principles of environmental sustainability. Students will explore various aspects of sustainability, including energy use, industrial processes, waste generation and disposal, and the built environment. As part of the focus on solutions, the course will introduce students to tools society can use to attain and implement sustainable practices, such as policy, law, education and communication, marketing, research advocacy, and international agreements and collaboration.

U.S. Federal Environmental Organization
3 hours

This course is a study of the environmental organization at the federal level, to include duties and responsibilities of federal environmentally-focused agencies, non-environmental agencies and organizations that have environmental impact or related responsibilities, and other federal administrative issues focused on environmental bureaucracy, contracting, and/or outsourcing to private organizations.

Environmental Enforcement
3 hours

Nearly all environmental programs are predicated on getting permit tees to take effective action to end non-compliance or non-permitted activities. This often happens voluntarily, but in some instances formal enforcement action must be taken by environmental agencies such as EPA or state agencies. This action may be civil or criminal, it may involve a fine, it may involve supplemental environmental projects, but it will always require the environmental problem be put right. This course will examine the entire enforcement process including the decision tree and options at each branch point. It will discuss the issues of standing, punishment versus deterrence, legal searches, and the rights of permit tees and individuals.

Fish and Wildlife Policies, Programs, and Issues
3 hours

This course focuses on national fish and wildlife policy, programs, and contemporary issues. Topics addressed in the course include historical and contemporary fish and wildlife policy; major fish and wildlife federal, state, and local programs; economic incentives and disincentives associated with fish and wildlife; and non-U.S. approaches to fish and wildlife issues.

Environmental Management Systems
3 hours

A major trend among world corporations and public agencies is the creation of formal environmental management systems. Official certification of such plans by a third party auditor marks the end of planning and the start of implementation. ISO 14001 certification is a complicated and labor-intensive process, but it can bring great tangible and intangible benefits. This course will study the process, and then apply it to six case studies.

Air Quality Management
3 hours

In this course, the student will examine types of outdoor and indoor air pollutants, their sources, health effects, environmental and aesthetic effects, and methods of measurement and control. An in-depth review of the regulatory framework for air quality in the U.S. and related international treaties and agreements will be explored.

Environmental Impact Assessment
3 hours

This course focuses on the processes, tools, and techniques used to analyze environmental problems, establish state and federal standards, develop environmental impact statements, and make decisions regarding the environment. Students will analyze actual problems, study real environmental impact cases, and learn to use various environmental impact methodologies.

General Ecology
3 hours

This course provides an intensive treatment of the field of ecology. Ecology is the scientific study of the interactions among organisms and their environment, which explains the distribution and dynamics of organisms, their traits, and the effects that they have on the natural world. Students will learn that ecology is an integrative discipline that draws from various fields of biology (physiology, morphology, behavior, evolution) and natural sciences (e.g., geology and chemistry), as well as other disciplines (e.g., economics and social sciences). The focus of the course will be on identifying and recommending solutions to ecological problems, e.g., habitat destruction and fragmentation, biodiversity, global environmental change, desertification, acidification of the oceans, and others. (Prerequisite: BIOL133 or SCIN130)

Pre Reqs: Introduction to Biology with Lab(SCIN130),General Biology I with Lab(BIOL133)

Conservation Biology
3 hours

This course examines the fundamental biological and ecological principles of conservation biology. Instruction covers measures of biological diversity, species concepts, genetics of small population viability analysis, and metapopulation dynamics; habitat fragmentation including edge effects, corridors and patch dynamics; reserve design principles; setting biodiversity priorities; and monitoring indices. Changes in land use patterns and the science of Landscape Ecology are also investigated. Current conservation techniques are reviewed through the use of case studies and computer exercises.

Green Infrastructure and Renewable Technologies
3 hours

This course will introduce students to the concepts of green infrastructure planning and design and the implementation of renewable technologies. The framework presented for planning and design will focus on increasing the performance of green infrastructure systems. Students will examine case studies and participate in exercises to develop richly layered, interconnected, and sustainable communities that increase human health and ecological resilience.

Pollution and Pollution Management
3 hours

This course focuses on pollution, its influence on the environment and ecosystems, and the major strategies designed to prevent or contain it. Topics include basic principles in pollution management, air pollution, marine and freshwater pollution, managing radiation, and the influence of society on pollution management. No prior experience with pollution management is needed, although the student is expected to have enthusiasm for the subject matter.

Vertebrate Zoology
3 hours

The origin, diversity, and adaptations of the vertebrates. Phylogenetic systematics (cladistics) will be used as the basis for determining evolutionary relationships of organisms. Monophyletic groupings provide a framework for examining behavior, physiology, and ecology in an explicit evolutionary context. Vertebrates common to North America will be emphasized. (Prerequisite: SCIN130 or BIOL133)

Pre Reqs: Introduction to Biology with Lab(SCIN130),General Biology I with Lab(BIOL133)

Fishery Biology
3 hours

This course will present the principles and methods used in studying the biology of fishes, the ecological requirements of freshwater and anadromous fishes, and the principles and practices in sport fishery management. Students will participate in case studies and critically analyze existing fisheries management plans to ascertain their effectiveness and scientific validity. This course will also emphasize the value of collaboration in effective fisheries management.

3 hours

An introduction to the structure, processes, and reproduction of higher plants with an emphasis on flowering plants. This course will use an integrative approach to examine the relationships between structure and function, diversity, and evolution. (Prerequisite: SCIN130)

Pre Reqs: Introduction to Biology with Lab(SCIN130)

Plant Identification, Taxonomy, and Systematics
3 hours

An introduction to classification and evolution of vascular plants, with emphasis on flowering plants (angiosperms). This course will use structural terminology, characteristics of major plant families, and systematics. Student will use taxonomic keys, floras, and manuals for species identification. For students to be successful, Introduction to Botany is strongly recommended as a prerequisite to this course.

3 hours

The goal of this course is to introduce students to the biology of the class Mammalia. The course will include a survey of the origins, evolution, diversity, and adaptations of mammals to diverse environments. Topics include taxonomy, reproduction, sensory perception, herbivory, population cycles and behavior. Students will use case studies to apply the concepts of mammalogy to broader problems of species management, biodiversity, and the effects of development and habitat fragmentation on mammals.

3 hours

Ornithology is the study of the anatomy, physiology, and behavior of birds. In this course, students will integrate ornithological study with the principles of bird conservation and management. Students will learn to identify birds by sight and call, and will learn the names of the major orders and families of birds throughout the world. Due to the scientific complexity of the material presented, it is recommended that students complete introductory biology prior to taking this course.

Plant Science
3 hours

This course will provide an overview of plant growth and development as it applies to the disciplines of agriculture, forestry, and horticulture. Topics presented will include plant production for food, fiber and fuel, the influence of soils on crops and plant propagation, biotechnology applications, pesticide use, impacts of insects and disease, the influence of genetically modified plants on agriculture, invasive species management, and the implementation of sustainable practices in agricultural and forestry operations. To be successful, Introduction to Botany is strongly recommended as a prerequisite to this course.

Institutional Requirements
3 Hours
Foundations of Online Learning
3 hours

This course is designed to provide a solid foundation for undergraduate study in the online environment. Students will be introduced to the tools and resources available in the online classroom and campus. Students will be introduced to online research, formatting, and citation styles. APUS policy and procedure is addressed. There is an emphasis on communication to assist students in the transition to the online environment.

General Education
38 Hours

Final Program Requirement
3 Hours
Senior Seminar course should be taken as last course in the program.
Senior Seminar in Environmental Studies
3 hours

Analyses of specific issues will be conducted that will include a review of federal environmental organizations, regulations, and their integration with policymaking and decision-making. Students will review and analyze the environmental problem solving process with consideration for the economic, social, and security implications of these decisions on national and global scales. This capstone course will provide students with the opportunity to complete an approved academic research exercise that demonstrates their knowledge of their selected field of study. This is a capstone course to be taken after all other Environmental Studies courses have been satisfactorily completed or concurrently with courses as the student completes the last courses in EVSP. Students must have SENIOR standing to enroll.

General Electives
33 Hours
Electives are typically courses available at your degree level that are not currently required as a part of your degree program/academic plan. Please visit the catalog to view a complete listing of courses.

Program Completion Rates, Median Debt and More

View more details regarding our graduation rates, the median debt of students who completed the program, and other important information.


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