Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs In Environmental Science

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Environmental science is a broad, interdisciplinary field that encompasses the biological earth and physical sciences. Environmental scientists identify and develop solutions for a range of environmental problems, including pollution, deforestation, and food sustainability. Depending on the field of expertise, professionals with a bachelor’s degree in environmental science can work as hydrologists, conservation scientists, or environmental engineers.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects an 11% growth rate for environmental scientists and specialists, which is faster than the 7% average projected job growth. Due to climate change and human activity, such as mining and mass plastic production, environmental problems are on the rise and becoming more complex. There is a need for well-trained environmental scientists to address problems and to devise solutions that are environmentally friendly and sustainable.

Top 10 Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs In Environmental Science

Rank School Location
1 Eastern Michigan University Ypsilanti, MI
2 Canisius College Buffalo, NY
3 University of Southern Mississippi Hattiesburg, MS
4 The University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, AL
5 University of Bridgeport Bridgeport, CT
6 University of Saint Joseph West Hartford, CT
7 Auburn University Auburn, AL
8 North Carolina State University Raleigh, NC
9 Adelphi University Garden City, NY
10 University of Northern Colorado Greeley, CO
Advertisement AffordableCollegesOnline.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Explore Online Degree Programs to Become an RN

Best Online Bachelor’s Programs in Environmental Science


  • Methodology

    Best Programs in Environmental Science

    Deciding which college to go to is no easy task, so ACO evaluated more than 3,500 colleges to give you the information you need to make the search more manageable. Our 2018 college rankings are based on statistical data from trusted sources, eligibility criteria and various ranking factorsData Sources:

    Eligibility Criteria:

    • Each college must be accredited
    • Each college must be a not-for-profit institution
    • Each college must be located in a state (US territories and Washington DC were excluded)
    • Each college must have at least one online program 1
    • Each college must have a maximum four-year tuition of $25,000 or a maximum two-year tuition of $5,000

    Ranking Factors:

    • Affordability
    • Quality
    • Flexibility
    • Program

    Several individual data points were objectively evaluated to calculate a score for each ranking factor listed above. For affordability, the most impactful data points were tuition2 and grants; for quality, graduation and acceptance rates; for flexibility, part-time enrollment options; and for program, degrees granted in that specific program area. Each score was then weighted, with affordability being the most highly weighted factor for all ACO rankings.

    1 Best Vocational Programs included data for both online and campus programs.

    2 Both in-state and out-of-state tuition rates were used in our methodology; however, our rankings tool currently only displays in-state rates.Notes:

    • A dash in our Rankings Tool indicates IPEDS data was not available.
    • Tuition displayed in in-state and per year unless stated otherwise.


To develop this list, we examined several factors that affect the quality of an online environmental science degree program, including tuition, academic resources, course offerings, student retention, and graduation rates. The ideal online bachelor’s degree in environmental science will correspond to current academic goals and long-term professional objectives.

This list includes relevant information about prospective schools, so you can choose the online environmental science program that suits you best.

  1. Eastern Michigan University
    Location

    Ypsilanti, MI

    Tuition

    $$$$$

  2. Canisius College
    Location

    Buffalo, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

  3. University of Southern Mississippi
    Location

    Hattiesburg, MS

    Tuition

    $$$$$

  4. The University of Alabama
    Location

    Tuscaloosa, AL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

  5. University of Bridgeport
    Location

    Bridgeport, CT

    Tuition

    $$$$$

  6. University of Saint Joseph
    Location

    West Hartford, CT

    Tuition

    $$$$$

  7. Auburn University
    Location

    Auburn, AL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

  8. North Carolina State University
    Location

    Raleigh, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

  9. Adelphi University
    Location

    Garden City, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

  10. University of Northern Colorado
    Location

    Greeley, CO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

Top 10 Online Associate’s Degree Programs In Environmental Science

  1. Barton Community College
    Location

    Great Bend, KS

    Tuition

    $$$$$

  2. Gaston College
    Location

    Dallas, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

  3. Truckee Meadows Community College
    Location

    Reno, NV

    Tuition

    $$$$$

  4. Cuyahoga Community College
    Location

    Cleveland, OH

    Tuition

    $$$$$

  5. San Antonio College
    Location

    San Antonio, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

How Much Can You Make in a Environmental Science Career?

Environmental science bachelor degree holders can find work in several sectors of the industry. Though a degree does not guarantee a successful career or a high salary, it equips graduates with the skills and knowledge that are applicable to a variety of jobs, including the five positions listed below. These job opportunities have relatively high median annual salaries and faster than average job growth, which bodes well for graduates who plan to establish a career in environmental science.


  • Environmental Scientists and Specialists, Including Health
    MEDIAN ANNUAL SALARY: $76,220

    Environmental Scientists and Specialists, Including Health

    JOB GROWTH 2016-2026: +11.1%

    Job Description
    Environmental scientists and specialists work to protect the natural environment and preserve human health. Their responsibilities typically include collecting, analyzing, and compiling air, food, soil, and water samples. They also develop and implement solutions to environmental problems, and working with corporations and communities to reduce waste and minimize the environmental impact of their activities. Environmental scientists can take on specialized roles such as climate change analysts.


  • Conservation Scientists and Foresters
    MEDIAN ANNUAL SALARY: $60,970

    Conservation Scientists and Foresters

    JOB GROWTH 2016-2026: +6.3%

    Job Description
    Conservation scientists work with farmers, agricultural managers, ranchers, and other stakeholders to improve and maximize land use without endangering or damaging the environment. They implement plans for better forest management, oversee conservation efforts, and monitor the use of cleared land. Foresters design, implement, and monitor reforestation plans, draw up strategies to keep forests disease-free and safe from invasive insect populations and wildfires, and evaluate data on forest and soil quality.


  • Environmental Engineers
    MEDIAN ANNUAL SALARY: $86,800

    Environmental Engineers

    JOB GROWTH 2016-2026: +8.4%

    Job Description
    Government and private agencies often consult with environmental engineers regarding follow-up procedures when cleaning contaminated sites. Environmental engineers also inspect commercial and municipal facilities to ensure compliance with environmental regulations, conduct hazardous waste management studies, and design environmental protection projects like pollution control and water reclamation systems. They often collaborate with policymakers to address global concerns such as climate change, environmental sustainability, and unsafe drinking water.


  • Environmental Science and Protection Technicians
    MEDIAN ANNUAL SALARY: +45,490

    Environmental Science and Protection Technicians

    JOB GROWTH 2016-2026: 12.1%

    Job Description
    Environmental science and protection technicians fulfill several functions including investigating the sources of contamination and pollution, inspecting establishments to ensure they are environmentally compliant and safe, and creating and maintaining pollution-monitoring equipment. They work with federal and local governments, consulting firms, private and commercial companies, and testing laboratories to identify and solve a range of environmental and public health problems.


  • Hydrologists
    MEDIAN ANNUAL SALARY: $79,990

    Hydrologists

    JOB GROWTH 2016-2026: +10.4%

    Job Description
    Hydrologists study how changes in the environment affect water quality and supply. They often collaborate with stakeholders and policymakers to develop water conservation strategies and evaluate the feasibility of water-related projects, such as dams, irrigation systems, and wastewater treatment facilities. Hydrologists also address the effects of environmental erosion and pollution and devise ways to mitigate and minimize negative impacts.



  • Alabama
    Median Annual Salary: $62,630

    Number Currently Employed: 980

    Projected Job Growth: +6.5 percent


  • Alaska
    Median Annual Salary: $90,160

    Number Currently Employed: 630

    Projected Job Growth: +1.7 percent


  • Arizona
    Median Annual Salary: $71,480

    Number Currently Employed: N/A

    Projected Job Growth: N/A


  • Arkansas
    Median Annual Salary: $60,290

    Number Currently Employed: 520

    Projected Job Growth: +22.6 percent


  • California
    Median Annual Salary: $87,890

    Number Currently Employed: 15,200

    Projected Job Growth: +11.8 percent


  • Colorado
    Median Annual Salary: $90,100

    Number Currently Employed: 3,290

    Projected Job Growth: +24.1 percent


  • District of Columbia (DC)
    Median Annual Salary: $115,560

    Number Currently Employed: 1,750

    Projected Job Growth: +5.3 percent


  • Connecticut
    Median Annual Salary: $80,640

    Number Currently Employed: 760

    Projected Job Growth: +14.7 percent


  • Delaware
    Median Annual Salary: $58,770

    Number Currently Employed: 410

    Projected Job Growth: +10.5 percent


  • Florida
    Median Annual Salary: $56,160

    Number Currently Employed: 5,600

    Projected Job Growth: +14.7 percent


  • Georgia
    Median Annual Salary: $68,270

    Number Currently Employed: 1,110

    Projected Job Growth: +18.7 percent


  • Hawaii
    Median Annual Salary: $69,750

    Number Currently Employed: 710

    Projected Job Growth: +7.6 percent


  • Idaho
    Median Annual Salary: $59,480

    Number Currently Employed: 490

    Projected Job Growth: +7.4 percent


  • Illinois
    Median Annual Salary: $84,320

    Number Currently Employed: 3,030

    Projected Job Growth: +6.3 percent


  • Indiana
    Median Annual Salary: $63,150

    Number Currently Employed: 840

    Projected Job Growth: +18.5 percent


  • Iowa
    Median Annual Salary: $69,390

    Number Currently Employed: 730

    Projected Job Growth: +12.4 percent


  • Kansas
    Median Annual Salary: $80,390

    Number Currently Employed: 660

    Projected Job Growth: +13 percent


  • Kentucky
    Median Annual Salary: $51,450

    Number Currently Employed: 1,000

    Projected Job Growth: +4.8 percent


  • Lousiana
    Median Annual Salary: $66,220

    Number Currently Employed: 1,290

    Projected Job Growth: +13.9 percent


  • Maine
    Median Annual Salary: $66,350

    Number Currently Employed: 430

    Projected Job Growth: +1.9 percent


  • Maryland
    Median Annual Salary: $79,190

    Number Currently Employed: 1,880

    Projected Job Growth: +3.7 percent


  • Massachusuetts
    Median Annual Salary: $82,480

    Number Currently Employed: 1,750

    Projected Job Growth: +13.4 percent


  • Michigan
    Median Annual Salary: $66,490

    Number Currently Employed: 2,460

    Projected Job Growth: +10.6 percent


  • Minnesota
    Median Annual Salary: $74,110

    Number Currently Employed: 1,770

    Projected Job Growth: +13.7 percent


  • Mississippi
    Median Annual Salary: $60,970

    Number Currently Employed: 460

    Projected Job Growth: +4.8 percent


  • Missouri
    Median Annual Salary: $53,190

    Number Currently Employed: 970

    Projected Job Growth: +9.3 percent


  • Montana
    Median Annual Salary: $70,390

    Number Currently Employed: 400

    Projected Job Growth: +10.1 percent


  • Nebraska
    Median Annual Salary: $59,880

    Number Currently Employed: 480

    Projected Job Growth: +9.8 percent


  • Nevada
    Median Annual Salary: $64,120

    Number Currently Employed: 930

    Projected Job Growth: +13.1 percent


  • New Hampsire
    Median Annual Salary: $71,890

    Number Currently Employed: 440

    Projected Job Growth: +11.3 percent


  • New Jersey
    Median Annual Salary: $86,740

    Number Currently Employed: 2,880

    Projected Job Growth: +7.6 percent


  • New Mexico
    Median Annual Salary: $87,810

    Number Currently Employed: 1,130

    Projected Job Growth: +11.2 percent


  • New York
    Median Annual Salary: $78,370

    Number Currently Employed: 4,440

    Projected Job Growth: +21 percent


  • North Carolina
    Median Annual Salary: $63,740

    Number Currently Employed: 3,570

    Projected Job Growth: +13.7 percent


  • North Dakota
    Median Annual Salary: $68,930

    Number Currently Employed: 300

    Projected Job Growth: +16.4 percent


  • Ohio
    Median Annual Salary: $68,900

    Number Currently Employed: 3,230

    Projected Job Growth: +8.3 percent


  • Oklahoma
    Median Annual Salary: $65,310

    Number Currently Employed: 530

    Projected Job Growth: +7.4 percent


  • Oregon
    Median Annual Salary: $76,040

    Number Currently Employed: 920

    Projected Job Growth: +15.6 percent


  • Pennsylvania
    Median Annual Salary: $72,630

    Number Currently Employed: 2,360

    Projected Job Growth: +9.2 percent


  • Rhode Island
    Median Annual Salary: $82,220

    Number Currently Employed: 290

    Projected Job Growth: +10.2 percent


  • South Carolina
    Median Annual Salary: $59,810

    Number Currently Employed: 420

    Projected Job Growth: +15.3 percent


  • South Dakota
    Median Annual Salary: $56,690

    Number Currently Employed: 260

    Projected Job Growth: +9 percent


  • Tennessee
    Median Annual Salary: $70,980

    Number Currently Employed: 1,270

    Projected Job Growth: +14.5 percent


  • Texas
    Median Annual Salary: $87,070

    Number Currently Employed: N/A

    Projected Job Growth: N/A


  • Utah
    Median Annual Salary: $74,190

    Number Currently Employed: 620

    Projected Job Growth: +32.3 percent


  • Vermont
    Median Annual Salary: $64,210

    Number Currently Employed: 480

    Projected Job Growth: +6.9 percent


  • Virginia
    Median Annual Salary: $80,060

    Number Currently Employed: 3,040

    Projected Job Growth: +11 percent


  • Washington
    Median Annual Salary: $80,190

    Number Currently Employed: 3,350

    Projected Job Growth: +23.6 percent


  • West Virginia
    Median Annual Salary: $63,010

    Number Currently Employed: 360

    Projected Job Growth: +9.5 percent


  • Wisconsin
    Median Annual Salary: $60,450

    Number Currently Employed: 1,190

    Projected Job Growth: +11.8 percent


  • Wyoming
    Median Annual Salary: $65,220

    Number Currently Employed: 470

    Projected Job Growth: +7.7 percent


Sources: BLS 2018

What Courses Can be Taken for an Online Environmental Science Degree?

Coursework for online environmental science degrees can vary greatly between schools since each school maintains a curriculum designed to meet its academic objectives. Most schools offer similar lower-division classes that give students the foundation to begin their career. Upper-division courses tend to be more focused on particular areas of specialization. Students should contact the school for specific information, such as course requirements and class schedules.

Climatology

In this course, students examine large-scale climate patterns and how they impact the earth and its inhabitants. They learn about topics such as atmosphere-ocean interaction, hurricane and tornado development, and wind circulation patterns.

Conservation

Students examine emerging conservation topics with a focus on protecting, preserving, and promoting biodiversity. They also study the different tools that are used in conservation efforts, their effectiveness, and how to enhance their usefulness.

Environmental Geology

This course teaches students about different environmental phenomena, such as global warming, environmental acidification, and sedimentation, that are affected by natural geological processes, like volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. The course also explores the impact of human activity on the geology of the planet.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

Students become familiar with GIS, which are frameworks for gathering, analyzing, and managing data about different areas of the earth. Using GIS data, they learn to interpret and organize layers of information into 3D representations.

Introduction to Environmental Science

This course provides an overview of topics at the forefront of environmental science such as sustainability, climate change, and environmental health. Students also learn about sustainable energy options and long-term environmental solutions.

How to Choose the Best Online Environmental Science Program

Before deciding which online environmental science program to pursue, examine the key factors that affect program quality. These factors include tuition, courses, graduation requirements, student-to-faculty ratios, and student retention rates. You should also make sure the programs you consider reflect your personal preferences, like the availability of asynchronous courses or the number of required onsite visits.

Below are answers to five commonly asked questions about online environmental science programs.

If I am not sure which section of environmental science I want to pursue as a career, how do I go about choosing my courses?

Enroll in classes that give you the opportunity to explore different aspects of environmental science that you already find interesting and classes that cover topics you would like to know more about. A healthy academic curiosity and an open mind will more than likely lead you to a section of environmental science where you can carve out a career.

Is there a difference in the coursework that is required for an online environmental science degree versus the courses required for an on-campus one?

Most colleges and universities that have both on-campus and online bachelor’s degrees in environmental science make it a point to offer the same roster of courses to their students, regardless of how they choose to pursue their degree. Since the rigor and standards of online and on-campus courses are the same, there is often no notation on diplomas indicating how the degree was earned.

How can I be sure that the online environmental science degree I want to pursue is a top-caliber program?

The National Environmental Health Science and Protection Accreditation Council (NEHSPAC) accredits environmental science programs. Schools that offer NEHSPAC-accredited degrees usually state this clearly on their website. In lieu of this programmatic accreditation, choose a school with regional accreditation that is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

How long will it take to complete an online bachelor’s degree in environmental science?

Four years of full-time enrollment are usually required to complete a 120-credit online bachelor’s in environmental science. Some online programs offer asynchronous classes; however, which allow students to enroll in additional courses per intake period, significantly shortening the length of time it takes to earn a degree.

How will a bachelor’s degree in environmental science help my career?

Employers know that a job applicant with a bachelor’s in environmental science from an accredited college or university has the knowledge and skills needed to meet the challenges of positions in the field. Additionally, a four-year bachelor’s degree tells prospective employers that an applicant is focused, determined, and intent on pursuing a career in the environmental science arena.

Scholarships & Financial Aid for Environmental Science Programs

As the cost of college education continues to rise, many students are taking out private or government student loans to help pay for a college degree. Scholarships and grants are better funding options since they do not have to be paid back, while loans require repayment. You can begin your search for environmental science scholarships with the five programs listed below.

David E. Lumley Young Science Scholarship for Energy and Environmental Science

This scholarship opportunity is administered by the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and open to high school and undergraduate students who plan to pursue a career in environmental science or the energy sector. Applicants must submit a personal statement describing how the scholarship will help them reach career objectives and an abstract of the paper they will present at the annual AGU meeting if they are awarded the scholarship. The scholarship amount is $1,000. Scholars also receive a $500 travel grant to attend the AGU meeting.

Dr. Wesley Eckenfelder, Jr. Scholarship

This scholarship awards $5,000 to qualified students pursuing a degree in environmental science or a closely-related field. Applicants must be enrolled full time, at least during their junior year of study, and have a 3.0 GPA at minimum. Along with their resume, transcript, and two letters of recommendation, applicants are required to submit a 250-word essay about a personal experience that influenced their decision to pursue an environmental science career.

Ernest F. Hollings Scholarship Program

Applicants must be full-time students in their second year of a four-year program or their third year of a five-year program. Their declared major must support the mission of the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). They must have a 3.0 GPA at minimum. The scholarship awards $9,500 each year in addition to a $700 a week stipend for a 10-week summer internship position at a NOAA facility. The program will also pay for recipients to attend a mandatory NOAA scholarship orientation.

National Environmental Health Association and the American Academy of Sanitarians Scholarship

This program accepts applications from both undergraduate and graduate students. Applicants must be enrolled in a four-year college or university with NEHSPAC accreditation. Undergraduates must be in their junior or senior year of enrollment with at least one more year of full-time study left in their program. Graduate students must have a minimum of one semester of coursework left in their program. The scholarship award is $1,000 for undergraduate students and $2,000 for graduate students.

Udall Undergraduate Scholarship

This scholarship opportunity is open to full-time undergraduate students who are pursuing a degree related to environmental studies. Applicants must complete a minimum of three semesters of college coursework at an accredited two-year or four-year college in the United States. Scholarship candidates can only be nominated by a Udall faculty representative. Applicants must submit an essay demonstrating their understanding of Morris Udall and Stewart Udall’s legacy and how their career goals support this legacy. The award amount is $7,000.

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