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College of Agricultural and Life Sciences

Environmental Sciences

Requirements for the Major

CALS students: Department of Soil Science, 263 Soils Building, 1525 Observatory Drive, Madison, WI 53706; envirosci.cals.wisc.edu

L&S students: Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, 1225 West Dayton Street, Room 849, Madison, WI 53706

The environmental sciences major satisfies the growing demand among entry-level students for a rigorous, science-based program that promotes critical thinking and emphasizes environmental problem solving in service to society. The program is designed to prepare graduates who will be highly competitive for entry-level positions in nonprofit and private sectors, and for master’s programs and doctoral research programs in environmental fields. Possible career paths include environmental monitoring, consulting, education, research, and planning, as well as natural resource management, ecology restoration, remediation, water and air quality assessment, sustainability practices, and more. Undergraduates in environmental sciences prepare for a variety of career and graduate school opportunities that require a strong background in the natural sciences. Foundational course work in the major includes calculus, biology, chemistry, and physics. Core and elective course work is fulfilled through diverse offerings from both the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, and the College of Letters & Science.

The environmental sciences major can be earned in either the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) or the College of Letters & Science (L&S) under the Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts degree program; a B.A. option is offered through L&S only. Students are encouraged to review the degree requirements for both L&S and CALS and choose the college from which they would prefer to earn their degree; students may choose only one degree "home."

  • In CALS, the major is housed administratively in the Department of Soil Science.
  • In L&S, the major is housed administratively in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

The major can be taken as a stand-alone major or as a double-major with a variety of other majors on campus including environmental studies, life sciences communication, agronomy, soil science, landscape architecture, foreign language/culture, and a number of other disciplines.

Up-to-date information, curriculum, and requirements are posted at envirosci.cals.wisc.edu. Students are encouraged to contact Kathryn Jones (608-807-7391, kjones26@wisc.edu) to set up initial meetings, before declaring with either college.

Requirements for the Major

The basic requirements for the major include 8–14 credits of mathematics, 8–12 credits of chemistry, 10 credits of biology, and 8–10 credits of physics. Another 29 (minimum) credits are required in the major foundation, core, elective, and capstone categories.

All L&S students must fulfill the L&S requirement of at least 15 credits of upper-level work in the major completed in residence.

Required Courses
Environmental Sciences Major Requirements

Courses may not double count within the major (unless specifically noted otherwise), but courses counted toward the major requirements may also be used to satisfy a university requirement and/or a college requirement.  A minimum of 15 credits must be completed in the major that are not used elsewhere.

Mathematics and Statistics (8–14 cr)

This major requires calculus. Prerequisites may need to be taken before enrollment in calculus. Refer to the Course Guide for information about calculus prerequisites.

Math 211 or [171 and 217] or 221 (Math 221 is recommended.)
Stat 224 or 301 or 302 or 309 or 311 or 371

Chemistry (8–12 cr)

Chem [103 and 104] or Chem 109
Chem 341 or 343 or 561 or consult advisor to request permission to count a different course.

Biology (10 cr)

One (1) of the following sets:
Biology/Botany/Zoology 151 and 152
Botany 130 and Zoology 101 and Zoology 102
Biocore 381 and 382 and 383 and 384

Physics (8–10 cr)

One of the following sets:
Physics 207 and 208 (recommended)
Physics 103 and 104
Physics 201 and 202

Foundation

One course in Fundamentals of Environmental Science from: Envir St 126, Envir St 127, Geog 120, Geog 127, Geosci 106, Soil Sci 230, or consult the Environmental Science Committee to request permission to count a different course.

Core (12–16 cr)

At least 3 credits required from each of the following four subsets:

Ecology: Agronomy 370, Botany 435, 460*, Entom 342, 450, 451,473, Envir St 510, F&W Ecol 360, 550, 551, 565, Hort 334 335, Land Arc 361, Zoology 315, 316, 511
*This is the introduction to ecology course recommended for most students.
Physical Environment: Atm Ocn 310, 323, 520, 535, BSE 364, 365, 367, 460, 571, Civ Engr 310, 424, 311, 320, 423, 424, Geog 320, 321, 325, 329, 331, 332, 338, 524, Geosci 304, 375, 627, Pop Hlth 502, Soil Sci 301, 321, 324, 451, 532
Geospatial Sciences: Agronomy 300, Civ Engr 655, Civ Engr 357/Geog 377, Comp Sci 301, Geog 360, 370, 378, F&W Ecol 375/Envir St 401, Geosci 371, 444, Soil Sci 695
Environmental Policy & Social Perspectives: AAE 244, 336, 343, Chem 201, C&E Soc 248, 434, 540, 541, Envir St 368, 439, 441, Geog 339, 460, 537, Geosci 410, 411, Med Hist 513, Poli Sci 446, Urb R Pl 449, or consult advisor to request permission to count a different course.

Environmental Sciences Electives (12 credits)

Students must complete 12 credits of Environmental Sciences Electives and will choose 1 of 2 possible paths to completion.

Path 1—Distributed Electives: Students choosing the Distributed Electives path must complete a total of 12 credits of Environmental Sciences Electives, including at least 1 course from each category below:
Ecology: Agronomy 370, Botany 455, 460*, Entom 342, 450, 451, 473, Envir St 510, F&W Ecol 360, 550, 551, 565, 660, Hort 334, 335, Land Arc 361, Zoology 315., 316, 511
*This is the introduction to ecology course recommended for most students.
Physical Environment: Atm Ocn 310, 323, 520, 535, BSE 364, 365, 367, 460, 571, Civ Engr 311, 320, 423, 424, Geog 320, 321, 325, 329, 331, 332, 338, 524, Geosci 304, 375, 627, Pop Hlth 502, Soil Sci 301, 321, 324, 451, 532
Geospatial Information Sciences: Agronomy 300, Civ Engr 655, Civ Engr 357/Geog 377, Geog 360, 370, 378, 560, 577, 578, 579, F&W Ecol 375/Envir St 401, Geosci 372, 444, Soil Sci 695

Path 2—Focused Electives: Students choosing the Focused Electives path must complete a total of 12 credits of Environmental Sciences Electives from one of the following categories:
Ecology: Agronomy 370, 455, Botany 460*, Entom 342, 450, 451, 473, Envir St 510, F&W Ecol 360, 550, 551, 565, 660, Land Arc Hort 334, 335, 361, Zoology 315., 316, 511
*This is the introduction to ecology course recommended for most students.
Physical Environment: Atm Ocn 310, 323, 520, 535, BSE 364, 365, 367, 460, 571, Civ Engr, 311, 320, 423, 424, Geog 320, 321, 325, 329, 331, 332, 338, 524, Geosci 304, 375, 627, Pop Hlrh 502, Soil Sci 301, 321, 324, 451, 532
Geospatial Sciences: Agronomy 300, Civ Engr 655, Civ Engr 357/Geog 377, Geog 360, 370, 378, 560, 577, 578, 579, F&W Ecol 375/Envir St 401, Geosci 372, 444, Soil Sci 695
Environmental Policy & Social Perspectives: AAE 244, 336, 343, Chem 201, C&E Soc 248, 434, 540, 541, Envir St 368, 439, 441, Geog 339, 460, 537, Geosci 410, 411, Med Hist 513, Poli Sci 446, Urb R Pl 449, or consult advisor to request permission to count a different course.

Individually Approved Elective Focus Area

Students may propose to complete their Environmental Science Elective credits in another focus area not listed here. Must be approved by the student’s advisor and the Environmental Sciences Executive Committee.

Capstone (2–6 cr)

Students must complete one of the preapproved capstone courses listed below or at least 3 credits of internship (399), senior thesis (691and 692), senior honors thesis (681 and 682), or independent research (699) with a clear and recognizable focus on environmental science in one of the following departments: Landscape Architecture, Soil Science, Agronomy, Forest and Wildlife Ecology, Geosciences, Geography.  Courses (or course sections) that have been preapproved at this time include capstone courses in Landscape Architecture (Land Arc 551 or 666), Soil Science (Soil Sci 499 or Envir St 461 or 575 or F&W Ecol 652), Agronomy (Agron500), and Forest & Wildlife Ecology (F&W Ecol 590 or 599 or 375). Permission to count courses not on this list may be requested via the student's ES academic advisor and must be approved by the ES Executive Committee and the Office of Academic Affairs.  Although capstone course requirements are currently not required in the college of L&S, all ES majors will still be required to meet a capstone requirement.

Course must meet CALS capstone characteristics described in the Undergraduate Catalog and be approved by advisor and 116 Agricultural Hall.