Environmental science degrees online work in much the same ways as pursuing a more traditional offline degree. However, a degree in environmental science online can come with numerous potential benefits that prospective students should look out for and take advantage of.
In some cases, online environmental science degrees can simply make a lot more sense than other types of degree programs. This comes from the inherent nature of online degrees in environmental science and online degrees in general. For example, environmental science degrees online can require the minimum amount of time needed in an actual facility. Students may still need to take occasional trips for labs, research, and other parts of the curriculum. However, students will generally have more leeway to do things on their own time with a degree in environmental science online.
It’s important to note that online environmental science degrees hold no difference from degrees received through other means. All the same, rules apply, and the things that make a degree worth it from a brick-and-mortar college will still make the degree worth it when received through an online program. In fact, many accredited colleges offer online degrees in environmental science. If a prospective student uses the same diligence to choose an online option as they would an offline option, the degree in environmental science online will open just as many doors for them. Even better when the online degree offers flexibility and options that the traditional route simply can’t.
Methodology: Ranking the Best Online Environmental Science Degrees
Bachelor’s Degree Center editors feature only accredited, reputable online institutions for the ranking of the best online environmental science degrees. We have ranked programs according to cost, graduate salary, and student reviews, using info from IPEDS and Niche.
1. Purdue University Global
Purdue University Global offers a BS in Environmental Policy and Management that is considered one of the best online environmental science degrees available in the marketplace. Students enrolled in Purdue’s online environmental science program must complete 180 quarter credits, equal to 120-semester credits, delivered in ten-week terms. Students may enroll in a dual master’s degree program, which saves time and tuition fees when earning both environmental science degrees together. Sample classes include the global environment, the politics of managing the environment, and socially responsible leadership.
Purdue University Global is the online branch of the world-famous Purdue University. It was founded in 2008 when Purdue bought the then for-profit Kaplan University.
What We Like: Purdue University Global operates as an open admissions school with a student enrollment that exceeds 38,050 students each year.
Degree: Environmental Policy and Management BS
2. University of Illinois
The University of Illinois’s School of Earth, Society & Environment offers a Bachelor of Science degree (BS) program in Earth, Society and Environmental Sustainability that ranks among the most innovative & best online environmental science degrees. Applicants to the University of Illinois must have a minimum of 30-semester units (or about one year of earned credits) to be eligible for admission. Most of the university’s classes are eight-week terms, with some coursework requiring 16 weeks. Degree candidates can opt for one of two concentrations – science in the earth system and society & the environment.
The University of Illinois was developed as an industrial school in the 1860s. Additionally, U of I is a sea, space, and land-grant school and the flagship campus of the state’s university system.
What We Like: The University of Illinois’s student enrollment online and on-campus exceeds 56,550 postgraduate and undergraduate students each year.
Degree: Earth, Society and Environmental Sustainability B.S.
3. University of Florida
The University of Florida offers a BS in Environmental Management in Agriculture and Natural Resources that is being provided through an interdisciplinary approach. The University of Florida’s best online environmental science degrees prepares graduates for rewarding careers as a natural resource manager, conservation officer, conservation scientist, or sustainability consultant, to name a few. Students must finish a minimum of 120-semester units to meet UF’s graduation requirements. Sample classes include agricultural & environmental quality and natural resource ecology, among others.
The University of Florida is the Sunshine State’s land-grant and flagship school that was chartered in the 1850s. The university’s sixteen colleges/schools serve more than 55,500 students each year.
What We Like: The University of Florida holds the distinction as being ranked among the five best public higher learning institutions in the nation, according to US News.
Degree: Environmental Management BS
4. University of Wisconsin
The University of Wisconsin offers a BS in Sustainable Management that is among Wisconsin’s best online environmental science degrees designed as a completion degree program. This baccalaureate degree from the University of Wisconsin in environment science includes 20 courses and a capstone project that includes economics in society and sustainability, climate change & sustainability, natural resource management, international development & sustainability, marketing for a sustainable world, business communications, and systems thinking, to name a few.
Established under the Morrill Act as a land-grant school in the 1840s, the University of Wisconsin is now the state’s flagship research school. The University of Wisconsin’s online and on-campus enrollment exceeds 45,150 students each year.
What We Like: The Madison campus of UW was established the same year Wisconsin achieved statehood.
Degree: Sustainable Management BS
5. Indiana University
Indiana University offers a BA in Sustainability Studies that US News & World Report ranks among the country’s best online environmental science degrees. Degree candidates enrolled in Indiana University’s baccalaureate degree in environmental science is taught in a cohort model and required at least 120-semester units, 42 of which is from the sustainability curriculum. Featured coursework for this program includes scientific foundations of sustainability, business and economics of sustainability, and social & behavioral foundations of sustainability, among others.
Charted in the 1820s, Indiana University now operates as a multi-campus school, with a student enrollment that exceeds 100,000 across campuses and online. The Bloomington Campus is the flagship school of the state’s university system.
What We Like: The combined IU and Purdue University campus is home to nearly 30,000 students.
Degree: Sustainability Studies BA
6. Arizona State University
Arizona State University offers both a BA and a BS in Sustainability that offers students three academic tracks from which to choose – sustainable ecosystems, the economics of sustainability, and sustainable energy, materials, and technology. Arizona State University’s best online environmental science degrees prepare students for careers as environmental economists, compliance managers, climate change analysts, environmental restoration planners, or recycling coordinators, among others. Students complete 40 classes, delivered in 7.5-week terms, with multiple start dates offered each calendar year.
Arizona State University (ASU) was established as a public higher learning institution with multiple campuses in the greater Phoenix and Tempe area. The total student enrollment for online and on-campus students is near 104,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students each year.
What We Like: Arizona State University offers more than 425 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
Degree: BS in Sustainability
7. Florida International University
Florida International University offers a BA in Sustainability and the Environment that requires degree candidates to finish at least 120-degree program hours to meet FIU’s graduation criteria. Featured coursework for FIU’s best online environmental science degrees the global environment and society, energy flow in natural & man-made systems, earth resources, applied field ecology, natural resource valuation, earth ethics, and environmental resources and pollution, plus a capstone of sustainability in action, among others.
Founded in the mid-1960s, Florida International University now operates as a space-grant institution of higher education with multiple campuses. The online platform and campuses of Florida International University are home to almost 59,000 students.
What We Like: Florida International University athletes play as Panthers as a Division I NCAA team, with many national championships earned over the years.
Degree: Sustainability and the Environment BA
8. Washington State University
Washington State University College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Resource Sciences offers a Bachelor of Science degree (BS) program in Earth and Environmental Sciences that ranks among the most innovative & best online environmental science degrees in the nation, according to US News and World Report. The bachelor’s degree in environmental science offers students the opportunity to earn an Organic Agriculture certificate simultaneously. Sample coursework includes the science and policy of climate change, earth’s history and evolution, and the introduction to geographic information systems, among others.
Washington State University (WSU) is among the oldest of higher learning institutions on the west coast. Founded in 1890 as a land-grant school, Washington State University now operates with multiple campuses across the state and online.
What We Like: Washington State University athletes play as Cougars in the Pac-12 in fifteen men and women’s sports.
Degree: Earth and Environmental Sciences BS
9. University of Arizona
The University of Arizona offers a BS in Environmental Science that can be completed entirely online. UA’s best online environmental science degrees are also recognized to be a ‘best-value’ school, according to onlineU.com. Students enrolled in the University of Arizona’s baccalaureate environmental science degree offers two academic concentrations – soil, air, and water emphasis or the leadership, sustainability, and communication emphasis. Core classes for UA’s degree program include biology, introductory microbiology, physics, and chemistry, to name a few.
The University of Arizona is a space and land-grant institution of higher learning that was established in the 1880s under the Morrill College Land Act. The University of Arizona is organized into nineteen schools/colleges that serve nearly 46,000 students each year.
What We Like: The main Tucson campus covers nearly 400 acres and is within walking distance of downtown.
Degree: Environmental Science BS
10. Texas A&M University-Commerce
Texas A&M University-Commerce offers a BS in Environmental Science that can be completed online in four years, without a thesis requirement. Texas A&M University’s best online environmental science degrees include classes in environmental hydrology, research methods in environmental science, risk assessment, soil science, introduction to environmental toxicology, and environmental ethics law, to name a few. Total semester credits required to complete Texas A&M University’s baccalaureate degree in environmental science are 120.
Texas A&M University (TAMU Commerce) was founded as a normal school in the late 1880s and is one of the oldest higher learning institutions located in the Lone Star State. The student enrollment of TAMU Commerce exceeds 12,100 students, with about sixty percent of the students studying for undergraduate degrees.
What We Like: Texas A&M University’s main campus is located about 60 miles from Dallas’s downtown.
Degree: Environmental Science BS
11. Oregon State University
Oregon State University offers a BS in Environmental Science, with four start dates each year. Degree candidates enrolled in Oregon State University’s best online environmental science degrees are required to finish a minimum of 180 quarter credits, which is equivalent to 120-semester units. There are seven specializations for this OSU degree program which include environmental water resources, policy and economics, applied ecology, environmental agriculture, earth systems, aquatic biology and conservation, resources & sustainability.
Oregon State University is a four-designation school (sea, sun, space, and land-grant) institution of higher education that was established in the 1860s. More than 31,550 undergraduate and postgraduate students each year. The university maintains campuses in Corvallis and Bend, with many students also studying online.
What We Like: OSU was originally a prep/primary school but began offering college-level programs about a decade later.
Degree: Environmental Science BS
12. Northern Arizona University
Northern Arizona University’s College of the Environment, Forestry & Natural Sciences offers a Bachelor of Science degree (BS) program in Environmental Science that is recognized among the most innovative and University’s best online environmental science degrees available. Available concentrations for NAU’s baccalaureate degree in environmental science include management, communications, climate, chemistry, biology, environmental geology, applied statistics, and environmental administration and policy, although not every emphasis is available entirely online. Northern Arizona University’s bachelor’s degree in environmental science requires students to complete 120-semester units with an overall major GPA of at least 2.0.
Northern Arizona University is a public institution of higher education that was founded in 1899, more than a decade before Arizona reached statehood. In addition, Northern Arizona University maintains several campuses and a distance-learning platform that serve approximately 30,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students each year.
What We Like: The campus of NAU is nearly 7,000 feet above sea level, which makes it ideal for athletes to train in high altitudes.
Degree: Environmental Science BS
13. SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
SUNY’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry offers a BS in Sustainability through the university’s Open Academy. SUNY’s best online environmental science degrees are offered as completion programs, with applicants required to have completed earned credits for the first two years of college. SUNY’s completion degree in environmental science can be completed in two years, entirely online. Sample classes for this program include ecological dimensions of sustainability, principles of sustainable development, analysis of sustainable systems, and managerial economics for sustainability.
The State University of New York’s (SUNY ESF) College of Environmental Science & Forestry (ESF) is in upstate NY, in the city of Syracuse. Founded in 1911, ESF is situated next to Syracuse University and partners with the school in many academic ways.
What We Like: The College of Environmental Science & Forestry maintains facilities across the state, in Costa Rica and the Thousand Islands.
Degree: Sustainability BS
SUNY’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry
14. Columbia College (MO)
Columbia College offers a BS in Environmental Science that is one of Missouri’s best online environmental science degrees. Degree candidates enrolled in Columbia College’s environmental science program have opportunities to study taxonomy, natural resource management, population genetics, environmental chemistry, zoology, ecology, plant anatomy, and biodiversity. Graduates of this program from Columbia find rewarding work as botanists, soil technicians, natural resource managers, or water quality technicians, among others.
Columbia College is a multi-campus higher learning institution that was chartered in the 1850s by a legislative act of the Missouri Government. The college operates as a nonsectarian institution of higher education with nearly three-dozen facilities and extended campuses across thirteen states and Cuba.
What We Like: The school’s student enrollment is approximately 10,000, with about a third of enrolled students associated with one of the military branches.
Degree: Environmental Science BS
15. North Carolina Central University
North Carolina Central University offers a 120-credit BS in Environmental and Geographic Sciences with a geoscience academic concentration that is USGIF accredited. North Carolina Central University’s best online environmental science degrees include classes in field mapping, principles of remote sensing, Applied GIS, geospatial statistics, urban geography geohazards analysis, climatology, advanced physical geography, oceanography, and conservation of natural resources, plus an independent geoscience study, to name a few.
North Carolina Central University was established more than 100 years ago in 1910 for teacher’s training. NCCU is recognized as an HBCU school and a member of Thurgood Marshall’s College Fund. NCCU’s campus is just a mile from Durham’s downtown and a few miles to the east of Duke University.
What We Like: Many of NCCU’s buildings on campus are included in a historic district, with the entire campus listed in 1986 with the National Register of Historic Places.
Degree: Environmental and Geographic Sciences BS
Can I Trust an Online Environmental Science Degree?
An accredited online environmental science degree is the same degree as an environmental science degree received through other programs. The thing that makes an online environmental science degree trustworthy is also the same thing a prospective student would want from a traditional school’s program. Those things include reputation, accreditation, and recognition.
A prospective student can easily do some research online when they’re considering any degree program. People who have attended, graduated, or also considered the same program will undoubtedly have written something about their personal experience. It’s also possible to look up alumni from colleges as well as find other sources that contain reviews and other recommendations concerning environmental science degree programs specifically.
Accreditation is something like the stamp of approval that a college, university, or program receives from a body of professionals in the field. Often, an accredited online environmental science degree will have the same accreditations that traditional schools have. As some schools also offer online programs, the program will carry that school’s accredited status.
Professional accreditation for the environmental science degree programs specifically, rather than for the entire school, will also ensure the student receives a degree with recognition by the industry, vertical, or specialized career the student chooses to go into. The field of environmental science includes:
- Waste management
- environmental health
- environmental law
- data analysis
- social sciences
- human health
Besides general education and the fundamentals of environmental studies, online education will require you to get into the natural world and do fieldwork yourself. Full-time students will be ready for entry-level jobs in the field.
Prospective students can trust an online environmental science degree, but they must pay attention to what the program offers. This same logic applies to any degree program, whether online or off.
Learn the admission requirements, required credit hours, electives, and financial aid needs before you commit to a bachelor of science in environmental science program. Many online degree programs allow students to transfer credits and get credit for work experience. An academic advisor can help online students and learners to navigate their online bachelor’s degree program.
What Can I Do with an Environmental Science Degree?
Because an environmental science degree includes a multidisciplinary curriculum, jobs with an environmental science degree can vary widely. When looking for jobs with environmental science degrees as a requirement, prospects will likely notice that the degree can help them through numerous doors. Environmental scientists investigate environmental issues and environmental problems. Career paths include environmental engineering and environmental studies.
Specialization can come into play when trying to figure out what jobs can you get with an environmental science degree. For this reason, the jobs you can get with environmental science degree completion will have a lot to do with personal goals.
For those who ask what can I do with an environmental science degree, the answer will depend primarily on the person asking. Jobs with an environmental science degree exist in both the public and private sectors. These careers can range from zoologist to journalist to biologist and practically anything between. It’s even possible to find political jobs for environmental science degrees.
Just as important are real-world problem-solving and critical thinking skills. The Bureau of Labor Statistics sees an increasing need for experts in the field.
Environmental science itself often breaks down into four very broad supercategories: Atmospheric sciences, Ecology, Environmental chemistry, and Geosciences. Each of these supercategories contains a plethora of subcategories that also have sub-subcategories. Asking what can I do with an environmental science degree can lead to answers that include:
- Wildlife managers
- Horticulturists and arborists
- Environmental lawyers
- Agricultural engineer
The list of jobs with an environmental science degree really does go on and on. The degree also lends itself well to certain types of entrepreneurship. For some careers, applicants may need to continue their education or pursue additional certifications.