Environmental Science

Undergraduate Program

Environmental Science

Students examining soil under a bridge

Environmental Science Bachelor's Degree or Minor Overview

Whether you're interested in ecological fieldwork or environmental policy, the bachelor's degree in environmental science at PSU gives you the highly sought-after skills and understanding needed to deal with environmental systems as well as human impacts on those systems.

As an environmental science major, you'll study the interactions between society and the environmental processes that structure the natural world. Our expertly crafted coursework, emphasis on research, and opportunities to obtain professional experience working on projects in the university, city, and region gives you a well-rounded environmental education and sets you on a path toward an interesting and challenging career. You'll graduate prepared for careers in environmental policy and planning, geography and GIS, science and nature writing, and environmental and ecological fieldwork, or graduate study and training in the field.

The program focuses on the natural sciences with an emphasis on environmental science, chemistry, biology and economics; culminating in practical field experience working on projects at the PSU, in the Portland metropolitan region and the Pacific Northwest.

PSU's program prepares you to develop a complex understanding and expertise in environmental science using a foundation in mathematics, natural sciences and economics. Our emphasis on quantitative scientific research is complemented by related courses in environmental systems, environmental policy and risk assessment. We also offer practical field experience, including course field trips and off-campus summer courses.

You'll receive personalized instruction and expert advising from the department's distinguished faculty and have opportunities to gain valuable, real-world experience as an undergraduate through internships and research assistantships.

Degree Details

Location Definitions:

On campus:
100% on campus
Online:
100% online
Flexible:
Combination of online and on campus
  • BA
    Bachelor of Arts
    Locations
    On campus
    Total Credits
    180
    Start Term
    Any
  • BS
    Bachelor of Science
    Locations
    On campus
    Total Credits
    180
    Start Term
    Any
  • m
    Minor
    Locations
    On campus
    Total Credits
    34
    Start Term
    Any

Environmental Science Bachelor's Degree or Minor: Why PSU?

PSU's unique location in downtown Portland will give you opportunities to intern with some of the state's largest environmental organizations, including Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Port of Portland, City of Portland's Water Environmental Services, the United States Geological Survey, and the Columbia Slough Watershed Council.

Our partnerships with local, state and national agencies, including the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, give you a chance to work with scientists worldwide and gain a better understanding of the breadth of environmental science.

PSU’s engaged student body has many student-run groups focused on Environmental Science in addition to other Green Student Groups:

  • Association of Environmental Science Students: Advance student curiosity and engagement in environmental science through interdisciplinary interactions. They hold regular social events and outdoor activities that allow opportunities to discuss, analyze and tackle issues related to environmental science.
  • PSU Environmental Club: Unite students in the common interests of a variety of environmental issues and projects and make connections within and outside the PSU community.

Students who want to continue their education and go on to graduate school can work with environmental science faculty to find the right program and apply for graduate school.

What can I do with a Bachelor's degree or Minor in Environmental Science?

Graduates of the environmental science program from Portland State go into the workforce with the most current and innovative knowledge of humankind’s interaction with the natural world.

Environmental science majors work in a variety of jobs in both the private and public sector, including:

  • Research
  • Science education
  • Environmental consulting
  • Environmental specializations for private industry or government agencies and utilities working to implement sustainable practices
  • Urban, marine or forest ecology

Our graduates have gone on to work at government agencies at every level, including the City of Portland, Clackamas County, Metro, the Oregon Departments of Environmental Quality, State Lands, and Fish and Wildlife, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Geological Survey, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). They have also found careers with consulting firms, and other private companies like Nike.

Students with a degree in environmental science can pursue graduate studies in ecology, geology, geography, urban planning, forestry, international studies, economics and hydrology.

Featured Courses

  • ESM 221 Applied Environmental Studies: Problem Solving
  • ESM 322 Environmental Risk Assessment
  • ESM 480/580 Coastal Marine Ecology
  • ESM 416/516 Ecosystem Restoration
  • ESM 420/520 Ecological Toxicology
  • ESM 444/544 Forest Ecology
  • ESM 460/560 Air Quality

Electives

  • ESM100 Portland's Environment
  • ESM357U Business Solutions for Environmental Problems
  • ESM428/528 Urban Ecology
  • ESM 440/540 The Ecology & Management of Wildfire
  • ESM471/571 Atmospheric Physics
  • ESM 487/587 Environmental Justice

Accreditation

Portland State University is fully accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).