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Undergraduate Students

Environmental Science & Sustainability (ESS) provides the best opportunities on campus to get outside, discover the natural world, and prepare to solve some of humanities biggest challenges. As you go through your degree, you will discover how societal and ecological dynamics shape the world we live in. We outline the major "core" classes below, followed by different options for electives.

ESS core classes
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Study abroad
Study abroad
Environmental Biology (PWS 150) is offered as a traditional course or as a study abroad. Here students learn about rice production in the mountains of China.
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Field Ecology
Field Ecology
In PWS 250, you will learn about the local and global environment through outings or studies abroad. Here, students are learning about cocoa bean cultivation in South America.
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Careers in Environmental Science
Careers in Environmental Science
In PWS 155, you will meet with professionals from different sectors, including private corporations, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations.
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Soil Science
Soil Science
In PWS 282, you will learn about soil formation, conservation, and hydrology. This lays the basis for understanding ecosystems, agriculture, and sustainability.
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Watershed Ecology
Watershed Ecology
PWS 305 will teach you how to measure water chemistry, gauge rivers, and engage with the community. Here, students collect samples from the Spanish Fork River.
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Environmental Microbiology and Biogeochemistry
Environmental Microbiology and Biogeochemistry
In PWS 365, you’ll travel around Utah to learn how microbes shape the world. Here students learn about halophiles in the Great Salt Lake.
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Environmental Policies and Laws
Environmental Policies and Laws
In PWS 375, you will dive into the world of regulation and management. You will explore how environmental law is made and enforced.
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Plant Physiology
Plant Physiology
In PWS 440, you will learn what regulates plant growth and sustainable human-plant relationships. Here, students learn to examine trees like an arborist.
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Capstone: Advanced Data Analysis and Writing
Capstone: Advanced Data Analysis and Writing
In the capstone course (PWS 480), you will apply all your skills to carry out a scientific study and submit it for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Establish yourself in your field before you even graduate!
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Electives and emphases


In addition to the core classes above, you will have the flexibility to choose electives that support your interests. You can work with any faculty member to create a custom plan, or follow one of the emphases below to help guide you in your class selection:

  1. SOIL SCIENCE & CONSERVATION: This emphasis prepares you to learn what practices and principles can sustain and improve soil health for society and the environment. You will combine the fundamentals of soil science with the most recent management advances.
  2. WATER RESOURCES & CONSERVATION: This emphasis addresses the interactions between humans and water from local to global scales. You will integrate water chemistry, hydrology, and societal demand to improve human flourishing and aquatic sustainability.
  3. ECOSYSTEM ECOLOGY: This research-focused emphasis includes interactions of organisms and the physical environment at various scales. You will learn about plants, microorganisms, climate, and human disturbance in an ecological framework.
  4. ECO-BUSINESS: This emphasis connects environmental science, business, and economics. These interdisciplinary classes will help you understand the triple bottom line (people, planet, profits) and learn sustainable business practices.
  5. GLOBAL SUSTAINABILITY: This emphasis focuses on the global issues threatening the Earth system: pollution and public health, climate change, eutrophication, and loss of biodiversity. You will learn the causes of these crises and approaches to a better future.
  6. ENVIRONMENTAL INFORMATICS: This emphasis equips you with the analytical tools to interpret environmental data streams. You will develop analytical skills, including statistical, machine learning, and big data approaches.
  7. SUSTAINABLE PRACTICES & POLICY: This emphasis focuses on how human behaviors and policies can contribute to sustainable outcomes. You will learn to be a change agent by integrating behavioral economics, life-cycle analysis, and environmental law.

Minoring in ESS


Minoring in ESS connects you with the students and faculty while you continue your degree in another field. We have ESS minors from almost every program on campus, and their diverse perspectives strengthen the program.

Graduate Students

If you are interested in pursuing an MS or PhD in ESS, check out the resources below. Once you know the basics, reach out to the faculty member you are interested in working with to ask if they are accepting applications. Our MS program is called Environmental Science and our PhD program is called Wildlife and Wildlands Conservation.

Graduate Resources
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Knowing her grandchildren would inherit the world she left behind, she did not work for flourishing in her time only. It was through her actions of reciprocity—the give and take with the land—that the original immigrant became indigenous. For all of us, becoming indigenous to place means living as if your children’s future mattered. To take care of the land as if our lives, both material and spiritual, depended on it.
ROBIN WALL KIMMERER