Environment and Sustainability / Undergraduate Study

Environmental Science BS

Capstone Major

The Environmental Science major is a designated capstone major. In collaboration with a local agency or nonprofit institution, students work individually and in groups to complete projects that require them to integrate many of the skills, principles, theories, and concepts they have learned throughout the curriculum and apply them to real systems. Students are expected to contribute meaningfully to the analysis and solution of particular environmental science issues involving multiple disciplines and stakeholders with different perspectives. Those completing the major should possess critical thinking skills, problem-solving abilities, and familiarity with essential computational, data collection, and analysis skills, as well as demonstrate effective oral and written communication skills. Graduates should also be able to identify key ethical issues and analyze the consequences of various professional dilemmas, as well as work productively as part of a team.

The Environmental Science BS program represents strong collaboration between the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability and the departments of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences; Civil and Environmental Engineering; Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences; Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Environmental Health Sciences; and Geography. The program is designed for students who are deeply interested in the study of environmental science. There are two components to the program, and both must be completed to receive the degree. The first component, the Environmental Science major, requires completion of lower-division requirements grounded in basic natural sciences, a five-course upper-division environmental science requirement reflecting the disciplinary breadth of environmental science, three social sciences/humanities courses, participation in a sustainability-focused speaker series, and completion of an environmental science practicum. The second component is a minor or concentration in one of seven environmental science areas, each associated with a particular department. With assistance from IoES staff, students must formally apply to and be accepted by the associated department to receive the minor.

Learning Outcomes

The Environmental Science major has the following learning outcomes:

  • Ability to apply theories or concepts from coursework to analysis of issues in the field
  • Ability to make meaningful contribution to analysis and solution of particular issues involving multiple disciplines and stakeholders with different perspectives
  • Critical thinking skills, problem-solving abilities, and familiarity with computational and data collection and analysis procedures essential to the field
  • Ability to identify ethical issues raised by a particular issue
  • Ability to analyze the consequences of various professional dilemmas
  • Ability to work productively with others as part of a team
  • Effective oral and written communication skills

Preparation for the Major

Required: Chemistry 14A, 14B, and 14BL (or 20A, 20B, and 20L), Environment 10, Geography 7, Life Sciences 7A, 7B, Mathematics 3A and 3B (or 31A and 31B, or Life Sciences 30A and 30B), Physics 5A and 5C (or 1A and 1B), Statistics 12 or 13 (or Life Sciences 40).

For the atmospheric and oceanic sciences minor: Chemistry and Biochemistry 14C (or 30A) or Mathematics 3C (or 32A) or Physics 1C (or 5B) is also required.

For the conservation biology minor: Chemistry and Biochemistry 14C (or 30A) or Life Sciences 7C and 23L is also required.

For the Earth and environmental science minor: Chemistry and Biochemistry 14C (or 30A) or Mathematics 3C (or 32A) or Physics 1C (or 5B), Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences 1, and one course from 5, 13, 15, or 61 are also required.

For the environmental engineering minor: Mathematics 3C (or 32A) is also required.

For the environmental health concentration: Chemistry and Biochemistry 14C (or 30A) is also required.

For the environmental systems and society minor: one course from Chemistry and Biochemistry 14C (or 30A), Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences 1, Life Sciences 7C (and 23L), Mathematics 3C (or 32A), and Physics 5B (or 1C) is also required.

For the geography/environmental studies minor: one course from Chemistry and Biochemistry 14C (or 30A), Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences 1, Life Sciences 7C (and 23L), Mathematics 3C (or 32A), and Physics 5B (or 1C), plus Geography 5 and one course from 1, 2, 3, 4, or 6 are also required. Students should take these courses before enrolling in upper-division courses.

Each course applied toward requirements for preparation for the major must be passed with a grade of C− or better. Students receiving a grade below C− in two courses, either in separate courses or repetitions of the same course, are subject to dismissal from the major.

Transfer Students

Transfer applicants to the Environmental Science major with 90 or more units must complete as many of the following introductory courses as possible prior to admission to UCLA: two general chemistry courses with laboratory for majors, two general biology courses with laboratory for majors, two calculus courses, and two calculus-based physics courses.

Refer to the UCLA transfer admission guide for up-to-date information regarding transfer selection for admission.

The Major

The major consists of four requirements: physical and life science, social science and humanities, practicum/sustainability talks, and minor or concentration, as follows:

Physical and Life Sciences Requirements

Required: Environment 175 and found additional courses from the following physical and life sciences areas. No more than two courses may be from any one department. Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences 101, 102, 103, 104, M105, 107, 112, 130, 141, Chemical Engineering C118, Civil Engineering 153, 154, M166, Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences 101, C113, 119, 139, 150, 153, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology 100, 109, 116, 151A, 154, Environment 121, 157, Environmental Health Sciences 100, C125, C152D, C164, Geography 100, 102, 104, 105, M106, M107, 111, 113, M127, M131.

Social Sciences and Humanities Requirements

Required: Environment 140 and two courses from Environment M132, M133, M137, 150, M153, M155, 157, 159, 160, M161, 162, 163, M164, 166, M167, Geography M128, 135, M137, 150, M153, 156, Philosophy 125, Public Policy C115.

Practicum/Sustainability Talks Requirements

Required: Environment 180A, 180B, 180C, and two terms of 185A.

Minor and Concentration Requirements

A minimum of 20 units applied toward the minor requirements must be in addition to units applied toward major requirements or another minor. Successful completion of a minor is indicated on the transcript and diploma.

For the atmospheric and oceanic sciences minor: seven 4-unit courses, including (1) three from Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences M100, 101, 102, 103, 104, M105, M106, 107, C110, C115, M120, 130, 141, C144, 145, 150, 155, C160, C170, 180 and (2) four additional courses, two of which must be upper-division, from any of the above atmospheric and oceanic sciences courses beyond the minimum four required or from Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences 1, 2, 3, 186 (must be taken twice), Chemistry and Biochemistry 103, 110A, 110B, 113A, C113B, 114, Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences 15, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology 109, C119A, 122, 123A or 123B, 147, 148, Mathematics 115A, 115B, 132, 135, 136, 146, 170A, 170B, Physics 110A, 110B, 112, M122, 131, 132. Other relevant courses from related disciplines may be substituted with prior approval of the department. At least five courses approved for the minor must be upper-division. One course may be taken on a Passed/Not Passed basis.

For the conservation biology minor: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology 100, 116 (or Environment 121), and four to six courses from 100L, 101, 103, 105, 109, 109L, 111, 112, 114A, 114B, C119A, C119B, 122, M127, 129, M131, 142, 151A, 152, 153, 154, 155, 162, 162L, C174, 176, 180A, 180B, any courses associated with the Field Biology Quarter or the Marine Biology Quarter or approved equivalent, Geography 102, 104, M107, 113, M115, 131, 135 (a maximum of two Geography courses may be applied to the minor) are required.

For the Earth and environmental science minor: five courses from Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences 101, 112, C113, 139, 150, 153 are required.

For the environmental engineering minor: Civil Engineering 153 and five courses from Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences 141, Chemical Engineering 100, 101A, 101B, 101C 102A, 102B, 106, 113, C118, C119, C140, Civil Engineering 110, 150, 151, 152, 154, 155, 156A, 156B, 157A, 157B, 157C, 157L, M165, M166, Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences 101, C113, Environment M114, 134, M153, 157, 159, 166, Environmental Health Sciences C125, C152D, C164, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering 103, 105A, 105D, 133A, 136, 150A, 174, 182B, 182C are required. Credit for both Chemical Engineering 102A and Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering 105A is not allowed.

For the environmental health concentration: Epidemiology 100, two courses from Environmental Health Sciences 100, C135, C185A, C185B, and three courses from Chemistry and Biochemistry 153A, Environmental Health Sciences C125, C140, C152D, C157, C164, 203 are required.

For the environmental systems and society minor: seven courses from Environment M109, M111, 121, M130, M132, M133, 134, M135, M137, 150, M153, M155, 157, 159, 160, M161, 162, 163, M164, 166, M167, 186 are required.

For the geography/environmental studies minor: three courses from Geography M106, M107, M109, 110, 113, M115, 116, 122, 123, 124, 125, 126, M127, M128, 129, M131, 132, 135, M137, 159C, 159D, 159E, and any two additional upper-division geography courses (except those from the preceding list and courses 194 through 199) are required.

Each course applied toward requirements for the major, except Environment 185A, must be taken for a letter grade. Students must maintain an overall grade-point average of 2.0 (C) or better in all courses applied toward the major.

Honors Program

The honors program provides exceptional students an opportunity for advanced research and study, under the guidance of a faculty member, that leads to the completion of an honors thesis or research project. To qualify for graduation with honors, students must (1) complete all requirements for the major, (2) have a cumulative grade-point average of 3.5 or better in upper-division coursework in the major and an overall GPA of 3.0 or better, (3) complete at least 8 units of Environment 198 taken over at least two terms, and (4) produce a completed satisfactory honors thesis. The honors thesis or research project is in addition to the requirement of the completed practicum in environmental science project. Contact the student affairs officer for further information.