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Notable Environmental Science Schools

mintchoc02mintchoc02 Registered User Posts: 10 New Member
Hey guys I was wondering what the best environmental science schools are, or are the ones you guys know are known to have a highly ranked program. I checked online but every source gives me a different answer.
I know Stanford, Harvard, Princeton, etc. have good programs so I'm talking about less prestigious schools. I know some schools aren't highly ranked but still have strong majors.
I know it's a lesser cared about major but I really want to work in the EPA when I grow up.

Replies to: Notable Environmental Science Schools

  • wisteria100wisteria100 Registered User Posts: 3,950 Senior Member
    University of Vermont
  • privatebankerprivatebanker Registered User Posts: 2,361 Senior Member
    University of Rhode Island for oceanography and marine biology.
  • TTGTTG Registered User Posts: 1,527 Senior Member
    It's a strength at the University of Vermont, which is really a strong school (and they really featured it at the info session we attended), and more of a mid-size national university, with something of an urban LAC feel. Burlington is one of the great college towns, and downtown area, including Church Street (google it) is a 10-15 minute walk from campus. Lake Champlain is right there, with Adirondacks to the west, across the lake. It's a great outdoorsy school, although very, very cold. I'd go just to live in Burlington, and Vermont, but was also impressed by the school, and this department.


    You might also look at a school like the University of Oregon. It is often listed as a top outdoorsy, hiking university. Eugene is also a cool college town, and if you want to work on environmental issues, which is great, then spending time in the outdoors is probably good. I don't really know anything about this department though.


    Another perhaps out-of-the-box one (depending where you live): University of Nevada in Reno (state flagship). It's an urban campus but nature all around, including Lake Tahoe, Sierra Nevada, Great Basin, Pyramid Lake, Truckee River. I know several people doing environmental work there. Really top people are there, especially working on western freshwater ecology. And, in terms of paying for college, the casinos are right there! (That was a joke--but really a pretty cool environmental school.)


    One other possibility: College of William and Mary--lots of ties to DC area, environmental science major, extremely strong government program, Chesapeake Bay, and VIMS is a part of William and Mary, and that might provide opportunities, though I don't know how much interaction there is between undergrad studies and VIMS.



    But, in general, a lot of the large state schools will be a good place to look for good programs in this major. I'm a big advocate for LACs, but, in general, this is a field where I'd look toward larger universities.

    Good luck, great major!
  • GumbymomGumbymom Forum Champion UC Posts: 25,022 Forum Champion
    What area of the country are you looking for ES schools?

    For California:
    UC Berkeley
    UC Davis
    UC Santa Cruz
    UC Santa Barbara
    Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
    Humboldt State
  • TTGTTG Registered User Posts: 1,527 Senior Member
    I'll just add that ES is a field where I think, in general, it is really beneficial to get a lot of experience out in the field, whatever the region. A lot is being done at the state level. I think that having that perspective is really important, whether you end up in DC or elsewhere. In addition, it is always great to get some hands-on experience, to help really understand why one is studying what they are studying. This is more true in some fields than others. And I think ES is one where it is critical, where it is really important to understand how policies impact what is happening on the ground, literally. And to get a good perspective in real life on different perspectives that critical voices are bringing to the table.
  • TwinMom2023TwinMom2023 Registered User Posts: 418 Member
    My daughter wants to major in ES and CC has been very helpful. Under the radar were Allegheny, U of New Hampshire, definitely UVM, Dickinson, and Hobart and William Smith (research boat on Lake Seneca).
  • merc81merc81 Registered User Posts: 9,124 Senior Member
    edited July 2018
    Depending on your particular interests, you may choose to differentiate between environmental science and environmental studies. These schools would be particularly strong for environmental studies:

    College of the Atlantic (small, focused)
    Hamilton (Adirondack term open to students from other colleges)
    Hobart & William Smith
    St. Lawrence

    By a reasonable standard, several of these schools might rank more highly for environmental studies than those you noted in your original post. Several as well, though, would represent nearly equally challenging admits.
  • warblersrulewarblersrule Super Moderator Posts: 9,999 Super Moderator
    edited July 2018
    I like the list of liberal arts colleges above but would add Juniata, Connecticut College, Ohio Wesleyan, Lewis & Clark, Whitman, Colorado College, Occidental, and Cornell. There are many other excellent options, of course.

    Most public flagships and land grant universities are excellent places to study environmental science -- you can hardly go wrong with schools like U Montana, Auburn, Oregon State, Michigan State, etc.

    As an undergrad in environmental science, you'll want a solid grounding in all of the natural sciences as well as math through calculus (you'll need more math if you're interested in fields like geophysics or physical oceanography). There are dozens if not hundreds of schools that provide this training, so I recommend beginning with the standard criteria:
    • What are your stats?
    • How much financial or merit aid will you need, or what can you afford?
    • Would you prefer a small, medium, or large college?
    • Do you have preferences about setting (rural, college town, big city, etc.) or a region of the US?
    A search tool like IPEDS is very useful for drawing up a preliminary list.


    You can then trim your list based on academic factors after compiling a preliminary list.
  • CreeklandCreekland Registered User Posts: 4,991 Senior Member
    edited July 2018
    Where you go should be partially determined by where you want to live as many of these schools specialize in local or regional environmental fields.

    Common around us are:

    Juniata - by far #1 destination locally
    Penn St
    SUNY ESF (even though it's out of state)

    If you'd happen to want southern (in general) and/or marine science, I can't speak highly enough of Eckerd in FL. They're very much among or at the top of their field.

    I've heard good things about College of the Atlantic, but I don't think we've actually had a student go there. Maybe. My memory isn't what it used to be and there are 19 years of graduates I've seen now! Paul Smith's in NY is actually coming to mind too, but I think that's for Forestry. You'd have to check.
  • tk21769tk21769 Registered User Posts: 10,496 Senior Member
    edited July 2018
    I checked online but every source gives me a different answer.

    You're getting lots of different answers here, too!
    Not that they aren't all good suggestions, but you might get better-tailored feedback if you'd provide more information about yourself (qualifications, budget, personal preferences for size/location, etc.)

    One thing you might want to keep in mind is that Environmental Science is an interdisciplinary major.
    Schools that are said to be strong in ES, in general, might actually have specific strengths in one field or another. For example (just to take a few mentioned above), Eckerd seems to be strong in marine science, Colorado College in geology, Connecticut College in botany, etc. Sometimes a school's location reinforces these strengths.
  • mycelia01mycelia01 Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
    I agree with a lot that's been said in the responses here already, but will add my own two cents. I second that depending on your specific interests, your ideal choices for schools may change. If you are going out of state, you really should also pick a school that is in a region where you'd like to live part-time or even year-round for the entirety of your degree.

    I am also in agreement that you'd be able to get better, more tailored advice if you can give a little more information about yourself.

    Schools I would add to the list are:
    University of Colorado, Boulder
    University of Wyoming
    University of Alaska, Fairbanks

    All three are good research universities but are not strong in the same subjects. Boulder is probably strongest in geosciences, EEB, and environmental studies. Wyoming has an excellent geology/geophysics program (especially for study in paleontology and geochemistry), but also has strengths in botany, remote sensing, and entomology. UAF is excellent also for earth sciences (paleontology, volcanology, tectonics), with the addition of programs in marine sciences and ethnobotany.
  • aquaptaquapt Registered User Posts: 1,636 Senior Member
    In terms of your desire to work for the EPA, think about whether you want to develop expertise primarily in the science of the environment itself, or in the impact of environmental factors on human health. If the latter interests you, then look at schools with a strong health focus - programs like http://www.sas.rochester.edu/ph/undergraduate/majors/environmental-health.html and https://www.clarkson.edu/undergraduate/environmental-health-science . (You already have lots of suggestions for the most traditional enviro science tracks, so just throwing this aspect into the mix.)
  • intparentintparent Registered User Posts: 36,023 Senior Member
    Look at Whitman. They have MANY interdisciplinary options related to Environmental Studies & science. It is a big focus on the school, and less selective than some of the ones you listed. If I'd had a kid into that, I'm sure Whitman would have been on their short list. Carleton is another school with notable strength in this area.
  • tk21769tk21769 Registered User Posts: 10,496 Senior Member
    If geology/earth science is your thing, consider the Keck Consortium member colleges (including Whitman and Carleton).
  • bopambobopambo Registered User Posts: 1,285 Senior Member
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