Environmental science incorporates policy studies with science and other disciplines, such as economics. Its interdisciplinary approach enables graduates to respond to the complex and ever-changing environmental problems of the 21st century. Professionals with environmental science degrees bridge the gaps between scientists, business leaders, and policy makers; they frequently work as ecologists, consultants, mediators, land managers, and conservation biologists.
Why a Bachelor's Degree?
Typical environmental studies online degree programs require four years to complete. As with most undergraduate degrees, environmental science majors usually spend the first two years enrolled in general education courses, followed by two years of environmental science online courses. The best programs offer internships, which allow students to glean real world experience as part of their education.
Inside an Environmental Science Bachelor's Degree Program
Students in environmental science programs typically spend the first two years fulfilling the general education requirement. History, math, writing and literature are commonly required. Many students choose to take introductory courses in other fields that will help with the environmental science major, such as economics and politics. The best programs encourage first and second year students to begin to take geography and geology classes as well.
During the last two years of most programs, students take most of the classes in their major field. Students can expect to get a thorough grounding in American politics, environmental law and policy, and ethics. Many programs offer coursework in geographic information systems (GIS) and remote sensing, as well as natural resource management. Prior to graduation, many students take advantage of internships and practicums, which are usually valued by potential employers.
What's Next for Environmental Science Bachelor's Degree Holders?
Graduates of environmental science programs have a number of employment options. Some take environmental scientist positions and earn a median salary of $66,250. Those who choose to work in the field as conservation scientists earn a median salary of $60,360 each year, according to the BLS. Many others work as ecologists, making $58,270 annually. Still others find work as geographers and GIS specialists, where they earn a median salary of $76,420.
Knowing that employers in today’s tough job market expect their workers to have advanced degrees, many environmental science graduates choose to continue their education and pursue a master’s degree. The typical environmental studies master’s program will take two years to complete; however, with the degree, graduates have even more opportunities for fulfilling careers. Many graduates of master’s degree programs take positions as policy analysts, where the median salary of $104,920.