Schools with Environmental Science Programs: How to Choose

Oct 20, 2021

How to Select an Environmental Science School

Environmental science is the study and practice of conservation, advocacy, education and research of the environment, including areas such as pollution, climate change and deforestation. Many universities offer both undergraduate and graduate degree programs in environmental science.

Environmental Science Schools

There are many environmental science schools across the country, so students may want to consider location and tuition price when choosing a program. Here are nine schools that offer environmental science degree programs, with undergraduate tuition rates provided by the National Center for Education Statistics:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Undergraduate Tuition (2018-2019)*
Indiana University-Bloomington Bloomington, IN 4-year, public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $10,681 in-state, $35,456 out-of-state
Loyola Marymount University Los Angeles, CA 4-year, private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's $48,522
Duquesne University Pittsburgh, PA 4-year, private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's $38,178
Columbia University New York, NY 4-year, private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's $59,430
Purdue University West Lafayette, IN 4-year, public Bachelor's $9,992 in-state, $28,794 out-of-state
Rice University Houston, TX 4-year, private not-for-profit Bachelor's** $47,350
Michigan State University East Lansing, MI 4-year, public Bachelor's $14,460 in-state, $39,766 out-of-state
Ohio State University Columbus, OH 4-year, public Bachelor's $10,726 in-state, $30,742 out-of-state
Oregon State University Corvallis, OR 4-year, public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $11,166 in-state, $30,141 out-of-state

Sources: *National Center for Education Statistics, **Rice University

School Selection Criteria

As there are many educational options for future students of environmental science, students can factor in many different criteria when considering where to study. Some things to bear in mind include:

  • Students who would like to earn a bachelor's degree and a master's degree may be interested in schools that offer programs that combine a bachelor's degree and a master's degree,which results in a shorter completion of the graduate curriculum due to overlapping courses.
  • Opportunities to specialize will vary from school to school, so students should choose institutions that have links with the area of environmental science they are most interested in studying, such as oceanography, marine biology, forestry, climatology, geology, environmental policy or environmental engineering.
  • Students may also be interested in schools that offer independent research options or internship programs to further their own practical experience.
  • A school's location will be of importance to environmental science students, as their environment will dictate the nature of their learning - for example, oceanography students may prefer to attend a school close to an ocean.

Associate's Degree in Environmental Science

Associate's degree programs in environmental science are commonly designed for the purpose of preparing students for bachelor's degree programs. They can be completed in two years. General education coursework is included, and students typically engage in laboratory experiments and learn to organize and present scientific data.

Bachelor's Degree in Environmental Science

Bachelor's degree programs in environmental science cover environmental issues, including policy, oceanography, geology and engineering. Elective courses may vary widely, including tropical marine studies, toxicology, natural resources, economics and geomorphology. Internships or research projects may be required for graduation.

Master's Degree in Environmental Science

Master's degree programs in environmental science may be completed in two years and can include a wide variety of concentration areas, such as advocacy, education, policy and health. A thesis is commonly required for the completion of such programs.

Ph.D. in Environmental Science

Ph.D. programs may offer joint degree or concentration options in areas such as forestry, soil, water and anthropology. At this level, students may have the opportunity to largely create their own curriculum. A dissertation based on original research in the student's chosen area of focus is typically required.

Students who want to study environmental science have a wide range of graduate and undergraduate degree programs to choose from, with the latter preparing students for careers in environmental engineering or management. Graduate degree holders may be able to find senior positions in environmental planning, consulting, research or teaching.

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