Undergraduate Overview

students birdwatching.

Are you looking for a major? Ornithology course, courtesy N. Henshue.

An undergraduate education in the environmental sciences and sustainability could include subject matter ranging from the ecology of microbes in the soil, to the economics of recycling, to the history of the modern environmental movement. The breadth of material is enormous. Our majors are designed to combine a sampling of that breadth with a detailed and richer understanding of one of the major themes in environmental and sustainability science. 

Students most interested in understanding the natural world should seek our BS in Environmental Geosciences. Students working toward our BA in Environmental Studies have a stronger interest in how societies regulate their use of the environment and how individuals come to value nature. The two programs share courses and students in each of the degree programs work together in capstone courses, internship programs and social events.

Undergraduate Programs

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, and 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.