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You can save mon­ey on an envi­ron­men­tal sci­ence degree in a num­ber of ways. Plan­ning before you attend, going to com­mu­ni­ty col­lege to take trans­ferrable elec­tives, shop around for a school, and don’t take class­es you don’t need. Anoth­er option is to look for the cheap­est online envi­ron­men­tal sci­ence degree that’s offered by a school with a sol­id rep­u­ta­tion and accred­i­ta­tion for their envi­ron­men­tal sci­ence program. 

The most afford­able envi­ron­men­tal sci­ence degrees are usu­al­ly found at state schools, but with a bit of plan­ning and strat­e­gy, you can attend a rep­utable school and save mon­ey on your tuition.

Com­mu­ni­ty col­lege is an excel­lent option for sav­ing mon­ey on your envi­ron­men­tal sci­ence degree. If you want to attend a state school for your envi­ron­men­tal sci­ence bach­e­lor’s degree, you can usu­al­ly trans­fer your com­mu­ni­ty col­lege cred­its to a state school and con­tin­ue your next two years of edu­ca­tion at the state uni­ver­si­ty or col­lege. The cost of edu­ca­tion at com­mu­ni­ty col­lege is always cheap­er than it is at a four-year school, and you can earn an asso­ci­ate’s degree in envi­ron­men­tal sci­ence along the way. Get­ting an asso­ci­ate’s degree in envi­ron­men­tal sci­ence can also help you get employ­ment if you decide to work pri­or to attend­ing school for a bach­e­lor’s degree in envi­ron­men­tal sci­ence.

Methodology: Ranking the Most Affordable Environmental Science Degrees

In the Bachelor’s Degree Cen­ter rank­ing of the most afford­able envi­ron­men­tal sci­ence degree pro­grams, cost is cru­cial, so pro­grams are pre­sent­ed in order of tuition cost accord­ing to cur­rent IPEDS data. But qual­i­ty is also impor­tant, so we fea­ture only accred­it­ed schools known for qual­i­ty and return on investment.

1. CUNY Brooklyn College

CUNY Brook­lyn Col­lege Earth and Envi­ron­men­tal Sci­ences BS that’s one of the most afford­able envi­ron­men­tal sci­ence degrees. Grad­u­ates learn how to describe process­es tak­ing place on the earth’s land­scape and beneath the sur­face. Stu­dents also learn about how these process­es are affect­ed by humans. Sub­jects cov­ered include physics, 3D fea­tures and struc­tures and tools used to con­cep­tu­al­ize the earth and its envi­ron­ment as a con­nect­ed sys­tem. Learn­ers also emerge ready to com­mu­ni­cate these con­cepts to var­i­ous audiences.

CUNY Brook­lyn Col­lege is locat­ed in the New York City, and this large school has more than 11,000 under­grad­u­ate stu­dents. The com­pet­i­tive accep­tance process results in 45% of appli­cants being accept­ed into the school. Mean­while, 55% must pur­sue oth­er aca­d­e­m­ic oppor­tu­ni­ties. Pop­u­lar majors include account­ing, busi­ness and psychology.

What We Like: More than 83% of stu­dents receive some kind of finan­cial aid.

Degree: Earth and Envi­ron­men­tal Sci­ences BS

CUNY Brook­lyn College

2. University of Texas — Rio Grande Valley

At the Uni­ver­si­ty of Texas — Rio Grande Val­ley, stu­dents can attend one of the most afford­able envi­ron­men­tal sci­ence degrees in the coun­try. UTRGV’s envi­ron­men­tal sci­ence BS pre­pares stu­dents for careers at the fed­er­al, state, and local lev­els. Oth­er grad­u­ates go on to work for envi­ron­men­tal con­sult­ing firms and non­prof­it orga­ni­za­tions. some stu­dents decide to pur­sue a grad­u­ate degree in schol­ar­ship or research oppor­tu­ni­ties. The pro­gram focus­es on envi­ron­men­tal issues and stu­dents get to choose an area of focus.

About 82% of stu­dents at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Texas — Rio Grande Val­ley feel that their teach­ers put a lot of effort into their teach­ing. Addi­tion­al­ly, 64% of stu­dents said they got the class­es they want­ed when they need­ed them.

What We Like: the uni­ver­si­ty accepts four out of five stu­dents who apply and 91% of stu­dents who attend have some form of finan­cial aid.

Degree: Envi­ron­men­tal Sci­ence BS

Uni­ver­si­ty of Texas RGV

3. CUNY Lehman College

CUNY Lehman College’s BS in Envi­ron­men­tal Sci­ence is one of the most afford­able envi­ron­men­tal sci­ence degrees stu­dents can choose. This inter­dis­ci­pli­nary pro­gram con­sists of 46 cred­its need­ed to com­plete the major. Both basic and advanced sci­en­tif­ic cours­es make up the major­i­ty of these class­es and stu­dents choose from a num­ber of spe­cial­iza­tions. Spe­cial­iza­tions include urban envi­ron­men­tal man­age­ment, ecol­o­gy, envi­ron­men­tal analy­sis and geol­o­gy. Required cours­es include intro­duc­tion to envi­ron­men­tal sci­ence, envi­ron­men­tal sci­ence lab­o­ra­to­ry, and quan­ti­ta­tive geography.

This pres­ti­gious school offers an eclec­tic study body and easy access to New York City. It has a high­ly com­pet­i­tive accep­tance process.

What We Like: CUNY Lehman Col­lege ranks eighth among New York stop pub­lic universities.

Degree: Envi­ron­men­tal Sci­ence BS

CUNY Lehman College

4. California State University, Northridge

Cal­i­for­nia State Uni­ver­si­ty, North­ridge also has one of the most afford­able envi­ron­men­tal sci­ence degrees. Grad­u­ates emerge with a BA or BS in Geog­ra­phy and Envi­ron­men­tal Stud­ies. This pro­gram pre­pares stu­dents to exam­ine the envi­ron­ment across the earth’s sur­face. con­sist­ing of 46 cred­its, course­work for this tract includes social sci­ence, phys­i­cal and region­al geog­ra­phy and relat­ed course­work. Stu­dents can choose from a num­ber of spe­cial­iza­tions includ­ing geo­graph­ic infor­ma­tion­al sys­tems or GIS. GIS class­es teach stu­dents the tech­nol­o­gy need­ed to pur­sue careers in dig­i­tal car­tog­ra­phy, remote sens­ing and oth­er geo­graph­i­cal data col­lec­tion and pre­sen­ta­tion. There’s also an option for those who wish to teach after graduation.

Cal State North­ridge is locat­ed in Los Ange­les. This huge insti­tu­tion has more than 29,000 under­grad­u­ate stu­dents. The fair­ly com­pet­i­tive admis­sions process admits three out of five stu­dents. Those who make the cut can major in busi­ness, psy­chol­o­gy, soci­ol­o­gy or dozens of oth­er majors.

What We Like: The school’s com­pet­i­tive accep­tance process means that just 59% of stu­dents who apply get the green light to attend. How­ev­er, once they are accept­ed, stu­dents have a good chance of get­ting finan­cial aid as 86% of cur­rent stu­dents do.

Degree: BA or BS in Geog­ra­phy and Envi­ron­men­tal Studies

Cal­i­for­nia State Uni­ver­si­ty, Northridge

5. University of Washington — Bothell

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Washington-Bothell’s Envi­ron­men­tal Sci­ence BS is one of the most afford­able envi­ron­men­tal sci­ence degrees. Stu­dents major­ing in envi­ron­men­tal sci­ences can com­plete path­ways in earth sys­tem sci­ence or con­ser­va­tion-restora­tion ecol­o­gy. How­ev­er, the uni­ver­si­ty is cur­rent­ly not accept­ing new stu­dents into this program.

UW Both­ell is locat­ed in the Seat­tle area in Wash­ing­ton. This small school has just over 4,600 under­grad­u­ate stu­dents and a mod­er­ate­ly com­pet­i­tive accep­tance rate of 74%. Among many of its majors, the most pop­u­lar are nurs­ing, busi­ness and com­put­er science.

What We Like: The Uni­ver­si­ty of Wash­ing­ton-Both­ell ranks third among the state’s top pub­lic universities.

Degree: Envi­ron­men­tal Sci­ence BS

Uni­ver­si­ty of Washington-Bothell

6. Brigham Young University — Idaho

Brigham Young Uni­ver­si­ty-Ida­ho offers a BS in Envi­ron­men­tal Geo­science that is one of the most afford­able envi­ron­men­tal sci­ence degrees. This BS allow stu­dents to pre­pare for careers in envi­ron­ment man­age­ment. Oth­er stu­dents go on to study envi­ron­men­tal haz­ards or poli­cies. The inter­dis­ci­pli­nary degree includes tech­ni­cal as well as the­o­ret­i­cal sub­ject mat­ter. For exam­ple, stu­dents take required cours­es in GIS and sta­tis­tics. Grad­u­ates can look for­ward to jobs in gov­ern­ment or reg­u­la­to­ry agen­cies. Many stu­dents also go on to get their master’s degree after com­plet­ing this track. To bet­ter pre­pare stu­dents for a career or future stud­ies, the pro­gram requires an intern­ship tak­en for cred­it. Some intern­ships are paid.

Brigham Young Uni­ver­si­ty-Ida­ho and super pair stu­dents for life­long learn­ing. The school likes to go above and beyond teach­ing aca­d­e­mics. There­fore, stu­dents can look for­ward to prepa­ra­tion for employ­ment and pos­i­tive par­tic­i­pa­tion in com­mu­ni­ty life, includ­ing home and church environments.

What We Like: BYU-Ida­ho is ranked third among the coun­try’s most con­ser­v­a­tive colleges.

Degree: BS in Envi­ron­men­tal Geoscience

Brigham Young University-Idaho

7. California State University, Fullerton

Cal­i­for­nia State Uni­ver­si­ty, Fuller­ton has one of the most afford­able envi­ron­men­tal sci­ence degrees avail­able. Stu­dents com­plete 36 cred­it hours and must have a 3.0 GPA in order to grad­u­ate with this degree. Many stu­dents con­tin­ue their course­work by rolling over some of their under­grad­u­ate 400 or 500-lev­el class­es into the school’s grad­u­ate pro­gram. Some of the cours­es include envi­ron­men­tal stud­ies and elec­tives. How­ev­er, stu­dents can also take cross-dis­ci­pli­nary elec­tives for up to 15 cred­its of their major.

Cal State Fuller­ton has the largest stu­dent body in the Cal State sys­tem, at more than 41,000 enrolled, and is a rec­og­nized His­pan­ic-Serv­ing Insti­tu­tion. It is also on track for Asian Amer­i­can Native Amer­i­can Pacif­ic Islander serv­ing insti­tu­tion (AANAPISI) status.

What We Like: The uni­ver­si­ty ranks eleventh among Cal­i­for­ni­a’s top pub­lic uni­ver­si­ties. This helps ensure that stu­dents will receive a high-qual­i­ty edu­ca­tion with tra­di­tion­al con­ser­v­a­tive values.

Degree: Envi­ron­men­tal Studies

Cal­i­for­nia State Uni­ver­si­ty, Fullerton

8. CUNY City College of New York

CUNY City Col­lege has one of the most afford­able envi­ron­men­tal sci­ence degrees in the coun­try. Stu­dents who com­plete the course work receive a BSN envi­ron­men­tal earth sys­tem sci­ence. The cur­ricu­lum includes envi­ron­men­tal engi­neer­ing cours­es and stu­dents choose from three dif­fer­ent spe­cial­iza­tions: Ener­gy, Remote Sens­ing and Water Resources. This degree pre­pares stu­dents for entry-lev­el jobs in the indus­try or grad­u­ate stud­ies upon graduation.

CUNY City Col­lege is Strate­gi­cal­ly locat­ed in Man­hat­tan, New York. There are over 10,000 stu­dents in this large insti­tu­tion. Few­er than half of those who apply gain admit­tance to this pres­ti­gious school. With a 46% accep­tance rate, the school has its choice of top stu­dents. Those who do study here choose from dozens of majors includ­ing mechan­i­cal engi­neer­ing, biol­o­gy and psychology.

What We Like: Over 87% of stu­dents who go to CUNY City Col­lege receive some kind of finan­cial aid.

Degree: Envi­ron­men­tal Earth Sys­tem Sci­ence BS

CUNY City College

9. California State University, San Bernardino

Cal­i­for­nia State Uni­ver­si­ty, San Bernardi­no also has one of the most afford­able envi­ron­men­tal sci­ence degrees. The pro­gram fea­tures inter­dis­ci­pli­nary class­es from a num­ber of depart­ments. Social sci­ences, nat­ur­al sci­ences and human­i­ties com­ple­ment the math and sci­ence reg­i­men asso­ci­at­ed with this major. Cours­es include eco­nom­ics, law, plan­ning, pop­u­la­tion con­trol, ecol­o­gy and envi­ron­men­tal sci­ence, to name a few. There are two degree paths to help stu­dents pre­pare for their pre­ferred career track. Envi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­i­ty and envi­ron­men­tal sys­tems are both use­ful con­cen­tra­tions for stu­dents who wish to work in envi­ron­men­tal sci­ences after grad­u­a­tion. Besides going to grad­u­ate school, stu­dents often get jobs in envi­ron­men­tal health, pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion or envi­ron­men­tal law.

At the Cal­i­for­nia State Uni­ver­si­ty, San Bernardi­no stu­dents find a gor­geous 430-acre cam­pus in the mid­dle of the San Bernardi­no Moun­tains. This mid­size school strives to pro­vide a col­lege expe­ri­ence focused on learn­ing and com­mu­ni­ty. Focus­ing on small class­es and well-equipped facil­i­ties and lab­o­ra­to­ries, the offers strong sup­port ser­vices for stu­dents and fac­ul­ty mem­bers are high­ly avail­able to students.

What We Like: Approx­i­mate­ly 89% of appli­cants are accept­ed and 93% of stu­dents achieve some sort of finan­cial assistance.

Degree: BA in Envi­ron­men­tal Studies

Cal­i­for­nia State Uni­ver­si­ty, San Bernardino

10. CUNY Queens College

CUNY Queens Col­lege also offers one of the most afford­able envi­ron­men­tal sci­ence degrees in envi­ron­men­tal stud­ies. Grad­u­ates are in a BS or BA in envi­ron­men­tal sci­ence. Stu­dents inter­est­ed in the envi­ron­ment can choose between a more sci­en­tif­ic or gen­er­al major. Both pro­grams are designed to facil­i­tate future careers in gov­ern­ment ser­vice, pri­vate sec­tor jobs focus­ing on the envi­ron­ment, and non­prof­it orga­ni­za­tions. Alter­nate­ly, stu­dents can choose either track as a minor.

Queens Col­lege is a well-respect­ed pub­lic Col­lege in the New York City area. This large insti­tu­tion has more than 12,000 under­grad­u­ate stu­dents and offers a huge selec­tion of majors. Some of the most pop­u­lar majors for those accept­ed into the school include account­ing and eco­nom­ics. Just under half of those who apply gain admit­tance to Queens College.

What We Like: Rate of 49%, this is a high­ly sought-after school and 79% of stu­dents who attend to get some kind of finan­cial aid.

Degree: BA or BS in Envi­ron­men­tal Sci­ence or BA in Envi­ron­men­tal Studies

CUNY Queens College

Could a Certification in Environmental Science Help My Career?

Yes, envi­ron­men­tal sci­ence cer­ti­fi­ca­tions can help your career, and it’s some­thing that envi­ron­men­tal sci­ence grad­u­ates fre­quent­ly add to their resume on top of their envi­ron­men­tal sci­ence degree. Envi­ron­men­tal sci­ence cov­ers mul­ti­ple career con­cen­tra­tions that range from work­ing in wet­land envi­ron­ments to seek­ing out OSHA vio­la­tions. The field of envi­ron­men­tal sci­ences is one that requires con­tin­u­ing edu­ca­tion and exper­tise in a giv­en con­cen­tra­tion. Earn­ing mul­ti­ple cre­den­tials helps your career and posi­tions you for advance­ment in the field. You can earn your degree in envi­ron­men­tal sci­ences with a par­tic­u­lar con­cen­tra­tion, go on to earn your mas­ter’s degree in order to fur­ther refine that con­cen­tra­tion, and add envi­ron­men­tal sci­ence cer­ti­fi­ca­tions to your degrees.

Envi­ron­men­tal sci­ence cer­ti­fi­ca­tions are avail­able in two types: edu­ca­tion­al pro­fes­sion­al cer­tifi­cates and pro­fes­sion­al orga­ni­za­tions. A pro­fes­sion­al cer­tifi­cate from a col­lege or uni­ver­si­ty are designed to enhance an exist­ing bach­e­lor’s degree edu­ca­tion in envi­ron­men­tal sci­ences or a relat­ed field. If you already hold a bach­e­lor’s degree in envi­ron­men­tal sci­ence, you can take a pro­fes­sion­al cer­tifi­cate pro­gram to enhance your knowl­edge in a giv­en area of the field with­out return­ing to school for a mas­ter’s degree. You can earn as many pro­fes­sion­al cer­tifi­cates as you like, and many schools offer online pro­grams for pro­fes­sion­al cer­tifi­cates. Online pro­grams enable you to learn at your own pace and main­tain a career at the same time.

Envi­ron­men­tal sci­ence cer­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­grams con­sist of exams that test your knowl­edge in your giv­en area of envi­ron­men­tal sci­ence. For exam­ple: The Nation­al Reg­istry of Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­fes­sion­als (NREP) offers a vari­ety of cre­den­tials to envi­ron­men­tal sci­ence degree hold­ers who are work­ing in the areas of air, water, waste, green chem­istry, brown­fields and more. Earn­ing any one of the cre­den­tials offered by NREP shows an employ­er or cus­tomer that you have done your due dili­gence to show pro­fi­cien­cy in your cho­sen area of envi­ron­men­tal sci­ence and can per­form your work accord­ing to indus­try standards.

How Much Can I Make with an Environmental Science Degree?

The aver­age degree in envi­ron­men­tal sci­ence salary accord­ing to the Bureau of Labor Sta­tis­tics for 2020 is $73,230 per year. This amount rep­re­sents the aver­age envi­ron­men­tal sci­ence degree salary across the coun­try. The actu­al aver­age degree in envi­ron­men­tal sci­ence salary depends on var­i­ous fac­tors that include expe­ri­ence, area of con­cen­tra­tion, and phys­i­cal loca­tion. The field is expect­ed to grow by 8% between 2020 and 2030 which match­es the aver­age for all jobs across the coun­try, and an esti­mat­ed 9,400 open­ings for envi­ron­men­tal sci­en­tists are avail­able each year. Most open­ings are the result of peo­ple mov­ing out of the field and exit­ing the labor force entire­ly due to retirement.

The aver­age envi­ron­men­tal sci­ence degree salary can and does vary depend­ing on geo­graph­i­cal loca­tion and where you’re employed. One option to improve on the aver­age salary for envi­ron­men­tal sci­ence degree is to start your own busi­ness once you’ve man­aged to obtain suf­fi­cient expe­ri­ence work­ing in your par­tic­u­lar con­cen­tra­tion of envi­ron­men­tal sci­ences. The demand for busi­ness­es run by indi­vid­u­als with a bach­e­lor’s degree in envi­ron­men­tal sci­ence is expect­ed to grow as more peo­ple and busi­ness­es want to incor­po­rate green prac­tices into their dai­ly life and oper­a­tions. You can open your own doors or become a fran­chise oper­a­tor in order to take advan­tage of a rec­og­nized name. Going into busi­ness for your­self can great­ly boost your envi­ron­men­tal sci­ence degree salary and give you access to an entre­pre­neur­ial lifestyle.

Relat­ed Rankings:

25 Best Bach­e­lor’s in Envi­ron­men­tal Science

15 Best Online Bach­e­lor’s in Envi­ron­men­tal Science

10 Fastest Online Bach­e­lor’s in Envi­ron­men­tal Science