Environmental Engineering

Environmental engineers play a vital role in maintaining the quality of both human environmental systems and the natural environment. Environmental engineering encompasses the scientific assessment and development of engineering solutions to environmental problems impacting the biosphere, land, water, and air quality. Environmental issues affect almost all commercial and industrial sectors, and are a central concern for the public, for all levels of government, and in international relations. These issues include safe drinking water, wastewater processing, solid and hazardous waste disposal, outdoor air pollution, indoor air pollution and transfer of infectious diseases, human health and ecological risk management, prevention of pollution through product or process design, and renewable and sustainable energy sources.

To address these challenges, environmental engineers often encounter challenging problems that must be solved in data-poor situations as members of multidisciplinary teams. Environmental problems require creative solutions blended with contributions from scientists, lawyers, business people, and the public. Good communication skills, as well as technical proficiency, are essential for success in this arena. In addition, technology designed to address environmental problems is marketed globally, opening up increasing opportunities for international work in the environmental engineering field.

The faculty of the Environmental Engineering Program (EVEN) is drawn from the Departments of Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering; Mechanical Engineering; Chemical and Biological Engineering; and Aerospace Engineering. The EVEN faculty, its Professional Advisory Board (representing prospective employers of its graduates), and EVEN alumni and current students have contributed to the creation of the program’s mission and the educational objectives of the EVEN BS degree.


The mission of the EVEN Program is to provide a multidisciplinary undergraduate environmental engineering education that emphasizes mastery of principles and practices, inspires service for the global public good, endows a desire for lifelong learning, and prepares students for broad and dynamic career paths in environmental engineering.

Educational Objective

The educational objective of the environmental engineering bachelor of science degree is to produce graduates who reach the following achievements three to five years after graduation:

  • become established in professional careers and/or earn advanced degrees;
  • apply multidisciplinary approaches to manage the unique challenges and balance the competing social, political, economic, and technical goals of environmental problems and solutions; and
  • serve the needs of our society and protect the future of our planet in an ethical manner.

Program Outcomes

The Environmental Engineering Program demonstrates that its graduates:

  • have sufficient knowledge of engineering, mathematics, and science fundamentals to succeed in environmental engineering practice or advanced degrees;
  • have sufficient knowledge of advanced environmental engineering applications and complementary natural sciences to succeed in environmental engineering practice or advanced degrees;
  • have sufficient knowledge of engineering approaches to problem solving (hypothesis, design, testing; team work) to succeed in environmental engineering practice or advanced degrees;
  • have sufficient knowledge of basic engineering skills and tools (computer, laboratory, and field) to succeed in environmental engineering practice or advanced degrees;
  • have adequate writing and oral presentation skills to succeed in environmental engineering practice or advanced degrees;
  • have adequate understanding of the social, economic, political, and ethical context of environmental problems and solutions;
  • have adequate opportunity to include service at the local, state, national, or global levels as an important part of their environmental engineering education; and
  • recognize the importance of life-long learning by seeking advanced degrees and pursuing continuing education.

Course code for this program is EVEN.

Bachelor's Degree Program(s)

Bachelor's Degree in Environmental Engineering


The bachelor of science degree in environmental engineering (EVEN) at the University of Colorado provides preparation for professional proficiency or graduate training in environmental engineering in a four-year curriculum. The curriculum includes courses in engineering fundamentals and applications, advanced mathematics, chemistry, physics, biology, earth science, along with courses in the arts, humanities, and social sciences.

Courses specific to environmental engineering practice include water chemistry, microbiology, and air pollution control. In addition, environmental engineering requires hands-on laboratory experiences, up-to-date skills in the use of computers for modeling and data analysis, and experience in the design of environmental engineering systems. Many of the required engineering courses in the bachelor of science curriculum are culled from aerospace engineering sciences; chemical and biological engineering; civil, environmental, and architectural engineering; and mechanical engineering.

The curriculum also includes three technical electives, three option courses, and one free elective. Technical elective courses include a broad range of science and engineering courses, and must include an earth sciences course. The option courses represent an area of specialization in environmental engineering selected by the student beginning in the junior year. The curriculum includes six sets of options:

  • Air Quality
  • Applied Ecology
  • Chemical Processing
  • Energy Conversion Fundamentals
  • Environmental Site Characterization and Remediation
  • Water Resources and Treatment 

In addition to these prescribed options, students may also formulate their own sequence of option courses (referred to as a “special option”) representing an area of specialization not included in the six sets of option courses listed above. This selection must be done by petition to the Environmental Engineering Program.

Students in the program are also encouraged to participate in research through independent study or senior thesis projects, the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP), or as undergraduate research assistants in sponsored research programs. Students are required to take the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam when they are within 32 credit hours of graduation.

Curriculum for the BS in Environmental Engineering 

Required Courses and Semester Credit Hours

Freshman Year
Fall Semester

  • APPM 1350 Calculus 1 for Engineers—4
  • CHEM 1221 Engineering General Chemistry Laboratory—2
  • CHEN 1211 General Chemistry for Engineers—3
  • EVEN 1000 Introduction to Environmental Engineering (Note 4)—1
  • GEEN 1400 Engineering Projects—3
  • Humanities and social science elective (Note 1)—3

Spring Semester

  • APPM 1360 Calculus 2 for Engineers—4
  • GEEN 1300 Introduction to Engineering Computing—3
  • PHYS 1110 General Physics 1—4
  • Humanities and social science elective (Note 1)—3
  • Technical elective (Note 2)—3

Sophomore Year
Fall Semester

  • APPM 2350 Calculus 3 for Engineers—4
  • PHYS 1120 General Physics 2—4
  • PHYS 1140 Experimental Physics 1—1
  • Solid mechanics: CVEN 2121 Analytic Mechanics, GEEN 3851 Statics for Engineers, or MCEN 2023 Statics and Structures—3
  • Humanities and social science elective (Note 1)—3

Spring Semester

  • APPM 2360 Introduction to Differential Equations with Linear Algebra—4
  • CHEM 4521 Physical Chemistry for Engineers (Note 4)—3
  • CHEN 2120 Material and Energy Balances—3
  • CVEN 3414 Fundamentals of Environmental Engineering—3
  • Humanities and social science elective (Note 1)—3

Junior Year
Fall Semester

  • CVEN 4404 Water Chemistry (Note 4)—3
  • CVEN 4414 Water Chemistry Lab (Note 4)—1
  • Engineering Economics (Note 4): CVEN 4147 Civil Engineering Systems or EMEN 4100 Business Methods and Economics for Engineers—3
  • Fluid Mechanics: CHEN 3200 Chemical Engineering Fluid Mechanics, CVEN 3313 Theoretical Fluid Mechanics, GEEN 3853 Fluid Mechanics for Engineers, or MCEN 3021 Fluid Mechanics—3
  • Thermodynamics: AREN 2110 Thermodynamics, CHEN 3320 Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics, GEEN 3852 Thermodynamics for Engineers, or MCEN 3012 Thermodynamics—3
  • College-approved writing course (Note 1)—3

Spring Semester

  • CVEN 4484 Introduction to Environmental Microbiology (Note 4)—3
  • MCEN 4131 Air Pollution Control (Note 4)—3
  • Heat Transfer: CHEN 3210 Chemical Engineering Heat Transfer or MCEN 3022 Heat Transfer—3
  • Probability and Statistics: APPM 4570 Statistical Methods; CHEN 3010 Applied Data Analysis; CVEN 3227 Probability, Statistics, and Decision; or MCEN 3037 Experimental Design and Data Analysis—2
  • Option course I (Note 3)—3

Senior Year
Fall Semester

  • EVEN/CVEN 4464 Environmental Engineering Processes (Note 4)—3
  • Humanities and social science elective (Note 1)—3
  • Air or earth science laboratory or field course—3
  • Option course II (Note 3)—3
  • Technical elective II (Note 2) or Senior Thesis (Note 5)—3
  • Free elective—3

Spring Semester

  • CVEN 4333 Engineering Hydrology (Note 4)—3
  • CVEN 4424 Environmental Organic Chemistry—3
  • CVEN 4434 Environmental Engineering Design (Note 4)—4
  • Option course III (Note 3)—3
  • Technical elective III (Note 2) or Senior Thesis (Note 5)—3
    Minimum total semester hours —128
Curriculum Notes
1. A total of 15 credit hours of humanities and social sciences electives, along with 3 credit hours of an approved writing course, is required. See www.colorado.edu/engineering/academics/policies/hss for specific requirements.
2. A total of 9 credit hours of technical electives is required. Three technical elective credits may be lower-division (1000-2000-level). Three technical elective credits must be in the earth sciences, either lower or upper division. Remaining technical elective credits must be upper division in engineering, mathematics, or sciences. Independent study (EVEN 4840) or senior thesis (EVEN 4980 and 4990) may be completed as technical electives for up to 6 credits.
3. A list of courses for the Air Quality, Applied Ecology, Chemical Processing, Energy Conversion Fundamentals, Environmental Remediation, and Water and Wastewater Options is available in the program office.
4. Only offered in the semester shown (not including summer offerings).
5. A senior thesis can be completed on a single research topic, with faculty approval and direction, and can apply toward technical elective requirements.

Concurrent Bachelor's/Master's Program

Concurrent BS in Environmental Enginenering/MS in Civil Engineering

A concurrent EVEN BS/CVEN MS degree program is available in cooperation with the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering. Students may apply to the program when they have completed 75–110 credit hours toward the undergraduate EVEN degree. Once accepted into the program, students are allowed to count 6 credit hours taken at the graduate level for both the environmental engineering BS and the civil engineering MS degrees, thus allowing them to obtain both degrees in a five-year curriculum.