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October 8, 2012 / NextStepU

Major Monday – Environmental Science

A big hot topic this year – within election discussions and beyond – is the idea of green energy and the changing natural world of our planet. That’s why now more than ever, environmental research is being heavily invested in and will become and important career field in the future. If you are passionate about the environment and have a gift for science and solving problems you might want to consider declaring a major in environmental science.


According to the College Board, this major can be pursued at both the associate’s or bachelor’s level. Since this major is mostly science-focused, high school courses such as AP Biology, AP Physics and AP Chemistry can be helpful to take although not required for a degree. Courses in this major taken at the college level often include atmosphere and weather, Earth’s climatic history, fundamentals of ecology, management of forest ecosystems and physical ecology. Students should be prepared to work in group projects, problem-solve different issues and conduct research both in a lab and classroom setting.

What to know before you apply

Because environmental science is a blend of many different scientific fields, students should look into schools which offer an area of study they are most interested in, such as water habitat, forestry or natural energy resources. In addition, students should look into the research and lab facilities at the schools they are hoping to apply to and make sure that they are up-to-date and will offer them the most opportunity to learn. Finally, students should be willing to pursue and internship and look for schools that can place them in appropriate and worthwhile internship opportunities to gain experience and hands-on learning.


There are several career opportunities for students who graduate with a degree in environmental science. For students who become environmental scientists, the average yearly salary according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2009 was $67,360. Conservation scientists, a related career earned an average yearly salary of $61,180 in 2009 according to BLS.


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