Environmental Science

Environmental Science Bachelor of Science (B.S.) Degree Environmental Science Concentration

About Environmental Science

Develop expertise in a vital, interdisciplinary field to manage our environment.

Pursue a career in environmental science, ecology-related positions or graduate work with the Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies at PennWest California. This undergraduate degree program in environmental studies offers a broad core of courses in biology and ecology, supplemented with courses in earth sciences, chemistry and mathematics. You'll have the opportunity to specialize in environmental science as your concentration, and to choose from a wide range of electives in order to be well prepared to excel in this sector. 

Environmental science is an interdisciplinary field that seeks to apply knowledge from many disciplines to the study and management of the environment. The curriculum provides a foundation in the biological sciences and complements it with an understanding of the physical sciences, chemistry and physics, and a working knowledge of mathematics and statistics so you can effectively work to seek environmental solutions facing society today.  

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.


Skills: You'll develop intellectual and analytical skills to understand and solve environmental problems through the curriculum for the bachelor's degree in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Environmental Science. 

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

In the environmental studies degree program, the concentration in environmental science gives you the flexibility to focus on a specific content area in preparation for graduate work or entering the workforce.  The objectives of the environmental science program are to:

  • Develop knowledge of biological processes and structures occurring in the environmental and ecological sciences.
  • Provide laboratory and field experiences that promote scientific inquiry and experimental methods in the environmental sciences and ecology.
  • Create opportunities for student research projects to enhance understanding of environmental and ecological processes.
  • Assist students with course selection that will enhance their chosen career
  • Establish the necessary foundation for continued professional growth in graduate school, if desired.
  • Teach the skills required for entry-level positions with industry, nonprofit and government organizations.
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Graduate Outcomes

Environmental studies graduates are prepared for graduate work in environmental science and related fields, as well as for industrial and government research. 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 public health. Opportunities are diverse: Employment of environmental scientists and specialists is projected to growth 11% through 2024, faster than the average for all occupations. A steady demand exists for environmental scientists and environmental monitoring technicians. Employers include federal, state and local governments, consulting firms and nonprofit organizations.


B.S. in Environmental Studies: Environmental Science Curriculum and Related Programs

Through your curriculum, you'll develop intellectual and analytical skills to help understand and solve environmental problems.


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
PennWest California professor takes students outside for field work in environmental studies.

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.