Finding the Right Environmental Science School
Getting a degree in environmental science can open up endless career opportunities for you, so as students interested in environmental science, you will be the ones that are going to help change the world we live in! Therefore, where you go to school is of utmost importance. There are many schools with a lot to offer in this field, however finding the right school for you is what matters most. We have organized a few topics to consider in order to help with your decision as you browse our environmental science school rankings. For more information about our rankings, read our methodology below.
It's difficult to imagine studying the interactions of the natural world from the city - that's why the best Environmental Science programs tend to be offered in schools that are located in areas that give students the opportunity to get out of the classroom and into nature.
Does your Environmental Sciences program ‘walk the walk'? You're going to take your commitment to environmental sustainability and action beyond the classroom, so what about your school? Decide whether you want a school that directs funds toward visible sustainability measures - LEED Certification, low impact architecture, solar energy use, and net carbon footprint are just a few of the criteria that your school choices may advertise.
Environmental Sciences is a rapidly evolving field. It's important to evaluate the teaching faculty at your potential schools . Some questions to ask:
- Are they active in their field?
- Do they publish research?
- Do they participate or advocate for any environmental issues that will benefit the environment on a local, national, or global scale?
Their passion and breadth of experience will help take young minds beyond the textbook.
Opportunities to Study Abroad
The world is a vast place - in order to change it, you must be willing to see it. Study abroad can be a valuable component in education.
Perhaps there are fields where graduates will sit at desks, using computers and consulting manuals, but environmental sciences isn't one of them! The more diverse the opportunities are for learning, the more prepared you'll be for employment after graduation! Make sure that your curriculum outlines lab and field work, in-class components, large projects, research, internships, volunteer work, advocacy, and study abroad in order to ensure that you get a diversity of learning experiences.
Diversity breeds stability in nature, and in education as well. Having a variety of courses to choose from in order to round out your degree and inform your perspective on environmental science is key for getting the kind of education - and job - that you want.
Degree Levels Offered
Some students prefer the lab while others would prefer the shortest classroom time possible. Make sure that you closely examine your preferences before you commit to either more or less classroom time that you're comfortable with. Environmental science designations come at all levels: Associate's degree, Bachelor's, Master's, and Doctorate level work.
Just like a stagnant pond, a stagnant educational climate doesn't produce anything worthwhile. Sometimes the best way to measure this in a rapidly evolving field is to look for where and how research dollars are spent, and what kind and quality of research environmental science faculty and graduate students undertake.
Now that we've given you some criteria to consider, here comes the hard part - choosing a school! We've already gone through and assessed all the schools on our list for these factors and many more - what's left is to see not ‘if' you're going to change the world through an environmental science major, but rather ‘how' and ‘where'.
Best Colleges Advocating Environmental Science
The rankings are based on published surveys, student data, and other school and career data collected through several sources including the following agencies:
- The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS)
- National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)
Having obtained our base data set, we filtered out the following information in order to render data that is useful to environmental science applicants. Here’s what we did:
- Any school that had an average of less than 1,000 total students per year was omitted in order to maintain statistical integrity
- Any school that had an average of less than 10 total environmental graduates each year was omitted in order to maintain student privacy and statistical integrity
- Only 4-year public and private non-profit schools were included
Schools were sorted in order of the highest percentage of total students graduating with an environmental science degree (CIPCODE: 03.0104).
Pomona College is a liberal arts college located outside Los Angeles, California. Committed to preparing their students for a career in one of the most formidable challenges facing the world in the 21st century, that is, daily living in a world under strain from climate change and population growth. Pomona Colleges Environmental Analysis programs are highly interdisciplinary and encourage the broadest range of applicants possible in order to strengthen the program. In addition to directly related fields, Environmental Analysis program prepares students for careers in community action, environmental education, and urban agriculture.
SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) is located in New York State close to New York City. SUNY ESF is proud to be a leading post-secondary institution with focus on environmental challenges. The college's mandate is to help students envision a society that meets human needs for the natural world, while safeguarding living resources for future generations to observe and protect. SUNY ESF strives to create and educate leaders while inspiring and informing the public about our world.
Allegheny College proudly wears the label of an 'up and coming' liberal arts college and is located in Pennsylvania. Allegheny's Environmental Sciences program teaches students to analyze the relationships between humans and the environment that we live with and use. Students enrolled at Allegheny can either major in Environmental Science, which focuses on the chemistry and biology of our changing world, or major in Environmental Studies, which has a broader interdisciplinary scope and focuses on such fields as law and policy, art, literature and philosophy.
Maharishi University of Management is located in Fairfield, Iowa. In the Sustainable Living undergraduate or Master's program , learn about humans' impact on the world through transdisciplinary, project-based approach to higher education. Maharishi offers five tracks through the program: Renewable Energy, Applied Soil Ecology, Policy & Social Change, the Built Environment, Agriculture & Food. Additionally, Sustainable Living conducts classes in a net zero energy environment that is student managed.
The Colorado College Environmental Program focuses on students' understanding and synthesizing their connection to the world and its environment, attaining the scientific skillsets to explore human interrelationships in the global ecosystem, and pursuing interdisciplinary approaches to solving problems that these interrelationships create. Colorado College offers majors in Environmental Science and Environmental Policy, disciplinary tracks in Environmental Chemistry and Environmental Physics, and a thematic Environmental Issues minor that can be appended to other majors within the college's framework.
Juniata College is located in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania and is nationally ranked for their undergrad summer research programs in science. Juniata's students learn from dynamic field experiences that are built into the curriculum, and that take advantage of unique geological and ecological zones in the area. The college prides itself on its high rate of fully-funded students who are admitted to graduate school. Juniata offers four majors - each with their own scope of studies. Students can major in environmental science, environmental studies which has a broader interdisciplinary base, wildlife conservation, or environmental economics. Additionally, Juniata offers a highly-sought-after certificate program for Geographic Information Systems (GIS).
Located approximately 300 miles north of San Francisco in Arcata, California, Humboldt State College is ideally located to be a leader amongst Environmental Science programs. The campus is situated near ancient redwood forests, mountains and beaches ideal for field work. Students in Environmental Science can specialize in one of four areas: Ecological Restoration, Environmental Policy, Energy and Climate, or Geospatial Science. At the core of Humboldt College's ES program is the drive to foster a practical problem-solving approach toward human-environmental interrelationships.
Founded in 1813, Colby College is a private, independent, four-year, liberal arts college offering bachelor of arts degrees. The campus is located on 714 acres in Waterville, Maine, and boasts net zero carbon emissions. Colby prides itself on diversity of student population. The Environmental Studies program is one of the oldest in the country; the program is nationally recognized for its excellence. The student population is encouraged to lend their skills and talents locally, nationally, and internationally to help solve environmental challenges. Colby prides itself on learning models that are project-based with plenty of field-research opportunities.
Located in Salem, Oregon, Willamette College is a private liberal arts university. Founded in 1842, Willamette holds the title of the longest standing Environmental Sciences program in the Pacific Northwest. Willamette's unique programming allows students access to extensive field experience as well as policy-making at the local, state, and national levels. Educational concentrations direct student learning toward the natural and social sciences that are key to understanding the natural world and humankind's impact on it. Through classroom, lab, research, field, study abroad, and internship students will be well-prepared to enter the professional arena as teachers, consultants, researchers, policy makers, and professionals.
Located in Bellingham, Washington, Western Washington University is a model of sustainability. Forbes magazine ranks Western as having top value in education. Founded in 1969, Huxley College of the Environment has become a leading institution for the education of future environmental scientists and professionals. Huxley's' curriculum grants degrees in Environmental Studies (B.A., B.A.E., M.A., M.Ed.) and Environmental Sciences (B.S., M.S.). Each degree offers multiple concentrations in order to foster diversity and to ensure that environmental problems of the future have a set of leaders who are up to the task of solving them.
Established in 1947 as a public liberal arts and sciences university, UHH has a renowned Environmental Studies program. The Environmental Studies program intersects with many other academic fields and thus the degree provides an innovative approach for those interested in the impact on the environment from a variety of perspectives. Although both majors share a common concentration, the BA program focuses more on interrelationships and humanities as they apply to environmental issues, whereas the BS program focuses more strongly on environmental processes and research. A certificate program is also offered.
The University of Vermont in Burlington has 22 environmentally themed majors and concentrations and is the 5th oldest university in New England. UVM offers a BS degree in Environmental Sciences through three streams within the university. Students are fortunate to have world-renowned environmental scientists in the classroom as professors, coupled with hands-on field and lab opportunities. Within the three schools, students can choose between a greater focus on either environmental sciences or liberal arts focus, or understanding of the environment within the context of agricultural literacy.
Founded in 1889, the University of Idaho is committed to forming the next cohort of thinkers, activists, and policy makers for local, state, and national venues. Through the Environmental Science program, students learn how to protect, preserve and make a difference in managing Earth and its resources. University of Idaho favors a whole-systems approach, which molds professionals who understand environmental science, and also the economic, social and political pressures that affect environmental decision-making.
Founded in 1802, West Point US Military Academy is an important part of US history. West Point is located approximately 50 miles north of New York city on the banks of the Hudson River. The academy develops cadets to live with uncompromising integrity as U.S. Army officers in service to the nation. West Point's Center for Environmental and Geographic Sciences (CEGS) focuses on applied and academic research at the local, national, and global levels and integrates the three programs (Environmental Engineering, Geography and GIS) for research and outreach to the academic and Army communities.
Founded in 1963, the University of West Florida services approximately 12,000 students throughout various campuses. The student population is comprised of undergraduate, graduate, and research programs. At UWF, the Environmental Science department emphasizes that students analyze physical, social, and economic environments and their interrelationships. The curriculum is engineered to provide a strong foundation in natural sciences and current techniques like cartography, remote sensing, and GIS. The department offers three tracks that prepare students for their respective professions or graduate studies.
Salisbury University, in Salisbury, Maryland offers a strong and fast-growing Environmental Studies Program. Strongly interdisciplinary, the program integrates humanities and social sciences along with natural sciences to create leaders who are capable of examining complex environmental issues and posing workable solutions at the local, national, and international levels. In addition to the interdisciplinary nature of the curriculum, students are encouraged to engage in experiential learning opportunities like research, community engagement, and fieldwork.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill accepted students for the first time in 1795, making it the nation’s first public university. UNC Chapel Hill is globally renowned and as one of the best research universities in the world. The Environmental Science and Engineering Department focuses on the interaction between humans and the global environment. Interdisciplinary programs focus on the physical and life sciences, engineering and policy. Research strengths include developing engineering and policy solutions to environmental risks and overcoming environmental health challenges in developing countries.
Oregon State University located in Corvallis, Oregon is a leader in Environmental Sciences. The College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences retains faculty with international renown in earth sciences. Environmental scientists must be able to assess problems, and provide predictions and solutions and OSU prepares students for these tasks. OSU's BS in Environmental Sciences offers an interdisciplinary approach to environmental problem solving and prepares students for further study or career paths.
At University of Redlands in Redlands, California, the emphasis has been on leading by example - teaching and demonstrating a commitment to good citizenship and environmental responsibility every day. Since the university's founding in 1907, the university has continually advanced their vision of environmental stewardship starting at home with green buildings, LEED standards, and a cogeneration plant and continuing into the world as graduates make and influence environmental research and policy. Interdisciplinary program offerings at University of Redlands include majors in Environmental Business, Environmental Policy & Management, Environmental Science, and Environmental Studies.
For more than 160 years, California University of Pennsylvania has been forming students into leaders and policymakers who help the world. California University offers an undergraduate degree in environmental studies which integrates rigorous scientific study in order to prepare students for entry into a professional career or further study as a graduate student. Pursuing a BS in environmental studies allows students to choose from five tracks which include Natural Resource Management and Policy, Conservation Ecology, Environmental Science, Fisheries and Wildlife Biology, and Leadership and Management. The department also offers a minor concentration that has a broadly based background in environmental sciences.
Located in Des Moines, Iowa, Drake University is a well-acclaimed private university. Drake's core values include preparing students for responsible global citizenship. This mandate is evident in the Environmental Sciences department where the interdisciplinary degree program prepares students to analyze connections between humans and their environment through a combination of natural and social sciences. Drake emphasizes opportunities like field and lab work, project-based learning, and technological aptitude in order to meet with success as an undergraduate and to carry on to professional life or further study.
The University of Maine is located in Orono, along the banks of the Stillwater River. Established in 1897 as the University of Maine, it has remained strongly focused on technical and science schooling since its inception. UM's Ecology & Environmental Sciences Program (EES) offers both undergraduate and graduate level studies in order to give students the power to analyze and problem-solve todays complex environmental problems. The EES program encourages students to explore research opportunities within Maine's unique landforms, flora, and fauna.
Founded in 1878 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Duquesne ranks among the country's top Catholic research universities. The University is a continual contender for rankings from U.S. News, World Report, the Princeton Review. One of the core values of Duquesne's mandate is that of stewardship, and the school's Environmental Science program helps forms students' skills and ethics to support this aim. Students will study the effects of humans on the earth through such methods as study abroad, research, lab work, and intensive coursework.