Best Colleges in 2022 to Study Environmental Science

Schools with the top environmental science programs that can help you get a job in this growing field!

Academic fields of science are among the most common career paths for college students. There are many different types of science for students to major in, from biotech engineering to biology. Certain fields like environmental science are becoming more and more popular as the world around us is constantly changing and evolving. If you’re interested in the natural and man made processes that affect the world around us, environmental science could be the study that’s perfect for you to explore. 

What Does Environmental Science Entail?

Environmental science, classified as an interdisciplinary science, is defined as the culmination of scientific fields that integrate subjects such as biology, chemistry, and geography to help us understand the physical, chemical, and biological components that make up the ecosystems and biomes of our earth.  Types of environmental sciences may include human ecology and climate change science, because they study the interactions and impact of humans on our environment. 

Five major fields of environmental science:

  • Atmospheric sciences 
  • Ecology 
  • Environmental chemistry
  • Geoscience
  • Social sciences 

These are the three main goals overall of environmental science:

  • To learn how the natural world works.
  • Understand how humans interact with the environment.
  • Evaluate ways to deal with environmental problems.
  • Live sustainably.

Environmental Science + College

When researching schools to find the best environmental science programs, there are some things you can look for to get the most out of your education. Some Environmental Science programs have internships through the school, or give credit for internships. Hands-on experience can be very beneficial during your time in college because it will give you more of an idea if the field is really something you want to take on. Work study is another valuable option, because you are also learning and gaining experience. Some schools even have travel programs where you can explore different parts of the world. 

Check out some of these schools across the country that have the best environmental science programs.

SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry

The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) is one of the top colleges for environmental science in the entire country. The school is primarily focused on the science, design, engineering and management of natural resources and the environment. SUNY ESF also offers 24 undergraduate and 30 graduate degree programs, and is ranked among the nation's top universities based on value, class size and student engagement. ESF faculty come from impressive backgrounds, and conduct many different types of research at the forefront of trying to solve many of the world's environmental problems.

Students study at the Syracuse campus and on 25,000 acres of property throughout New York State. ESF also offers numerous opportunities to study abroad. Career-related internships provide invaluable work experience and can often pave the way to permanent positions after graduation. ESF's special relationship with neighboring Syracuse University provides ESF students with access to selected SU courses, student services and activities

The college's goal is to help students picture a society that meets human needs, along with protecting certain living resources for future generations to observe. SUNY ESF mentions on their website that they want to create and educate our leads while informing the public about the state of our world. Good and bad!  

Environmental science programs offered:

  • Environmental Studies
  • Environmental Science
  • Environmental and Environmental Health Engineering
  • Environmental Engineering Technology and Environmental Technology
  • Environmental Biology
  • Environmental Chemistry

Pitzer College

Pitzer College is a private liberal arts school located right near the base of the San Gabriel Mountains in Claremont, CA. The school emphasizes the arts, humanities, environmental and interdisciplinary studies as well as social, behavioral and natural sciences. 

The school has a valuable work abroad program, even though it is not required for the environmental science students. The study abroad curriculum enables students to secure deeper appreciation and understanding of the global dimensions of environmental challenges. The program also encourages students to engage in internships and fieldwork that take them beyond the classroom, to get more involved in researching efforts. 

Environmental Science Programs offered:

  • Environmental science 
  • Environmental design

It’s important Pitzer College is not known to require students to submit SAT/ACT scores, but they typically look for students with at least a 3.5 gpa or in the top 10 percent of their senior class.

Colorado College

The Environmental program at Colorado College focuses on students' understanding and ability to connect with the world and the environment. The school also wants their students to attain the scientific skills to explore human interrelationships in our ecosystem, and pursue certain types of approaches to help solve problems that these interrelationships oftentimes can create. The school offers majors in Environmental Science and Environmental Policy, disciplinary tracks in Environmental Chemistry and Environmental Physics, and a thematic Environmental Issues minor that can be added to other majors within the college's framework.

Main learning outcomes listed on the school’s website:

  • Students can articulate, measure/calculate, analyze, and model the dynamics of a complex system along with the flows and transformations of energy and matter within and between each sphere in the Earth System.
  • Students can utilize quantitative reasoning skills to address societally-relevant problems in the environment. 
  • Students can critically analyze the ways in which scientific knowledge is gathered, as well as give an appreciation for the historical and societal constructs in which it occurs.
  • Students are able to disseminate scientific knowledge to a variety of different audiences. 

Environmental science programs offered at Colorado College:

  • Environmental studies
  • Environmental science

Humboldt State University

If you’re looking for a college campus that has some gorgeous views, Humboldt State may be the perfect option for you, and it’s also such a great school for those environmental science students! The campus is situated near ancient redwood forests, mountains and beaches that are used for different kinds of field work. Many lab sessions are also held in natural habitats nearby. These may include the Arcata Community Forest, Arcata Mash, Wildlife Sanctuary, and the Redwood National and State Parks. You can also take day/week trips to locations such as the Trinity River, Crater Lake National Park, Trinity Alps Wilderness, and the Mattole River Watershed. Students in Environmental Science can also specialize in one of four areas: Ecological Restoration, Environmental Policy, Energy and Climate, or Geospatial Science. The core of Humboldt College's ES program is to foster a practical problem-solving approach toward human-environmental interrelationships.

Concentrations offered at Humboldt State:

  • Ecological Restoration
  • Energy and Climate
  • Environmental Education and Interpretation
  • Environmental Planning and Policy
  • Geospatial Science

Minors offered at Humboldt State:

  • Ecological Restoration
  • Environmental and Natural Resources Planning
  • Environmental Education and Interpretation
  • Environmental Policy
  • Geospatial Analysis 
  • Natural Resources

University of Vermont

Delehanty Hall, home of many geochemistry laboratories for environmental research.

 The University of Vermont in Burlington, which is the 5th oldest university in all of New England, has over 20 environmentally themed majors and concentrations. UVM offers a BS degree in Environmental Sciences through three different “schools” of the university. Students will get to learn from and work alongside world-renowned environmental scientists in the classroom as professors, along with lots of field and other lab opportunities. Within these three schools, students can choose between a  focus on either environmental sciences or liberal arts focus, or understanding of the environment within the context of agricultural literacy. 

Environmental science programs offered at UVM:

  • Environmental studies
  • Environmental science 
  • Environmental health engineering 

University of Wisconsin- Green Bay

If you’re looking for a school that has lots of experience in environmental science, the University of Wisconsin could be right on your radar! UW-Green Bay prepares students to analyze, understand, and solve environmental problems. The program emphasizes an integrated approach to knowledge in the field of environmental sciences. Even though the major is primarily based in science and math, the curriculum includes a social science aspect which will allow students to gain an understanding of environmental, economic and policy issues. Field experiences, internships, and study abroad are all included to help students succeed to the best of their ability. 

Environmental science programs offered at UW-Green Bay:

  • Environmental studies
  • Environmental science 

Environmental science is a fascinating field, with so much opportunity to learn new things and get some hands-on experience. Remember when you’re looking for the college right for you, pay attention to schools who put more effort into internships, labs, and other kinds of field work. Good luck!

Matt Lyons
Matt is a professional writer based in Pittsburgh, PA.
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