B.S. in Environmental Science

Environmental issues continue to be prominent in the lives of everyone. Essentially no place on the planet has escaped perturbation resulting from activities of an ever-growing human population. The challenge is to maintain those attributes of the Earth that make it habitable while at the same time providing for human needs. Science will play an absolutely critical role in enabling technological civilizations to move toward sustainable interactions with the natural world.


Program Summary

The effective environmental scientists must be rigorously educated in one area of science and have a perspective far broader than any single science discipline affords. Rensselaer’s Environmental Science degree addresses these challenges with a multifaceted program.

Sample Plan of Study

First Year
Calculus I + II
Introduction to Biology
Chemistry I + II
Humanities or Social Science Elective (2)
Geology II

Second Year
Organic Chemistry I
Field Methods
Physics I
Environmental Seminar
Humanities or Social Science Elective (2)
Intro. to Cell and Molecular Biology
Concentration and Elective 3

Third Year
Global Environmental Change
Concentration and Elective
Environmental Geology
Concentration and Elective
Humanities or Social Science Elective

Fourth Year
One Mile of the Hudson River I
Concentration and Elective (3)



  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Computer Science
  • Scientific Computation
  • Geology
  • Mathematics
  • Research
  • Physics


Minor in Environmental Science

This minor is ideal for students wishing to develop a multidisciplinary background in environmental science.

Minor in Geology

Students not majoring in geology may take a minor by completing at least 16 credit hours of Earth classes, eight of which should be at the 4000 level. ERTH-1030 and 1040 (Natural Sciences) do not count towards the minor.

Minor in Hydrogeology

Students not majoring in hydrogeology may take a minor by taking ERTH-4710 , ERTH-4180, and electing from the ERTH group at least two additional courses except for ERTH-1030 and ERTH-1040.

Minor in Astrobiology

The Earth and Environmental Sciences Department participates in a multidisciplinary minor in astrobiology for students majoring in geology or other disciplines. To complete this minor, students must take a minimum of 16 credits of course work in this field. These courses include ASTR-4510 and ISCI-4500, four credits each, and two semesters of the one-credit course ISCI-4510. A further two courses outside the major field of study are also required.


The Arch is a unique approach to education that provides flexibility in the semester schedule, allowing students to pursue professional and personal development opportunities that prepare them to meet the multifaceted challenges of the 21st century. The Arch is a requirement of the Rensselaer curriculum.

Summer Here
During The Arch, students remain on campus for the summer after their sophomore year, taking junior-level classes, and receive focused attention from professors at this pivotal point in their academic progression. 

The World Away
Then, students leave the Troy campus for a semester during the traditional junior year—either fall or spring—to pursue their passions in the form of co-ops, internships, civic engagement, research, or international experiences. Students who pursue these opportunities during their academic career are better prepared for future professional careers and graduate school.

For more information regarding the Arch, please visit https://info.rpi.edu/the-arch