Best Environmental Science Degrees

Earning a master's in Environmental Science can lead to new career opportunities. Here, we list the most affordable online business degree programs.

Updated August 25, 2022

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Best Environmental Science Degrees

Are you ready to find your fit?

Climate change and sustainability are two major issues that topics of hot debate in our nation. A degree in environmental science prepares students to address these problems.

Environmental Science is an interdisciplinary degree that combines knowledge from the fields of biology, physical science, chemistry, physics, geology, biotechnology, etc. Because many programs tend to focus on social sciences, students will understand beyond just the technical skills of the field and be able to understand the industry from a well-rounded angle.

Master’s in Environmental Science build on knowledge from the bachelor’s level and take on a more research-centered approach. Most programs can be completed within two to three years and require a thesis, but others are allowed to graduate by having enough hands-on experience within the field.

Many students will be able to take a variety of coursework related to the environment, as well as electives that may deal with the legality of environmental policies, management, etc.

What kind of Environmental Science degree should you get?

Most people who are pursuing an Environmental Science degree can choose to either get a Master of Science (MS) or Master of Arts (MA) degree. While both cover generally the same things, the MS takes on a more scientific approach while the MA is slightly more interdisciplinary.

Students should also be aware if the program they are interested in has concentrations available so that they can further specialize in an area they find interesting. In addition, some programs offer Master’s in Environmental Science Management, which is ideal for those who specifically wish to work on the corporate side of things.

Online Master’s in Environmental Science degrees are perfect for those who are already working professionals.

While some universities offer programs that are completely online, others follow a hybrid system and require students to take some classes on campus. Within the fully online classes, some are asynchronous while others are synchronous.

Asynchronous classes allow students to complete their classwork, lectures, and tests at any time within a certain deadline. In contrast, synchronous classes require students to log in at a specific time. Students should check the class times and find a program that fits within their schedule.

If you're interested in online programs, take a look at our Most Affordable Online Graduate Programs.

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How much money do people make with a degree in Environmental Science?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of environmental scientists and specialists can expect to experience a growth of 11 percent between 2012 and 2026. In 2016, the median pay for these careers was $68,910 or about $33.13 per hour.

Specifically, those who worked in the federal government in this field made had the highest median annual wage of $100,700, compared to management or consulting services, engineering firms, etc. whose salaries were in the $60k range.

Outpatient care centers, petroleum and coal products manufacturers, and oil and gas extractors are some of the highest-paying industries in the field that offer salaries that are six figures. In addition, the most popular cities for this career are Washington D.C., Denver, Houston, Seattle, and Boston.

What can you do with a degree in Environmental Science?

Due to the fact that Environmental Science is a generalist degree, graduates will have the opportunity to enter into a wide variety of careers not just in sustainability or science, but also in urban planning, education, and resource management.

Common everyday tasks of an environmental scientist include research, data collection, problem-solving, presentations, and policymaking. Typical employers include government agencies, private companies, technical consulting services, laboratories, etc.

The top five common careers for this major are Environmental Scientist, Environmental Engineer, Environmental Lawyer, Environmental Biologist, and Environmental Geologist. However, other careers that you might not immediately associate with Environmental Science are popular careers among graduates. For instance, air quality engineers, field supervisor, federal policy director, research economist, etc. are all related jobs that use skills that are taught in Environmental Science programs.

What are the requirements for a degree in Environmental Science?

Ideal candidates for a master’s in Environmental Science will have a bachelor’s in a related field from an accredited institution with a GPA of at least 3.00 on a 4.00 scale. Some programs will also want to see a completion of a 300-level or higher environmental lab with a grade of B or higher.

Most programs will also require applicants to send in their Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores. In contrast, management-focused programs would prefer it if students sent in their Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) scores, but some programs will accept the GRE.

In cases where the applicant has an unrelated bachelor’s degree or has not taken the GRE, they may be able to still enter into the program if they have significant work experience within the environmental field. Students may also be required to take a few extra classes in order to graduate if they fall into this category.

What are the most affordable online master’s in Environmental Science?

College Choice has compiled the 10 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Environmental Science degree programs. These rankings were based on the average net price you’ll for these programs, though we also considered regional accreditation, in order to make sure we were only showing you the best programs in the nation.

All data was collected from a variety of sources such as the National Center for Education Statistics’ IPEDS database, PayScale, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the U.S. News & World Report, and individual colleges’ websites.

Ranking

See our rankings methodology page.

#1 Best Environmental Science Degrees

University of Illinois at Springfield

  • Springfield, IL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The bachelor of arts in environmental studies program at the University of Illinois at Springfield, a public institution, earns top marks. The school offers online classes and in-person classes. Undergraduates benefit from flexible enrollment options and comprehensive support services.

The curriculum combines upper-division classes with general education courses. Students take humanities, math, and communication classes as part of the general education curriculum. Graduates prepare for entry-level roles or further education in advanced courses, which cover theoretical and practical issues in the field.

University of Illinois at Springfield at a Glance:

Admissions Rate: 77%

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 12-to-1

Total Bachelor's Programs: 31

Total Online Bachelor's Programs: 12

Undergrad Tuition In State: $9,520

Undergrad Tuition Out of State: $15,948

Average Amount Aid Awarded: $12,821

Graduation Rate: 54%

Average Graduate Earnings After Six Years: $38,500

Average Tuition
In-state
$9,520
Out-of-state
$15,948
Retention Rate
79%
Admission Rate
77%
Students Enrolled
4,275
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
70% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#2 Best Environmental Science Degrees

University of Houston-Clear Lake

  • Houston, TX
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

University of Houston-Clear Lake offers 37 bachelor's degrees, including a bachelor of science in environmental science that stands out for its quality. Students gain the knowledge and skills required for diverse career paths in the environmental science program. Bachelor's degree-holders can also pursue higher degrees to specialize their training.

The curriculum covers introductory environmental science courses and advanced topics. In addition to major coursework, enrollees take general education courses that build writing, communication, and critical thinking skills. Minors and second majors help students balance their skills and demonstrate a well-rounded education.

Student services support incoming degree candidates as they begin taking classes. For example, career counselors work with enrollees to determine their professional goals and create a plan to reach them.

University of Houston-Clear Lake at a Glance:

Location: Houston, Texas

Type of School: Public

Admissions Rate: 74%

Total Online Bachelor's Programs: 5

Undergrad Tuition In State: $5,740

Undergrad Tuition Out of State: $19,176

Average Tuition
In-state
$5,740
Out-of-state
$19,176
Retention Rate
80%
Admission Rate
74%
Students Enrolled
9,082
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
42% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#3 Best Environmental Science Degrees

University of Maryland-College Park

  • College Park, MD
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The bachelor's in environmental science and policy, one of 148 bachelor's programs at University of Maryland-College Park, offers a flexible route to a college degree. An environmental science degree prepares students for careers in diverse fields. Bachelor's graduates can also continue their education in master's programs.

The curriculum covers core and advanced topics in environmental science. Degree-seekers also complete general education requirements, which strengthen analytical and critical thinking skills. Minors and double majors let learners explore their other academic and professional interests.

Student services support incoming degree candidates as they begin taking classes. For example, career counselors meet with enrollees to conduct career assessments and mock interviews.

University of Maryland-College Park at a Glance:

Location: College Park, Maryland

Type of School: Public

Admissions Rate: 44%

Undergrad Tuition In State: $8,824

Undergrad Tuition Out of State: $34,936

Average Tuition
In-state
$8,824
Out-of-state
$34,936
Retention Rate
95%
Admission Rate
44%
Students Enrolled
40,743
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
19% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#4 Best Environmental Science Degrees

University of Wisconsin-Whitewater

  • Whitewater, WI
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The bachelor's in environmental science program at University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, a public institution, prepares graduates for the workforce. Degree-seekers take classes online and on campus. The school's flexible course options, along with high academic standards, meet the needs of many undergraduates.

The program incorporates general education and major courses to build in-demand knowledge and skills. STEM, social science, and humanities classes make up the general education curriculum. Upper-division environmental science classes cover theoretical and practical topics, preparing graduates for entry-level careers or further education.

University of Wisconsin-Whitewater at a Glance:

Admissions Rate: 79%

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 19-to-1

Total Bachelor's Programs: 52

Total Online Bachelor's Programs: 1

Undergrad Tuition In State: $6,519

Undergrad Tuition Out of State: $15,240

Average Amount Aid Awarded: $5,445

Graduation Rate: 62%

Average Graduate Earnings After Six Years: $37,500

Average Tuition
In-state
$6,519
Out-of-state
$15,240
Retention Rate
80%
Admission Rate
79%
Students Enrolled
12,452
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
38% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#5 Best Environmental Science Degrees

Arizona State University-Downtown Phoenix

  • Phoenix, AZ
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Arizona State University-Downtown Phoenix offers 25 bachelor's degrees, including a bachelor's in environmental science that stands out for its quality. Bachelor's degree-holders bring the knowledge and skills required for careers in diverse industries. A bachelor's degree also leads to higher education opportunities, including master's and doctoral programs.

The curriculum covers foundational and advanced environmental science topics. Undergraduates also complete general education requirements, which strengthen analytical and critical thinking skills. Minors and second majors allow students to explore their other interests.

Student services supports incoming degree candidates academically and socially. For example, academic advisors work with enrollees to transfer credits into the school and select courses.

Arizona State University-Downtown Phoenix at a Glance:

Location: Phoenix, Arizona

Type of School: Public

Admissions Rate: 82%

Undergrad Tuition In State: $10,710

Undergrad Tuition Out of State: $28,800

Average Tuition
In-state
$10,710
Out-of-state
$28,800
Retention Rate
85%
Admission Rate
82%
Students Enrolled
11,420
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
57% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

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