BA in Environmental Studies


ENVR Seniors camping trip Fall 2019


The Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies is a multidisciplinary, science-based degree program that focuses on interactions between people and the natural and built environments. Housed in the Department of Geography, the program explores sustainability issues through the social sciences, humanities and physical and life sciences.

Students learn to analyze broad-based environmental and development policy, both domestically and internationally. All environmental studies majors must complete a capstone course in the spring of their senior year. The capstone includes a group field project and an accompanying portfolio. 

Many environmental studies alumni go on to graduate school and to careers as educators, managers, public officials and lawyers.


Berkley Lane

Berkley Lane

BA '20

"I try to take advantage of the opportunities at GW — take classes, go to forums and attend different D.C. green scene events. Knowledge is power — especially when it comes to the environment."

Program Benefits

  • Professional expertise in environmental management and policy, writing environmental impact assessments, managing critical resources and practicing working as planners
  • Opportunities to engage with nature and the built environment in and around Washington, D.C.
  • Off-campus field courses in geography and geology
  • Internship and research opportunities with the National Parks Service, National Geographic and the Environmental Protection Agency
  • Option to combine degree with a major or minor in geography or a minor in geographic information systems
  • Access to the Center for Urban and Environmental Research (CUER), which provides opportunities for faculty and students to engage in research and urban development activities


Course Requirements

The following requirements must be fulfilled:

The general requirements stated under Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, Undergraduate Programs.

Program-specific curriculum:

Foundational courses
BISC 1006The Ecology and Evolution of Organisms
BISC 1116
BISC 1126
Introductory Biology: The Biology of Organisms
and Introduction to Organisms Laboratory
GEOG 1002Introduction to Physical Geography
or GEOL 1005 Environmental Geology
GEOG 1003Society and Environment
GEOG 2104Introduction to Cartography and GIS
STAT 1053Introduction to Statistics in Social Science
Requirements for the major
GEOG 2196Field Methods in Geography (or equivalent)
Three of the following science courses:
BISC 2305Plant Biology
BISC 2459
BISC 2467
BISC 3325
BISC 3454Marine Ecology
BISC 3461Plant-Animal Interactions
BISC 3464Ecology and Evolution of Societies
CHEM 3140Geochemistry
GEOL 2151Introduction to Paleontology
GEOL 3138Hydrogeology
GEOL 3191Geology of Energy Resources
BISC 2454General Ecology
BISC 3460Conservation Biology
BISC 3459Field Biology *
CHEM 2085Environmental Chemistry
GEOG 2108Weather and Climate
GEOG 2128Geomorphology *
GEOG 2136Water Resources
GEOL 2106Oceanography
Three of the following society courses:
ANTH 3407Conservation in a Changing World: Human and Animal Behavior
ANTH 3502Cultural Ecology
GEOG 2127Population Geography
GEOG 2137Environmental Hazards
IAD 3410
PHIL 2281Philosophy of the Environment
PUBH 2114Environment, Health, and Development
PUBH 3132Health and Environment
PUBH 3150Sustainable Energy and Environmental Health
SUST 2002The Sustainable City
ECON 2136Environmental and Natural Resource Economics
GEOG 2133People, Land, and Food
GEOG 2134Energy Resources
GEOG 3143Urban Sustainability
GEOG 3132Environmental Quality and Management
GEOL 3193
HIST 3001Special Topics (an environmental topic)
PPPA 2701Sustainability and Environmental Policy
ENVR 4195Environmental Studies Capstone
Two additional upper-level courses chosen from the Science and Society course lists

* May also count toward field methods requirement.