DEGREE AT A GLANCE:
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.
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:
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.
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.
Environmental Science Teachers, Postsecondary
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.
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.
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 USAJobs.gov, 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.
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 USAjobs.gov across hundreds of federal agencies. Click here to see a list of federal positions by major.
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.
Involvement in professional organizations is a great way to stay up-to-date on new technology, tools, and best practices in your field. Professional organizations are also a great networking opportunity. Below are a few professional organizations you may be interested in as an environmental science major.
Academy of Board Certified Environmental Professionals (ABCEP)
American Fisheries Society
American Water Works Association (AWWA)
Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences (AESS)
Ecological Society of America (ESA)
National Association of Environmental Professionals (NAEP)
National Association of Local Government Environmental Professionals (NALGEP)
National Environmental Health Association (NEHA)
Society for the Advancement of Hispanics/Chicanos and Native Americans in Science
Society for Conservation Biology (SCB)
Universities Council on Water Resources (UCOWR)
The Wildlife Society
American Water Works Association Conference and Exposition
June 7-10, 2015
Ecological Society of America 99th Annual Meeting
July 13-25, 2015
NAEP 2015 Annual Conference
April 13-16, 2015
NEHA 2015 Annual Conference
July 13-15, 2015
SACNAS 2015 National Conference
Oct. 29-31, 2015
Sustainable Brands 2015 Conference
June 1-4, 2015
San Diego, Calif.
The Wildlife Society Annual Conference
Oct. 17-21, 2015
Environmental Science Program - LinkedIn
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
This course introduces students to the biological systems within their associated environments. The course furnishes an understanding of biological principles and the properties of life. Topics covered in this course include the structure and function of plants and animals, cell biology principles, genetics, reproduction, development and growth, biological diversity, principles of evolution, and interactions among organisms and with their environment. Online laboratory experiences are incorporated, which are designed to correspond to, complement, and reinforce the concepts presented in the assigned reading material. The lab involves study through interactive simulations, videos, and animations, which will be provided to the student in the form of exercises provided throughout the semester. This is a four credit course that includes both a lecture and a lab component. THIS WILL REQUIRE ADDITIONAL TIME EACH WEEK TO COMPLETE THE LAB, which may have a hands on laboratory component
This course introduces students to the principles of basic chemistry, the terminology, methodology and worldview of chemistry, and the practical application to everyday living. Topics are both descriptive and mathematical and include acids and bases, atomic structure, chemical equations and reactions, chemical language and nomenclature, gases, molecular structure, solution chemistry, chemical mathematics, organic chemistry, and biochemistry. The chemistry lab is designed for students 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 and thought processes through interactive virtual laboratories designed to help reinforce and build upon the concepts presented in the lecture portion of the class.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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