BA/BS in Environmental Studies

Ecology students investigating plants.

Sanford Geffner's Field Ecology Class

The interdisciplinary major encompasses the study of natural sciences, social sciences and humanities in order to understand environmental problems and processes. It prepares students for careers in a wide range of governmental, non-profit, and business organizations that work to reduce human impact on the environment through the development of social and economic as well as environmental values.

Designed for students who are passionate about the environment, the BA and BS in Environmental Studies are majors that study how human society and culture intersects with the natural environment. The interdisciplinary major encompasses the study of natural sciences, social sciences and humanities in order to understand environmental problems and processes.

Fieldwork and internships are a required part of the curriculum, and have provided our students with smooth transitions into meaningful careers. Specialty tracks provide a body of course work and experiences that prepare a student for a defined area within the field of environmental and sustainability studies.

The Environmental Studies major is designed to offer choice and flexibility in building the program most suitable for individual interests and career goals. Students take courses from across the College of Arts and Sciences allowing them to interact with faculty from various departments such as geography, geology, biology and sociology as well as working professionals in their fields. They provide a diverse selection of courses related to their areas of expertise.

Students who graduate from the Environmental Studies major are prepared to work in government, community education and organizing, and environmental business. Students have obtained employment with the Office of the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets, the New York Public Interest Research Group, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Western New York Clean Air Coalition. 

The interdisciplinary structure of the major prepares students to go on to advanced study in biology, environmental policy, environmental psychology and environmental science. Students have gone on to advanced studies at Bowling Green State University, Ohio University, University of Minnesota, SUNY Buffalo and SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry, to name just a few.

Tracks in Environmental Studies

Environmental Resources and Management

This track is focused in the areas environmental analysis and conservation biology. Students in this track often become environmental consultants, environmental analysts (of air, water and soil), hazardous waste managers, conservation technicians, environmental managers, habitat restoration managers and staff biologists.

Environmental Policy and Education

Students in this area deal with environmental issues through environmental policy, land management, environmental law and governmental and non-governmental organizations. Students work in the field and gain experience through internships designed to foster sustainability advocacy and education.

Environmental Studies or Environmental Geosciences?

Environmental Geosciences and Environmental Studies sound a lot alike…

We get this question a lot!

They are both great programs with quite a bit of overlap. Environmental Geosciences is a major that is heavy into math and science. Many of our students in this group are very interested in environmental engineering, geographic information systems, pollution, ecological restoration, to name a few. Graduates of this major often work for environmental consultants, government regulation enforcement, health and safety, pollution cleanup, mapping/cartography, and similar careers.

Environmental Studies is more social science based. This program explores policy, grassroots organization, environmental education, sustainability, and outdoor interpretation. This leads these graduates into careers in non-governmental organizations (Audubon, Sierra Club, Niagara Waterkeeper), park rangers, teachers, guides, and in government agencies like the mayor’s office and housing departments working with people on affordable housing and community gardens.

When it comes to coursework, there is a lot of overlap; all but about 10 classes are exactly the same. Either way, the benefit of coming here is the same. The University at Buffalo is the largest public research institute in the state, but our department only has about 250 students in both majors combined. You have instant access to your advisors, all your professors know you and you know them. The EGS and ES students have several organizations that you are encouraged to join and get involved.

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