Overview: Environmental Science Degree Options
- Online Environmental Science Degrees: Offers flexibility and allows a student to remain employed while pursuing a degree online.
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- Bachelor's - Environmental Science Degrees: Four-year program offered at various universities worldwide as well as online.
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- Master's - Environmental Science Degrees: Can be obtained either by those who obtained a bachelor's in the same subject or who chose to earn a degree in one of the traditional sciences.
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- Doctorate - Environmental Science Degrees: doctorate in Environmental Science will prepare you for a future in the public or private sector as an education instructor.
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Environmental Science Degrees
The career options for an Environmental Science degree holder vary and are predominately influenced by the specialization you choose. Environmental scientists, agriculturists and field researchers may all possess an Environmental Science degree, but the level of the degree and its concentration is the cornerstone of their entire career.
Types of Environmental Science Degrees
Bachelors in Environmental Science
A Bachelor’s of Environmental Science is a four-year program offered at various universities worldwide as well as online. Choosing to study Environmental Science as an undergraduate will provide you with the option to begin working as an environmental scientist or specialist immediately following graduation, as these jobs require only a bachelor’s degree for entry-level positions.
Masters in Environmental Science
A Master’s Degree in Environmental Science can be obtained either by those who obtained a bachelor’s in the same subject or who chose to earn a degree in one of the traditional sciences such as biology, chemistry or physics and would like to refine their knowledge and allow for the possibility of specific professional or academic advancement.
PhD/Doctorate in Environmental Science
One can also obtain a PhD in Environmental Science and go on to work in the education field where they will be able to teach others about the world and its inner workings.
Branches of Environmental Science Degrees
As stated earlier, the specialization you choose will have a large impact on your overall degree and future career. While the program structure of a degree both at the undergraduate and master’s level tends to fluctuate depending on the institution, the major branches of environmental science degrees are:
Those who are interested in the legislation and regulations related to the environment and society’s systems and policies in regards to it will find that a concentration in environmental policies unites their scientific and mathematical education with a strong understanding of the legal system that allows them to enter directly into careers that involve the establishment, lobbying and maintenance of environmental-related policies and laws.
Natural resources are the world’s biggest industry. Humanity depends on the proper harvest, management and distribution of these resources to survive, however the Earth also needs to be cared for and an environmental or natural resource manager is one who will utilize a business and math background to ensure the regulation and upkeep of natural resources. The world’s resources are precious, and an environmental manager’s job is dedicated to insuring the protection of those resources.
Humanity is the Earth’s greatest mystery. An environmental studies concentration will address humans and their social impact on the environment. If you choose to study this field, you will be able to earn a background in both the natural sciences as well as anthropology to better understand the world and the impact humanity is made and how that is expected to change or progress in the future.
Environmental Science Degree Requirements
The work and past experience required for a degree varies among institutions as well as the program. A Bachelor of Environmental Science is much broader than a Master of Natural Resources and Environmental Science or a PhD. Although each degree is its own unique entity, all programs, whether undergraduate or secondary, require in-depth study of the branches of science as well as extensive lab work and field studies.
Many students who study environmental science decide to pursue a degree in person rather than online as the hands-on experience and demanding lab work plays a vital role in their understanding and mastery of the subject matter.
Bachelor of Environmental Science
This undergraduate degree offers students an academic foundation in natural science, mathematics and general education that prepares them for a future as an environmental scientists, specialist, lobbyist and more.
Requirements include various courses in biology, chemistry, physics, geography and ecology as well as other diverse fields and specialized electives that merge and carve the pathway to a versatile professional future.
Bachelor’s programs in Environmental Science can help shape your understanding of the field as a whole. Like most bachelor’s programs, the Bachelor’s in Environmental Science can help prepare you for entry-level careers in the field, or higher degree programs in your future. Our team of educational experts has provided some helpful elements of this degree program below for you to browse.
- Program Requirements: Bachelor’s programs in Environmental Science typically consist of around 4 years of full-time education. Students at this level may be required to take an abundance of entry-level coursework in natural sciences, general educational components, and some electives. During this experience, students can gain foundation knowledge that prepares them for introductory careers in Environmental Science or higher level degree programs.
- Coursework to Expect: In addition to the standard general education requirements, students at this level may take courses that introduce them to the different branches of science in existence. Biology, Chemistry, and Physics are just a few of the courses that students can expect to see at this level. The blend of specialized science courses and general education components can help students related their field of study to the world as a whole. Some individual project assignments and research projects may be conducted in later stages of this degree program.
- Potential Careers: The most popular career field for graduates at this level is Environmental Scientist. While seemingly broad, this category can include entry-level careers in environmental research, zoology, marine biology, meteorology, and health science. Professionals working in any of these fields can contribute data and information to teams that are working towards a greater understanding of the environment and the beings within in.
Master of Environmental Science
If you hold a degree in one of the major science fields or want to expand upon your current bachelor’s, a master’s degree in Environmental Science will allow you to advance in your career and focus more intensely on a specific branch of the subject such as agriculture, natural resource management or environmental law.
At the master’s level, students are generally required to dive deeper into a curriculum that is more focused on Environmental Science. Students in master’s programs may take courses that relate to different environmental concepts from a research perspective. One of the most important factors about being a scientist is the ability to gather, research, and provide data regarding your field of study. Read below for more information on this degree program.
- Program Requirements: The Master’s in Environmental Science can look different depending on the school you are attending. Most master’s-level programs require students to indulge in 2-3 years of addition education, most of which is fully focused on their degree major. Master’s program may consist of courses that are specific to your major, which cuts out the time you spend on courses that cannot contribute to your career. Independent research projects and master’s-level thesis projects may be present at this level, allowing students to test their own professional ability in environmental research.
- Coursework to Expect: The breakdown of coursework and thesis at the Master’s level can allow students to gain the skills they need to be effective researchers before allowing them to engage in a project that can award them a degree. Coursework may consist of courses that build upon introductory topics learned in undergraduate programs, those that dive deeper into major-oriented topics in environmental science, and those that provide skills relevant to careers in this field. This means that students can take research and data-related math courses, research planning courses, and electives while in this program.
- Potential Careers: In addition to generalized Environmental Scientist positions, graduates at this level can pursue rarer endeavors throughout their career. Leadership opportunities are often opened wider to individuals that have higher degree programs. Your ability to obtain highly-sought after positions can also be increased by obtaining a higher degree in Environmental Science.
PhD in Environmental Science
A doctorate in Environmental Science will prepare you for a future in the public or private sector as an education instructor. This is by far the most intensive of the degrees, so if you worked for your master’s and found that work intensive, you can only expect it to increase with the pursuit of a PhD.
Students that are destined to move even further beyond the master’s program may find that Ph.D. programs are a great option. The Ph.D. in Environmental Science is an in-depth degree program that helps students gain skills that are necessary for research-oriented professionals in this field. The courses that are required for this program often require learners to gather information on their own and even create their own concepts for research. There is more about the Ph.D. program below this section.
- Program Requirements: The goal of the Ph.D. program in Environmental Science is to provide a learning platform for students that want to branch out on their own and create research studies relevant to their field. This program may take 2-3 years post-master’s or 4 years post-bachelor’s to complete, but can lead to many exciting possibilities after graduation. Coursework is typically student-focused at this level, allowing you independence with your research assignments and topics of interest.
- Coursework to Expect: Ph.D. programs in Environmental Science often consist of courses that help with building a new and original research project. At the beginning of your experience, you may begin to choose elements that would be useful for your project and slowly gain more information and substance as you move forward in your program. The implementation of seminars and group activities can help strengthen your ability to think critically and analyze information in a way that promotes further knowledge. Towards the end of your experience, you may be required to exhibit your research to others in order to complete your program.
- Potential Careers: Students that graduate at this level can contribute a lot to the field of Environmental Science. Some graduates choose to take the full research route with their careers by becoming Environmental Researchers. Contributions from individuals in this field can change the way that people look at this branch of science. Others may find careers in education, helping upcoming Environmental Scientist learn more about their chosen field. In addition to these 2 routes, graduates may also have the opportunity to pursue careers in leadership or development within various fields of Environmental Science.
The price of a degree varies greatly among institutions, though a master’s degree and PhD are much more expensive than an undergraduate degree. The school you choose, geographic location and type of program will all have an impact on the overall cost of your education. The price of tuition annually in the United States can range anywhere between $5,000 (for in-state residents) to $60,000.
Federal loans and grants, scholarships as well as funding for secondary degrees can usually be obtained, and doctoral students tend to receive much higher funding than master’s or undergraduate students. Because tuition, lab fees and living expenses can be so high while studying, it is important to conduct a thorough and concise search for accredited schools and make a selection based not solely off of merit, but also off of affordability and practicality so your future career in environmental science is not overshadowed by crippling debt.
Coursework and Topics You May See in Environmental Science Degree Programs
- Hydrology: At the introductory level, Hydrology can teach students about the water cycle and how it relates to human life and well-being. The physical properties of water may be discussed in depth throughout this course, as well as its many uses. Students that take this course can learn more about the role of water in the life cycle, environment, and land formation. Some topics throughout this course require students to pull knowledge from other fields such as mathematics, general science, and engineering.
- Hydraulics: Hydraulics is a very specific course within the field of Environmental Science that includes topics related to the function of hydraulic systems. Students that enroll in this program can learn more about the different components of these systems, such a control assemblies, pumps, actuators, and control valves. After learning about what makes up these devices, students can learn how they function in the environment and what uses they have for organizations and companies that use them. Power systems are another important topic that may be covered within this course.
- Environmental Sampling and Analysis: One of the most important aspects to Environmental Science and the learning process that helps scientist go beyond what is already known is laboratory testing. This course in particular allows students to learn different sampling and testing techniques that are common within the field. Some of the analysis topics in this course focus on the collection and testing of liquids, solids, and gases. Specific sampling techniques for stream sampling, well installation, slug tests, and air quality may be covered throughout this course.
- Chemical Process Priniciples: This course seeks to educate students on the various chemical processes and the principles that surround them. Some theories that students may dive into in this course are those that related to automatic control in relationship to common chemical processes. Students in this course may also become familiarized with simulation languages that are used in the study of practical control problems in processing industries. A strong background in chemistry is a prerequisite requirement for this course.
- Mechanics of Solids: This introductory course is an excellent resource for students that wish to learn more about structural mechanics. Topics that relate to the fundamental understanding of solid mechanics may be covered in detail, in order to lead students into higher level courses further in their program. Some specific topics that may be covered within this course include static equilibrium, support conditions, states of stress, displacements, and matrix methods. During this class, students may take part in design projects that help test their knowledge of the material.
Understanding the different courses you can expect to see will help you better prepare for a degree in Environmental Science.