Environmental Studies

Environmental Studies Bachelor of Science (B.S.) Degree On-Campus

About Environmental Studies

Prepare for a career in the interdisciplinary field of environmental sciences.

You'll be well prepared for a professional career in environmental science, ecology-related positions or graduate work with the Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies at PennWest California. The B.S. in Environmental Studies degree offers a broad core of courses in biology and ecology, supplemented with courses in the Earth sciences, chemistry, physics and mathematics. Each student has the opportunity to select from three concentrations and a wide range of electives in order to be well prepared for future work or advanced study.

Almost all courses include a laboratory portion where students study the practical application of the science, learn about the appropriate scientific technology and instruments, and study the biology and management of various organisms.  Degree concentrations offer you the flexibility to focus on specific content areas in the environmental sector, leading to a variety of post-baccalaureate opportunities.

Gain a career advantage with PennWest California's access to internships and research.

Through various methods such as gathering information and data, considering values, and exploring consequences, students gain the tools necessary to effectively evaluate information about environmental issues and make informed decisions. Almost all courses include a laboratory portion, where students study the practical application of the science and learn about scientific technology, instruments and various organisms. 

The environmental studies curriculum provides essential field opportunities through internships and undergraduate research projects in the environmental sciences. This core content is enhanced by the breadth of the University's general education requirements. Students also have access to PennWest California's Interdisciplinary Center for Environmental Studies (ICES) and the nearby Student Association Farm.


Concentrations: You'll develop intellectual and analytical skills to understand and solve environmental problems through the curriculum for the bachelor's degree in Environmental Studies. PennWest California's challenging and interdisciplinary programs foster your expertise in environmental studies, along with in-depth study of specific interests with one of these three concentrations:

Solid foundation: An interdisciplinary field, environmental studies applies knowledge from many fields to the study and management of the environment. The curriculum focuses on developing an understanding of the physical sciences, chemistry and physics, and a working knowledge of mathematics and statistics. Students study such topics as ecology, ecosystems and human impacts upon them, biodiversity, pollution, energy, and sustainability. You'll be equipped to design, analyze and interpret environmental information and data.

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Student-to-faculty ratio at PennWest California.
Credit hours for the bachelor's degree in environmental studies, which can be completed in eight semesters or four years.
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Degree Benefits

Through various methods such as gathering information, considering values and exploring consequences, students gain the tools necessary to evaluate environmental issues and make informed decisions. PennWest California students also have unique opportunities for on-site learning. For instance, through our participation in the National Student Exchange Program, PennWest California students can apply to the Wilderness and Civilization Program at the University of Montana, Missoula. This program combines experiential learning, extensive fieldwork and rigorous classes for a wilderness studies minor. The program offers an in-depth look at conservation issues and strategies, and the changing ecology, culture and politics of the Northern Rockies. In addition, students may work directly with PennWest California's Partners for Fish and Wildlife or take part in the many environmental activities ongoing at SAI Farm.

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Graduate Outcomes

The need continues to grow for individuals with environmental and ecological backgrounds to identify, abate or eliminate sources of pollutants or hazards that affect the environment and the health of the population. Opportunities are diverse: Employment of environmental scientists and specialists is projected to growth 11% through 2024, faster than the average for all occupations. Environmental studies degree graduates are prepared for graduate work in environmental science and related fields, as well as for industrial and government research. A steady demand exists for environmental scientists, field biologists and ecologists, and environmental monitoring technicians. Employers include federal, state and local governments, consulting firms and nonprofit organizations.


B.S. in Environmental Studies Curriculum and Related Programs

Through your curriculum, you'll develop intellectual and analytical skills to help understand and solve environmental problems, while developing expertise in conservation ecology.


Course Credits
General Education Courses 42
Building a Sense of Community
UNI 100 First-Year Seminar
ENG 101  English Composition I
Public Speaking
CDC 101  Public Speaking
Mathematics and Quantitative Literacy
MAT 281  OR  MAT 199  OR  MAT 273  OR  MAT 281*
Health and Wellness
Any Health and Wellness Course
Technological Literacy
GIS 311  Geographic Information Systems
Any Humanities Course
Fine Arts
Any Fine Arts Course
Natural Sciences
GLG 150  Introduction to Geology
Social Sciences
Any Social Science Course
General Education Options
  • Any Ethics and Multicultural Awareness Emphasis Course
  • ENG 102  Composition II
  • PHY 121  General Physics I
  • MAT 215  Statistics
Required Major Courses 49 or 50
Select two courses from the following:
  • BIO 120  General Zoology
  • BIO 125  General Botany
  • BIO 215  Cellular and Molecular Biology
BIO 248  General Ecology 4
BIO 488  Water Pollution Biology 4
ENS 435  Natural Resource Law and Policy 3
ENS 440  Environmental Pollution Control 4
ENS 475  Wetlands Ecology 4
ENS 495  Design and Analysis 4
GLG 303  Hydrology 3
CHE 101  General Chemistry I 4
CHE 102  General Chemistry II 4
CHE 331  Organic Chemistry I 4
CHE 381  Environmental Chemistry  OR  GLG 333  Geochemistry 3 or 4
Related Electives 10 or 11
Select two upper-division BIO/ENS courses  
Select two courses from the following:
  • GLG 210  Intro to Soils
  • GLG 343  Geomorphology
  • GLG 402 Groundwater Hydrology
  • GLG 448  Watershed Evaluation
  • GIS 413  Environmental Applications in GIS
Free Electives 18 or 19
Total 120

Additional requirements, not counted toward the General Education requirements, include:

  • Special Experience Course (1 course required): Any Special Experience Course
  • Writing-Intensive Component Courses (2 courses required): Any two BIO or ENS Upper-Division Writing Component Courses
  • Laboratory Course (1 course required): CHE 101 General Chemistry I

* MAT 273 or 281 recommended for graduate studies. 

  •  Environmental Studies
environmental studies degree

Vital Resources

The Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences is housed in a building equipped with a computer lab, animal rooms, greenhouse and plant growth facilities, herbarium, and vertebrate teaching museum. PennWest California students also benefit from various academic societies and clubs: Beta Beta Beta is the national honor society for biological sciences. The student chapter of the Wildlife Society connects students with the professional community to study, manage and conserve wildlife and their habitats worldwide. Open to all interested students, the Biology Club explores career opportunities, offers behind-the-scenes tours of zoos and museums, and more. The Fisheries Club , a chapter of the American Fisheries Society, offers similar education and professional opportunities.

A student studies plant in environmental studies lab.

Professional Connections

PennWest California graduates in environmental studies hold positions at a wide range of employers, including Greene County (Pa.) Soil and Water Conservation District, National Park Service, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, JRJ Energy Services, Pittsburgh City Parks, Murray American Energy and U.S. Forest Service. Program alumni also are engaged in graduate studies at locations such as the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in California and Ohio University.

The SAI Framhouse is home to ICES.

Interdisciplinary Center for Environmental Studies

PennWest California's Interdisciplinary Center for Environmental Studies (ICES) creates, builds, and facilitates environmental programs that result in synergies in teaching, research and service related to the environment. Through ICES PennWest California students are active in a number of community conservation outreach programs. At SAI Farm, not far from the main campus, ICES leads projects such as maintaining a food garden, fruit tree orchard and bee hives; using a well field for studies in geology and water quality; and creating a wetland and nature trail.