Environmental Sciences Major: Ecosystems Option (B.S.)


The College of Life Sciences and Agriculture (COLSA) and the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences (CEPS) jointly offer a bachelor of science degree in environmental sciences. Environmental science is an interdisciplinary field concerned with the interaction of biological, chemical, and physical processes that shape the environment, and control the response of natural systems to human activities.    Students graduating with a degree in environmental sciences will have an understanding of these interacting processes, experience working in interdisciplinary teams to apply this understanding, and the ability to communicate effectively with both scientific and lay audiences.  While in this program, students will acquire significant experience with field, laboratory and analytical methods appropriate for employment in professional environmental science positions as well as a basic understanding of environmental policy.  The University of New Hampshire is a recognized leader in environmental sciences research, and the environmental sciences program capitalizes on faculty expertise in this area. Program faculty emphasize teaching and research in the areas of biogeochemical cycling, environmental chemistry, ecosystem science, global change, hydrology, plant ecology, soil science, and water resource management among many other fields.

Employment opportunities include environmental consulting firms; educational facilities (e.g., science centers), environmental monitoring laboratories (e.g., water treatment plants, the Environmental Protection Agency), government agencies (e.g., the U.S. Geological Survey, Bureau of Land Management, Natural Resource Conservation Service), university and government research laboratories, and nongovernment environmental organizations. The environmental sciences program also constitutes an excellent preparation for graduate programs in several areas relating to the environment.

The Program has four options, and specific course requirements for the major vary by option. The ecosystems and soils and watersheds options are both managed by the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment in COLSA, and the geosystems and hydrology options are both managed by Earth Sciences in CEPS. 

Scope of the Major (Introduction - 3 Courses)9
Professional Perspectives in Natural Resources
Introduction to Environmental Science
Contemporary Conservation Issues and Environmental Awareness
Principles of Sustainability
The Scientific Basis (Foundation - 7 Courses)28
Biology I:
Introductory Biology: Evolution, Biodiversity and Ecology
Biology II:
Introductory Biology: Molecular and Cellular
Environmental Biology
Chemistry I:
General Chemistry I
Chemical Principles for Engineers
Introductory Chemistry for Life Sciences
Chemistry II:
Chemistry of the Environment
General Chemistry II
Introduction to Physics I
General Physics I
Calculus for Life Sciences
Calculus I
Applied Biostatistics I
Statistical Methods and Applications
Earth and its Systems (Core - 6 Courses)24
Earth Science:
Dynamic Earth
Earth History
Geology and the Environment
Aquatic Science:
Freshwater Resources
Studio Soils
Introduction to Climate
Elements of Weather
Climate and Society
Forest Ecology
Ecology and Biogeography of New Zealand
Evolution and Marine Diversity
Ecology and Marine Environment
Human Dimensions:
Natural Resources and Environmental Policy
Environmental Policy, Planning and Sustainability in New Zealand
Introduction to our Energy System and Sustainable Energy
Sustainable Living - Global Perspectives
Sustainable Marine Fisheries
Environmental Toolkit (Methods - 2 Courses)7-8
Select two courses from the following:
Techniques in Environmental Sciences
Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
GIS for Earth & Environmental Sciences
Applied Geospatial Techniques
Remote Sensing of the Environment
Remote Sensing Earth & Environmental Sciences
Quantitative Ecology
Coastal Habitat Field Research Methods
Ecosystem Integration (Advanced Topics - 4 Courses)16
Population and Community Ecology:
Community Ecology
Tropical Ecology
Soil Ecology
Ecology and Biogeography of New Zealand
Wildlife Population Ecology
Introduction to Biogeography
Landscape Ecology
Plant-Animal Interactions
Terrestrial Ecosystems
Aquatic Ecosystems
Restoration Ecology and Ecosystem Management in New Zealand
Marine Ecosystem Research and Management
Environmental Soil Chemistry
Watershed Water Quality Management
Biogeosciences in the Earth System
Environmental Problem Solving:
Fate and Transport in the Environment
Environmental Modeling
Ecological-Economic Modeling for Decision Making
Forest Inventory and Modeling
Ecology and Society in a Changing Arctic
Integration and Research (The Capstone Experience) 1-2
Applied Directed Research in New Zealand
Leadership for Sustainability
Honors Senior Thesis
Capstone: NR 663 (EcoQuestif Senior Year)(WI), or NR 786, or NR 795, or NR 799, or approved research experience, or approved internship. Every student must complete a capstone experience senior year, or during the summer before senior year,if at least 90 credit hours have been completed.
NR791 –Preparation for Capstone (1 credit, pass/no credit) is offered every spring. While not required for graduation, it is recommended for second semester juniors who need guidance in terms of developing a capstone project and completing the Capstone Contract.
a. A Contract form provided by the Program must be completed and signed by the student, the adviser, the program coordinator, and the capstone mentor (faculty or off-campus) before the capstone experience,by the end of Junior Year.
b. A signed Capstone Experience Evaluation form must be handed in to your advisor by the end of Senior year in order to graduate.
Individualizing Your Education (Electives)
One goal of this program is to allow students the opportunity to pursue minors, dual majors, research and study abroad opportunities, while still completing the degree in four years of full-time enrollment. To this end, the program requires a total of 85 credit hours. The University Discovery program includes 5 areas (20 credit hours) not covered by this major. These include English 401, Fine and Performing Arts, Humanities, Historical Perspectives, World Cultures (NOTE: The World Cultures category can be met by certain study abroad programs, including EcoQuest). Combined, Major and Discovery requirements total 105 credit hours. With a total of 128 credit hours required by the University for graduation, this leaves 23 credit hours that can be put towards minors, dual majors, study abroad, Directed Research, etc.
Total Credits84-85

 Many students enroll in the EcoQuest program (a study abroad opportunity in New Zealand), which satisfies the policy requirement, and capstone requirement if taken senior year.

NR 791 Preparation for Capstone - is offered every spring. While not required for graduation, it is recommended for second semester juniors who need guidance in terms of developing a capstone project and completing the Capstone Contract. 

Key Learning Objectives: The primary Learning Outcome for the Environmental Science Program will be that students will master the content offered in the courses specified in the curriculum as assessed by performance on exams, labs and written assignments. This will include an understanding of the physical, chemical and biological processes central to the function of environmental systems, the mathematical concepts required to understand, explain and predict those processes, and the ability to determine the significance of results, both in terms of statistical probability and impact on the larger world.

The learning process leading to this mastery will require that students will have:

  • Knowledge of how physical, chemical, and biological factors interact with human activities to shape the environment;
  • Proficiency with environmental techniques including field, lab, GIS, or modeling;
  • The ability to solve environmental problems;
  • The ability to communicate orally or in writing about environmental dynamics.