Course Requirements for Major

Course overview:

Core and Foundation courses provide a solid foundation and overview of Environmental Studies, including natural and social sciences, the history of environmental issues, economics, data analysis and the political, scientific and ethical dimensions of human interactions with the environment.

Perspectives & Experiences elective courses include a broad selection of courses in six areas (human and social dimensions, natural sciences, policy and decision making, bioregional, international and fieldwork). Electives include courses from more than 30 departments across campus.

See course credit requirements below and view Course Checklist.

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

Current UW students can declare the major at any time and work with the adviser to plan for their degree completion.

Browse our quarterly course offerings.

General Education Credits (88 credits)

All Environmental Studies majors need to complete the General Education Requirements of the College of the Environment. You may also want to visit the UW General Education Requirements.

*NOTE: 15 credits from the General Education requirements may also count for the Environmental Studies major requirements, below.

Core Courses (20 credits)

  • 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

Foundation Courses (32-40 credits)

Biology (5 credits)

  • BIOL 180 – Introductory Biology (required)

Biological Systems (3-5 credits)

Choose one course:

Chemistry (5 credits)

Choose one course:

Statistics (5 credits)

Choose one course:

  • Q SCI 381 – Introduction to Probability and Statistics
  • STAT 220 – Basic Statistics
  • STAT 221 – Statistical Concepts and Methods for the Social Sciences
  • STAT 311 – Elements of Statistical Methods

Earth Systems Literacy (3-5 credits)

Choose one course:

  • ATM S 211 – Climate and Climate Change
  • ATM S 212 – Air Pollution: From Urban Smog to the Ozone Hole
  • ENVIR 280 – Natural History of the Puget Sound Region
  • ESS 201 – The Earth System and Climate
  • ESS 203 – Glaciers and Global Change
  • ESS 210 – Physical Geology
  • ESS / OCEAN 230 – Rivers and Beaches
  • GEOG 205 – Introduction to Physical Sciences and the Environment
  • OCEAN 200 – Introduction to Oceanography

Economics (5 credits)

Choose one course:

Values & Cultures (3-5 credits)

Choose one course:

Analytical Methods (3-5 credits)

Choose one course:

  • CEE 250 – Environmental Processes and Flows
  • ESRM 250 – Introduction to GIS in Forest Resources
  • ESRM 304 – Environmental and Resource Assessment
  • ESRM 430 – Hyperspatial Remote Sensing in Natural Resource Management
  • ESS 421 – Introduction to Geological Remote Sensing
  • FISH 452 – Spatial Information Technology in Ecosystem Sciences
  • GEOG 360 – Principles of GIS Mapping
  • GEOG 471 – Methods of Resource Analysis
  • Q SCI 482 – Statistical Inference in Applied Research I

Perspectives and Experiences (18 credits)

A minimum of 18 credits from the list of approved courses. A minimum of three credits 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.

Consult the list of previously approved Perspective and Experiences elective courses.

Additional Perspectives and Experiences Notes:

  • Courses may be listed in multiple categories, however, courses are not allowed to meet more than one category requirement.
  • To request that a course not on the approved list be used to fulfill the Environmental Perspectives and Experiences requirement, please submit a completed course exception request form.

*See adviser for the latest Perspective and Experiences courses.

Capstone Experience (10 credits)

All 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

Learn more about the Capstone Course Series.