Lazy, winding rivers, picturesque sounds, mountain-fed streams, and the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean are North Carolina's lifeblood. It's where we enjoy languid cruises, snag the local catch, and dip our toes to cool off on those scorching North Carolina summer days. Water is also crucial to the livelihood of countless residents here and one of the main reasons why this state's tourism industry continues to break records (reaching $24 billion in 2017).
But the things that make this state such a gem are also the very same things that worry environmentalists the most. Rising sea levels threaten the Outer Banks, North Carolina's delicate barrier islands… water quality remains a concern with waste from hog facilities making it into the waterways… contaminated floodwaters from Hurricane Florence continue to affect the state's watershed… and toxic chemicals like GenX are showing up in the Cape Fear River.
North Carolina's water woes call for all hands on deck, from governmental agencies implementing and enforcing clean air, water, and emissions regulations to private environmental firms helping their clients ensure compliance with these regulations to nonprofit groups bringing awareness to environmental issues through public outreach and education.
Armed with the right education, you can become part of the solution, lending your skills and talent to the environmental movement in North Carolina.
What Can I Do with an Environmental Science Degree in North Carolina
Environmental efforts are most often realized through collaboration, and the North Carolina Conservation Network is an excellent example of this. This statewide network works with nearly 100 environmental groups in the state to train activists, gather groups to address environmental issues, and produce outstanding advocates.
In the state's governmental sector, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality is top dog, with its efforts focused on providing science-based stewardship in areas like air quality, coastal management, marine fisheries, waste management, water infrastructure, and more.
Whether you career lands you in the private, nonprofit, or public sector, jobs in environmental science in North Carolina often come with an attractive paycheck. According to 2018 BLS statistics, environmental scientists and specialists in North Carolina earned an annual, average salary of $64,850, while geoscientists earned $71,830, hydrologists earned $71,450, and conservation scientists earned $61,780.
Master's in Environmental Science in North Carolina
A master's degree in environmental science is where you'll hone your skills to become a major player in the field, the classroom, or in the laboratory. And thanks to North Carolina's impressive selection of master's degree offerings, you'll be able to find a program that best suits your professional aspirations.
State programs like UNC - Wilmington's MS in Environmental Studies (an MPA is also available) and North Carolina A&T's MS in Agricultural and Environmental Systems tend to feature interdisciplinary courses of study that provide you with a balanced foundation on which to explore a variety of environmental topics.
There's also plenty of private colleges and universities with solid master's programs in environmental science from which to choose. For example, Lenoir-Rhyne offers an MS in Sustainability Studies, an interdisciplinary course of study designed to prepare students for work in government agencies, educational institutions, nonprofits, and private businesses.
Bachelor's in Environmental Science in North Carolina
A four-year degree in environmental science is the perfect foundation on which to build a career or pursue graduate study in the sustainability field. And luckily, North Carolina has plenty of solid programs that'll kickstart your professional endeavors.
Degrees in environmental science are often as much about the practical experiences as they are the classroom theory, and Montreat College's BS in Environmental Science is a great example of this, featuring plenty of field-based courses, including the bi-annual American Eco-Systems course that includes travel to more than 20 national parks.
Not to be outdone, Catawba College's BS in Environment & Sustainability is rich in internships, practicums, undergraduate research opportunities, and study abroad experiences. Much of the experiential learning here takes place at the college's 186-acre ecological preserve, its sustainable facility, and its Center for the Environment.
Online Environmental Science Degree Options from Schools in North Carolina
NC State University is just one of many colleges and universities in the nation to appeal to adult learners and those with geographical limitations. For example, their Master of Environmental Assessment is delivered entirely online for professionals seeking to advance their level of expertise in environmental science. Just some of the courses in this innovative program include Environmental Stressors, Environment Risk Assessment, and Environmental Monitoring and Analysis.