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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 (B.S.) or bachelor of arts (B.A.) degree program. An undergraduate B.S. degree is offered through both colleges. 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 in the Department of Soil Science.
  • In L&S, the major is housed in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

The major can be taken as a stand-alone or as a double major with a variety of other majors on campus including Life Sciences Communication, Biology, Community & Environmental Sociology, Soil Science, foreign language/culture, and a number of other disciplines.

Students wishing to declare the Environmental Sciences major should meet with an academic advisor. Contact information for advisors can be found here.

University General Education Requirements

All undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are required to fulfill a minimum set of common university general education requirements to ensure that every graduate acquires the essential core of an undergraduate education. This core establishes a foundation for living a productive life, being a citizen of the world, appreciating aesthetic values, and engaging in lifelong learning in a continually changing world. Various schools and colleges will have requirements in addition to the requirements listed below. Consult your advisor for assistance, as needed. For additional information, see the university Undergraduate General Education Requirements section of the Guide.

General Education
  • Breadth—Humanities/Literature/Arts: 6 credits
  • Breadth—Natural Science: 4 to 6 credits, consisting of one 4- or 5-credit course with a laboratory component; or two courses providing a total of 6 credits
  • Breadth—Social Studies: 3 credits
  • Communication Part A & Part B *
  • Ethnic Studies *
  • Quantitative Reasoning Part A & Part B *

* The mortarboard symbol appears before the title of any course that fulfills one of the Communication Part A or Part B, Ethnic Studies, or Quantitative Reasoning Part A or Part B requirements.

College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Requirements

In addition to the University General Education Requirements, all undergraduate students in CALS must satisfy a set of college and major requirements. Courses may not double count within university requirements (General Education and Breadth) or within college requirements (First-Year Seminar, International Studies, Science, and Capstone), but courses counted toward university requirements may also be used to satisfy a college and/or a major requirement; similarly, courses counted toward college requirements may also be used to satisfy a university and/or a major requirement.

College Requirements for all CALS B.S. Degree Programs

Quality of Work: Students must maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.000 to remain in good standing and be eligible for graduation.
Residency: Students must complete 30 degree credits in residence at UW–Madison after earning 86 credits toward their undergraduate degree.
First Year Seminar1
International Studies3
Physical Science Fundamentals4-5
General Chemistry I
Chemistry in Our World
Advanced General Chemistry
Biological Science5
Additional Science (Biological, Physical, or Natural)3
Science Breadth (Biological, Physical, Natural, or Social)3
CALS Capstone Learning Experience: included in the requirements for each CALS major (see "Major Requirements")

Requirements for the Major

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

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

Complete one of the following:5-10
Calculus and Analytic Geometry 1 (Recommended)
Calculus with Algebra and Trigonometry I
and Calculus with Algebra and Trigonometry II
Calculus
Complete one of the following:3
Data Science Modeling I
Accelerated Introduction to Statistical Methods
Introductory Applied Statistics for the Life Sciences
Total Credits8-13

CHEMISTRY 

CHEM 103
CHEM 104
General Chemistry I
and General Chemistry II
5-9
or CHEM 109 Advanced General Chemistry
Complete one of the following:3
Elementary Organic Chemistry
Organic Chemistry I
Total Credits8-12

BIOLOGY

Complete one of the following:10
Introductory Biology
and Introductory Biology
General Botany
and Animal Biology
and Animal Biology Laboratory
Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics
and Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics Laboratory
and Cellular Biology
and Cellular Biology Laboratory
Total Credits10

PHYSICS

Complete one of the following:4-5
General Physics (Recommended)
General Physics
General Physics
Total Credits4-5

MAJOR FOUNDATION

Complete one of the following:3-4
Principles of Environmental Science
Introduction to the Earth System
Environmental Geology
Soil: Ecosystem and Resource
Introduction to Environmental Science
Total Credits3-4

MAJOR CORE

Complete at least one course and 3 credits from each of these following areas:

Ecology

AGRONOMY 300 Cropping Systems3
AGRONOMY/​BOTANY/​SOIL SCI  370 Grassland Ecology3
AGRONOMY/​DY SCI  471 Food Production Systems and Sustainability3
BOTANY/​F&W ECOL  455 The Vegetation of Wisconsin4
BOTANY/​F&W ECOL/​ZOOLOGY  460 General Ecology (Recommended)4
ENTOM 450 Basic and Applied Insect Ecology3
ENTOM 451 Basic and Applied Insect Ecology Laboratory1
ENTOM/​BOTANY/​ZOOLOGY  473 Plant-Insect Interactions3
ENVIR ST 400 Special Topics in the Environment: Biological Aspects of Envir St (Stream Ecology)3
ENVIR ST/​ZOOLOGY  510 Ecology of Fishes3
ENVIR ST/​ZOOLOGY  511 Ecology of Fishes Lab2
F&W ECOL/​ENVIR ST/​ZOOLOGY  360 Extinction of Species3
F&W ECOL 410 Principles of Silviculture3
F&W ECOL/​AN SCI/​ZOOLOGY  520 Ornithology3
F&W ECOL/​AN SCI/​ZOOLOGY  521 Birds of Southern Wisconsin3
F&W ECOL 550 Forest Ecology3
F&W ECOL 551 Forest Ecology Lab1
F&W ECOL/​LAND ARC/​ZOOLOGY  565 Principles of Landscape Ecology2
HORT 334 Greenhouse Cultivation2
HORT 335 Greenhouse Cultivation Lab1
LAND ARC/​ENVIR ST  361 Wetlands Ecology3
SOIL SCI/​PL PATH  323 Soil Biology3
ZOOLOGY 304 Marine Biology2
ZOOLOGY/​ENVIR ST  315 Limnology-Conservation of Aquatic Resources2
ZOOLOGY 316 Laboratory for Limnology-Conservation of Aquatic Resources2-3

Physical Environment

ATM OCN 310 Dynamics of the Atmosphere and Ocean I3
ATM OCN/​ENVIR ST/​GEOG  322 Polar Regions and Their Importance in the Global Environment3
ATM OCN/​GEOG  323 Science of Climate Change3
ATM OCN/​ENVIR ST/​GEOG/​GEOSCI  335 Climatic Environments of the Past3
ATM OCN/​ENVIR ST  355 Introduction to Air Quality3
ATM OCN/​ENVIR ST  520 Bioclimatology3
ATM OCN/​ENVIR ST  535 Atmospheric Dispersion and Air Pollution3
BSE 365 Measurements and Instrumentation for Biological Systems3
BSE/​ENVIR ST  367 Renewable Energy Systems3
BSE 460 Biorefining: Energy and Products from Renewable Resources3
CIV ENGR 320 Environmental Engineering3
CIV ENGR 423 Air Pollution Effects, Measurement and Control3
CIV ENGR 424 Environmental Engineering Laboratory2
ENVIR ST/​POP HLTH  502 Air Pollution and Human Health3
GEOG/​GEOSCI  320 Geomorphology3
GEOG 329 Landforms and Landscapes of North America3
GEOG/​ATM OCN/​ENVIR ST  332 Global Warming: Science and Impacts3
GEOG/​BOTANY  338 Environmental Biogeography3
GEOG/​GEOSCI  420 Glacial and Pleistocene Geology3
GEOSCI 304 Geobiology3
GEOSCI 551 Paleoceanography3
GEOSCI/​G L E  627 Hydrogeology3-4
POP HLTH/​ENVIR ST  471 Introduction to Environmental Health3
SOIL SCI 301 General Soil Science4
SOIL SCI 321 Soils and Environmental Chemistry3
SOIL SCI 322 Physical Principles of Soil and Water Management3
SOIL SCI/​ENVIR ST  324 Soils and Environmental Quality3
SOIL SCI 430 Environmental Soil Contamination3
SOIL SCI/​F&W ECOL  451 Environmental Biogeochemistry3
SOIL SCI/​AGRONOMY/​ATM OCN  532 Environmental Biophysics3
SOIL SCI/​CIV ENGR/​M&ENVTOX  631 Toxicants in the Environment: Sources, Distribution, Fate, & Effects3

Geospatial Sciences

COMP SCI 220 Data Science Programming I4
ENVIR ST/​CIV ENGR/​LAND ARC  556 Remote Sensing Digital Image Processing3
GEOG 360 Quantitative Methods in Geographical Analysis4
GEOG 370 Introduction to Cartography4
GEOG/​ENVIR ST/​F&W ECOL/​G L E/​GEOSCI/​LAND ARC  371 Introduction to Environmental Remote Sensing3
GEOG/​CIV ENGR/​ENVIR ST  377 An Introduction to Geographic Information Systems4
GEOSCI/​CIV ENGR/​ENVIR ST/​G L E  444 Practical Applications of GPS Surveying2
SOIL SCI 585 Using R for Soil and Environmental Sciences3
SOIL SCI/​ENVIR ST/​LAND ARC  695 Applications of Geographic Information Systems in Natural Resources3

Environmental Policy & Social Perspectives

A A E/​ENVIR ST  244 The Environment and the Global Economy4
A A E 246 Climate Change Economics and Policy3
A A E/​ECON/​ENVIR ST  343 Environmental Economics3-4
AMER IND/​ENVIR ST  306 Indigenous Peoples and the Environment3
AMER IND/​ENVIR ST/​GEOG  345 Managing Nature in Native North America3
C&E SOC/​F&W ECOL/​SOC  248 Environment, Natural Resources, and Society3
C&E SOC/​CURRIC/​ENVIR ST  405 Education for Sustainable Communities3
C&E SOC/​ENVIR ST/​GEOG  434 People, Wildlife and Landscapes3
C&E SOC/​ENVIR ST/​SOC  540 Sociology of International Development, Environment, and Sustainability3
C&E SOC/​SOC  541 Environmental Stewardship and Social Justice3
ENVIR ST 349 Climate Change Governance3
ENVIR ST/​GEOG  439 US Environmental Policy and Regulation3-4
ENVIR ST/​PHILOS  441 Environmental Ethics3-4
GEOG/​ENVIR ST  339 Environmental Conservation4
GEOG/​URB R PL  305 Introduction to the City3-4
GEOG/​ENVIR ST/​HISTORY  460 American Environmental History4
GEOG/​ENVIR ST  537 Culture and Environment4
GEOSCI/​ENVIR ST  411 Energy Resources3
HISTORY/​ENVIR ST/​GEOG  469 The Making of the American Landscape4
POLI SCI 510 Politics of Government Regulation3-4
URB R PL/​ECON/​ENVIR ST/​POLI SCI  449 Government and Natural Resources3-4

MAJOR ELECTIVES 

There are two ways to complete this requirement, either by distributing 12 credits across at least three categories, or by focusing those credits in a single category.1

DISTRIBUTED ELECTIVES

Students choosing the Distributed Electives path must complete a total of 12 credits of Environmental Sciences Electives from the categories below, including at least one course from each category.

Ecology

AGRONOMY 300 Cropping Systems3
AGRONOMY/​BOTANY/​SOIL SCI  370 Grassland Ecology3
AGRONOMY/​DY SCI  471 Food Production Systems and Sustainability3
BOTANY/​F&W ECOL  455 The Vegetation of Wisconsin4
BOTANY/​F&W ECOL/​ZOOLOGY  460 General Ecology4
ENTOM/​BOTANY/​ZOOLOGY  473 Plant-Insect Interactions3
ENTOM 450 Basic and Applied Insect Ecology3
ENTOM 451 Basic and Applied Insect Ecology Laboratory1
ENVIR ST 400 Special Topics in the Environment: Biological Aspects of Envir St (Stream Ecology)3
ENVIR ST/​ZOOLOGY  510 Ecology of Fishes3
ENVIR ST/​ZOOLOGY  511 Ecology of Fishes Lab2
F&W ECOL/​ENVIR ST/​ZOOLOGY  360 Extinction of Species3
F&W ECOL 410 Principles of Silviculture3
F&W ECOL/​AN SCI/​ZOOLOGY  520 Ornithology3
F&W ECOL/​AN SCI/​ZOOLOGY  521 Birds of Southern Wisconsin3
F&W ECOL 550 Forest Ecology3
F&W ECOL 551 Forest Ecology Lab1
F&W ECOL/​LAND ARC/​ZOOLOGY  565 Principles of Landscape Ecology2
F&W ECOL/​ZOOLOGY  660 Climate Change Ecology3
HORT 334 Greenhouse Cultivation2
HORT 335 Greenhouse Cultivation Lab1
LAND ARC/​ENVIR ST  361 Wetlands Ecology3
SOIL SCI/​PL PATH  323 Soil Biology3
ZOOLOGY 304 Marine Biology2
ZOOLOGY/​ENVIR ST  315 Limnology-Conservation of Aquatic Resources2
ZOOLOGY 316 Laboratory for Limnology-Conservation of Aquatic Resources2-3

Physical Environment

ATM OCN 310 Dynamics of the Atmosphere and Ocean I3
ATM OCN/​ENVIR ST/​GEOG  322 Polar Regions and Their Importance in the Global Environment3
ATM OCN/​GEOG  323 Science of Climate Change3
ATM OCN/​ENVIR ST/​GEOG/​GEOSCI  335 Climatic Environments of the Past3
ATM OCN/​ENVIR ST  355 Introduction to Air Quality3
ATM OCN/​ENVIR ST  520 Bioclimatology3
ATM OCN/​ENVIR ST  535 Atmospheric Dispersion and Air Pollution3
BSE 365 Measurements and Instrumentation for Biological Systems3
BSE/​ENVIR ST  367 Renewable Energy Systems3
BSE 460 Biorefining: Energy and Products from Renewable Resources3
CIV ENGR 320 Environmental Engineering3
CIV ENGR 423 Air Pollution Effects, Measurement and Control3
CIV ENGR 424 Environmental Engineering Laboratory2
ENVIR ST/​POP HLTH  502 Air Pollution and Human Health3
GEOG/​GEOSCI  320 Geomorphology3
GEOG 329 Landforms and Landscapes of North America3
GEOG/​ATM OCN/​ENVIR ST  332 Global Warming: Science and Impacts3
GEOG/​BOTANY  338 Environmental Biogeography3
GEOG/​GEOSCI  420 Glacial and Pleistocene Geology3
GEOSCI 304 Geobiology3
GEOSCI 551 Paleoceanography3
GEOSCI/​G L E  627 Hydrogeology3-4
POP HLTH/​ENVIR ST  471 Introduction to Environmental Health3
SOIL SCI 301 General Soil Science4
SOIL SCI 321 Soils and Environmental Chemistry3
SOIL SCI 322 Physical Principles of Soil and Water Management3
SOIL SCI/​ENVIR ST  324 Soils and Environmental Quality3
SOIL SCI 430 Environmental Soil Contamination3
SOIL SCI/​F&W ECOL  451 Environmental Biogeochemistry3
SOIL SCI/​AGRONOMY/​ATM OCN  532 Environmental Biophysics3
SOIL SCI/​CIV ENGR/​M&ENVTOX  631 Toxicants in the Environment: Sources, Distribution, Fate, & Effects3

Geospatial Sciences

ENVIR ST/​CIV ENGR/​LAND ARC  556 Remote Sensing Digital Image Processing3
GEOG 360 Quantitative Methods in Geographical Analysis4
GEOG 370 Introduction to Cartography4
GEOG/​ENVIR ST/​F&W ECOL/​G L E/​GEOSCI/​LAND ARC  372 Intermediate Environmental Remote Sensing3
GEOG/​CIV ENGR/​ENVIR ST  377 An Introduction to Geographic Information Systems4
GEOG 378 Introduction to Geocomputing4
GEOG 560 Advanced Quantitative Methods3
GEOG 578 GIS Applications4
GEOG 579 GIS and Spatial Analysis4
GEOSCI/​CIV ENGR/​ENVIR ST/​G L E  444 Practical Applications of GPS Surveying2
SOIL SCI 585 Using R for Soil and Environmental Sciences3
SOIL SCI/​ENVIR ST/​LAND ARC  695 Applications of Geographic Information Systems in Natural Resources3

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.1

Ecology

AGRONOMY 300 Cropping Systems3
AGRONOMY/​BOTANY/​SOIL SCI  370 Grassland Ecology3
AGRONOMY/​DY SCI  471 Food Production Systems and Sustainability3
BOTANY/​F&W ECOL  455 The Vegetation of Wisconsin4
BOTANY/​F&W ECOL/​ZOOLOGY  460 General Ecology4
ENTOM/​BOTANY/​ZOOLOGY  473 Plant-Insect Interactions3
ENTOM 450 Basic and Applied Insect Ecology3
ENTOM 451 Basic and Applied Insect Ecology Laboratory1
ENVIR ST 400 Special Topics in the Environment: Biological Aspects of Envir St (Stream Ecology)3
ENVIR ST/​ZOOLOGY  510 Ecology of Fishes3
ENVIR ST/​ZOOLOGY  511 Ecology of Fishes Lab2
F&W ECOL/​ENVIR ST/​ZOOLOGY  360 Extinction of Species3
F&W ECOL 410 Principles of Silviculture3
F&W ECOL/​AN SCI/​ZOOLOGY  520 Ornithology3
F&W ECOL/​AN SCI/​ZOOLOGY  521 Birds of Southern Wisconsin3
F&W ECOL 550 Forest Ecology3
F&W ECOL 551 Forest Ecology Lab1
F&W ECOL/​LAND ARC/​ZOOLOGY  565 Principles of Landscape Ecology2
F&W ECOL/​ZOOLOGY  660 Climate Change Ecology3
HORT 334 Greenhouse Cultivation2
HORT 335 Greenhouse Cultivation Lab1
LAND ARC/​ENVIR ST  361 Wetlands Ecology3
SOIL SCI/​PL PATH  323 Soil Biology3
ZOOLOGY 304 Marine Biology2
ZOOLOGY/​ENVIR ST  315 Limnology-Conservation of Aquatic Resources2
ZOOLOGY 316 Laboratory for Limnology-Conservation of Aquatic Resources2-3

Physical Environment

ATM OCN 310 Dynamics of the Atmosphere and Ocean I3
ATM OCN/​ENVIR ST/​GEOG  322 Polar Regions and Their Importance in the Global Environment3
ATM OCN/​GEOG  323 Science of Climate Change3
ATM OCN/​ENVIR ST/​GEOG/​GEOSCI  335 Climatic Environments of the Past3
ATM OCN/​ENVIR ST  355 Introduction to Air Quality3
ATM OCN/​ENVIR ST  520 Bioclimatology3
ATM OCN/​ENVIR ST  535 Atmospheric Dispersion and Air Pollution3
BSE 365 Measurements and Instrumentation for Biological Systems3
BSE/​ENVIR ST  367 Renewable Energy Systems3
BSE 460 Biorefining: Energy and Products from Renewable Resources3
CIV ENGR 320 Environmental Engineering3
CIV ENGR 423 Air Pollution Effects, Measurement and Control3
CIV ENGR 424 Environmental Engineering Laboratory2
ENVIR ST/​POP HLTH  502 Air Pollution and Human Health3
GEOG/​GEOSCI  320 Geomorphology3
GEOG 329 Landforms and Landscapes of North America3
GEOG/​ATM OCN/​ENVIR ST  332 Global Warming: Science and Impacts3
GEOG/​BOTANY  338 Environmental Biogeography3
GEOG/​GEOSCI  420 Glacial and Pleistocene Geology3
GEOSCI 304 Geobiology3
GEOSCI 551 Paleoceanography3
GEOSCI/​G L E  627 Hydrogeology3-4
POP HLTH/​ENVIR ST  471 Introduction to Environmental Health3
SOIL SCI 301 General Soil Science4
SOIL SCI 321 Soils and Environmental Chemistry3
SOIL SCI 322 Physical Principles of Soil and Water Management3
SOIL SCI/​ENVIR ST  324 Soils and Environmental Quality3
SOIL SCI 430 Environmental Soil Contamination3
SOIL SCI/​F&W ECOL  451 Environmental Biogeochemistry3
SOIL SCI/​AGRONOMY/​ATM OCN  532 Environmental Biophysics3
SOIL SCI/​CIV ENGR/​M&ENVTOX  631 Toxicants in the Environment: Sources, Distribution, Fate, & Effects3

Geospatial Sciences

ENVIR ST/​CIV ENGR/​LAND ARC  556 Remote Sensing Digital Image Processing3
GEOG 360 Quantitative Methods in Geographical Analysis4
GEOG 370 Introduction to Cartography4
GEOG/​ENVIR ST/​F&W ECOL/​G L E/​GEOSCI/​LAND ARC  372 Intermediate Environmental Remote Sensing3
GEOG/​CIV ENGR/​ENVIR ST  377 An Introduction to Geographic Information Systems4
GEOG 378 Introduction to Geocomputing4
GEOG 560 Advanced Quantitative Methods3
GEOG 578 GIS Applications4
GEOG 579 GIS and Spatial Analysis4
GEOSCI/​CIV ENGR/​ENVIR ST/​G L E  444 Practical Applications of GPS Surveying2
SOIL SCI 585 Using R for Soil and Environmental Sciences3
SOIL SCI/​ENVIR ST/​LAND ARC  695 Applications of Geographic Information Systems in Natural Resources3

Environmental Policy & Social Perspectives 

A A E/​ENVIR ST  244 The Environment and the Global Economy4
A A E 246 Climate Change Economics and Policy3
A A E/​ECON/​ENVIR ST  343 Environmental Economics3-4
AMER IND/​ENVIR ST  306 Indigenous Peoples and the Environment3
AMER IND/​ENVIR ST/​GEOG  345 Managing Nature in Native North America3
C&E SOC/​F&W ECOL/​SOC  248 Environment, Natural Resources, and Society3
C&E SOC/​CURRIC/​ENVIR ST  405 Education for Sustainable Communities3
C&E SOC/​ENVIR ST/​GEOG  434 People, Wildlife and Landscapes3
C&E SOC/​ENVIR ST/​SOC  540 Sociology of International Development, Environment, and Sustainability3
C&E SOC/​SOC  541 Environmental Stewardship and Social Justice3
ENVIR ST 349 Climate Change Governance3
ENVIR ST/​GEOG  439 US Environmental Policy and Regulation3-4
ENVIR ST/​PHILOS  441 Environmental Ethics3-4
GEOG/​URB R PL  305 Introduction to the City3-4
GEOG/​ENVIR ST  339 Environmental Conservation4
GEOG/​ENVIR ST/​HISTORY  460 American Environmental History4
GEOG/​ENVIR ST  537 Culture and Environment4
GEOSCI/​ENVIR ST  411 Energy Resources3
HISTORY/​ENVIR ST/​GEOG  469 The Making of the American Landscape4
POLI SCI 510 Politics of Government Regulation3-4
URB R PL/​ECON/​ENVIR ST/​POLI SCI  449 Government and Natural Resources3-4
1

Students may consult their environmental sciences advisor regarding alternate ways to complete the major electives requirement.

CAPSTONE 1

AGRONOMY 500 Senior Capstone Experience2
BOTANY/​ENVIR ST/​F&W ECOL/​ZOOLOGY  651 Conservation Biology3
CIV ENGR 515 Hydroclimatology for Water Resources Management3
ENVIR ST/​SOIL SCI  575 Assessment of Environmental Impact3
F&W ECOL/​A A E/​ENVIR ST  652 Decision Methods for Natural Resource Managers3-4
LAND ARC 668 Restoration Ecology3
PL PATH 315 Plant Microbiomes4
SOIL SCI 499 Soil Management3
1

Students may speak with their environmental science advisor about alternatives (e.g., courses, directed study, senior thesis) to complete the capstone. To be approved, the alternative must be taken for a minimum of 3 credits, clearly focused on environmental science, and approved by the Environmental Sciences Administrative Committee. Students must consult with their environmental sciences advisor and fill out all necessary paperwork before registering.

University Degree Requirements  

Total Degree To receive a bachelor's degree from UW–Madison, students must earn a minimum of 120 degree credits. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 degree credits. Students should consult with their college or department advisor for information on specific credit requirements.
Residency Degree candidates are required to earn a minimum of 30 credits in residence at UW–Madison. "In residence" means on the UW–Madison campus with an undergraduate degree classification. “In residence” credit also includes UW–Madison courses offered in distance or online formats and credits earned in UW–Madison Study Abroad/Study Away programs.
Quality of Work Undergraduate students must maintain the minimum grade point average specified by the school, college, or academic program to remain in good academic standing. Students whose academic performance drops below these minimum thresholds will be placed on academic probation.
  1. Demonstrate understanding of Environmental Science fundamentals in the context of biology, chemistry, mathematics, statistics, and physics.
  2. Demonstrate a quantitative and qualitative understanding of the ecological relationships (material and energetic) between organisms, both as individuals and in groups, and their biotic and abiotic environment. This may include processes influencing the distribution and abundance of organisms.
  3. Demonstrate a quantitative and qualitative understanding of the physical, largely abiotic, conditions (e.g. climate, water, soil, air, noise, greenspace, etc.) of the environment. The physical environment can include natural or managed settings such as urban environments.
  4. Demonstrate a quantitative and qualitative understanding of geospatial processes and information as it relates to the environment including how to collect, interpret, and analyze geospatial information regarding the features of the Earth's surface. These technologies may include geographic information systems (GIS), the global positioning system (GPS), digital maps, and satellite based remote sensing.
  5. Demonstrate a basic understanding of relationships that focus on the organization and implementation of laws, regulations, and other policy mechanisms concerning environmental issues and sustainability and their effect on society. This includes how human behaviors influences, and are also influenced by, the natural environment.
  6. Apply skills in critical thinking, problem identification and resolution of a complex environmental issues that require interdisciplinary solutions and team-based work.
  7. Articulate the role of environmental science in one or more focused areas of a specific environmental discipline (e.g. geology, soils, atmosphere, water, plants, animals).
  8. Demonstrate expertise in organizing and presenting (written and oral) scientific information to both lay and professional audiences.

Four-year plan

Sample  Environmental Sciences Four-Year Plan

First Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
CHEM 103 or 1094-5CHEM 1045
MATH 114 or 17115MATH 221, 217, or 21115
SOIL SCI 2503Ethnic Studies3
CALS First Year Seminar1COMM A Course3-4
 13-14 16-17
Second Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
BIOLOGY/​BOTANY/​ZOOLOGY  151 (or BOLOGY/BOTANY 130)5BIOLOGY/​BOTANY/​ZOOLOGY  152 (or BIOLOGY/ZOOLOGY 101 & BIOLOGY/ZOOLOGY 102)25
CHEM 341 or 3433STAT 3713
CALS International Studies3Humanities Breadth3-4
Social Sciences Breadth3-4Elective (or COMM B Course)3
 14-15 14-15
Third Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
PHYSICS 207, 201, or 1034-5Major Core Courses6
Major Core Courses6Humanities Breadth3
Electives5-7Electives6-7
 15-18 15-16
Fourth Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
Major Electives6Major Electives6
Capstone2-4Electives9
Electives6 
 14-16 15
Total Credits 116-126
 

Students must complete at least 120 total credits to be eligible for graduation.

1

Sequence of MATH 112/MATH 113 (or MATH 114) and MATH 221 is recommended.

2

Completion of BIOLOGY/​BOTANY/​ZOOLOGY  152 fulfills the Communication Part B university requirement. 

Freshman
FallCreditsSpringCredits
CHEM 103 or 1094-5CHEM 1045
MATH 114 or 1715MATH 221, 217, or 21115
First Year Seminar1Environmental Sciences Foundation Course3
COMM A Course3Ethnic Studies Course3
 13-14 16
Total Credits 29-30
1

 MATH 221 Calculus and Analytic Geometry 1 is preferred.

Sophomore
FallCreditsSpringCredits
BIOLOGY/​BOTANY/​ZOOLOGY  151 or BOTANY 1305ZOOLOGY/​BIOLOGY  101
ZOOLOGY/​BIOLOGY  102 (or ZOOLOGY 152)
5
CHEM 341, 343, or 5613STAT 3713
International Studies Course3Humanities / Literature / Arts Course3-4
Electives / Social Sciences Course3-4Elective3
 14-15 14-15
Total Credits 28-30
Junior
FallCreditsSpringCredits
PHYSICS 207, 202, or 1044-5Major Core Courses6-8
Major Core Courses3-6Electives / Other Courses5-7
Electives / Other Courses5-7 
 12-18 11-15
Total Credits 23-33
Senior
FallCreditsSpringCredits
Environmental Sciences Major Elective Courses6-9Environmental Sciences Major Elective Courses3-6
Electives / Other Courses3Electives / Other Courses9-12
Capstone2-6 
 11-18 12-18
Total Credits 23-36
1

Completion of BIOLOGY/​BOTANY/​ZOOLOGY  152 fulfills the Communication Part B university requirement.

Advising

Students wishing to declare the Environmental Sciences major should meet with an academic advisor. Contact information for advisors can be found here.

CALS undergraduate students interested in pursuing the Environmental Sciences major in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences should contact Kathryn Jones, kjones26@wisc.edu or 608-807-7391.

L&S undergraduate students interested in pursuing the Environmental Sciences major in the College of Letters & Science should contact Eric Schueffner, elschueffner@wisc.edu or 608-890-3231.

Careers

A major in Environmental Sciences serves as excellent preparation for careers of great diversity, including environmental modeling, agricultural scientist, botanist, ecologist, park ranger, agricultural technician, air and water quality manager, environmental analyst, air pollution analyst, environmental consultant, environmental educator, GIS analyst, project manager, hazardous waste manager, hydrologist, environmental lawyer, soil conservation technician, and natural resource specialist. For more info about careers, please visit our website.

Program Committee

Nick Balster, Professor, Department of Soil Science (Co-Chair)
Ken Ferrier, Associate Professor, Department of Geoscience
Zac Freedman, Assistant Professor, Department of Soil Science
Hazel M. Holden, Professor, Department of Biochemistry
Jonathan Martin, Professor, Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (Co-Chair)
Erin Silva, Associate Professor, Department of Plant Pathology

Staff Advisors

Kathryn Jones, Academic Advising Manager (CALS)
Eric Schueffner, Academic Advising Manager (L&S)

As an interdisciplinary cross-college major, students majoring in Environmental Sciences are involved in a wide array of opportunities across campus. Students are highly encouraged to complement their coursework with out-of-classroom experiences such as research, volunteering, internships, and study abroad.

Many students are also involved in environmental and sustainability organizations.