Environmental Science, B.S.

Two students conducting field work in a forest.

Use science to help the environment.

Solve environmental problems and become an impactful environmental professional with an environmental science degree from Westfield State University. Learn how humans impact and interact with the environment in one of the largest Environmental Sciences Departments in the Northeast.  

This interdisciplinary, science-based, and collaborative program puts hands-on learning at the forefront. You’ll gain real-world experience through outdoor labs and fieldwork in small classes taught by our expert faculty.  

Customize your environmental degree with one or more of our three minors focused in high-demand areas:

  • Wildlife Conservation 
  • Wetlands Planning and Management 
  • Restoration Ecology 

Program Highlights

  • On campus 
  • Great outdoor experiences nearby
  • One-on-one faculty advising
  • Independent senior capstone research
  • Connections with alumni

Turn your passion for the environment into an exciting career.

Earn your environmental science degree and make an impact in this fast-growing industry.

Here, the great outdoors is your classroom.

  • Three students wearing masks carry an open tarp through a nature area.

    Restoration Ecology 

    Our newly created Restoration Ecology minor offers one of the only undergraduate programs of its kind in the Northeast. You’ll work closely with the Massachusetts Division of Ecological Restoration, which has offices located down the hall from the Environmental Science Department.

  • Three students making notes while standing outside in a nature area.

    Small classes and hands-on learning

    Environmental science major classes are small, providing focused one-on-one contact with faculty. Courses emphasize fieldwork and hands-on learning, such as canoe trips on the Westfield River and nearby lakes, field trips to management and restoration sites, and the opportunity to experience a short-term study abroad course in Costa Rica and Ecuador.

  • Students reading information on multiple posters in a classroom setting.

    Community engagement and partnerships 

    The Environmental Science Department has a legacy of community engagement through partnerships with state and local governmental agencies as well as non-profit organizations that provide service-learning opportunities, internships, and career placements. 

Course Requirements

Program Description

The Environmental Science Major consists 53-68 credits, depending on advising and the interests of the student. Courses denoted with an asterisk (*) also satisfy the University's Common Core requirements. All students must take at least 21 credit hours from the list below at Westfield State University. A minimum grade point average of 2.7 in the Environmental Science major is required to be eligible to graduate with a degree in Environmental Science.

Required Environmental Science Courses (26-28 credits)
Required Fundamental Lab Science Classes (15-16 credits)
Areas of Study - Dimensions

12-16 credits, by advisement; must choose one from each of the three dimensions, plus one additional course from any of the three areas.

Natural Dimensions

Human Dimensions

Methods/Technology Dimensions

Upper-Level Course Requirements
Capstone Senior Thesis/Seminar
Additional Graduation Requirements

All students must meet the University Graduation Requirements and complete a common core of studies, distributed among the different academic areas as detailed in the Common Core.

The courses I found most useful were environmental data analysis, environmental legislation, hydrology, environmental chemistry, environmental monitoring, and GIS. Classes predicated on sample methodology and technical writing are very beneficial for students looking to get into environmental consulting as well as any classes that develop communication skills.

Rob Arcese, '18
Current Field Industrial Hygiene Inspector

What can you do with an environmental science degree?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in the field of environmental science is expected to grow 9% from 2019-2029, faster than the average for all occupations.  

  • Our alumni work as: Environmental consultants, wetland biologists, wildlife biologists, research scientists, data analysts, restoration ecologists, wastewater treatment operators, natural resource specialists, environmental police, park rangers, and more. 
  • Alumni are employed by: Massachusetts Department of Ecological Restoration, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Environmental Protection Agency, City Offices of Planning or Conservation, Massachusetts Fish and Game, Tighe and Bond, Eversource, Trustees of Reservations, The Nature Conservancy, and more. 
Students making plant and soil observations outside.

Ready to learn more?

Learn about Amber's research project in the environmental science program!

Program Details

Program Mission

The mission of the Environmental Science Department is to educate future environmental professionals to understand how humans interact with the environment and to develop their skills and abilities to solve environmental problems.

Program Vision

Remain the #1-ranked Environmental Science Department at a public undergraduate institution in New England. Offer high-quality programming with attention to individual career goals in a diverse career field.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge: 

  • Students will understand fundamental ecological concepts such as cycles, systems, ecosystems, food webs, biodiversity, trophic levels, energy flow in ecosystems, sustainability, etc. 
  • Students will have a basic knowledge of environmental issues such as resource consumption, water use, energy, climate change, species population trends, the tradeoffs between human development and the environment, etc. 
  • Students will have advanced knowledge in an area of their choice (e.g., GIS, Wildlife Conservation, etc.). 
  • Students will have a basic understanding of the relationships between developing and developed countries and their effects on the environment and each other. 

Skills: 

  • Students will be able to read, create, and interpret tables and graphs. 
  • Students will be able to collect environmental data (both through direct measurement and through literature research). 
  • Students will be able to carry out data analysis using Microsoft Excel, SPSS, GIS, and/or other software. 
  • Students will understand the interactions of citizens, businesses, NGOs, and government to formulate environmental laws, regulations, and policies. 
  • Students will be able to read, evaluate, and write effective, professional-level environmental reports.  
  • Students will be able to speak and present about environmental issues using appropriate aids such as Microsoft PowerPoint. 

Dispositions: 

  • Students will reflect on their personal environmental values as contrasted to those of others. 
  • Students will reflect on their “lot in life,” and how they fit in compared to people in developing countries and others in developed countries. 

Get big school features with small school advantages. 

We offer high-quality academics, unique learning opportunities, and a gorgeous campus—and we have small classes, accessible faculty, and one-on-one support. 

You'll join fellow motivated students ready to make the most of the college experience through active participation. Become part of a caring and committed community that understands and embraces the bridge between academic study and civic responsibility.

  • 87%

    of students receive financial aid 

  • 84%

    of grads are employed in their field

  • 300+

    service projects

Learn from the experts

Westfield State University’s environmental science degree program is led by a diverse group of highly experienced faculty, all of whom have graduate degrees in their areas of expertise. Specializing in multiple areas within Environmental Science—like forest ecosystems, ecological restoration, environmental policy, wildlife biology, wetlands and water quality, and more—they also have extensive experience working in the field.

Faculty directory

Students conducting environmental observations in a grassy area surrounded by trees.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to submit SAT/ACT scores or an essay when I apply?

Westfield State University does not require an application essay, SAT and/or ACT scores, or letters of recommendation (except for special program admissions).   

All first-year applicants are reviewed for admission based on their high school record. First-year applicants must meet the minimum eligibility requirements established by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (DHE) in order to qualify for admission to a state university. 

Learn more about the application process and admissions here.

How much does Westfield State University cost?

Westfield State University offers a comprehensive university experience at an affordable cost—with many options for financial aid. Visit our Cost and Aid page to learn more. 

Will I receive academic support?

We’re invested in your success. Whether you need a little help adjusting to college, study strategies, tutoring, or disability services, the team at the Academic Achievement Department is ready to help. Our mission is to provide you with the tools to explore academic opportunities as well as to plot strategies for continued growth. 

Learn more about our student support services here.

What computer equipment / technology do I need to bring?

In many classes, you’ll need to access web materials and information, write reports, create graphs, and other things scientists do. As such you’ll need some equipment. Here are a few recommendations:

  • Cellphone. You’ll use your cell phone as a calculator, to access information on the web, as a camera to record pictures of field research areas, as a GPS, and for other tasks. The particular type of phone is not particularly important, but you may consider housing it in one of those armored / waterproof cases. That will protect it from a lot of field conditions that might harm it.
  •  Laptop. We do a lot of hands-on work during classes and labs and having your own laptop is nearly essential. Both PC’s and Macs are fine, but we recommend a PC because software installation is easier and more compatible. Although Chromebooks and other internet-based computers are less expensive, we don’t recommend them. These don’t allow students to upload the software that they often need and are often less powerful (and most students find them frustrating to use and wish they had just started with a laptop). So, we recommend a PC laptop. Gaming laptops tend to be heavier and harder to carry back and forth to classes, but they do stand up to abuse better. You’ll find that a Bluetooth or wireless mouse is handy. Consider computers with more than one USB port.
  •  Flash Drive. Buy a decent sized (> 16 GB) flash drive to store your work and transfer files among computers.
What field gear do I need to bring?

Our program is very hands-on and field-oriented. This means that you will need to be prepared to be outside in all sorts of weather and conditions. All first-year students will typically take ENVS 0105 (Natural History and Field Methods) and ENVS 0180 (First Year Seminar). You can expect to be outside for just about every class -- in the rain, in the heat, in the mud, in the cold, in the wind, and perhaps with mosquitoes, ticks, and other annoyances. This is just a reality of our discipline.

Your instructor will discuss what to expect in more detail during the class, but you should be prepared with:

  • Field pants. Jeans are fine but lightweight field pants are even better. Whatever you bring WILL get dirty, muddy, and maybe torn. Light colored pants will allow you to see and remove ticks before they bite you and have the potential to transmit tick-borne microbes (like the bacterium that causes Lyme disease). You may want to treat whatever field clothes you bring with permethrin for tick prevention.
  • Sturdy boots (waterproof). You’ll do a fair amount of hiking in rough brush and uneven terrain. You’ll want boots to protect your feet and ankles. If you don’t already have a pair, get some and start wearing them around to break them in. You can find decent boots in many stores such as EMS, REI, SAMs, etc. Some folks just use rubber boots, like Muck boots.
  • Wool or polyester fleece socks. Those waterproof boots aren’t much use if your feet are cold. If you don’t already have some, we recommend buying a couple pairs of wool Darntough, Carhartt, or Smartwool boot socks. Wool and polyester fleece are warm when wet, cotton is NOT. Beware ankle socks, you’ll get blisters wearing these with boots.
  • A few tee shirts that can get muddy, dirty, and torn. Some people wear cotton because they like the feel, but you might consider some kind of moisture-wicking polyester shirts.
  •  Polyester fleece jacket for warmth (NOT a cotton hoodie). Wet cotton is cold, wet polyester fleece is warm. This past year, we ordered departmental fleeces with an embroidered ENVS logo – super nice, and just $35 each.
  • Rain coat. If it rains during lab you’ll likely be outside anyway. Your rain coat will also be windproof, so you’ll be able to make layers with your fleece top. You might consider rain pants as well, but they’re not essential.
  • Knit or fleece winter cap. It gets cold here in Western Mass beginning late October / November. Think about gloves, too.
  • Optional: “Rite in the Rain” notebook so that you can take notes outside even when it is raining.
  • Optional: Hat to keep rain, sun and bugs off your head. A brimmed hat is best.
  • Optional: Bathing suit (mandatory for the Water Resources class that you may eventually take).

Hint: There are a lot of good online sources for outdoor gear. Some folks use sierratradingpost.com, but cabelas.com, forestry-suppliers.com, and sportsmanswarehouse.com all have good deals on clothes and clearance pages with even better prices.

What scholarships are available?

The S-STEM Scholarship is available to incoming full-time first year​​​​ students with low-income status defined as Pell Grant eligible. Learn more about the scholarship and eligibility requirements here.

Location, location, location

Nestled on 256 acres of quintessential New England scenery, our campus is located on the edge of the Berkshire Mountains, situated between mountains, rivers, forests, and other natural ecosystems and urban areas such as Springfield, Holyoke, and Northampton. Plus, there is a 300-acre park adjacent to campus. Our unique campus location provides numerous opportunities for both hands-on field learning experiences as well as personal recreation.

Related Programs, Majors, or Minors

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Environmental Science, B.S.