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The Field :: Career Opportunities :: The Major
The Curriculum

Contact an Advisor

The Field

As we begin the 21st century, we are confronted with environmental changes that are unique in the history of the earth. These changes have caused a wide variety of extremely complex environmental problems: global climate change, overpopulation, air and water pollution, loss of habitat for endangered species, solid and hazard waste management, the buildup of pesticides and heavy metals in our food and water are some of the issues threatening the ecological and economic stability of our planet.

Career Opportunities

There is a critical need for professionals trained to recognize and address environmental hazards. An environmental science degree will prepare students for a wide range of careers in industry, government, consulting, and education. At the present time, demand for cross-disciplinary professionals is increasing. A degree in environmental science is expected to be in continued demand across all sectors of employment, particularly in the areas of environmental protection, conservation of natural resources, environmental education and communication, and environmental research.

Graduates from our program have found employment as Wildlife Conservationists,
Water Resources Specialists, Soil Science Consultants, Pollution Prevention and Control Officers, Corporate Environmental Consultants, Laboratory Technicians, Hazardous Waste Management Specialists, Environmental Health and Safety Officers, Environmental Lawyers, and Environmental Risk Management Specialists.

The Major

The environmental science major provides an understanding of the biological and physical sciences and their application to environmental problems. Our majors follow a rigorous interdisciplinary approach that prepares them to respond to urgent environmental challenges. Students learn the basic theories and techniques needed to monitor environmental quality, to interpret the impact of human actions on terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, and to develop strategies for ecosystem restoration. Our majors also learn how to apply scientific data to develop policies and regulations for protecting the environment.

Students design a program that is tailored to their individual interests and strengths by selecting upper-level courses that come from many different disciplines. Active concentration areas include: Environmental Biology, Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, and Environmental Policy. There is also the option of combining related courses in a General Track of study.

The program encourages majors to enhance their program of study with an Internship experience and/or an Independent Study. These opportunities provide students with experience and training that will be useful in career planning as well as in decision-making about fields of graduate education.

Many students continue their education in related fields such as microbiology, toxicology, health, soil science, wetland science, resource economics, and environmental law.

Environmental Sciences program mission, goals, and objectives:

When students graduate from UMass Amherst with a bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources Conservation (Environnmental Science concentration), 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 techical assessment and analysis of global environmental challenges, and develop effective policy options to meet those challenges.

The Curriculum

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 and a junior-year writing course are also required by 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 environmental resource systems. This knowledge is essential to the assessment and containment of environmental hazards on a local and global scale.

A diverse selection of upper-level courses allows students to design a unique curriculum, with their Faculty Advisor, which is tailored to their individual interests and needs. Students combine related courses in a General Track of study, or select a specific concentration in: Environmental Biology, Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, and Environmental Policy.

Independent studies and internships offer students the opportunity to integrate laboratory and field work into their curriculum. Students in the program often pursue a second major or a minor to prepare for a more specific area of environmental study.

Contact an Advisor:

Sandy Barron

Office: 310 Holdsworth Hall
Phone: 545-5226
E-mail: sbarron


Guy Lanza

Office: 326 Holdsworth Hall
Phone: (413) 545-3747
E-mail: glanza

You can contact this advisor using the NRC contact form

For more information, go to http://www.umass.edu/envsci