Environmental Sciences Major

The major in Environmental Sciences has two tracks: one in science (Science Track) and one in economic policy (Policy Track). The tracks share foundation courses in science and math, and the core curriculum. Advanced coursework differs by track.

Students plan their academic paths with an environmental sciences adviser. Many foundation courses are prerequisites for advanced courses and should be completed as soon as possible. Students envisioning graduate training are specifically encouraged to take additional math and/or the General Physics sequence. Students interested in medical professions and environmental biology are advised to take the full 200-level sequence in biological sciences and two additional quarters of organic chemistry.

Students must also complete the Undergraduate Registration Requirement and the degree requirements of their home school.

Major Requirements: Program Courses (11 units)

3 Core Environmental Science Courses at the 200-Level

Course Title
Earth: A Habitable Planet
The Health of the Biosphere
Humans and the Environment

8 Advanced Studies Courses

Advanced studies courses differ by the chosen track. In both the science track and the policy track at least 6 of the required 8 advanced studies courses must be at the 300-level. See the Advanced Studies Course Lists below for lists of approved courses. See the Environmental Sciences webpage for updates to these lists. Students who double-major in economics and environmental sciences are encouraged to do the science track in environmental sciences, and must take extra 300-level economics classes to fulfill the requirements for both majors.

Science Track Advanced Studies Course Requirements

Policy Track Advanced Studies Course Requirements

Major Requirements: Foundations in Science and Math (9.68-12.38 units)

Required Math and Chemistry Courses

Students should complete all of the following math and chemistry courses in their first two years. Total units depend on math sequence taken. Courses may double-count with another major or minor.

Course Title
MATH 220-1Single-Variable Differential Calculus
or MATH 218-1
MATH 218-2
Single-Variable Calculus with Precalculus
and Single-Variable Calculus with Precalculus
MATH 220-2Single-Variable Integral Calculus
or MATH 218-3 Single-Variable Calculus with Precalculus
CHEM 131-0
CHEM 141-0
CHEM 132-0
CHEM 142-0
General Chemistry 1
and General Chemistry Laboratory 1
and General Chemistry 2
and General Chemistry Laboratory 2 (Pre-requisite: CHEM 110-0)
or CHEM 151-0
CHEM 161-0
CHEM 152-0
CHEM 162-0
Accelerated General Chemistry 1
and Accelerated General Chemistry Laboratory 1
and Accelerated General Chemistry 2
and Accelerated General Chemistry Laboratory 2
or CHEM 171-0
CHEM 181-0
CHEM 172-0
CHEM 182-0
Advanced General Inorganic Chemistry
and Advanced General Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory
and Advanced General Physical Chemistry
and Advanced General Physical Chemistry Laboratory

5 Additional Related Math and Science Courses

Students must take 5 courses (and their associated lab, if applicable) from the following options, with at least 2 from the same group. Required labs do not count toward the 5-course total; however, if all three biological sciences labs are taken, they can collectively count toward one of the 5 required courses.

Course Title
BIOL_SCI 201-0Molecular Biology
BIOL_SCI 202-0Cell Biology (with required lab BIOL_SCI 232-0)
BIOL_SCI 203-0Genetics and Evolution (with required lab BIOL_SCI 233-0)
BIOL_SCI 232-0
BIOL_SCI 233-0
BIOL_SCI 234-0
Molecular and Cellular Processes Laboratory
and Genetics and Molecular Processes Laboratory
and Investigative Laboratory
CHEM 215-1
CHEM 235-1
Organic Chemistry I
and Organic Chemistry Lab I
CHEM 215-2
CHEM 235-2
Organic Chemistry II
and Organic Chemistry Lab II
ECON 201-0Introduction to Macroeconomics
ECON 202-0Introduction to Microeconomics
GEN_ENG 205-1Engineering Analysis I
MATH 230-1Multivariable Differential Calculus
MATH 240-0Linear Algebra (Pre-requisite: MATH 230-1)
MATH 250-0Elementary Differential Equations (Pre-requisites: MATH 226-0, MATH 230-2 and MATH 240-0)
General Physics
and General Physics Laboratory
General Physics
and General Physics Laboratory
General Physics
and General Physics Laboratory
STAT 202-0Introduction to Statistics and Data Science
or STAT 210-0 Introduction to Probability and Statistics

Advanced Studies Course Lists

Approved courses for the advanced studies course requirements may be selected from the below Science List and Environment and Society List, dependent on track requirements outlined above.

Science List

Course Title
ANTHRO 306-0Evolution of Life Histories
ANTHRO 312-0Human Population Biology
ANTHRO 314-0Human Growth & Development
ANTHRO 390-0Topics In Anthropology 1
BIOL_SCI 301-0Principles of Biochemistry
BIOL_SCI 328-0Microbiology
BIOL_SCI 332-0Conservation Genetics
BIOL_SCI 333-0Plant-Animal Interactions 2
BIOL_SCI 334-0Soils and the Environment: The Earth's Critical Zone
BIOL_SCI 336-0Spring Flora
BIOL_SCI 337-0Biostatistics
BIOL_SCI 339-0Critical Topics in Ecology and Conservation
BIOL_SCI 341-0Population Genetics
BIOL_SCI 342-0Evolutionary Processes
BIOL_SCI 346-0Field Ecology
BIOL_SCI 347-0Conservation Biology
BIOL_SCI 349-0Community Ecology
BIOL_SCI 350-0Plant Evolution and Diversity Lab
CHEM 306-0Environmental Chemistry
CHEM 342-1Thermodynamics
CHEM 342-2Quantum Mechanics and Spectroscopy
CHEM 393-0Green Chemistry
CHEM_ENG 345-0Process Optimization for Energy and Sustainability
CHEM_ENG 365-0Sustainability, Technology, and Society
CHEM_ENG 367-0Quantitative Methods in Life Cycle Analysis
CIV_ENV 260-0Environmental Systems and Processes
CIV_ENV 295-0Introductory topics in Civil and Environmental Engineering 1
CIV_ENV 340-0Hydraulics and Hydrology
CIV_ENV 346-0Ecohydrology
CIV_ENV 358-0Airphoto Interpretation
CIV_ENV 361-1Environmental Microbiology
CIV_ENV 361-2Public & Environmental Health
CIV_ENV 363-0Environmental Engineering Applications 1: Air and Land
CIV_ENV 364-0Sustainable Water Systems
CIV_ENV 365-0Environmental Laboratory
CIV_ENV 367-0Chemical Processes in Aquatic Systems
CIV_ENV 370-0Emerging Organic Contaminants
CIV_ENV 371-0Introduction to Transportation Planning and Analysis
CIV_ENV 376-0Transportation System Operations
CIV_ENV 387-0Design of Sustainable Urban Developments
CIV_ENV 395-0Special Topics in Civil and Environmental Engrg 1
EARTH 201-0Earth Systems Revealed
EARTH 202-0Earth's Interior
EARTH 300-0Earth and Planetary Materials
EARTH 301-0Petrology: Evolution of Crustal and Mantle Rocks
EARTH 310-0Aqueous Geochemistry
EARTH 312-0Stable Isotope Geochemistry
EARTH 313-0Radiogenic Isotope Geochemistry
EARTH 314-0Organic Geochemistry
EARTH 330-0Sedimentary Geology
EARTH 331-0Field Problems in Sedimentary Geology
EARTH 340-0Physics of Weather & Climate
EARTH 341-0Quaternary Climate Change: Ice Ages to the Age of Oil
EARTH 342-0Contemporary Energy and Climate Change
EARTH 343-0Earth System Modeling
EARTH 353-0Mathematical Inverse Methods in Earth and Environmental Sciences
EARTH 360-0Instrumentation and Field Methods
EARTH 361-0Scientific Programming in Python
EARTH 362-0Data Analysis for Earth and Planetary Sciences
EARTH 370-0Geobiology
EARTH 371-0Biogeochemistry
EARTH 373-0Microbial Ecology
EARTH 390-0Special Topics in Earth and Planetary Science 1
ENVR_SCI 390-0Special Topics in Environmental Sciences
GEOG 211-0World Biogeography
GEOG 313-0North America
GEOG 341-0Principles of Cartography
ISEN 210-0Introduction to Sustainability: Challenges and Solutions
ISEN 220-0Introduction to Energy Systems for the 21st Century
ISEN 390-0Special Topics in Energy & Sustainability 1
MECH_ENG 241-0Fluid Mechanics I
MECH_ENG 367-0Quantitative Methods in Life Cycle Analysis
MECH_ENG 380-0Thermal Energy Systems Design
MECH_ENG 395-0Special Topics in Mechanical Engineering 1

Approved sections only.


Take as ENVR_SCI 390-0

Environment and Society List

Course Title
ANTHRO 383-0Environmental Anthropology
ANTHRO 390-0Topics In Anthropology 1
CIV_ENV 303-0Environmental Law and Policy
CIV_ENV 349-0Environmental Management
CIV_ENV 368-0Sustainability: The City
CIV_ENV 395-0Special Topics in Civil and Environmental Engrg 1
EARTH 390-0Special Topics in Earth and Planetary Science 1
ECON 281-0Introduction to Applied Econometrics
ECON 310-1Microeconomics
ECON 371-0Economics of Energy
ECON 372-0Environmental Economics
ECON 373-0Natural Resource Economics
ENVR_POL 211-0Food and Society: An Introduction
ENVR_POL 212-0Environment and Society
ENVR_POL 261-0American Religion, Ecology and Culture
ENVR_POL 309-0American Environmental History
ENVR_POL 311-0Food, Politics and Society
ENVR_POL 312-0Social Change and the Environment
ENVR_POL 336-0The Climate Crisis, Policies, and Society
ENVR_POL 340-0Global Environments and World History
ENVR_POL 356-0Native Americans and Environmental Decision Making
ENVR_POL 390-0Special Topics in Environmental Policy and Culture
ENVR_POL 395-0Special Topics Seminar 1
GEOG 312-0Geography of Chicago & Its Region
GEOG 313-0North America
GEOG 240-0Economic Geography
GEOG 328-0The Human Use of the Earth
GBL_HLTH 201-0Introduction to Global Health
GBL_HLTH 302-0Global Bioethics
GBL_HLTH 325-0History of Reproductive Health
GBL_HLTH 390-0Special Topics in Global Health 1
HISTORY 200-0New Introductory Courses in History 1
HISTORY 251-0The Politics of Disaster: A Global Environmental History
HISTORY 300-0New Lectures in History 1
HISTORY 309-0American Environmental History
HISTORY 376-0Global Environments and World History
HISTORY 395-0Research Seminar 1
ISEN 230-0Climate Change and Sustainability: Ethical Dimensions
ISEN 390-0Special Topics in Energy & Sustainability
PHIL 254-0Introduction to Philosophy of the Natural Sciences
PHIL 262-0Ethical Problems and Public Issues
PHIL 268-0Ethics and the Environment
PHIL 269-0Bioethics
PHIL 270-0Climate Change and Sustainability: Economic and Ethical Dimensions
PHIL 390-0Special Topics In Philosophy 1
POLI_SCI 329-0U.S. Environmental Politics
POLI_SCI 349-0International Environmental Politics
RELIGION 261-0American Religion, Ecology and Culture
SOCIOL 212-0Environment and Society
SOCIOL 276-0Introductory Topics in Sociology 1
SOCIOL 301-0The City: Urbanization and Urbanism
SOCIOL 305-0Population Dynamics
SOCIOL 311-0Food, Politics and Society
SOCIOL 312-0Social Change and the Environment
SOCIOL 336-0The Climate Crisis, Policies, and Society

Approved sections only.

Honors in Environmental Sciences

Students with strong academic records and an interest in pursuing honors should approach a faculty member by the end of junior year to discuss possible projects; these may involve field, experimental, or computational research. Research is completed during a minimum 2 quarters of ENVR_SCI 399-0 Independent Study, which may count toward major requirements. Students then prepare a written thesis. Those whose theses and grades meet program criteria are recommended to the college for graduation with honors. For more information consult the program director and see Honors in the Major.