May 29, 2024  
Rensselaer Catalog 2022-2023 
Rensselaer Catalog 2022-2023 [Archived Catalog]

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 Core Elective  Credit Hours: 4
    (See footnote 1 below)


  • HASS Core Elective  Credit Hours: 4

Second Year


  • HASS Core Elective  Credit Hours: 4


  • Track Course or Free Elective  Credit Hours: 4

Third Year

The Arch Summer Semester*

*For students who have applied for and been granted an exception, please contact your adviser for course exemptions. For listing of the exception process go to:

  • HASS Core Electives  Credit Hours: 8
  • Track Course or Free Elective  Credit Hours: 4

Fall or Spring

  • Track Course or Free Elective  Credit Hours: 4
  • HASS Core Elective  Credit Hours: 4

Arch-Exempt Students



Fourth Year


  • Culminating Experience  Credit Hours: 4
    (See footnote 4 below) 
  • Track Course or Free Elective  Credit Hours: 8


  • Track Course and Free Elective  Credit Hours: 12


The environmental science degree program requires one track. There are four tracks — Biology, Chemistry, Geology, and Geoinformatics — that explore environmental applications of traditional scientific disciplines. The Geoinformatics track 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. Choose five courses from within one track.


Choose five of the following:


BIOL 2500  – Genetics and Evolution  Credit Hours: 4
BIOL 4200  – Biostatistics  Credit Hours: 4
BIOL 4310  – Microbiology  Credit Hours: 4
BIOL 4700  – Freshwater Ecology  Credit Hours: 4
BIOL 4XXX – selected in consultation with the adviser



Choose five of the following:

  • CHEM 4XXX - selected in consultation with the adviser


Choose five of the following:

  • ERTH 2960 - Introduction to Geobiology  Credit Hours: 4
  • ERTH 4XXX - with permission of Director of Environmental 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 , STSO 1110 , STSO 2300 , STSO 4320 , and STSO 4540.
  2. With permission of the director of Environmental Science, 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. Students who are exempt from The Arch will substitute IENV 4700  One Mile of the Hudson River for this requirement. If IENV 4700  is used to meet this requirement, then it cannot also count as a track course. 
  5. 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 track for their Environmental Science degree. 

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.