B.S. in Environmental Science

​Major Course Requirements

Preparation for the Major (56-57 units)

Lower division courses give students an introduction to environmental science and a firm foundation in science and math. There are eight components: 1) Introduction to Environmental Science, 2) Geographic Information Systems, 3) Chemistry, 4) Biology, 5) Mathematics, 6) Physics, 6) Statistics and 7) additional preparation depending on Minor.

Students enrolled in the major prior to fall 2018 may pursue the previous major plan.

Note: Where two sequences are listed for the courses below, the first option is recommended.

Environmental Science

  • Environment 10 – Introduction to Environmental Science

Geographic Information Systems

  • Geography 7 – Introduction to Geographic Information Systems


Choose between:

  • Chemistry 14A/B/BL – Chemical Structures and Equilibria/ Thermodynamics, Kinetics, Organic structures, and Spectroscopy/ General and Organic Chemistry Laboratory I
  • Chemistry 20A/B/L – Chemical Structure/ Chemical Energetics and Change/ General Chemistry Laboratory

Life Science

Take both:

  • Life Sciences 7A -Cell and Molecular Biology
  • Life Sciences 7B -Genetics, Evolution, and Ecology


Choose between:

  • Math 3A/B – Calculus for Life Sciences Students
  • Math 31A/B– Differential Calculus/ Integration and Infinite Series
  • Life Sciences 30A/30B – Mathematics for Life Scientists (not appropriate for students intending to pursue the Environmental Engineering minor/concentration)


Choose between:

  • Physics 5A/C – Physics for Life Sciences Majors: Mechanics and Energy / Electricity, Magnetism, and Modern Physics
  • Physics 1A/B – Physics for Scientists and Engineers: Mechanics/ Oscillations, Waves, Electric and Magnetic Fields


Choose between:

  • Statistics 12 – Introduction to Statistical Methods for Geography and Environmental Studies
  • Statistics 13 – Introduction to Statistical Methods for Life and Health Sciences
  • Life Sciences 40 – Statistics of Biological Systems

One additional course from the following, depending on the Minor/Concentration selected.

  • Chemistry 14C – Organic Molecular Structures and Interactions OR
    Chemistry 30A – Chemical Dynamics and Reactivity: Introduction to Organic Chemistry
  • Math 3C – Calculus and Probability for Life Sciences Students OR
    Math 32A – Calculus of Several Variables
  • Physics 5B – Physics for Life Sciences Majors: Thermodynamics, Fluids, Waves, Light, and Optics OR
    Physics 1C – Physics for Scientists and Engineers: Electrodynamics, Optics, and Special Relativity 
  • Life Sciences 7C and  23L – Physiology and Human Biology & Intro to Laboratory & Scientific Methodology
  • Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences 1 – Introduction to Earth Science

Major requirements (50-52 units)

Upper division courses give students breadth in the environmental sciences and include the following four components:

  • Physical & Life Sciences
  • Social Science & Humanities
  • Sustainability Talks
  • Practicum in Environmental Science

1. Physical & Life Science (20-22 units)

One required course:

  • Environment 175 – Programming with Big Environmental Datasets (recommended for Junior year)

Four electives from the below list, with no more than two courses from any one department.

Note: If a course appears in multiple categories (such as Physical & Life Sciences, and Social Sciences/Humanities) it is the student’s choice as to which category to apply the course. DARS however will apply it in the first available space. Contact the IoES SAO for assistance if courses need to be moved on DARS.

Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences

  • 101 – Fundamentals of Atmospheric Dynamics and Thermodynamics
  • 102 – Climate Change and Climate Modeling
  • 103 – Physical Oceanography
  • 104 – Fundamentals of Air and Water Pollution
  • M105 – Introduction to Chemical Oceanography
  • 107 – Biological Oceanography
  • 112 – Climate Change Assessment
  • 121 – Climate Mitigation Solutions
  • 123 – Climate Adaptation Solutions
  • 130 – California’s Ocean
  • 141 – Introduction to Atmospheric Chemistry and Air Pollution

Civil and Environmental Engineering

  • 153 – Introduction to Environmental Engineering Science
  • 154 – Chemical Fate and Transport in Aquatic Environments
  • M166 – Environmental Microbiology

Earth Planetary and Space Sciences

  • 101 – Earth’s Energy
  • C113 – Biological and Environmental Geochemistry
  • 119 – Continental Drift and Plate Tectonics
  • 139 – Engineering and Environmental Geology
  • 150 – Remote Sensing for Earth Sciences
  • 153 – Oceans and Atmospheres

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

  • 100 – Introduction to Ecology and Behavior
  • 109 – Introduction to Marine Science
  • 116 – Conservation Biology
  • 136 – Ecological Restoration
  • 151A – Tropical Ecology
  • 154 – California Ecosystems


  • 157 – Energy, Environment, and Development

Environmental Health Sciences

  • 100 – Introduction to Environmental Health
  • C125 – Atmospheric Transport and Transformations of Airborne Chemicals
  • C152D – Properties and Measurement of Airborne Particles


  • 101 – Principles of Geomorphology
  • M102 – Soils and Environment
  • M103 – Soil and Water Conservation
  • 107 – Forest Ecosystems
  • M110 – Ecosystem Ecology
  • 116 – Climatology
  • 117 – Tropical Climatology
  • M118 – Applied Climatology
  • 120 – Hydrology
  • M118 – Applied Climatology
  • M126 – Environmental Change
  • 133 – Humid Tropics

2. Social Sciences & Humanities (12-13 units)

One required course:

  • Environment 140 – Foundations of Environmental Policy and Regulation (recommended for Sophomore year)

Two additional electives from the list below:


132– Anthropology of Environment

133 – Anthropology of Food

Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences

  • 121 – Climate Mitigation Solutions
  • 123 – Climate Adaptation Solutions


  • M125 – Environmentalism: Past, Present, and Future
  • M133 – Environmental Sociology
  • 134 – Environmental Economics
  • M147 – Critical Analysis of Strategies Toward Environmental Justice
  • 150 – Environmental Journalism, Science Communications, and New Media
  • M153 – Introduction to Sustainable Architecture and Community Planning
  • 155 – Energy and Society in Time of Climate Change
  • 157 – Energy, Environment, and Development
  • C159 – Life Cycle Analysis of Sustainability Assessment
  • M161 – Global Environment and World Politics
  • 162 – Entrepreneurship and Finance for Environmental Scientists
  • 163 – Business and Natural Environment
  • M164 – Environmental Politics and Governance
  • 166 – Leadership in Water Management
  • M167 – Environmental Justice Through Multiple Lenses


  • M127 – Global Environment and Development: Problems and Issues
  • 130 – Food and Environment
  • 138 – Wildlife Conservation in Eastern and Southern Africa
  • M142 – Past People and Their Lessons for Our Own Future
  • 160 – Urban Geography
  • 171C – Metropolitan LA


  • 125 – Philosophy of Science: Contemporary

Public Affairs

  • M160 – Urban Sustainability

Society & Genetics

  • 141 – Nature Vs Nurture: Genes and Environment

Urban Planning

  • 121 – Urban Policy and Planning

3. Sustainability Talks (1 unit)

  • Environment 185A – Sustainability Talks

Sustainability Talks consists of weekly lectures and presentations on topics relevant to environmental science and sustainability. Students are required to register for the talks for a minimum of 1 quarter for which they receive P/NP credit of 1 unit.

4. Practicum in Environmental Science (14 units)

  • ENVIRON 180A/B/C – Environmental Science Practicum
    (4+5+5 units)

These courses are taken by all students in the degree program, normally in their last year. The course sequence runs for the entire academic year and the activities during the three quarters will be distributed as follows:

  • Fall quarter, students attend lectures and presentations designed to introduce them to the common tools and methodologies of environmental science, building on what they have been exposed to in other classes. Retrospective case studies are presented as a way of integrating material and for introducing issues such as ethical considerations.
  • Winter and Spring quarters, students work as a team on an environmental case study representing a real-life multi-disciplinary forward looking issue requiring original data collection and analysis. The case study will be defined and conducted with the collaboration of a local agency, non-profit institution or firm.

Throughout the practicum students prepare written material and make presentations. Where appropriate, students may use involvement in undergraduate research experiences as a component of the practicum. Outcomes of the Environmental Science Practicum

Students complete both the Environmental Science Major and a Minor/Concentration in one of the eight environmental science areas.

  • All courses applied to the major, except the Sustainability Talks requirement, must be taken for a letter grade.
  • All courses applied toward requirements for preparation for the major must be passed with a letter grade of C- or better.
  • Students in the Environmental Science Major are expected to declare their Minor within 120 units.
  • See the College of Letters and Science web page for undergraduate degree requirements
  • To graduate, students must earn at least a 2.0 (C) overall average in all courses applied toward the major.