BA in Environmental Studies (ESP)

The BA in environmental studies is designed to guide students who have interests in environmental management through a program that links courses in the natural and social sciences. Students successfully completing this program could expect to pursue graduate programs in such fields as:

  • Law
  • Public policy
  • Urban and regional planning
  • Environmental management

Student may also gain entry-level employment with consulting firms and public agencies.

Required Courses

Prerequisite Courses


  • CHEM 131: Chemical Concepts, Systems, and Practices I              

 Mathematics: (choose one of the following options)

  • MATH 161: Calculus IA
  • MATH 141: Calculus I and MATH 142: Calculus II

Core Courses

The core courses deal explicitly with important environmental problems and illustrate the relationship between the content of specific disciplines (such as geology, chemistry, economics, and political science) and the practice of environmental analysis and management. 

Choose one of the following introductory core courses*:

  • EESC 100: Introduction to Oceanography      
  • EESC 101: Introduction to Earth Sciences
  • EESC 103: Introduction to Environmental Science
  • EESC 105: Introduction to Climate Change

*One additional 100-level EESC course may be acceptable as a technical elective if it was taken in the first year.

Choose two of the following*:

  • EESC 201: Evolution of the Earth
  • EESC 212: A Climate Change Perspective to Chemical Oceanography
  • EESC 213(W): Hydrology and Water Resources
  • EESC 216(W): Environmental Geochemistry
  • EESC 218: Atmospheric Geochemistry
  • EESC 219: Energy and Society
  • EESC 223: Earth Surface Processes: The Science of Scenery
  • EESC 235: Physical Oceanography
  • EESC 236: Physics of Climate

*If more than two courses are taken, the additional courses will be counted as technical electives.

Skills Course

Choose one of the following*: 

  • CHEM 203/207: Organic Chemistry plus Lab
  • CSC 161: Introduction to Programming
  • EESC 214: Earth Science Data Analysis
  • EESC 221: Quantitative Environmental Problem Solving
  • EESC 251: Introduction to GIS
  • STAT 211: Applied Statistics for the Social Sciences
  • STAT 180: Introduction to Applied Statistical Methodology (previously STAT 212)

 *If more than one course is taken, the additional courses may be counted as technical electives.

Elective Courses

Five elective courses must be chosen to create what the student and the faculty advisors view as a coherent program. The elective courses are presented in two groups:

  • Natural sciences and engineering
  • Social sciences/humanities

Some of these courses may require a prerequisite course not specified as part of the program.

Students must choose TWO natural science and engineering courses and THREE social sciences/humanities courses. New courses, one-time courses, or study-abroad courses may be included upon departmental faculty approval.

Natural Sciences and Engineering Courses

Choose two of the following natural sciences and engineering courses:

  • Biological and health sciences:
    • BIOL 102: Natural History   
    • BIOL 104: Ecosystem Conservation and Human Society            
    • BIOL 205(W): Evolution
    • BIOL 110/112: Principles/Perspectives of Biology I (if taken in the first year)
    • BIOL 225: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
    • BIOL 247: Environmental Animal Physiology
    • BIOL 250: Biochemistry     
    • BIOL 253: Computational Biology
    • BIOL 260(W): Animal Behavior
    • BIOL 263(W): Ecology
    • PM 415: Principles of Epidemiology
  • Geological and environmental sciences
    • EESC 203(W): Sedimentology and Stratigraphy
    • EESC 204(W): Earth Materials
    • EESC 205: Solid Earth Geophysics
    • EESC 207(W): Principles of Paleontology
    • EESC 208: Structural Geology
    • EESC 209: Intro to Geochemistry
    • EESC 219: Energy and Society
    • EESC 220: Intro to Geobiology
    • EESC 222: Energy Resources
    • EESC 231: Ice Sheets, Glaciers, Climate Change
    • EESC 232: Seminar in Marine Biogeochemistry
    • EESC 233: Marine Ecosystems and Carbon Cycling Modeling
    • EESC 234: Fundamentals of Atmospheric Modeling
    • EESC 248(W): High Temperature Geochemistry
    • EESC 252: Marine Geology
    • EESC 255: Planetary Science: Geologic Evolution
    • EESC 261(W): Stable Isotope Geochemistry
    • EESC 265: Paleoclimate
    • EESC 266: Ice Core Records of Climate and Environmental Change
    • EESC 270(W): Vertebrate Paleontology
    • EESC 274: Seminar in Paleoceanography
  • Chemistry and chemical engineering
    • CHEM 132: Chemical Concepts, Systems and Practices II
    • CHEM 204/208: Organic Chemistry II plus Lab
    • CHEM 231: Chemical Instrumentation
    • CHEM 286: Energy, Science, Technology, and Society
    • CHE 150: Green Energy

Social Sciences/Humanities

Choose three of the following courses:

  • Economics
    • ECON 207: Intermediate Microeconomics
    • ECON 238: Environmental Economics                           
  • Environmental humanities
    • EHUM 245: Nature / Culture / Memory / Modernity
    • EHUM 267: Media Space: From Film to Smart Phones
    • EHUM 268: Food, Media, Literature
    • EHUM 250: Food Justice, Urban Farming, Social Practice
  • History
    • HIST 186: History of Energy Resources and Utilization
    • HIST 235(W): Earth, Wind, Water, Fire: An Environmental History of the Globe
    • HIST 263(W): Global History of Food
    • HIST 300W: The History of Nature
  • Philosophy
    • PHIL 102: Ethics
    • PHIL 103: Contemporary Moral Problems
    • PHIL 135: Environmental Ethics
    • PHIL 230(W): Environmental Justice
  • Political science
    • PSCI 235(W): Political Economy of U.S. Food Policy
    • PSCI 239: International Environmental Law
    • PSCI 241(W): Urban Change and City Politics
    • PSCI 243(W): Environmental Politics
    • PSCI 246: Environmental Law and Policy
    • PSCI 247(W): Green Markets
    • PSCI 249: Environmental Policy in Action
  • Courses in other departments
    • AHST 234: Art and Environment
    • ANTH 224: Anthropology of Development
    • INTR 205: Global Sustainable Development
    • PHLT 103: Concepts of Epidemiology
    • PHLT 201W: Environmental Health
    • PHLT 232: Environmental Health Policy
    • PHLT 238: Environmental Health and Justice in the Rochester Community

Closure Requirement

At least four credit hours are required. Seminars or senior theses with environmental content offered in other departments are also acceptable (after approval by one of the program advisors).

EESC 306: Atmospheric Research
EESC 307: Advanced Seminar on Climate and Environmental Change
EESC 312(W): Research in Ocean Biogeochemistry
EESC 313(W): Research in Ocean Biogeochemistry II (2 credits)
EESC 320(W): Sustainable Systems
EESC 391(W): Independent Study
EESC 393(W): Senior Thesis
EESC 394: Internship in Environmental Sciences
EESC 395:  Independent Research

See the Opportunities for Gaining Experience in Earth and Environmental Sciences page for more information. 

Writing Requirement

Two of the courses for the major must be taken as upper-level writing courses, indicated by a “W” after the course number.

Acceptable Course Substitutions

Math: MATH 141 and MATH 142 for MATH 161 or MATH 141–MATH 143 for MATH 161 and MATH 162.

Chemistry: CHEM 171 and CHEM 173 for CHEM 203 and CHEM 207

AP credit for prerequisites and the introductory core course can be found in the College Center for Advising Services Advising Handbook.

Transfer credit for required courses is accepted in accordance with rules of the department offering the course, and for technical electives on a case-by-case basis after consultation with a faculty advisor.