Environmental Studies Major

Environmental Studies offers several planning resources in addition to the list of major requirements below:

  • Concentrations: planning resources and recommendations for options to focus your major along a theme
  • Core and Foundation Schedules: expected offerings in the upcoming academic year (based on the best available information at the time)
  • Perspectives & Experiences Tables: quarterly lists of courses used as upper division electives with direct links to the university time schedule

[If you declared before autumn 2014, click here for your major requirements]

Major Requirement Map

Major Requirement List

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CoEnv GenEd
(75 Credits)

All Environmental Studies majors need to complete the General Education Requirements of the College of the Environment.

ENVIR Core Courses
(20 Credits)

Environmental Studies: Interdisciplinary Foundations

Environmental Studies: Research and Communication

Environmental Studies: Data Types and Collection Methods

Environmental Studies: Synthesis and Application

(8-10 credits)


BIOL 180
Introductory Biology

Biological Systems: one course from among:

The Urban Farm

Natural History

BIOL 200
Introductory Biology

Marine Biology

(5 credits)

One course from among:

CHEM 120
Principles of Chemistry I

CHEM 142
General Chemistry

(5 credits)

One course from among:

Q SCI 381
Introduction to Probability and Statistics

STAT 220
Basic Statistics

STAT 221
Statistical Concepts and Methods for the Social Sciences

STAT 311
Elements of Statistical Methods


Earth Systems Literacy
(6 - 10 credits)

Two courses from:

ATM S 211
Climate and Climate Change

ATM S 212
Air Pollution: From Urban Smog to the Ozone Hole

ESS 201
The Earth System and Climate

ESS 210
Physical Geology

Rivers and Beaches

GEOG 205
Introduction to Physical Sciences and the Environment

Introduction to Oceanography

(5 credits)

One course from:

Introduction to Environmental Economics

FISH 230
Economics of Fisheries and Oceans

Values and Cultures
(10 credits)

Two courses from:

ANTH 210
Introduction to Environmental Anthropology

Environmental Justice

Environmental History of the U.S.

Introduction to Environmental Ethics

Analytical Methods
(3-5 credits)

One course from:

CEE 250
Environmental Processes and Flows

ESRM 250
Introduction to GIS in Forest Resources

ESRM 304
Environmental and Resource Assessment

ESRM 430
Hyperspatial Remote Sensing in Natural Resource Management

ESS 421
Introduction to Geological Remote Sensing

FISH 452
Spatial Information Technology in Ecosystem Sciences

GEOG 360
Principles of GIS Mapping

GEOG 471
Methods of Resource Analysis

Q SCI 482
Statistical Inference in Applied Research I

Perspectives and Experiences
(30 credits)

A minimum of thirty credits (with no more than 5 credits at the 200 level or below) from the list of approved courses. A minimum of three credits must be completed in each of the following Environmental Perspectives and Experiences categories:

Human and social dimensions

Human and Social Dimensions
Philosophical, literacy, artistic, cultural or ethnographic aspects of how humans envision, value, and interact with the environment.


Place-based analysis of environmental issues or problems within the Pacific Northwest bioregion.


Natural Sciences
The physical, chemical and biological elements of the environment, including humans.


Place-based analysis of environmental issues or problems outside of the United States.


Policy and Decision Making
The intersection of facts and values as applied to governance, and specifically to environmental problems and decision-making.


Direct engagement with sites or stakeholders out of the classroom for the purpose of collecting assignment-related material.

Additional Perspectives and Experiences Notes:

  • Courses may be listed in multiple categories, however, courses are not allowed to meet more than one category requirement.
  • To request that a course not on the approved list be used to fulfill the Environmental Perspectives and Experiences requirement, please submit a completed course substitution petition.

(10 credits)

Three courses to include at least 5 credits of ENVIR 491:

How to Apply

Current UW Students

  • Schedule an advising appointment to declare the major anytime regardless of total credits or classes completed. Environmental Studies is an ‘open major’, so there is no fixed schedule to apply to the major.

Freshmen Applicants

  • When completing your application to the University of Washington, select ‘Environmental Studies’ as your intended major under ‘Educational Objectives’. Your major will be automatically declared upon admission to the UW.

Transfer Applicants

  • (Recommended) Attend a Transfer Thursday Information Session, and schedule an appointment with PoE advisers prior to applying.
  • (Recommended) Complete as many foundational courses for the Environmental Studies major prior to enrolling at the UW.  Washington State community college students should refer to the UW equivalency guide for UW course equivalents.
  • When completing your transfer application to the University of Washington, select ‘Environmental Studies’ as your intended major under ‘Educational Objectives’. Your major will be automatically declared upon admission to the UW.


Three options are available to individuals interested in completing a degree with honors: Interdisciplinary Honors, Departmental Honors and College Honors.  Please visit the University Honors Program for information about Interdisciplinary or College Honors. You can declare Departmental Honors anytime you meet the GPA requirements detailed below.

Departmental Honors Requirements


  • Minimum cumulative 3.40 UW GPA
  • Minimum cumulative 3.60 GPA in all courses used in major requirements

Honors Coursework

  • 4 credits from:
    • ENVIR 497 Seminar in Environmental Studies
    • ENVIR 498 Independent Study
    • ENVIR 499 Independent Research

Honors Capstone Experience

  • Completion of 8 credits of ENVIR 491
  • Presentation of Capstone Project at an approved research symposium or conference

Environmental Studies students who complete Departmental Honors will receive a degree "with Honors in Environmental Studies.”