Environmental Studies

Degrees BA, MS, PhD

The environmental studies major is administered through the Office of Environmental Studies and draws from curricula in the earth and natural sciences as well as the social sciences. See the program office (Benson Earth Sciences 246a) for details of the program requirements.

The bachelor’s degree program is composed of a required common curriculum that exposes all students to the basics of physical and social environmental sciences, as well as to a choice between two tracks. The environmental science track has specializations in water, biogeochemistry, and climate, and the society and policy track has specializations in environment and natural resources, environmental analysis, international environment and development, and decision-making, planning, and policy.

The undergraduate degree in environmental studies emphasizes knowledge and awareness of:

• the causes, scale, and relative importance of the major environmental problems in the United States and the world;
• the complexity of factors relating to human interaction with the environment, especially the fact that environmental problems have both human and biophysical components; and
• the general principles of human-environmental interaction, global habitability and environmental change, and sustainable human societies.
Environmental studies is an interdisciplinary program, drawing on courses and expertise from over a dozen departments. Students who also wish to pursue a traditional, discipline-based education are encouraged to double major or complete a minor in one of the participating departments. An internship program is offered to provide the upper-level student with practical experience working in the field.

Students interested in environmental studies may want to consider the Baker Residential Academic Program. See Residential Academic Programs for more information.

Bachelor’s Degree Programs +

Students must complete the general requirements of the College of Arts and Sciences and the required courses listed below.

The degree program in environmental studies is undergoing revision. Students should consult the website envs.colorado.edu or the academic advisor in Benson 246.

Common Curriculum +

Students are expected to complete the following common curriculum:

Required Courses Semester Hours
ENVS 1000 Introduction to Environmental Studies 4
Biology sequence (EBIO 1030 and 1040 Biology: A Human Approach 1 and 2, and EBIO 1050 Biology: A Human Approach Laboratory; or EBIO 1210 and 1220 General Biology 1 and 2, and EBIO 1230 and 1240 General Biology Lab 1 and 2) 7-8
Chemistry sequence (CHEM 1011 and 1031 Environmental Chemistry 1 and 2; or CHEM 1021 Introduction to Chemistry and 1113 General Chemistry; or CHEM 1113 and 1133 General Chemistry 1 and 2; or CHEM 1351 and 1371 Honors General Chemistry 1 and 2) 7-10
Economics sequence (ECON 1000 Introduction to Economics or ECON 2010 Principles of Microeconomics and ECON 3535 Natural Resource Economics and ECON 3545 Environmental Economics). Note: Students doing track A must complete both ECON 3535 and 3545; students doing track B must complete either ECON 3535 or 3545. 7-10
Geography, geology, or atmospheric science sequence (GEOG 1001 Environmental Systems 1: Climate and Vegetation and 1011 Environmental Systems 2: Landscapes and Water; or GEOL 1010 and 1020 Introduction to Geology 1 and 2 and 1030 Introductory to Geology Lab 1 and 2; or GEOL 1010 Introduction to Geology 1 and GEOL 1060 Global Change); or GEOL 1010 Introduction to Geology 1 and GEOL 1040 Geology of Colorado; or ATOC 1050 Weather and Atmosphere 1 and ATOC 1060 Our Changing Environment 8
Lab requirement (a total of three 1000-level labs from any of the following: CHEM, EBIO, GEOL, or GEOG). Track B students are encouraged to take all labs
PHIL 3140 Environmental Ethics or GEOG 3422 Conservation Thought or PSCI 3064 Environmental Political Theory 3
PSCI 3206 The Environment and Public Policy or PSCI 2101 Introduction to Public Policy Analysis 3
One calculus or statistics course 3-5

In addition, students are required to complete either Track A (Society and Policy), or Track B (Environmental Sciences). Each track has several choices of specializations. An internship may be used as one course in a specialized area. Courses used to satisfy a common curriculum requirement cannot be used to satisfy a specialization requirement.
Required Courses Semester Hours

Track A: Society and Policy

Students must complete the three required courses and one of the four areas of specialization.

ANTH 4150 Human Ecology or EBIO 2040 Principles of Ecology or ENVS/CVEN 3434 Introduction to Applied Ecology 3-4
ECON 3545 Environmental Economics 3
GEOG 3412 Conservation Practice 3

Environment and Natural Resources
Complete a minimum of 15 credit hours from the following courses:
EBIO 4060 Landscape Ecology 3
ENVD 4023 Environmental Impact Assessment 3
ENVS 3001 Sustainable Solutions Consulting 3
ENVS 3621 Energy Policy and Society 3
ENVS/EBIO 3040 Conservation Biology 3
GEOG 3251 Mountain Geography 3
GEOG 3351 Biogeography 3
GEOG 3662 Economic Geography 3
GEOG 4371 Forest Geography 3
GEOG 4430 Seminar: Conservation Trends 3
GEOG 4501 Water Resources and Water Management of the Western U.S. 3
GEOG 4732 Population Geography 3
GEOG 4742 Environment and Peoples 3
GEOL 3500 Earth Resources and the Environment 3
GEOL 3070 Introduction to Oceanography 3
HIST 4417 Environmental History of North America 3
PHYS/ENVS 3070 Energy and the Environment 3
SOCY/ENVS 4027 Inequality, Democracy, and the Environment 3

International Environment and Development
Complete a minimum of 15 credit hours from the following courses:
ECON 3403 International Economics and Policy 3
GEOG 3672 Gender and Global Economy 3
GEOG 3682 Geography of International Development 3
ECON 3784 Economic Development and Policy 3
GEOG 3812 Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean 3
GEOG 3822 Geography of China 3
GEOG 3862 Geography of Africa 3
GEOG 4712 Political Geography 3
PHIL 2140 Environmental Justice 3
PSCI 2223 Introduction to International Relations 3
PSCI 3143 Problems in International Relations 3
PSCI 3193 International Behavior 3
PSCI 4012 Global Development 3
PSCI 4173 International Organization 3
PSCI 4183 International Law 3
PSCI 4783 Global Issues 3
SOCY 3002 Population and Society 3
SOCY/WMST 3012 Women, Development, and Fertility 3
SOCY 4007 Global Human Ecology 3

Decision Making, Planning, and Public Policy
Complete a minimum of 15 credit hours from the following courses:
ATOC 4800 Policy and Climate 3
ENVS 3001 Sustainable Solutions Consulting 3
ENVS 3621 Energy Policy and Society 3
ENVD 4023 Environmental Impact Assessment 3
ENVS/PHYS 3070 Energy and the Environment 3
GEOG 3402 Natural Hazards 3
GEOL 3950 Natural Catastrophes 3
PHIL 2140 Environmental Justice 3
PSCI 2101 Introduction to Public Policy Analysis 3
PSCI 3206 Environment and Public Policy 3
SOCY 2077 Environment and Society 3

Environmental Analysis
Complete a minimum of 15 credit hours from the following courses:
ATOC 3300 Analysis of Climate and Weather Observations 3
ECON 4808 Introduction to Mathematical Economics 3
ENVS 3001 Sustainable Solutions Consulting 3
ENVS 3621 Energy Policy and Society 3
ENVD 4023 Environmental Impact Assessment 3
GEOG 2053 Mapping a Changing World 4
GEOG 3053 Cartography 1: Visual/Information Design 4
GEOG 4043 Cartography 2: Multimedia 4
GEOG 4093 Remote Sensing of the Environment 4
GEOG 4103 Introduction to Geographic Information Science 4

Track B: Environmental Sciences

Students must complete the required courses and and one of three areas of specialization.

Calculus 4-5
EBIO 2040 Principles of Ecology or GEOG 3601/ATOC 3600/ENVS 3600 Principles of Climate or CVEN/ENVS 3434 Introduction to Applied Ecology 3
GEOG 3511 Introduction to Hydrology 4
Field course: EBIO 4350 Biological Field Studies or Mountain Research Station field course or GEOL 2700 Introduction to Field Geology and one other 2-credit geology field course or CVEN/ENVS 3434 Introduction to Applied Ecology 3-4

Water
Complete a minimum of 12 credit hours from the following courses:
CVEN 4404 Water Quality 4
EBIO 3190 Tropical Marine Ecology 3
EBIO 4020 Stream Biology 3
EBIO 4030 Limnology 3
EBIO 4110 Freshwater Marine Ecology 2-4
EBIO 4460 Fish Ecology 4
GEOG/GEOL 4241 Principles of Geomorphology 4
GEOG 4251 Fluvial Geomorphology 4
GEOG 4321 Snow Hydrology 4
GEOG 4430 Seminar: Conservation Trends (water topic) 3
GEOG 4501 Water Resources and Water Management of Western United States 3
GEOL 3030 Introduction to Hydrogeology 3
GEOL 4060 Oceanography 4

Biogeochemistry
Complete a minimum of 12 credit hours from the following courses:
CHEM 4191 Environmental Chemistry of the Biosphere 3
ENVS/GEOL 3520 Environmental Issues in Geosciences 3
ENVS/EBIO/GEOL 4160 Introduction to Biogeochemistry 3
EBIO 3270 Ecosystem Ecology 3
GEOG/GEOL 4241 Principles of Geomorphology 4
GEOG 4251 Fluvial Geomorphology 4
GEOG 4401 Soils Geography 3
GEOL 3040 Global Change: Recent Geological Record 3
GEOL 3320 Geochemistry 3
GEOL 4060 Oceanography 4

Climate
Complete one physics sequence and a minimum of 12 credit hours from the following courses:
ATOC 3300/GEOG 3301 Analysis of Climate and Weather Observations 3
ATOC 3500 Air Chemistry and Pollution 3
ATOC 4710 Atmospheric Physics 3
ATOC 4720 Atmospheric Dynamics 3
ATOC 4750 Desert Meteorology 3
ATOC 4800 Policy and Climate 3
ENVS/GEOG 4201 Biometeorology 3
GEOG 4211 Physical Climatology: Principles 3
GEOL 3040 Global Change: Recent Geological Record 3
GEOL 4060 Oceanography 4

Choose one sequence from the following:
PHYS 1110 and 1120 General Physics 1 and 2; or PHYS 2010 and 2020 General Physics 1 and 2 8-10

Graduating in Four Years +

Consult the Four-Year Guarantee Requirements for information on eligibility. The concept of “adequate progress” as it is used here only refers to maintaining eligibility for the four-year guarantee; it is not a requirement for the major. To maintain adequate progress in environmental studies, students should meet the following requirements:

Begin the common curriculum in the freshman year.
Declare environmental studies as the major by the beginning of the second semester.
Students must consult with a major advisor to determine adequate progress toward completion of major requirements.

Graduate Studies +

Opportunities for interdisciplinary graduate studies and original research, leading to the MS and PhD degrees, are available with a variety of emphases, including water sciences, environmental policy and sustainability, energy, environmental social sciences, and biogeosciences. Particular programs of study are limited only by course offerings and faculty expertise.

Master’s Degree +

Candidates for the master’s degree in environmental studies must complete at least 36 credit hours of graduate course work. Both thesis (Plan I) and non-thesis (Plan II) options are available. Plan I requires that the student write and successfully defend a thesis for 6 research credits. Students who opt for Plan II must complete a 2-credit internship as part of their program. Additional information can be found at envs.colorado.edu.

MS/MBA

This is a dual degree program offered in conjunction with the Leeds School of Business. It requires 36 hours of graduate work in environmental studies and 43 hours of MBA course work (with 12 hours of environmental studies course work applying toward the required 55 credits for the MBA). The MBA program will be considered the student’s primary program.

MS/JD or PhD/JD

This is a dual degree program offered in conjunction with the Law School. The Law School will grant credit for acceptable performance in graduate-level environmental studies courses toward the JD degree for up to 9 (for MS students) or 12 (for PhD students) credit hours of the required 89 credits for the JD degree. Environmental studies will grant up to 9 (for MS students) or 12 (for PhD students) credit hours of acceptable performance in law courses. The JD program will be considered the student’s primary program.

Doctoral Degree +

The PhD degree is a research degree, involving the production of a major piece of original research (the dissertation). Candidates for the doctoral degree must complete at least 42 degree-hours from a list of approved ENVS core and elective courses. In addition, 30 semester hours of dissertation credit must be taken. Students are expected to form an advisory committee of five faculty members (including one from outside ENVS) soon after beginning their studies. This committee helps the student in designing a research program and in making choices concerning course work. The PhD comprehensive exam is administered by the student dissertation committee and must be taken within the first five semesters of degree work. It consists of a written research proposal on the dissertation topic, a formal presentation summarizing the student research progress, and an oral examination centered on the student research. Upon the student completion of the dissertation, a final examination is administered by the dissertation committee.

Additional information may be found at envs.colorado.edu.

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