Earn an Environmental Science Degree
- $320/credit (120 credits)
- Transfer up to 90 credits
- Instructor-led labs with custom kits mailed to students
- Analyze real environmental challenges
- Get valuable hands-on experience
- No application fee or SAT/ACT scores required
Online Environmental Science Degree Program
Environmental scientists are stewards of the planet. They analyze environmental issues related to everything from climate change to overpopulation to biodiversity. They are the champions of clean energy, clean air and a thriving, healthy planet.
Southern New Hampshire University’s Bachelor of Science (BS) in Environmental Science degree online program gives you a strong foundation in natural and physical sciences. You will gain the education and hands-on experience you need to pursue your passion for the environment.
Lab courses are conducted with custom lab kits mailed directly to students. Use this hands-on experience to develop practical solutions to the environmental problems affecting us all and promote sound conservation practices for the future.
Learn how to:
- Practice and apply effective communication strategies
- Analyze intersections of the human and natural world
- Propose practical solutions to complex environmental problems
- Articulate a personal ethical framework
- Apply technological and field-based methods to environmental study
- Design and execute projects that integrate the scientific method
As an environmental science major, you have the option of customizing your degree through the 39 free elective credits, or by adding on a natural resources concentration.
Ideal for Learners Who are Passionate About the Environment
"As more corporations strive to reduce their environmental footprint, the demand for environmental sciences is only going to grow," said Dr. Gwen Britton, associate vice president for STEM and Business Programs at Southern New Hampshire University.
Data Analytics in Science
Help solve real environmental challenges through data with the BS in Environmental Science with a concentration in Data Analytics in Science program.
As an environmental scientist, your work is critical in preserving the health of the planet. By supplementing your skills with expertise in statistics, data collection and database environments, you can take your work a step further - using numbers to tell stories for conservation organizations, policy makers and more.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Big Data is transforming organizations across industries. Job prospects for mathematicians and statisticians, for example, are set to soar 30% through 2028, far faster than the national average for all occupations.1
Outside of those roles, data analysis can be an especially powerful tool for an environmental scientist. Corporate entities, for example, rely on data to help improve their sustainability efforts. Government agencies tap into data to pass public policies for environmental conservation. Furthermore, data can help shine a light on public health issues – such as the release of toxins and industrial chemicals into the atmosphere.
Courses in the data analytics in science concentration are designed to grow skills that can help set you apart from other professionals in your field. You’ll learn how to apply quantitative and qualitative models for making predictions, diagnose organizational problems and find data to solve them, and create structured database environments that incorporate basic processing functionality.
Courses may include:
- Applied Statistics II for Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
- Gathering Requirements and Collecting Data
- Introduction to Structured Database Environments
Natural Resources and Conservation
Learn how to look at the environment from all angles. Focus on conservation and management of natural resources. Enjoy putting your passion for the environment to work with the online Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science with a concentration in Natural Resources and Conservation. This focus helps you develop a broad skill set that employers want. You’ll be able to solve environmental problems like climate change and energy issues.
Learn how to analyze the way that the human and natural world work together. Create an understanding of ecology. Apply fieldwork, report writing and crafting an ethical framework for how you approach protecting the planet.
Careers with a focus in natural resources and conservation can take you anywhere. You could work as a climate change analyst, industrial ecologist or environmental health and safety specialist. You could work at the federal or local levels. You may even work for corporations or nonprofits, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.1
Courses may include:
- Conservation Biology
- Global Climate Change
- Energy and Society
The future is bright for careers in environmental science. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of environmental scientists and specialists is predicted to grow by 8% through 2028.1 This is faster than the national average for all professions.
A career in environmental science lets you apply your love of natural science in many ways. You will learn to protect the environment and human health.
Kylie Lorenzen ’19, who became SNHU's all-time leading scorer as a four-year standout on the university's woman's basketball team, said she plans to use her degree to make a similar impact in the environmental field.
“The environment is something that is changing, and it affects everyone,” Lorenzen said. “It affects wildlife. It affects humans. It’s a big topic nowadays and usually, we just see the policy and government side, but there’s a lot that goes into … protecting and conserving what we have while also utilizing it and being sustainable in the same way.”
Careers in environmental science lend themselves to office, lab or field work. You could work for local, state or federal agencies. You may work for nonprofit organizations to promote healthy environmental practices.
"The field of environmental science is a rewarding area in which to serve," said Jill Nugent, associate dean of science for online STEM programs. "People are able to make a positive difference in our world through science."
Careers in environmental science include:
- Environmental scientist, where you will use your knowledge of the natural sciences to protect the environment and human health
- Environmental health and safety specialist, where you will explore environmental health risks
- Conservation land manager, working to protect habitat and biodiversity
- Climate change analyst, studying effects on ecosystems caused by the changing climate
- Soil and water conservationist, working to prevent erosion
- Geospatial analyst, examining changes to the landscape
- Park ranger, protecting and managing federal and state parks and forests
SNHU’s environmental science degree online blends analytical skills, communication skills and critical thinking throughout the degree program. These skills can prepare you to succeed in the exciting and challenging career of your choice.
In fact, the median annual wage for environmental scientists and specialists was $71,360 in May 2019. That is notably higher than the median annual wage of $39,810 for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.1
You may also wish to explore combining environmental skills with business acumen by enrolling in SNHU's online MBA in Sustainability and Environmental Compliance.
Start Your Journey Toward an Online Environmental Science Degree
Why SNHU for Your Online Environmental Science Degree
With no set class meeting times, you can learn on your schedule and access online course materials 24/7.
Take advantage of some of the lowest online tuition rates in the nation, plus financial aid for those who qualify. We also make it easy to transfer to SNHU by accepting up to 90 credits from your previous institution.
Founded in 1932, Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit institution with over 100,000 graduates across the country. SNHU is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), which advocates for institutional improvement and public assurance of quality.
Recently, Southern New Hampshire University has been nationally recognized for leading the way toward more innovative, affordable and achievable education:
- “Most Innovative” regional university honors from U.S. News & World Report each year since 2015
- A $1 million grant from Google.org to explore soft skills assessments for high-need youth
- Recognition as a 2017 Digital Learning Innovator by the Online Learning Consortium
As an Southern New Hampshire University student, you'll have access to a powerful network of more than 200,000 peers, alumni and staff that can help support you long after graduation. Our instructors offer relevant, real-world expertise to help you understand and navigate your industry. Plus, with our growing, nationwide alumni network, you'll have the potential to tap into a number of internship and career opportunities.
96.5% of students would recommend SNHU.2 Discover why SNHU may be right for you.
Part of our mission to expand access to quality higher education means removing the barriers that may stand between you and your degree. That’s why you can apply at any time and get a decision within days of submitting all required materials.
Acceptance decisions are made on a rolling basis throughout the year for our 6 (8-week) undergraduate terms.
How to Apply
Simply contact an admission counselor, who can help you explore financial options, answer all your questions and walk you through the application process. Start by:
- Completing a free undergraduate application
- Providing previous institutions attended – so we can retrieve transcripts for you at no cost
Test scores are not required as part of your application.
Courses & Curriculum
A degree in environmental science provides a strong foundation to protect the planet. Our program combines the natural and physical sciences, like biology, chemistry and physics, with real-world scientific lab work.
Choose the concentration in natural resources and conservation to study the impact of climate change or go with the general track. Even without a concentration, you’ll have elective courses allowing you to explore environmental science, geography and science to create your own custom niche in the field.
Kylie Lorenzen '19 said she has a new outlook on the world thanks to her environmental science courses.
“It’s something that inspires me,” she said. “I’m passionate about traveling ... So, I’m really interested in other cultures around the world, and it’s something that’s important to me to protect and keep working at.”
With an environmental science degree, you will have many chances to apply your education to the workforce. Environmental expertise is valuable in all types of businesses. A minor in environmental studies is also offered for non-science students who would like to add another aspect to their learning.
"Environmental science is important to all of us because we have no Planet B," said Jill Nugent, associate dean of science for online STEM programs at SNHU. "We must understand the natural world in which we live, and use its resources wisely in order to sustain life on Earth."
SNHU’s bachelor’s in environmental science "provides 21st-century learners with the chance to explore and address real world environmental challenges," Nugent said. The curriculum can help you build a number of key skills, including:
- Oral and written communication
- Quantitative analysis
- Applied statistics
- Ecological principles and field methods
- Research methods
Due to shipping laws, lab courses requiring lab kits must be completed within the contiguous United States. New students living outside the lower 48 states may be eligible to transfer in lab credits from accredited institutions. If a currently enrolled student moves outside of the contiguous U.S., they may petition to take the labs at another institution for credit.
Our environmental science major boasts 39 free elective credits. That is ideal for transfer students who don’t want to repeat courses. This can also allow you to add a minor that complements your major or help you explore new interests.
"Our students are equipped to go straight into the job market upon graduation from this program," Nugent said. "Each of the program courses were developed by environmental science professionals with relevant job skills in mind."
Another special feature of the environmental science degree is the opportunity to engage in experiential learning. These classes let you explore special topics related to your major. You will also build key skills to help with career development. The Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science offers 6 experiential learning topics:
- Field experiences: This topic allows you to extend your knowledge even further. You'll conduct research and apply the scientific process. Hands-on research skills and engaging in primary research will help when entering the fields of environmental science or geoscience.
- Citizen science: This topic allows you to engage in, and maybe lead your own citizen science efforts. Hands-on experience with crowd-sourcing scientific projects leads to leadership. That is important to have for a career in environmental or geoscience.
- Research experiences in science: This topic allows you to extend your knowledge of the scientific process. You'll engage in research projects that you design. Having hands-on research skills and participating in research are great skills for working in the fields of environmental science or geoscience.
- Certifications and licensures: This topic allows you to begin or continue studying for a certification or license exam. You will select a certification or license of your choosing, with help from your instructor. It is up to you to choose a certification or license for which you qualify. You will use the course time to work toward studying for the exam.
- Animal behavior: This topic allows you to engage in research practice that you design. The scientific process and animal behavior are the basis for this work. As with the other learning opportunities, hands-on research skills and engaging in primary research are great skills for the fields of environmental science or geoscience.
- Grant writing in science: This topic provides useful experience in writing grants. This skill is vital for a career in the nonprofit sector. Securing grant funding can be the key to getting a project off the ground. The written communication skills developed in this topic will be helpful in any career path.
Online learners also benefit through a partnership between the SNHU Arboretum and the online science programs. This partnership provides increased access to undergraduate research and learning opportunities. "The Arboretum, its technology and data extend the physical campus to the global learning community, opening up collaborative research opportunities between campus and online science students," said Nugent.
Curriculum Requirements & Resources
- General education courses: All bachelor's students are required to take general education classes, if not obtained in prior coursework. Through these foundation, exploration and integration courses, students learn to think critically, creatively and collaboratively. This provides the edge employers are seeking.
- Technology resources: We provide cloud-based virtual environments in some courses to provide access to the technology you need for your degree and your career. Learn more about our virtual environments.
- Earn credits for what you already know: Did you know certain work and life experience – like industry-recognized certifications, law enforcement training and math knowledge – could save you time and money at SNHU? Learn how you could get credit for work or life experience.
|View Full Curriculum in the Catalog|
|BS in Environmental Science|
|Courses May Include|
|BS in Environmental Science Online|
|BIO 120||General Biology I||General biology course that includes mammalian cell structure and function, cellular reproduction and physiology, and Mendelian genetics. Laboratory exercises (BIO 120L) to follow lecture topics.|
|BIO 120L||General Biology I Lab||Laboratory course to follow topics presented in BIO 120.|
|BIO 315||Ecological Principles and Field Methods||This course introduces students to the principles of ecology and practical methods used in the field. Students will explore theoretical topics in the ecological systems including the level of the population, community and ecosystem; energy flow and biogeochemical cycles; and the concept of sustainability. Students will read literature and conduct research projects in the field and will use critical thinking to evaluate research, design studies, present findings and debate on the issues.|
|CHM 101||Fundamentals of Chemistry||An introductory, general education course for the non-science major emphasizing the contribution of chemistry in our everyday lives. This course will enable students to look at various aspects of the world around them through the lens of chemistry. It will introduce basic concepts and applications of chemistry as well as chemical topics and their relationship to matters of societal concern.|
|CHM 101L||Fundamentals of Chemistry Lab||This course will use laboratory techniques to study the fundamental principles of chemistry. Topics such as the mole, chemical equilibria, chemical and physical properties, solutions, kinetics, etc., will all be covered along with other topics important to chemistry.|
|ENV 101||Environmental Science||This course provides an introduction to the scientific aspects of the environmental field. The first part of the course introduces students to the foundations of environmental science, while the second part concentrates on the application of these foundations to real life environmental problems. Therefore, the course not only engages the fundamentals of environmental science but also shows students how science informs sustainability, environmental policies, economics and personal choice.|
|ENV 250||Environmental Science Research Methods||This course provides students with an understanding of how to evaluate, conduct, write and design research. Required for environmental science majors, it introduces the why, when and how quantitative and qualitative methods are used as investigative tools. The course follows the scientific method and focuses on how to search the literature, write a literature review, formulate research questions/hypotheses, and design experiments to test these hypotheses. We will also explore qualitative methods and discuss their use in the field with special attention to conducting interviews, case studies, and focus groups. Students will prepare a research proposal on a topic of interest. Formulation of this project begins early, forms the basis for a final project, and is presented in a mock scientific conference.|
|ENV 344||Environmental Science Colloquium I||This is an issue and methods based course that will introduce environmental science majors to the tools and technology used in the field. Students will read and discuss primary literature that use these techniques and will participate in hands-on activities. A main focus of the course will be on the use and application of geographic information systems (GIS).|
|ENV 444||Environmental Science Colloquium II||This is an issue-based discussion course aimed to define and explore multifaceted topics in environmental science. Designed like a senior seminar, students are expected to conduct extensive research on varied topics and then communicate their knowledge in both oral and written assignments.|
|PHY 101||Principles of Physics||Principles of Physics is an algebra based course that explores the major topics in physics, such as motion and forces, gravity and projectiles, energy and work, thermodynamics, vibrations and waves, electricity and magnetism, solids and fluids, light and optics, and atomic and nuclear physics.|
|PHY 105||Geology||This course surveys the major themes in geology. Students will examine topics such as plate tectonics, the rock cycle, surface processes, and concept of geologic time.|
|PHL 363||Environmental Ethics||This course analyzes the application of ethical theory to moral questions about the environment. A number of different traditions in environmental ethics will be discussed and their strengths and weaknesses evaluated by applying them to practical moral problems.|
|Total Credits: 121|
Tuition & Fees
Tuition rates for SNHU's online degree programs are among the lowest in the nation. We offer financial aid packages to those who qualify, plus a 30% tuition discount for U.S. service members, both full and part time, and the spouses of those on active duty.
|Online Undergraduate Programs||Per Course||Per Credit Hour||Annual Cost for 30 credits|
(U.S. service members, both full and part time, and the spouses of those on active duty)
Tuition Rates are subject to change and are reviewed annually.
No Application Fee, $150 Graduation Fee, Course Materials ($ varies by course)
Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of jobs can you get with an environmental science degree?
Perhaps the best part of earning a degree in environmental science – other than saving the world – is that you can apply your learning in so many different ways.
"There are so many career options for graduates in this field," said Dr. Kelly Thrippleton-Hunter, technical program facilitator for science at SNHU.
"Careers in environmental science can include working directly with natural resources. It can involve creating policies that promote conservation actions to regulate and manage those resources. Or it can involve helping companies in complying with those policies," Thrippleton-Hunter said.
Federal and state agencies, such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service, provide some of the largest opportunities for employment in this field. Local agencies and private environmental consultancy companies provide good options as well.
With this dynamic, interdisciplinary degree, you can do anything from become a conservation scientist, to an environmental engineer. You can become a forester. You can educate the next generation of environmentalists as a teacher. Or you can go the more technology-based route with a career as a geospatial analyst, industrial ecologist, or climate change analyst. The possibilities are truly endless.
The SNHU Career Center is a great place for career support and advice at any time in your career, even after you have graduated. You can get support with resume writing or find connections for local professional organizations. You may find projects or internships, or even prep for interviews. As a SNHU graduate, you will be part of a lifelong alumni network, perfect for networking and making connections.
Is environmental science a good degree?
Absolutely! With a degree in environmental science, you can gain the skills needed to preserve and protect our precious natural resources.
In addition to a strong foundation in the physical and biological sciences, you'll gain many other skills. You'll learn communication skills and project management experience. You can receive training in research and analysis. These skills are transferrable to many careers, from the private sector to nonprofits, in the field, in a lab or in the office.
According to Dr. Kelly Thrippleton-Hunter, technical program facilitator for science at SNHU, "there will always be a workforce need for the protection of the environment and our natural resources." Conservation jobs are so diverse that an environmental science degree opens up many career possibilities for graduates in this field.
And with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicting higher than average job growth for the field of environmental science from 2018 through 20281, the future of this career field is truly bright.
What are the 5 major fields of environmental science?
As a truly interdisciplinary field, the environmental science major includes instruction in five key areas:
- Biology is the study of living organisms. Zoology, botany, microbiology and ecology all fall under the biology umbrella.
- Earth science is the study of the earth’s nonliving systems. It includes geology and paleontology, as well as climatology and hydrology. Everything to do with the physical earth, atmosphere and climate are included in the study of earth science.
- Physics is the study of matter and energy. Engineering of any kind is based in the principles of physics.
- Chemistry studies chemicals and their interactions with one another. Biochemistry and geochemistry are subsets of this, focusing on the chemistry of living things and the chemistry of rocks, soil and water, respectively.
- Social sciences studies human beings and how they interact with each other and the environment. Social science majors offered at Southern New Hampshire University include our online sociology degree and anthropology degree online.
Collectively, these fields ensure that you are well-versed in the ways that the earth, and all elements of it intersect. You'll study the earth's living and non-living elements, and how all things relating to matter and energy intersect. You can also study how human populations affect and are affected by changes in the environment.
But, you won't stop there. "Students with an environmental science major have the chance to combine this core education with engagement in experiential learning opportunities that go beyond the classroom," said Dr. Kelly Thrippleton-Hunter, technical program facilitator for science at SNHU. "This provides them with additional skill sets, opportunities, and knowledge to help each student meet their own unique career goals."
How hard is an environmental science degree?
Studying the environment, climate change and how humans play a major part in the health of our planet is exciting. Protecting the planet is a noble career. To succeed in this major, it helps to feel comfortable with science as a whole. Your study will include the study of geology, chemistry, biology and physics.
Because of the interdisciplinary nature of this degree, you will also learn writing and communication skills. You will also learn math and statistics. This makes a well-rounded education that positions you to do great work in whichever career you ultimately choose.
"Students can tailor their experience by incorporating experiential learning courses, internships and volunteer opportunities into their learning paths," said Dr. Kelly Thrippleton-Hunter, technical program facilitator for science at SNHU. "This makes the learning even more fun while also allowing you to gain desirable skills that fits with your unique career goals," she said.
Can you get an environmental science degree online?
Yes! An online environmental science degree is a great way to learn about the natural world right where you are. Through online learning, you set the pace. Complete your work when and where it works best for you. Your fieldwork will be right in your community. Through online learning, you can literally be in the field while you learn about environmental issues around the world.
Many students at Southern New Hampshire University are working adults who are already employed in the field but need a degree to advance. Or, they are stay-at-home parents who are looking to enter the workforce. Or maybe they are students who were sidetracked by a variety of circumstances and are coming back to complete an unfinished degree.
"The online platform of this program provides our students with the flexibility they need to earn their degree and, best of all, allows them to make a difference in the world," said Dr. Kelly Thrippleton-Hunter, technical program facilitator for science at SNHU.
At SNHU, being online doesn't mean hands off. Jill Nugent, associate dean of science for online STEM programs, said that through a partnership between the SNHU Arboretum and online science programs, students will "have access to specialized tools and technology to generate data. SNHU students around the globe are able to access data and conduct meaningful research."
Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit institution accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) as well as several other accrediting bodies.
Sources & Citations (1, 2)
1 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, on the internet, at:
- https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/environmental-scientists-and-specialists.htm (viewed June 11, 2020)
- https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/geoscientists.htm (viewed April 6, 2020)
Cited projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth.
2 According to more than 9,200 SNHU online students in survey responses from the fall of 2019.