Environmental Studies (BA & BS)

University of California, Santa Barbara

Date Posted: Dec. 13, 2018
Submitted by: Monika Urbanski
Sustainability Topic: Curriculum
Content Type: Academic Programs
Program Type: Baccalaureate degree


The Environmental Studies Program offers two degrees, bachelor of arts (B.A.) and bachelor of science (B.S.) in environmental studies. While both environmental studies majors are similar in that they stress the importance of understanding the interrelationships between the humanities, social sciences, and natural science disciplines, two degree options allows a student the opportunity to choose a major that will most appropriately fit their environmental interests and goals.

The bachelor of arts (B.A.) degree in environmental studies addresses interdisciplinary relationships by providing maximum flexibility necessary for students to explore the social, cultural, and scientific issues pertaining to the environment. For their major preparation (lower-division), students enroll in a variety of introductory social science, humanities, and natural science courses. At the upper-division level, depending on their own area of interest, students may pursue either a specific or multidisciplinary environmental emphasis by choosing a combination of elective courses from within the Environmental Studies Program. The last part of the major is a 20-unit upper-division outside concentration where students complete courses from one or more UCSB departments or programs relating to their emphasis. Approximately one-third of all environmental studies B.A. majors elect to use this section to complete either a double major or minor, or to participate in a field studies or study abroad program.

The goal of the bachelor of science (B.S.) degree is to train students to become proficient in the natural and physical sciences, as well as to be aware of social and cultural influences upon environmental problems facing society today. The B.S. degree follows a curriculum design similar to the B.A. degree. However, in addition to introductory social science courses, the bachelor of science preparation requires a full year of introductory biology, chemistry, physics, and calculus to develop a student’s technical, quantitative, ecological, and analytical skills. The upper-division and outside concentration, while still interdisciplinary and flexible, limit the number of social science and humanities courses a student may take. The majority of environmental studies electives, as well as the outside concentration, are restricted to physical and natural science disciplines to enhance one's understanding of earth system sciences and the role they play in environmental problems.

Links and Materials