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Environmental Science

Degree: BS

Campus: Columbus

School: Environment and Natural Resources

Environmental issues, including everything from resource scarcity to climate change to water quality, are at the forefront of most of the political debates and world issues today. Environmental scientists investigate and seek out natural solutions to environmental problems. To solve water quality issues, they look at the sources of pollution and find new ways to stop the pollution at its source or how to use natural systems, like wetlands, to clean and filter the water. They investigate the health and sustainability of soils to grow food and look at ways to restore ecosystems and conserve natural treasures.

Admitted students can directly enroll as majors in environmental science within the School of Environment and Natural Resources. A student’s first year will include several foundational courses in environment and natural resources as well as general education requirements such as mathematics, chemistry, biology, the humanities, etc. 

The following foundational courses provide an initial exposure to an array of issues that impact natural resources, focusing on physical and natural sciences as well as the social sciences. 

  • Introduction to Environmental Science
  • Society and Natural Resources
  • Introduction to Forestry, Fisheries and Wildlife
  • Introduction to Soil Science 

Specializations

Students in the Ecosystem Restoration specialization study how ecosystems (both aquatic and terrestrial) function in order to preserve, create and restore them. The curriculum will prepare students to engage in restoration projects ranging from the remediation of polluted ecosystems to the creation of new ecosystems.

The Environmental Molecular Science option is for students who have an interest in both biological and physical sciences and a desire to provide solutions to the world’s environmental challenges. The curriculum provides students with a multidisciplinary education in biochemistry, environmental science, geochemistry, microbiology and molecular biology. Students will gain a comprehensive understanding of Earth’s biogeochemical processes and reactions on the scale of a single atom, molecule and cell.

The Environmental Science Education specialization is an ideal major for students planning to pursue the master of education degree.

The Soil Resources and Environmental Sustainability specialization offers a highly interdisciplinary curriculum. Soil scientists apply concepts from biology, microbial ecology, chemistry, earth sciences, ecology, hydrology, mineralogy, mathematics and physics to understand, sustain and improve the environment.

The Water Science specialization addresses the fate of ecosystems like wetlands and riparian corridors. Students will take courses in ecology, geology, physics, hydrology, water resources, wetland ecology, civil engineering, aquatic plants, soil chemistry, climatology, limnology and environmental microbiology.

All students are encouraged to gain an international experience with study abroad. Several study tours offer programs focusing on aspects of the environment, natural resources or sustainability in places such as China, Dominican Republic, New Zealand, Australia, Fiji and Iceland.

Gaining real world experience through internships is critical to student success. Students gain valuable work experience at a variety of federal, state and private agencies and organizations. 

The Environment and Natural Resources Honors program challenges high-ability students by providing a program in greater breadth and depth and provides special recognition and scholarships for outstanding scholastic achievement. Students are able to design their own study plan that guides their course selection and honors research. Freshmen with University Honors standing may be accepted directly as a candidate for the Environment and Natural Resources Honors program.

Environment and Natural Resources Scholars share an interest and passion for the environment and being outdoors. Students participate in various environmentally based service learning projects, educational trips, and seminars and workshops with leading environmental researchers. These students also have a unique study abroad experience—most recently they have traveled to Iceland to learn about the culture, environmental challenges and Ohio State research connections to this country. The Scholars live together in Morrill Tower. 

Learn more at honors-scholars.osu.edu.

Students interested in pursuing research can engage in the generation of new knowledge and understanding alongside world-class faculty and complete requirements to graduate with research distinction.

Students present their research at the college’s Undergrad Research Forum to prepare for the university-wide Denman Undergraduate Research Forum.

Students can also take advantage of research projects monitoring the health of the Lake Erie environment at Stone Lab.

Student organizations, such as TerrAqua and Students for a Sustainable Campus, give students hands-on experiences in the field and help them develop network connections with professionals.

Students have the opportunity to join the SUSTAINS Learning Community, which fosters connections among students who are interested in becoming sustainable leaders. Students will learn how sustainability influences their own and others' lives and how their actions impact society.

The School of Environment and Natural Resources Career Services Office assists students with one-on-one counseling to identify job opportunities, assist in preparing cover letters and resumes, and preparing for interviews. They offer workshops, conduct career fairs and help students along the way to make sure they are building successful resumes.

The intensive background and additional certification components of the environmental science degree make students highly sought after in both the public and private sector. Many of our students pursue advanced degrees. The intensive science background also makes this a good starting point for professional programs such as veterinary medicine, medicine, law and others.

Average starting salaries for environmental science students is between $51,000 and $67,000 per year. Students with a master’s degree or PhD can expect salaries ranging from $60,000 to $150,000 as environmental scientists and consultants.