Mar 22, 2018  
Rensselaer Catalog 2017-2018 
Rensselaer Catalog 2017-2018

Environmental Science

This curriculum leads to a B.S. in environmental science. A typical four-year program is illustrated below. However, the order in which students take courses within the first two years is flexible.

First Year


  • HASS Elective Credit Hours: 4
    (See footnote 1 below)
  • Biology Requirement Credit Hours: 4
    (see footnote 4 below)


  • HASS Elective Credit Hours: 4

Second Year


  • Concentration and Electives (8 credits)
  • HASS Elective Credit Hours: 4


  • Concentration and Elective Credit Hours: 4
    (See footnote 6 below)
  • HASS Elective Credit Hours: 4

Third Year

Summer Arch*

*For students who have applied for and been granted an exception, the Summer Arch courses would be taken during the fall semester. For listing of the exception process go to:

  • HASS Elective Credit Hours: 4
  • Field Experience  Credit Hours: 8
  • Geoscience and the Global Society: Current and Future Challenges Credit Hours: 4

Fall or Spring

  • Concentration and Elective Credit Hours: 12
  • HASS Elective Credit Hours: 4

Fourth Year


  • Concentration and Elective Credit Hours: 8
    (See footnote 7 below)
  • Culminating Experience Credit Hours: 3
    (See footnote 7 below)


  • Concentration and Elective Credit Hours: 12


The environmental science degree program requires one concentration. Three of the concentration areas, Biology, Chemistry, and Geology explore environmental applications of traditional scientific disciplines. The Geoinformatics concentration specifically addresses the increasing role of high volumes of complex data acquired from a variety of sources both in-situ and remotely sensed. Geoinformatics combines relevant computer science knowledge and skills with geotemporal and geospatial analysis and modeling, curation of geo-databases, information system design and development, human-computer interaction including visualization, use of modern cyberinfrastructure and networking technologies.


Take the following:


One of the following:

One of the following:

  • CHEM 4XXX Chemistry Elective


(Six of the following courses, three of which must be at the 4000 level)

  • ERTH 2960 Introduction to Geobiology Credit Hours: 4
  • ERTH 4XXX (with permission of Director of Environmental Science)


All of the following:

  • CSCI 4XXX Data Science


  1. HASS courses should be selected in consultation with the adviser and the Environmental Science Faculty Committee. Examples of environmentally relevant options include: ECON 4230, ECON 4250, IHSS 2100, PHIL 4300, STSS 1110, STSS 2300, STSS 4320, and STSS 4540.
  2. With permission of the director of Environmental Sciences, a student may elect another math course (course numbers MATH XXXX, MATP XXXX, or courses cross listed with these numbers).
  3. With permission, a student may substitute ERTH 4540.
  4. With permission a student may elect to substitute ERTH 2960.
  5. With permission, a student may elect to substitute ERTH 2960, or ENVE 4360, or BIOL 4700 or 4850. Each student is required to elect one of the listed concentrations.
  6. This course is offered every other year in the fall term of even-numbered years and therefore is a junior year course for some students.
  7. Each student is required to engage in an activity that qualifies as an intensive environmental experience as described below.


Minor in Environmental Science

A minor in Environmental Science will consist of at least 16 credit hours, eight of which must be at the 4000 level. Interested students should consult with the Director of Environmental Science to develop an appropriate list of courses.

Dual Majors

Students pursuing a dual major in Environmental Science and Biology, Chemistry, or Geology must choose a different concentration for their Environmental Science degree. Similarly, students enrolled as dual majors in Computer Science and Environmental Science cannot choose the Geoinformatics concentration.

Intensive Environmental Experience

In consultation with the adviser and with the approval of the director of the Environmental Science Program, students must select and engage in an intensive activity related to the environment. This culminating experience will be associated with earning 3 to 4 academic credits in a URP project, Independent Study, or Out of Classroom Experience (e.g., as a co-op or intern). To fulfill this requirement, students must document the experience and obtain prior approval from the Environmental Science Faculty Director.