Environmental Science

Program Features

Environmental science is the study of the impact of human systems on our natural environment and how in turn these natural systems affect the human environment.

Whether it's studying global climate change or researching tropical deforestation, students in Xavier's program take steps toward solving environmental problems to help make the world a more sustainable place.

What is environmental science?

Environmental science is the study of environmental processes, humans’ relationship to the environment and solutions to environmental issues.

It is an interdisciplinary academic field that integrates biology, botany, chemistry, ecology, engineering, geography, geology, information systems, physics and social sciences.

At the undergraduate level, environmental science programs focus on:

  • Creating awareness for environmental problems at the local, national and global level
  • Understanding the impacts of human activity and development on the environment
  • Discovering sustainable ways of living
  • Using natural resources effectively

At the graduate level, environmental science curriculums allow students to study and research chosen areas of interest within the environmental science academic field.

Why is environmental science important?
The environment is part of everyday life. It affects the weather, biodiversity, health, economies, policies and more. The increasing complexity of environmental issues creates a need for scientists to study them and find solutions.

Environmental science is important because it illuminates the relationship between human actions and environmental consequences. It focuses on finding solutions to environmental issues like climate change, pollution, natural resources and more.

What can you do with an environmental science degree?

Careers in environmental science vary widely. Jobs include environmental researchers, environmental scientists, environment-focused policy makers, environmental educators and communications professionals. People with environmental science degrees may also work as environmental consultants for private companies.

Individuals with environmental science degrees also have jobs in federal government agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Park Service and the U.S. Geological Survey. Many also go on to earn graduate and doctoral degrees in environmental science, environmental engineering or urban forestry.

98% of students from Xavier's undergraduate Sustainability & the Environment programs, including environmental science, are working, volunteering or in graduate school within six months of graduating. Find more information about our career placement rates on our Student Outcomes Page.

What is the average salary for someone with an environmental science degree?

Average salaries vary widely because there are many career paths available to individuals with an environmental science degree. Careers span from administrative work to lab research, field work, non-profit work and work in the private sector.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for U.S. environmental scientists and specialists in 2018 was $71,180. The Bureau estimates an increase for job openings in this field in the future as well.

Why does someone decide to study environmental science?

Students enroll in environmental science programs because they are fascinated by science and passionate about nature and conservation. Many students feel at home outdoors and enjoy activities like hiking, camping, fishing, kayaking and rock climbing.

Students also choose environmental science because they want a career that allows them to help solve environmental challenges and have a positive impact on the environment. A degree in environmental sciences opens up possibilities for these kinds of jobs and more.

What jobs can you get with an environmental science degree?
There are many different job possibilities with an environmental science degree. While some students pursue post-graduate work in environmental studies, others enter the work force after earning their undergraduate degree. Here are a few popular job possibilities and industries for people with environmental science degrees: 
Job Possibilities:
  • Sustainability consultant
  • Sustainability coordinator
  • Environmental researcher
  • Environmental scientist
  • Environment-focused policy maker
  • Environmental educator
  • Field researcher
  • Field guide
  • Communications professional
  • Sales coordinator
  • Activities program coordinator
Industries:
  • Non-profit
  • Corporate
  • Communications
  • Governmental agencies
  • Renewable resource technologies
  • Sales
  • Graduate and doctoral studies
  •  
What kind of internships are available for environmental science majors?

Many students find internships at government agencies like the National Park Service, the Environmental Protection Agency or the National Science Foundation. Others find internships at private companies and non-profits focused on environmental issues.

It is also possible to gain experience through work-study programs on campus. Many colleges and universities have sustainability departments and programs and may be looking for student workers.

How much does the program cost?

Find a complete tuition breakdown on our Undergraduate Tuition and Aid website.

Are there any financial aid or scholarships available?

Yes. Nearly all incoming Xavier students receive financial assistance each year through grants, loans, work study opportunities and scholarships or a combination of these. The average incoming first-year student receives $22,210 in merit scholarships and grants. Find out more about financial aid opportunities, scholarships and grants on our Undergraduate Tuition and Aid website.

Are there any high school classes that will help prepare someone for an environmental science degree?

Yes. Students in high school who are interested in pursuing an undergraduate degree in environmental science should look into taking as many science and math classes as possible, including chemistry, physics, biology, algebra, geometry, trigonometry and calculus. Courses in English, communications and computer programming can also be useful.

What is the difference between environmental science and ecology?

Environmental science is a broad field that incorporates many different academic subjects, including ecology, social sciences, geography and economics. Ecology is a narrower academic field that focuses specifically on the interaction between organisms and their surroundings. Here are a few of the key differences:

Environmental Science:

  • Focus on conservation
  • Is an interdisciplinary academic field, incorporating many academic subjects (including ecology)
  • takes knowledge gained from ecology and applies it to things like waste management, conservation, renewable energies, etc.

Ecology:

  • Focus on interactions between living and non-living organisms in an environment
  • is a narrow academic field
  • is a component of environmental science

Curriculum

The sample course sequence below illustrates class offerings for the Environmental Science major. Consult the official Xavier University course catalog for detailed registration and advising information.

Fall

  • Biology 160: General Biology I............ 3cr.
  • Biology 161: General Biology I Lab............ 1cr.
  • Chemistry 160: General Chemistry I............ 3cr.
  • Chemistry 161: General Chemistry I Lab............ 1cr.
  • Core 100: First-Year Seminar or Theology 111............ 3cr.
  • English101 or 115: Composition or Rhetoric............ 3cr.
  • Core 101: GOA............ 0cr.

Spring

  • Biology 162: General Biology II............ 3cr.
  • Biology 163: General Biology II Lab............ 1cr.
  • Chemistry 162: General Chemistry II............ 3cr.
  • Chemistry 163: General Chemistry II Lab............ 1cr.
  • Core 100: First-Year Seminar or Theology 111............ 3cr.
  • Philosophy 100: Ethics as Intro............ 3cr.
  • Core 102: GOA............ 0cr.

Fall

  • Biology 250: Ecology............ 3cr.
  • Biology 251: Ecology Lab............ 1cr.
  • Mathematics 140/150 or Mathematics 156............ 3cr.
  • Historical Perspectives Elective............ 3cr.
  • English 205: Lit & the Moral Imagination............ 3cr.
  • Second Language I............ 3cr.

Spring

  • Biology 260: Intro Environmental Science (DCR)............ 3cr.
  • Biology 261: Intro Environmental Science Lab............ 1cr.
  • ENVS - Non Science Elective............ 3cr.
  • Economics 200: Microeconomics............ 3cr.
  • Theological Perspectives Elective............ 3cr.
  • Second Language II............ 3cr.

Fall

  • Physics 160: College Physics............ 3cr.
  • Physics 161: Introductory Physics Lab I............ 1cr.
  • Math or Science Elective............ 3cr.
  • Philosophy 200: Philosophical Perspectives Elective............ 3cr.
  • ENVS - None Science Elective*............ 3cr.
  • Math 140/150 or Math 156............ 3cr.

Spring

  • Physics 162: College Physics............ 3cr.
  • Physics 163: Introductory Physics Lab I............ 1cr.
  • Humanities Elective............ 3cr.
  • Social Science or General Elective............ 3cr.
  • General Elective............ 3cr.

Fall

  • Biology 495, 497 or 498: Internship/Methods BR I............ 2cr.
  • Science or Math Elective............ 5cr.
  • Economics 320: Natural Resource Economics E/RS............ 3cr.
  • General Elective (DCR)............ 3cr.
  • General Elective............ 3cr.

Spring

  • Biology 495, 496 or 499: Internship/Methods BR II............ 2cr.
  • Biology 398: Environmental Studies Seminar............ 3cr.
  • Science or Math Elective............ 3cr.
  • E/RS Course............ 3cr.
  • General Elective............ 3cr.

Sample Courses

Xavier is known for providing an education that's both challenging and personal. Here are some courses that are part of the Environmental Science major at Xavier:

Ecology (BIOL 250) - The relationships between organisms and their living and non-living environments.

Intro to Environmental Science (BIOL 260) - In this introductory course, students will examine how natural and human activities alter natural ecosystems resulting in environmental problems at both local and global scales. Students will be introduced to concepts of sustainability and solutions for current and future environmental problems that humanity will encounter.

Methods of Biol Research I (BIOL 498) - Development of a research project emphasizing experimental design, controls, gathering and interpreting experimental data from living organisms. Projects vary depending on faculty advisor. Intended for Seniors.

Natural Resource Economics (ECON 320) - Economic analysis of managing the environment and allocating natural resources. Historical roots and ethical consequences of existing problems and policies are explored.

Clubs

Xavier Student Sustainability Club

Xavier Student Sustainability (XSS) provides students with opportunities to actively promote environmental initiatives on Xavier's campus and in the surrounding communities. Ongoing projects include move-in day recycling, office composting and educational events.

Animals, People & The Environment at Xavier

Animal lovers in this club host monthly events that advocate for animal rights. They also educate the wider Xavier community about animal rights and its impact on people and the environment.

All Xavier Clubs

Outcomes

98% of students from Xavier's undergraduate Sustainability & the Environment programs, including Environmental Science, are working, volunteering or in graduate school within six months of graduating.

Top Jobs: Account Executive, Chemical Safety & Regulatory Specialist, Earthlinks Program Assistant, Independent Care Provider, Operations Manager, Solar Sales Supervisor

Top Companies: U.S. Army, Monroe County Environmental Health Department, Urban Servant Corps, Crossroad Health Center, Indianapolis Zoo, Visionworks of America, Boy Scouts of America

Explore Xavier Alumni Outcomes

All for one

Xavier is ranked #1 for its excellent academic reputation among top competitors in the region. Students get the most out of their education, from rigorous classroom studies to experiential learning in the real world.

Campus Sustainability

Xavier's Jesuit tradition promotes the ongoing welfare of our community. Our campus is designed and constructed to meet and exceed U.S. Green Building Council's LEED silver standards.


Campus Sustainability Plan

Professional Mentors

Our students have the opportunity to connect with a mentor through our Career Services office. Students get matched to find guidance, support and career connections.


Mentor Program

Holistic Education

Solving environmental problems requires good science but also an understanding of economics, politics, physics and math. Xavier’s liberal arts curriculum allows students to explore many topics.


Environmental Science Major at Xavier University

Whether the issue is global climate change, tropical deforestation, or invasive plant species, public concern over environmental issues is on the rise. With this understanding comes the need for informed and educated individuals to play key leadership roles to find solutions to these and many other environmental problems. Xavier University recognizes its responsibility in training the next generation of environmental professionals and is proud to offer an interdisciplinary Environmental Science major.

Xavier University’s College of Arts and Sciences challenges students to develop an integrated understanding of humanity, the world, and God by pursuing the questions raised in Xavier's core and departmental curricula. The College of Arts and Sciences is the oldest and largest college at Xavier University. The college provides an excellent liberal arts education in the Jesuit tradition that prepares students for careers, professional or graduate school, and life in a global society.

Xavier University is a private university located in Cincinnati, Ohio, providing a liberal arts education in the Jesuit Catholic tradition. Founded in 1831, the University is the sixth-oldest Catholic university in the nation. It has been ranked among the top 10 master's-level universities in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report for the past two decades. The Princeton Review names it one of the "Best 385 Colleges in America."