Course Planning for Majors

Course Planning for Environmental Studies Majors

The Environmental Studies major is a dynamic and flexible course of study where students have many curricular and co-curricular opportunities to customize their degree. Meeting with the adviser can help you make sure you know all your options to plan your curriculum.

Transfer students often complete the biology, chemistry and statistics requirements in the Foundations courses before starting at UW.

Course Sequencing: Core to Capstone

Students must complete the first three Core courses prior to starting the 3-quarter Capstone sequence. Other than that, the order in which students take classes to meet the Environmental Studies degree requirements varies depending on student goals and course availability. ENVIR 300 can be completed concurrently with the first Capstone course when necessary. The Capstone courses should be taken in sequential order in contiguous quarters (AU-WI-SP or SP-SU-AU).

Core Courses (20 Credits)

Core courses provide a solid foundation and overview of Environmental Studies. ENVIR 100 is a prerequisite for all other Core courses. ENVIR 200 and 250 can be taken in any order.

  • ENVIR 100 – Introduction to Environmental Studies.
  • ENVIR 200 – Communication for Environmental Studies
  • ENVIR 250 – Research Methods for Environmental Studies
  • ENVIR 300 – Analysis of Environmental Cases

Foundations Courses (34-40 Credits)

The eight Foundations requirement areas are 200- (and a few 300-) level courses that help you understand natural science, economics, data analysis and social systems to give you a deeper understanding of the breadth and complexity of challenges that influence environmental outcomes. Most Foundations courses are suitable for sophomores, but you don’t need to complete them prior to starting on your Perspectives & Experiences area requirements.

For the most recent list of Foundations courses, see the Course Checklist on the Advising page.

Perspectives & Experiences (18 Credits)

Perspectives & Experiences courses include a broad selection of more than 150 upper-division (300-level or above) courses from over 30 departments across campus. A minimum of three credits (one course) must be completed in each of the following categories.

Human and Social Dimensions
Philosophical, literacy, artistic, cultural or ethnographic aspects of how humans envision, value and interact with the environment.
Place-based analysis of environmental issues or problems within the Pacific Northwest bioregion.
Natural Sciences
The physical, chemical and biological elements of the environment, including humans.
Place-based analysis of environmental issues or problems outside of the United States.
Policy and Decision Making
The intersection of facts and values as applied to governance, and specifically to environmental problems and decision making.
Direct engagement with sites or stakeholders out of the classroom for the purpose of collecting assignment-related material.

View the list of previously approved P&E courses. For the most recent list of available courses that meet the Perspectives & Experiences requirement, contact the adviser.

Finding Eligible P&E Courses

  • Each quarter when the UW Time Schedule is published, students receive an email listing courses that can be used to fulfill P&E requirements being offered the next quarter. This list is also available in the advising office.
  • Check with the adviser for a complete list of pre-approved courses.
  • If you find a course of interest that is not on the pre-approved list, you are encouraged to ask the adviser if these courses can count for a P&E requirement.
  • If you see a relevant study abroad experience and want to know if it can count for a P&E requirement, contact the adviser. These credits can often transfer to fulfill P&E requirements.

Capstone Experience (10 Credits)

Three courses are required as part of the Capstone course series:

  • ENVIR 490 – Environmental Studies Capstone: Preparation
  • ENVIR 491 – Environmental Studies Capstone: Internship and Research (at least 5 credits)
  • ENVIR 492 – Environmental Studies Capstone: Synthesis and Communication

An important note about DARS

The Degree Audit Reporting System (DARS), which you can access through MyPlan, will show you how courses you’ve completed (and those you’re currently registered for) officially count toward your major. Sometimes your DARS needs to be manually updated by the adviser, so if you find it isn’t counting a course toward a requirement as you think it should, contact the adviser.

Additional Resources

For additional course planning resources, visit the see the forms and scheduling tools, including the Course Checklist, available on the Advising page.