Best Online Environmental Science Degrees 2021

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A relatively new academic arena, environmental science incorporates elements of biology, chemistry, physics, and geography. Environmental science degree programs feature interdisciplinary curricula and may also cover aspects of the social sciences. Environmental scientists study the natural world and the ways in which humans and other organisms interact and affect the environment.

Learners pursuing an on-campus or online environmental science degree must demonstrate a strong background in the hard sciences. Most programs require applicants to have a minimum 3.0 GPA. In addition to classroom instruction, environmental science degree programs usually require laboratory hours and fieldwork.

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), environmental scientists earn a median salary of $71,360 per year, compared to a median annual salary of $39,810 for jobs in all fields. The BLS projects an 8% growth rate for environmental science jobs from 2019-2029, double the average projected growth rate for all occupations. These projections indicate that graduates of online environmental science programs may enter a strong job market.

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Top Online Environmental Science Degrees

Rank School Location
1 Oregon State University Corvallis, OR
2 American Public University System Charles Town, WV
3 University of Florida-Online Gainesville, FL
4 Everglades University Boca Raton, FL

FAQ


  • What kind of jobs can you get with an environmental science degree?

    In addition to environmental scientist positions, graduates can qualify for jobs such as hydrologist, microbiologist, zoologist, and oceanographer. Professional opportunities vary based on the individual’s specialization area.


  • Are environmental scientists in demand?

    The BLS projects an 8% growth rate among environmental science positions from 2019-2029, a rate much faster than the national average for all occupations.


  • What is an environmental scientist's salary?

    Environmental scientists earned a median salary of $71,360 in 2019. This is significantly higher than the median annual salary of $39,810 for all occupations in the economy.


  • How long does it take to earn an environmental science degree?

    Most full-time students earn their bachelor’s in environmental science in four years. Learners with an associate degree in a related field or a bachelor’s degree in another area of study may graduate faster.


Best Online Environmental Science Degrees 2021



See our rankings methodology page.

  1. Oregon State University
    Location

    Corvallis, OR

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Oregon State University is a seasoned pro when it comes to environmental research. This Pacific Northwest public research university holds land-grant, sea-grant, space-grant, and sun-grant designations. Through the OSU Ecampus, students have access to over 900 online classes.

    Features

    Oregon State University features an online BS in Environmental Science that lets you stay outside! The curriculum totals 180 credit hours, some of which are designated to a specialization area. There is also a final experiential requirement. A sampling of courses includes:

    • Fish and Wildlife Conservation
    • Environmental Geology
    • Urban Forestry
    • Technology, Energy, and Risk

    Notables

    In addition to this rich curriculum, students can also add to their degree with a GIScience certificate. Some of the possible areas include Applied Ecology, Earth Systems, Environmental Policy and Economics, and many more.

  2. American Public University System
    Location

    Charles Town, WV

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Fully operating as an online institution, American Public University System is known for its special care toward active-duty military and veterans. Though it’s not officially affiliated with the U.S. military, the student population is made up of over 56 percent military personnel. Around 48,600 students attend.

    Features

    APU delivers an online Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science that focuses primarily on the policy and analysis side of environmental issues. Students will complete a total of 120 credits. After taking a series of core courses, students can specialize in one of four tracks:

    • Environmental Technology and Management
    • Regional and Community Environmental Planning
    • Sustainability
    • Fish and Wildlife Management

    Notables

    Students in this program have the opportunity to learn from the best experts out there! Faculty in this department are working professionals in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, EPA, and beyond. APU also has a generous transfer policy in allowing up to 90 transfer credits.

  3. University of Florida-Online
    Location

    Gainesville, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of Florida is a commanding public research institution based in Gainesville. UF-Online, its distance education branch, delivers over 200 fully online degree programs. Globally, the school ranks #7 in Plant and Animal Science, according to U.S. News & World Report.

    Features

    At UF-Online, you can earn an online BS in Environmental Management. This curriculum gets down to the nitty-gritty of ecosystems, from soil science to water resources. You’ll take 120 credits in highly specialized coursework. A sampling of courses includes:

    • GIS in Soil and Water Science
    • Principles of Agribusiness Management
    • Agricultural and Environmental Quality
    • Wetlands

    Notables

    Some students choose to add a minor to this degree for further specialization. You name it, the University of Florida-Online has it as an option. Here are some examples: Horticulture Science, Urban Pest Management, Wildlife Ecology Conservation.

  4. Everglades University
    Location

    Boca Raton, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Relatively recently established in 1999, Everglades University is a private institution in Florida with numerous branches throughout the state. The online campus is based in Boca Raton, Florida. It accounts for the majority of the student population.

    Features

    The program at Everglades University takes a unique shift in offering a BS in Environmental Policy and Management. This curriculum focuses more on business skills than hard sciences. Students complete a total of 123 credits and jump into fascinating coursework like:

    • The Science of Persuasion and Negotiation
    • Energy Policy
    • U.S. Environmental Policy and Management
    • Environmental Impact Analysis

    Notables

    Everglades University recently entered into a unique partnership with the U.S. Green Building Council and Pearson. Together, the three institutions have systematically created curricula that focus on sustainability and renewable energy. For example, students can earn a LEEDS certification for green building.

What Are the Goals of an Environmental Science Degree?

Schools offer environmental science degrees at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. Environmental science is a broad field of study, and learners often specialize in an area such as ecological systems, sustainability, conservation, environmental management, or energy and air pollution control.

Students pursuing an online environmental degree typically follow the same curriculum as their on-campus peers. Upper-level classes cover topics such as environmental regulations, ecological economics, and global environmental politics. Most environmental science programs also feature fieldwork during which learners conduct research and test hypotheses through experimentation and data collection.

What Are the Goals of an Environmental Science Degree?

Schools offer environmental science degrees at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. Environmental science is a broad field of study, and learners often specialize in an area such as ecological systems, sustainability, conservation, environmental management, or energy and air pollution control.

Students pursuing an online environmental degree typically follow the same curriculum as their on-campus peers. Upper-level classes cover topics such as environmental regulations, ecological economics, and global environmental politics. Most environmental science programs also feature fieldwork during which learners conduct research and test hypotheses through experimentation and data collection.

Why Get an Environmental Science Degree?

Students pursuing a degree in environmental science learn to examine, understand, and find viable solutions for pressing topics. Graduates can use these skills to address issues such as climate change, fire ecology, renewable energy, and bioremediation.

Expand Knowledge
While earning a degree in environmental science, students explore the latest developments and research findings in the field.
Increase Credibility
A degree in environmental science demonstrates expertise in the field. Many employers value degree-holders as disciplined and knowledgeable professionals.
Diversify Career Options
An online environmental science degree qualifies individuals for field and laboratory research positions. Graduates can also work for environmental regulatory agencies, advocacy groups, and pharmaceutical companies.
Improve Income Potential
According to BLS data, bachelor’s degree-holders earn a median weekly salary $502 higher than that of workers with a high school diploma. Degree-holders also enjoy lower unemployment rates.
Foundation for Postsecondary Education
A bachelor’s degree in environmental science can qualify holders for graduate programs. While some master’s and doctoral programs admit applicants with a degree in an unrelated field, most prefer candidates with a background in environmental science.

What Are the Requirements for an Environmental Science Degree?

Applicants to bachelor’s-level environmental science programs typically need an academic foundation in one or more of the hard sciences. Most schools also require candidates to have a minimum 3.0 GPA and above-average SAT or ACT scores. Admitted students may need to complete prerequisite coursework before enrolling in environmental science classes.

A bachelor’s in environmental science typically requires 120 credits, including classroom instruction, laboratory work, and fieldwork. Learners in online environmental science programs may need to complete a summer internship, and curricula often culminate with a comprehensive exam, a research project, or a thesis.

What is Accreditation and Why Does it Matter?

Professional Organizations for Environmental Science Students

Professional organizations for environmental science professionals often provide access to research findings and developments in the field. Many organizations offer publications, workshops, webinars, and regional and national conferences. Members may also collaborate with colleagues from around the world.

  • American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists AAEES offers free memstrongership for students enrolled in an accredited environmental engineering or environmental science program. Professional memstrongers receive the organization's pustronglications and a 50% discount on certification fees. AAEES administers certifications for environmental engineers and environmental scientists.


  • National Association of Environmental Professionals Memstrongers of NAEP enjoy exclusive access to the organization's pustronglications, westronginars, and workshops. The association helps memstrongers stay updated on current and emerging issues in environmental science and related fields. NAEP also maintains a career center for employers and jostrong-seekers, and the association provides collastrongoration, networking, and mentoring opportunities.


  • Society for Conservation Biology This international organization provides extensive networking opportunities for memstrongers. SCB pustronglishes peer-reviewed journals and newsletters, and the society delivers resources for students, educators, and practitioners. SCB maintains a searchastrongle datastrongase of memstrongers, featuring each professional's areas of expertise to facilitate collastrongoration and mentorship.


Scholarships for Environmental Science Students

Environmental science students often qualify for STEM scholarships, which many colleges and universities offer for undergraduate and graduate learners. Students can also apply for awards from private nonprofit organizations, special-interest private groups, and the federal government. The list strongelow features a few of the many funding opportunities availastrongle to individuals pursuing an online environmental science degree.

Cargill Glostrongal Scholars Program


Who Can Apply: Full-time freshmen and sophomores pursuing a degree at a partner institution can apply for this two-year scholarship opportunity. Applicants must demonstrate financial need and identify as a memstronger of a minority group. Candidates studying certain fields, including environmental science, receive preference.

Amount: $2,500

Eckenfelder Scholarship


Who Can Apply: The scholarship program administered strongy Brown and Caldwell accepts applications from undergraduate and graduate students pursuing a degree in environmental science or a related engineering field. Undergraduate applicants must hold at least a junior standing in their program and must have a minimum 3.0 GPA. Candidates must stronge enrolled full time.

Amount: $5,000

Shred Nations Scholarship


Who Can Apply: Shred Nations and Record Nations partner to offer this award for students pursuing a degree in strongusiness or environmental science. Applicants must sustrongmit an essay or a strongrief video descristronging how they plan to use their education to contristrongute to their community or improve environmental responsistrongility.

Amount: $7,500

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