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Environmental Science program at Willamette University


Degrees Available: Bachelor of Arts & Bachelor of Science

Approach complex environmental issues and better understand human impact on the natural world by immersing yourself in natural and social sciences.

Become an Environmental Sciences major

Willamette University stands as the first environmental science program in the Pacific Northwest. Our program is devoted to enabling students to make meaningful contributions to the world around them. Our campus and facilities inspire students to turn their knowledge into action.

Zena Forest, a 305-acre area surrounding our campus, facilitates students in bridging classroom lectures with real-life experiences. With multiple habitats in Zena Forest including woodland, grassland, and wetland, your educational experience can easily take place outdoors.

Nearby, you'll find mountains, deserts, and the Oregon Coast, all in proximity to Willamette. This allows you to study environmental science and different ecosystems up close. Instead of lectures, you'll have a chance to visit different locations and apply your knowledge onsite. These experiences, combined with your finely honed environmental ethos, will prepare you for a wide range of career options.

As one of the best environmental science schools in the Pacific Northwest, we focus on preparing our students for the future. Your educational experience will help you stand out from the competition. It will open doors to a variety of careers including research, education, forest management, government, law, and non-profit work.

Our environmental science program also allows you to focus on specific interests through concentrations. Dive into climate change, environmental geosciences, natural resource management, natural sciences and sustainability, or even environmental health. Regardless of which concentration you choose, you’ll enhance your problem-solving skills through all the courses within our major. All of our concentrations will allow you to dive into your passions and interests and focus on specific topics.

Faculty as passionate as you are

Our faculty members are experts in climate change, environmental geoscience, and public health. They've studied environmental health, natural resources management, geoarchaeology, spatial science, sustainability, and forest ecology. They are true experts in all things related to environmental science. Choose the areas that ignite your passion and watch the doors start to open.

There are ample opportunities to work closely with faculty on scientific research projects. In fact, all environmental science majors will complete two research-intensive courses. Students also can also take advantage of externally funded initiatives and dive deeper into subject matters they are interested in.

Students can also collaborate with professors through the science collaborative research program, and the liberal arts research collaborative, where students can gain professional experience before entering the job market. There are several opportunities to partner with faculty members during your research. Whether you have a question, need help working on your analysis, or simply want to workshop your hypothesis, you'll find support.

As one of Oregon’s top environmental science colleges, we support our students through a variety of initiatives. And with our proximity to the Oregon State Capitol, you can be at the forefront of politics and environmental science. Whatever opportunity you're looking for, our faculty members will help you find the right path.

Hands-on learning at Willamette University

Whether you pursue a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science in environmental science, you can expect hands-on learning. Experiential learning prepares students for a career beyond the classroom. By majoring in environmental science, you’ll have exposure to a variety of subjects including biology, chemistry, and even economics. To gain an understanding of what our environmental studies program covers, review the program requirements.

We also offer an environmental science minor as a way to experience the program. Students can expect similar courses and learning outcomes when they choose to minor in environmental science. Minoring is a great option for students who are eager to learn more about environmental science. You can even pair a minor with other coursework in chemistry, biology, history, or even politics.

Interested in what type of classes environmental science students can take? Consider learning more about epidemiology, social systems, environmental policymaking, climate change impacts, geomicrobiology, and several other relevant courses. You can also choose interesting electives like medical anthropology or environmental economics. There are plenty of courses to choose from if you choose to major or minor in environmental science.


Ella Ashford BS’25, BA’25

Ella Ashford BS’25, BA’25 takes passion for ocean conservation to NOAA

lla Ashford BS‘25, BA‘25 and Riley Forth BS‘25, BA‘25 recovering "ghost pots"

Recovering “ghost pots” to protect coastal ecosystems

Willamette University student studying in a lab

Willamette receives grant from Howard Hughes Medical Institute to advance inclusion in STEM

archaeological site in Athens showing ancient marble figure

Aerial technology breaks new ground in ancient Greece

Additional opportunities for science majors

Regardless of the science degree you pursue, Willamette University is eager to provide you with opportunities to succeed. We offer student awards and scholarships specifically designed for environmental science majors. In order to qualify for a scholarship, you must meet the requirements and demonstrate a high level of academic success.

Willamette students are also eligible to join Phi Beta Kappa, a selective national collegiate honor society available to 10% of colleges nationwide. Because Willamette is one of the best colleges for environmental science, your degree provides value long after you've graduated. And if you pair that with extracurricular programs, you can maximize your educational experience and learn through a variety of pathways.

Are you interested in studying outside the United States? You don’t have to limit yourself; Environmental science majors can easily study abroad without delaying their graduation time. Willamette has suggested study abroad programs that focus on your academic goals and interests. 

Pursue an Environmental Science Degree in Oregon

Starting a career in environmental science is easy. Willamette University offers hands-on experience that gets students interested in actionable research. By combining education with academic opportunities such as research projects, our students are prepared for a future after college. Our goal is to provide our students with strong problem-solving skills and real-life experience to succeed in their careers.

Willamette students have become environmental scientists, and they have worked in natural resource management and government agencies. Our program has the resources to help you pursue a career that excites you. From non-profit work to a research-driven role, you can tap into the Willamette network to find the right resources.

Graduates and students can utilize the career development services at Willamette to find the perfect job. Our alumni can help you navigate through the job market to find the right job for your ideal work environment. You can also utilize Willamette's network to learn about career paths in environmental science to ensure you're pursuing the right degree.

Join one of the best environmental science programs in the Pacific Northwest to create change in the environmental science community.

Apply to Study Environmental Science

Environmental Science FAQs

  • What is environmental science?

    Environmental science incorporates scientific methods to impact real-world problems. It draws on other science disciplines to study environmental problems and human impact.

  • What can you do with an environmental science degree?

    An environmental science degree can lead students through a variety of paths related to the natural environment, ecosystems, and human impacts on the environment. Many students find positions such as:

    • Environmental Scientist/Consultant
    • Environmental Engineer
    • Conservation Scientist/Manager
    • Environmental Policy Analyst/Advocate
    • Sustainability Specialist/Manager
    • Environmental Educator
    • Environmental Health Specialist
    • Renewable Energy Specialist
    • Environmental Lawyer
    • Urban Planner
    • Mineral Surveyor
    • Water Quality Scientist
    • Waste Management Scientist

    However, there are a lot of different career paths that can benefit from an environmental science degree.

  • What do you learn in environmental science?

    Environmental science typically discusses topics related to the natural environment, ecosystems, human interactions with the environment, and sustainability. Students can expect to learn about environmental systems, ecology, environmental chemistry, environmental biology, policy and regulations, environmental impact assessment, sustainability, climate change, data analysis, and environmental ethics and justice.

  • Why study environmental science?

    If you’re interested in addressing environmental challenges, promoting sustainability, or making a positive impact on a global scale, consider studying environmental science. Combat pollution, deforestation, and resource depletion through education. 

    Willamette’s environmental science degree will help individuals learn how to contribute to policy and advocacy. We’ll help foster problem-solving skills and provide hands-on learning opportunities to help students make a difference right from the start.

  • Where should you study environmental science?

    Students should focus on factors like academic interest, location, career goals, and financial considerations before deciding on a place to study. 

    Willamette offers a strong academic program that puts hands-on learning at the heart of the program. We’re surrounded by Zena Forest which features diverse habitats. We offer the Science Collaborative Research Program and SSRD to provide opportunities for students to showcase their research skills. We offer environmental science scholarships, industry-leading professors, study abroad options, and more.

    Consider Willamette’s Oregon campus to study environmental science.

  • What is the difference between environmental science and environmental studies?

    While environmental science focuses on understanding the natural environment through scientific inquiry, environmental studies take a broader interdisciplinary approach to examining the complex interactions between humans and the environment. Both fields are important for addressing environmental challenges and promoting sustainability, but they have different emphases and methodologies.

  • What is the difference between environmental science and environmentalism?

    While environmental science focuses on scientific research and understanding of environmental processes, environmentalism is a broader movement that encompasses advocacy, activism, and societal efforts to protect and preserve the environment. Environmental science provides the scientific foundation for environmentalism by informing decision-making and policy development, while environmentalism mobilizes public support and action to address environmental challenges.

  • What are some possible future career fields in environmental science?
    The environmental science field is constantly changing and adapting. Careers are also evolving to keep up with the complexity and urgency of the problem. Future careers could look like:

    • Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Specialist
    • Circular Economy Specialist
    • Green Technology Innovator
    • Environmental Data Scientist
    • Environmental Health and Well-Being Consultant
    • Conservation Technology Specialist
    • Environmental Justice Advocate
    • Sustainable Business Strategist
    • Urban Resilience Planner
    • Environmental Education and Outreach Specialist
Willamette University

Environmental Science

Willamette University
900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.