student setting up a project on a sand dune by the ocean

Environmental Science / Environmental Studies

The environment and sustainability program, housed in the School of Earth, Ocean and the Environment, is at the forefront of research to understand the extraordinarily complex interactions among organisms, their environments and humans to determine the wise use and management of these complex natural systems.

What to Expect

As an environmental science major in the School of Earth, Ocean and the Environment, you will have the opportunity to place emphasis in a variety of areas, including climate systems, water resources, weather and climate, energy, natural systems, health and environment, and sustainability. You will learn how to conduct hypothesis-driven research and communicate your knowledge both orally and in writing. Under the direction of an advisor, students will draw upon subject matter in many different fields of scientific endeavor in order to fulfill specific educational goals.

As an environmental studies major, you will have the opportunity to address complex environmental problems incorporating critical social, policy, communications, economic and/or humanities components. The knowledge and understanding gained from multiple social and science disciplines are framed in an environmental context. Students learn to make sound analyses and judgments about interdisciplinary environmental challenges and to seek and develop sustainable solutions that productively integrate social needs with scientific and technical understanding.

Impending environmental challenges include climate change, increasing drought and other extreme weather events and their impacts on infrastructure and food, energy and water supply, loss of biodiversity, increases in infectious disease, and invasive species. Environmental science students may find themselves conducting field research to help quantify such issues. Environmental studies majors may use their skills to incorporate data into policy, advocacy and sustainable business practices.


Undergraduate Degrees

The environmental sciences major was launched in fall 2009 as part of the environment and sustainability program. It is designed to give students a strong scientific background while allowing them the flexibility to choose courses that address their specific interests.

The following courses fulfill some of the requirements for a bachelor of science with a major in environmental science:

  • Environmental Issues Seminar
  • Ecology and Evolution (and laboratory)
  • Surface and Near Surface Processes
  • Weather and Climate
  • Introduction to Environmental Engineering
  • Concepts of Environmental Health Science

The bachelor of arts program in environmental studies has coursework that includes sustainability, policy and advocacy. The curriculum was significantly revised beginning in fall 2020 to include courses in environment and society, science and a skills class.

The following courses fulfill some of the requirements for a bachelor of arts with a major in environmental studies:

  • Environmental Science and Policy
  • Environmental Issues Seminar
  • Ecology Pollution and Health
  • Integrating Sustainability
  • Environmental Anthropology
  • Energy, Society and Sustainability
  • Global Food Politics
  • Green Politics or Environmental Policy

Apply for Undergraduate Admission

Our Office of Undergraduate Admissions provides the most current information on the application process so you can check the requirements based on your current status and find university scholarships.

 In addition, the SEOE has departmental scholarships.


Graduate Degrees

The Master of Earth and Environmental Resource Management program, also offered by the School of the Earth, Ocean and Environment, trains graduate students for management positions in earth and environmental resources, sustainable development within ecosystems, or safe and effective use of manmade materials in the environment.

Graduate Director: Joe Quattro, 803-777-3240,
Program Contact: Stephanie Bradley, 803-777-7170,

Travel Grant Contact: Jackie McClary, 803-777-9823,

Application information for this degree is available through The Graduate School. 

Through special arrangement, the university offers dual degree programs in certain areas to permit a student to work on two degrees concurrently by combining credits, resulting in the student taking fewer courses than the total required if each degree were pursued independently. This program, offered by the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Law, culminates in a Master of Earth and Environmental Resources Management and a Juris Doctor.

Graduate Director: Joe Quattro,

Application information for this degree is available through The Graduate School.

Apply to Graduate School 

Learn more about The Graduate School, degree options and how to apply for admission to doctoral, master’s, certificate and combination degree programs at South Carolina.