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Environmental Science

Program Manager & Chief Undergraduate Advisor:
Deborah Picking
Office: 310 Holdsworth Hall
Email: dpicking@eco.umass.edu
Phone: (413) 545-5226

Directors:

Anne Averill
Office: 301A Holdsworth Hall
Email: averill@eco.umass.edu
David Boutt
Office: 248 Morrill IV
Email: dboutt@geo.umass.edu

 

The FieldYellowstone Gorge

Environmental Science employs an interdisciplinary approach, teaching students how to meet the challenges of creating a safe and healthy environment and how to recognize and control the effects of pollution and environmental stress on ecosystems. Faculty and students seek practical solutions to complex environmental problems by crossing traditional disciplinary boundaries. Students learn how to integrate and apply knowledge from the appropriate areas of basic science, economics, and policy to address problems caused by ecosystem degradation and from physical alteration of the environment and chemical contaminants from industrial activities, agriculture, food production, and inadequate resource management.

UMass Amherst’s Environmental Science Program is an interdisciplinary academic program which is co-administered by the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Department of Geosciences; and this unique association allows us to provide students with faculty expertise in biological/ecological and geophysical sciences.  Affiliated faculty teach a series of courses with the ENVIRSCI designation as well as disciplinary courses in their department that apply to the Environmental Science major. The curriculum includes innovative course offerings that extend the traditional classroom experience to outreach activities including environmental applications and problem solving in off-campus community settings. Specialty courses expose students to a blend of academic and practical knowledge that includes environmental site assessment (ASTM-EPA procedures), hazardous waste operations and emergency response (OSHA Certification), environmental applications of GIS technologies, and novel approaches to recycling waste materials. Environmental Science majors are prepared for immediate employment upon graduation or have the option of embarking on graduate studies in conservation biology, hydrogeology, environmental soil science, wetland science, environmental chemistry, ecotoxicology, environmental policy, and law.

Career Opportunities

The B.S. degree in Environmental Science leads to a variety of career opportunities in private industry and consulting firms, non-governmental organizations, and governmental agencies concerned with environmental quality assessment, community environment programs, and interagency coordination in environmental quality maintenance. Many majors will continue studies at the graduate level in such diverse fields as environmental microbiology, hydrogeology, watershed management, soil science, ecotoxicology, environmental science education, environmental engineering, and environmental law.

For internships, jobs, and career opportunities, go to the following link:
For Current Students – Career Opportunities

The Major

All majors take required courses which provide a background in natural sciences, mathematics, and environmental studies. First-year students attend a required seminar to discuss critical environmental issues with faculty and outside speakers. A core curriculum of four courses, a Junior Year Writing course, and an Integrative Experience are also required for all majors. These core requirements provide a solid foundation in the social and scientific aspects of environmental problems. Students learn how to apply scientific data to solve complex environmental problems and to establish coherent environmental policy options to protect and sustain the environment. A diverse selection of upper-level courses allows students to work with their faculty advisor to design a unique curriculum tailored to their individual interests and needs. A required second-year seminar guides students towards developing a specific disciplinary focus within the major and constructing a personalized curriculum plan for their remaining undergraduate studies.

Environmental Science Program mission, goals, and objectives:

When students graduate from UMass Amherst with a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science, they will be able to:

  • Understand the complex interactions that define ecosystems and how they may be affected by human activities.
  • Measure, analyze, and monitor environmental contaminants introduced into air, soil, and water.
  • Prevent or decrease the negative effects of adverse human activities on ecosystems and human health.
  • Develop comprehensive methods to restore or remediate contaminated  ecosystems.
  • Apply an interdisciplinary approach to the technical assessment and analysis of global environmental challenges, and develop effective policy options to meet those challenges.

Curriculum

Basic science and math requirements:

  • BIOLOGY 151, 152, and 153 – Introductory Biology I & II, with laboratory
  • CHEM 111, 112 – General Chemistry I, II
  • CHEM 250 Organic Chemistry -OR- CHEM 261 Organic Chemistry I
  • GEOLOGY 101 – The Earth
  • MATH 127, 128 – Calculus I, II
  • PHYSICS 131 – Intro Physics I
  • RES-ECON 212 – Introductory Statistics for the Social Sciences or equivalent
  • RES-ECON 262 – Environmental Economics -OR- RES-ECON 263 -Natural Resource Economics

Required Core Courses:

ENVIRSCI

  • 101 Intro Environmental Science – OR- NRC 100 (Environment and Society)
  • 191A, 194A Introductory Seminars I, II
  • 213 Introduction to Environmental Policy
  • 214 Ecosystems, Biodiversity & Global Change
  • 294A Career & Curriculum Planning Seminar
  • 315 Principles of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry

Also Required:

  • University Junior Year Writing Requirement: NAT-SCI 397A CNS Junior Writing
  • University Integrated Experience (IE) Requirement (Students must choose one):
    • ENVIRSCI 445 – Environmental Problem Solving in Community (Spring)
    • GEO-SCI 494LI – Living on Earth:  Real World Issues in the Geosciences  (Fall)
    • NRC 382 – Human Dimensions in Natural Resource Conservation (Fall)
    • NAT-SCI 494I – Global Issues in Applied Biology (Spring)

Upper-division Requirements

In addition to core requirements, students choose a minimum of four (4) upper-level courses from a wide array of environmental science topics. Samples of approved courses are listed here under general subject area headings.

Students must also complete two (2) “praxis” (hands-on) courses that provide the student with practical experience and/or skills in an environmental field.  This praxis requirement may be combined with the selection of the upper-level coursework (by selecting from an approved list of courses that have a significant laboratory/field/skills component). Students are also encouraged to participate in independent study projects (conducting research with our faculty) and/or participating in an internship in a private, public, non-profit sector setting. Any combination of these possibilities (selected coursework, independent study research, and/or internship) can be used to fulfill the praxis requirement.

Earth Science 

  • ENVIRSCI 390A Environmental Soil Science
  • GEO-SCI 354 Climatology
  • GEO-SCI 415 Intro to Geochemistry
  • GEO-SCI 458 Climate Change
  • GEO-SCI 468 GIS and Spatial Analysis
  • GEO-SCI 485 Applied Environmental Geology
  • GEO-SCI 494LI Living on Earth: Real World Issues in Geoscience (an approved IE course)
  • GEO-SCI 519 Aqueous and Environmental Geochemistry
  • GEO-SCI 557 Coastal Processes
  • GEO-SCI 560 Geomorphology
  • GEO-SCI 563 Glacial Geology
  • GEO-SCI 587 Hydrologeology
  • GEO-SCI 591CP Colorado Plateau Field Trip
  • STOCKSCH 565 Soil Formation & Classification
  • STOCKSCH 570 Soil Physics

Environmental Biology & Conservation Science– provides an ecological perspective on the relationships and interdependence of organisms in terrestrial and aquatic habitats, with emphasis on the effects of human activities on the biota.

  • BIOLOGY 421 Plant Ecology
  • BIOLOGY 487H Tropical Field Biology
  • BIOLOGY540 Herpetology
  • BIOLOGY 544 Ornithology
  • BIOLOGY 548 Mammology
  • BIOLOGY 550 Animal Behavior
  • ENVIRSCI 390A Environmental Soil Science
  • ENVIRSCI 504 Air Pollution and Climate Change Biology
  • ENVIRSCI 515 Microbiology of Soil
  • ENVIRDES 547 Landscape Pattern & Process
  • MICROBIO 310/312 General Microbiology/Lab
  • MICROBIO 330 Microbial Genetics
  • MICROBIO 560 Microbial Diversity
  • NRC 390E Evolution and Conservation
  • NRC 528 Forest & Wetland Hydrology
  • NRC 564 Wildlife Habitat Management
  • NRC 565 Dynamics and Management of Wildlife Populations
  • NRC 570 Fish Ecology
  • NRC 571 Fisheries Science and Management
  • NRC 578 Watershed Science & Management
  • NRC 590CG Global Change Ecology
  • NRC 590WS Wetland Soils
  • NRC 597F Conservation Genetics
  • NRC 597W Wetland Assessment
  • NRC 597WP Wetland Plant Ecology & Identification
  • STOCKSCH 555 Urban Plant Biology

Environmental Policy & Land Use – applies scientific knowledge to address public policy issues on the environment using economic analysis regulation, administration, enforcement, and law.

  • ECON 308 Political Economy of the Environment
  • ENVIRDES 553 Resource Policy andPlanning
  • ENVIRDES 574 City Planning
  • ENVIRDES 575 Environmental Law and Resource Mgt
  • ENVIRDES 577 Urban Policies
  • ENVIRSCI 342 Pesticides, the Environment, and Public Policy
  • GEOGRAPH 360 Economic Geography
  • GEOGRAPH 362 Conservation Geography
  • GEOGRAPH 370 Urban Geography
  • GEOGRAPH 372 Urban Issues
  • GEOGRAPH 380 Political Geography
  • GEOGRAPH 420 Political Ecology
  • GEOGRAPH 497E Geography, Policy & the Environment
  • GEOGARPH 497WG Water Geographies: Conflict & Sustainability
  • GEO-SCI 510 Natural Hazards
  • GEO-SCI 592NP National Parks & Protected Areas
  • LANDARCH/REGIONPL 580 Sustainable Cities
  • NRC 382 Human Dimensions of Natural Resource Management (approved IE course)
  • NRC 409 Natural Resources Policy and Administration
  • NRC 576 Water Resources Management & Policy
  • NRC 590TP Adapting to Climate Change: Theories, Policies and Action
  • POLISCI 382 Environmental Policy
  • REGIONPL 553 Resource Policy and Planning
  • RES-ECON 471 Benefit-Cost Analysis of Natural Resource Programs
  • RES-ECON 472 Adv. topics Resource & Env Economics

Environmental Quality, Planning  and Assessment– focuses on the impacts of environmental contaminants on the biota with emphasis on the analytical chemistry, biochemistry, and ecotoxicology of pollutants in the air, water, and soil.

  • ANIMLSCI 585 Animal and Environmental Toxicology
  • BIOCHEM 420 Elementary Biochemistry
  • BIOCHEM 524 General Biochemistry
  • CE-ENGIN 370 Intro Environmental & Water Resources
  • CHEM 312 Analytical Chemistry
  • CHEM 315 Quantitative Analysis
  • ENVIRSCI 390A Environmental Soil Science
  • ENVIRSCI 504 Air Pollution and Climate Change Biology
  • ENVIRSCI 515 Microbiology of Soil
  • ENVIRSCI 452 Hazardous Waste Operations
  • ENVIRSCI 465 Site Assessment
  • ENVIRSCI 575 Environmental Soil Chemistry
  • GEO-SCI 519 Aqueous and Environmental Geochemistry
  • GEO-SCI 331 Geologic Mapping
  • GEO-SCI 352 Computer Mapping
  • GEO-SCI 468 GIS & Spatial Analysis
  • GEO-SCI 587 Hydrogeology
  • GEO-SCI 591CM Intro Climate & Environmental Modeling
  • MICROBIO 310 General Microbiology
  • MICROBIO 330 Microbial Genetics
  • MICROBIO 385 Biotechnology Laboratory
  • MICROBIO 560 Microbial Diversity
  • MICROBIO 562 Environmental Biotechnology
  • NRC 577 Ecosystem Modeling & Simulation
  • NRC 585 Intro Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
  • NRC 587 Digital Remote Sensing
  • STOCKSCH 555 Urban Plant Biology
  • STOCKSCH 570 Soil Physics
  • STOCKSCH 597A Phyto/Bioremediation
  • STOCKSCH 597O Organic Contaminants in Soils, Waters, and Sediments
  • STOCKSCH 585 Inorganic Contaminants in Soil, Water, and Sediments
  • STOCKSCH 597W Artificial Treatment Wetlands
  • PUBHLTH 303 Intro Environmental Health Science
  • PUBHLTH 562 Air Quality Assessment
  • PUBHLTH 565 Environmental Health Practices
  • PUBHLTH 590A Contaminant Fate & Transport in Aquatic Systems
  • PUBHLTH 590N Indoor Environment & Health

List of Approved ENVSCI Praxis Courses

Follow this link to view a list of pre-approved Praxis Courses available at UMASS Amherst.

The Minor

The Minor in Environmental Science requires a minimum of 15 credits and 5 courses in environmental topics. Refer to the attached file for a specific list of course requirements. Minors are declared in the semester they are being completed –or at a later point. If you have questions, or wish to declare the Environmental Science Minor, go to 310 Holdsworth Hall.   (Please be aware that some Environmental Science courses are available to non-majors on a space-available basis only.)

MINOR in Environmental Science

Forms for Current ENVIRSCI Students

Undergraduate Research Opportunities Fall 2013
Undergraduate Research Opportunities Summer 2014

Got a Question?

Contact an advisor using our form.

Updated: October 23, 2014