Environmental Science

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Note: Environmental Science majors may not earn the Environmental Studies minor or Restoration Ecology minor. Environmental Science majors may earn the Restoration Ecology certificate.

The bachelor of science degree in Environmental Science provides students with a strong science background with a focus on the environmental issues of the future. Through lecture, lab and field classes, you will get hands-on experience with biology, chemistry, the geosciences, physics and math. In this program students learn how to draw connections between these disciplines needed to solve the complex environmental problems facing the local community and society at large.

As part of the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, this degree allows you to combine diverse approaches to the environment which incorporate humanities and the social sciences. Through coursework and independent study, you will develop skills needed for scientific research, technical writing and grant preparation.

A culminating capstone experience gives you the opportunity to work with a scientist on your own undergraduate research project or to intern with a community group to gain practical experience. Our program prepares you to work in government, academic, private or non-profit careers or to continue your education in a variety of scientific disciplines.

Conservation Biology and Ecology option

In addition to the standard Environmental Science BS degree, you may complete a Conservation Biology and Ecology option as part of the degree, allowing you to obtain an interdisciplinary Environmental Science BS degree while demonstrating extra proficiency in the discipline of conservation biology and ecology. See TENSCI option degree requirements below for more information. Students who have commenced their degree prior to Autumn 2016 may opt to complete the previously available option in Biology, also shown below under degree requirements. Learn more about this option here.

Geoscience option

In addition to the standard Environmental Science BS degree, you may complete a Geoscience option as part of the degree, allowing you to obtain an interdisciplinary Environmental Science BS degree while demonstrating extra proficiency in the discipline. See TENSCI degree requirements below for more information.

Environmental Science student learning outcomes

Students who complete this degree will:

  • Be conversant in theoretical concepts of the biological and physical sciences and their application to understanding and studying the environment;
  • Develop a basic understanding of the humanities and social sciences, and the interdisciplinary connections between these subjects and the natural sciences, in order to understand and solve environmental issues;
  • Develop advanced scientific skills necessary to achieve an understanding of and solutions to environmental problems including physical and biological measurement techniques, statistical data analysis, hypothesis formulation and conceptual modeling, research project design and working collaboratively;
  • Exhibit the ability to interpret and communicate information related to environmental issues in written and oral forms appropriate to both scientific and non-technical audiences;
  • Demonstrate the ability to apply interdisciplinary training to environmental problems of local, regional, national or global significance;
  • Understand the role of individuals and participate in the creation of solutions for environmental problems;
  • Participate in engaged inquiry as a means of connecting classroom learning to real-world environmental problem solving and establishing the skills needed for life-long learning.

Our student learning objectives follow the model set forth by Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP). LEAP is an initiative that champions the value of a liberal education—for individual students and for a nation dependent on economic creativity and democratic vitality. The initiative focuses campus practice on fostering essential learning outcomes for all students, whatever their chosen field of study.

Environmental Science career options

Students with this degree often pursue careers in education, policy and other fields that mesh natural and social sciences and humanities. Our graduates often go on to work with organizations such as:

  • Americorps Citizens for a Healthy Bay
  • City Governments
  • County Conservation Districts
  • County Health Departments
  • GeoEngineers Green Earthworks Construction, Inc.
  • National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Parametrix
  • Tacoma ACTS
  • US Department of Agriculture
  • US Environmental Protection Agency
  • US Geological Survey
  • UW Dept of Civil and Environmental Engineering (MS degrees)
  • UW Friday Harbor Labs
  • UW School of Law
  • WA Conservation Corps
  • WA Department of Ecology
  • WA Department of Natural Resources
  • WA Department of Transportation
  • WSU Puyallup Research and Extension Center Areas

Environmental Science degree requirements

For Environmental Science, you need to complete minimum 133 credits to meet the degree requirements. You must earn a total of 180 quarter credits, or 225 quarter credits for a double degree, to earn a bachelor degree in your chosen major.

For more information, contact advisor Erica Tucker.

Environmental Science preparatory courses

Preparatory courses must have been completed within the last 5 years. If they were completed before that time frame or for specific transfer courses that are accepted, please consult an academic advisor.

Additionally, students must be computer literate, which is defined as the ability to use word processing, spreadsheet, presentation and communication software.

Workshops are available for students with deficiencies in any of these areas. (Note - Course prefixes including "&" denotes new community college common course numbering. Check with your advisor for details.)

UW Tacoma

PREPARATORY COURSE CREDITS MINIMUM GRADE UW TACOMA COURSES
College Biology (majors sequence w/lab) 18 1.5 TBIOL 120, 130, 140
College Chemistry (majors sequence w/lab) 18 1.7 TCHEM 142, 152, 162
Physical Geology w/lab 6 2.0 TGEOS 117
College Physics (mechanics w/lab) 6 2.0 TPHYS 121
Calculus (10 credits calculus/advanced statistics) 10 2.0 TMATH 124 and TMATH 125 or TMATH 210
Statistics 5 2.0 TMATH 110

Please contact your advisor with questions.

Clover Park

PREPARATORY COURSE CREDITS MINIMUM GRADE CLOVER PARK TRANSFER EQUIVALENCIES
College Chemistry (majors sequence w/lab) 15 1.7 ENV 158 and ENV 160
Earth Sciences 5 2.0 GEOL& 110
Statistics 5 2.0 MATH& 146

Please contact your advisor with questions.

Green River CC

PREPARATORY COURSE CREDITS MINIMUM GRADE GREEN RIVER CC TRANSFER EQUIVALENCIES
College Biology (majors sequence w/lab) 15 1.5 BIOL& 211, 212 and 213 (Cell, Animal, Plant and Ecology)
College Chemistry (majors sequence w/lab) 15 1.7 CHEM& 161, 162 and 163
Physical Geology w/lab 5 2.0 GEOL& 101
College Physics (mechanics w/lab) 5 2.0 PHYS& 114 or 221
Calculus (10 credits of calculus/advanced statistics) 10 2.0 MATH& 151 and MATH& 152
Statistics 5 2.0 MATH 256*

*Students who complete MATH 256 are not eligible to enroll in TMATH 310.

Please contact your advisor with questions.

Highline CC

PREPARATORY COURSE CREDITS MINIMUM GRADE HIGHLINE CC TRANSFER EQUIVALENCIES
College Biology (majors sequence w/lab) 15 1.5 BIOL& 211, 212 and 213 (Cell, Animal, Plant and Ecology)
College Chemistry (majors sequence w/lab) 15 1.7 CHEM& 161, 162 and 163
Physical Geology w/lab 5 2.0 GEO 101
College Physics (mechanics w/lab) 5 2.0 PHYS 101 or PHYS 202
Calculus (10 credits of calculus/advanced statistics) 10 2.0 MATH& 151 and MATH& 152
Statistics 5 2.0 MATH& 146

Please contact your advisor with questions.

Olympic CC

PREPARATORY COURSE CREDITS MINIMUM GRADE OLYMPIC CC TRANSFER EQUIVALENCIES
College Biology (majors sequence w/lab) 15 1.5 BIOL 201, 202 and 203 (Cell, Organisms and Eco-evolution)
College Chemistry (majors sequence w/lab) 15 1.7 CHEM& 141/151, 142/152 and 143/153
Physical Geology w/lab 5 2.0 GEOL& 101
College Physics (mechanics w/lab) 5 2.0 PHYS 114 or 254
Calculus (10 credits of calculus/advanced statistics) 10 2.0 MATH& 151 and MATH& 152
Statistics 5 2.0 MATH& 146

Please contact your advisor with questions.

Pierce College

PREPARATORY COURSE CREDITS MINIMUM GRADE PIERCE C TRANSFER EQUIVALENCIES
College Biology (majors sequence w/lab) 15 1.5 BIOL& 211, 212 and 213 (Cell, Animal, Plant and Ecology)
College Chemistry (majors sequence w/lab) 15 1.7 CHEM& 161, 162 and 163
Physical Geology w/lab 5 2.0 GEOL& 101
College Physics (mechanics w/lab) 5 2.0 PHYS& 121 or 221
Calculus (10 credits of calculus/advanced statistics) 10 2.0 MATH& 151 and MATH &152
Statistics 5 2.0 MATH& 146

Please contact your advisor with questions.

South PS CC

PREPARATORY COURSE CREDITS MINIMUM GRADE SOUTH PS CC TRANSFER EQUIVALENCIES
College Biology (majors sequence w/lab) 15 1.5 BIOL& 221, 222 and 223 (Cell, Organisms and Ecology)
College Chemistry (majors sequence w/lab) 15 1.7 CHEM& 161, 162 and 163
Physical Geology w/lab 5 2.0 GEOL 101
College Physics (mechanics w/lab) 5 2.0 PHYS& 121 or 221
Calculus (10 credits of calculus/advanced statistics) 10 2.0 MATH& 151 and MATH& 152
Statistics 5 2.0 MATH& 146

Please contact your advisor with questions.

Tacoma CC

PREPARATORY COURSE CREDITS MINIMUM GRADE TACOMA CC TRANSFER EQUIVALENCIES
College Biology (majors sequence w/lab) 15 1.5 BIOL& 221, 222 and 223 (Cell, Organisms and Ecology)
College Chemistry (majors sequence w/lab) 15 1.7 CHEM& 161, 162 and 163
Physical Geology w/lab 5 2.0 GEOL& 101
College Physics (mechanics w/lab) 5 2.0 PHYS 114 or 121
Calculus (10 credits of calculus/advanced statistics) 10 2.0 MATH& 151 and MATH& 152
Statistics 5 2.0 MATH& 146

Please contact your advisor with questions.

Environmental Science degree requirements beginning autumn 2017

Core requirements

Environmental law/policy course list (5 credits)

Environmental ethics course list (5 credits)

Social science/environmental focus course list (5 credits)

(*denotes course restricted to Global Honors students)

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Humanities/environmental focus course list (5 credits)

(*denotes course restricted to Global Honors students)

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Environmental science courses and option information (29 credits)

Elective courses for environmental science major (29 credits)

Students are required to take five elective courses: minimum of one course from List A and minimum of one course from List B.  Remaining three courses can be any combination from list A, B or C. Of these five courses, at least two must be laboratory (L) courses (6 credits) and one must be a field (F) course (7 credits). Some courses designated as labs on this list are not offered as labs every time; check the Registration Guide for credits. 100-level courses will not be accepted.

Elective courses for Conservation Biology and Ecology option (29 credits) beginning autumn 2016

In addition to the standard Environmental Science BS degree, students may complete a Conservation Biology and Ecology option in the degree. These options allow students to obtain an interdisciplinary Environmental Science BS degree while demonstrating extra proficiency in the discipline.

Five courses to include at least one physical science (P) course, at least two laboratory (L) courses (TBIOL 434 and one more from List D, E, or F) and one field (F) course. Some courses designated as labs on this list are not offered as labs every time; check the Registration Guide for credits.

In addition, the student's capstone experience (planned with the faculty advisor) must be focused on conservation biology and/or ecology.

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Elective courses for Geoscience option (29 credits)

In addition to the standard Environmental Science BS degree, students may complete a Geoscience option in the degree. These options allow students to obtain an interdisciplinary Environmental Science BS degree while demonstrating extra proficiency in the discipline.

Five courses to include at least one biological science (B) course, at least two laboratory (L) courses (TGEOS 337 and one more from List G or H) and one field (F) course. Some courses designated as labs on this list are not offered as labs every time; check the Registration Guide for credits.

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Environmental Science degree requirements prior to autumn 2017

Overview of requirements

  • Required core courses: 6 credits
  • Capstone experience: 3-10 credits
  • Environmental science core: 12 credits
  • Environmental law/policy: 5 credits
  • Environmental ethics: 5 credits
  • Social science/environmental focus: 5 credits
  • Humanities course/environmental focus: 5 credits
  • Environmental science courses: one from List A and List B; three more from List A,B, or C

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Core requirements

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Environmental law/policy course list (5 credits)

Students who wish to apply TECON 421 to this requirement must request permission for an exception from the Chair of Sciences and Mathematics, and should be advised that an additional prerequisite is required.

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Environmental ethics course list (5 credits)

Social science/environmental focus course list (5 credits)

(*denotes course restricted to Global Honors students)

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Humanities/environmental focus course list (5 credits)

(*denotes course restricted to Global Honors students)

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Environmental science courses and option information (29 credits)

Elective courses for environmental science major (29 credits)

Students are required to take five elective courses: one course from List A, one from List B, and three from List A, List B, or List C. Of these five courses, at least two must be laboratory (L) courses (6 credits) and one must be a field (F) course (7 credits). Some courses designated as labs on this list are not offered as labs every time; check the Registration Guide for credits.100-level courses will not be accepted.

Elective courses for Conservation Biology and Ecology option (29 credits) beginning autumn 2016

In addition to the standard Environmental Science BS degree, students may complete a Conservation Biology and Ecology option in the degree. These options allow students to obtain an interdisciplinary Environmental Science BS degree while demonstrating extra proficiency in the discipline.

Five courses to include at least one physical science (P) course, at least two laboratory (L) courses (TBIOL 434 and one more from List D, E, or F) and one field (F) course. Some courses designated as labs on this list are not offered as labs every time; check the Registration Guide for credits.

In addition, the student's capstone experience (planned with the faculty advisor) must be focused on conservation biology and/or ecology.

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Elective courses for Biology option (29 credits) if declared prior to autumn 2016

In addition to the standard Environmental Science BS degree, students may complete a Biology option in the degree. These options allow students to obtain an interdisciplinary Environmental Science BS degree while demonstrating extra proficiency in the discipline.

Five courses to include at least one physical science (P) course, at least two laboratory (L) courses (TBIOL 304 and one more from List A or B) and one field (F) course. Some courses designated as labs on this list are not offered as labs every time; check the Registration Guide for credits.

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Elective courses for Geoscience option (29 credits)

In addition to the standard Environmental Science BS degree, students may complete a Geoscience option in the degree. These options allow students to obtain an interdisciplinary Environmental Science BS degree while demonstrating extra proficiency in the discipline.

Five courses to include at least one biological science (B) course, at least two laboratory (L) courses (TGEOS 337 and one more from List D or E) and one field (F) course. Some courses designated as labs on this list are not offered as labs every time; check the Registration Guide for credits.

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Portfolio Requirements: Portfolios are submitted as part of course requirements for TESC 410

Checklist of Portfolio Requirements for BS in Environmental Science (Option A)

You must include all of the papers in the checklist. Papers should include instructor comments (including associated rubrics and checklists) except for the résumé and final reflection.

  • A current résumé (1 page) or expanded curriculum vitae (no more than 3 pages). For assistance with this, make an appointment at the Career Development and Education Center.
     
  • The earliest paper you wrote at UW Tacoma where you do an independent analysis of data. Examples include your final paper from TESC 140: Intro Biology III or your draft from TESC 310: Environmental Research Seminar (but only if done as an individual).
     
  • The personal reflection from TESC 310: Environmental Research Seminar.
     
  • The final paper from TESC 340: Ecology and Its Applications.
     
  • A paper that relates science to social science and/or the humanities (e.g., from your Environmental Ethics, Policy or Law course). Include the original assignment with your paper.
     
  • The final paper/poster for your capstone project. If you have not completed your paper before the portfolio due date, submit a paper that demonstrates your ability to analyze data. If you choose the second option, include the original assignment with your paper. Posters can be submitted in either .pdf format or as a PowerPoint.
     
  • A final reflection (400-500 words), that addresses the skills you have gained as an Environmental Science major and how your education has prepared you to be a productive worker, educated citizen and lifelong learner. Give specific examples.
     
  • If none of these papers was completed in your last year of your studies, or if you have a paper you are particularly proud of, you may include an additional paper of your choice. If you submit an extra paper, you still must include the requirements listed above, and should include a copy of the original assignment.

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 Additional courses may be approved and added to courses lists to provide students more flexibility and options.
Please refer to this page often for the most up-to-date information.

To request changes to this page, please contact Kelly Kledzik at kellyk6@uw.edu.