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University of Pittsburgh    
2016-2017 Undergraduate Catalog 
  Sep 27, 2020
2016-2017 Undergraduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Environmental Studies, BA

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Rapid growth in human population and development has led to complex environmental problems on local and global scales. The way in which we address these issues will have a profound effect on our society and planet in the coming century. Enlightened solutions require a strong component of scientific knowledge and an awareness of the relevant societal issues. A major in environmental studies will equip students with an understanding of earth systems and the environment, including the role of geologic processes on human activity and the impact of humans on the biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and global climate. Courses in the natural and social sciences supplement a traditional liberal arts curriculum to provide a comprehensive, interdisciplinary background in the scientific, economic, political, and social aspects of human interaction with the environment.

The environmental studies major provides a strong background for students who seek careers in fields such as resource development and management, environmental policy and regulation, risk assessment, land use planning, public policy, and education. Potential employers include local, state, or federal government organizations; consulting firms; or companies that are affected by environmental issues or regulations. Graduates of the Environmental Studies Program can also pursue postgraduate study in fields such as business, law, medicine, public policy, education, international relations, urban and regional planning, environmental management, and public health.

Major Requirements

The major consists of core courses, co-requirements, and electives. The core courses provide a fundamental understanding of environmental processes, issues, and policy and culminate in an environmental science field course and an interdisciplinary capstone course on science and public policy. The co-requirements provide the necessary background for advanced study. Majors are encouraged to undertake an independent research project, internship, or senior thesis.

Environmental field course:

(at least 2 credits from one of the following)


* This requirement can be satisfied by taking any BIOSC course offered at the Pymatuning Ecology Laboratory or an approved environmental science field course offered through an outside institution. In either case, the substituted course must have a credit value of not less than two credits.

Environmental Internship course

Co-requirements (12 credits):

Electives (24 credits) in one of the following fashions:

  • 12 credits in the social sciences and humanities
  • 12 credits in the natural sciences and engineering


*See the advisor for list of approved courses.

Environmental studies majors automatically fulfill the Dietrich School related area requirement. Three elective credits may be earned through independent study projects or internships.

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