Undergraduate Major in Environmental Science and Policy


The Gulf oil spill. Global climate change. Drought and water supply. Fukushima. Each of these topics illustrates the continuing need for environmental professionals with training in the natural sciences and social sciences. The Environmental Science and Policy B.A. prepares students interested in environmental problem solving by linking an understanding of natural science with socioeconomic factors and public policy.

The curriculum combines a quantitative understanding of environmental science, chemistry, and biology with law, policy, and economics to provide a foundation for careers in environmental policy, resource management, education, environmental law, urban and environmental design, and related fields.

Career Opportunities

The Environmental Science and Policy major provides a strong interdisciplinary foundation for students to pursue a range of public and private sector positions, including environmental management, resource management, environmental law, environmental consulting, work with nonprofit organizations and non-governmental agencies, and related areas. Students are poised to pursue graduate studies (professional Masters degree or Ph.D.) in the following fields: environmental science, environmental studies, public policy, public administration, urban and regional planning, geography and related fields.

The Environmental Science and Policy major provides students with a solid foundation to recognize the impacts of human activities on the environment, and in turn, the impacts of environmental change on society. Students are taught the mechanisms by which key institutions, policies, and regulations impact ecosystems and the physical environment.

Once the core course work is complete, students are encouraged to focus on a particular area within Environmental Science and Policy, and to choose electives that build a coherent core of knowledge. Focus areas include, but are not limited to, urban planning, public policy, sociology, economics, climatology, water resources, water quality, agriculture, air pollution, resource management, and atmospheric sciences.


Students may be admitted to the Environmental Science and Policy major upon entering the university as freshmen, via change of major, or as transfer students from other colleges and universities. Information about change of major policies is available from the Physical Sciences student affairs office and the UCI Change of Major Criteria website.

Requirements for the B.A. in Environmental Science and Policy

All students must meet the University Requirements.
A. Complete:
EARTHSS 40A Earth System Chemistry
EARTHSS 40B Earth System Biology
EARTHSS 40C Earth System Physics
SOCECOL E8 Introduction to Environmental Analysis and Design
UPPP 5 Introduction to Urban Planning and Policy
STATS 7 Basic Statistics 1
EARTHSS 70A Sustainable Energy Systems
EARTHSS 70B Sustainable Food and Water Systems
EARTHSS 116 Data Analysis for Earth Sciences
EARTHSS 192 Careers in Earth System Science
SOCECOL 10 Research Design
SOCECOL 195 Field Study 2
or SOCECOL 195W Field Study Writing Seminar
B. Select three of the following:
UPPP 133 Environmental Law and Policy
UPPP 145 Environmental Governance
UPPP 146 Principles of Economics for Planning and Policy
UPPP 131 Environmental Sustainability I
C. Select seven 4-unit upper-division UPPP or EARTHSS courses (100-196), with at least two courses from UPPP and two courses from EARTHSS. Courses used to count toward degree requirements may not be used as electives. Up to two of the seven electives can be satisfied with 4-unit EARTHSS 199 and/or 4-unit SOCECOL 199 courses. For this requirement, SOCECOL 199 courses can be counted as UPPP electives.

NOTE: This major is open to all students. However, courses being applied to another major cannot also be counted as upper-division electives for the B.A. in Environmental Science and Policy.

Sample Program

Fall Winter Spring
General Education/ElectiveGeneral Education/ElectiveGeneral Education/Elective
 General Education/ElectiveGeneral Education/Elective
Fall Winter Spring
General Education/ElectiveGeneral Education/ElectiveGeneral Education/Elective
ElectiveGeneral Education/ElectiveGeneral Education/Elective
SOCECOL 10ElectiveElective
Fall Winter Spring
EARTHSS 192EARTHSS upper-division electiveUPPP upper-division elective
Fall Winter Spring
Upper-division electiveUPPP 146UPPP upper-division elective
Upper-division electiveUpper-division electiveEARTHSS upper-division elective
General Education/ElectiveElectiveElective

Honors Program

In the year-long honors course sequence, Environmental Science and Policy students admitted into the Environmental Science and Policy honors program pursue research with faculty in the Earth Systems Science or Urban Planning and Public Policy Departments, and prepare a written thesis of their work. Visit the Earth System Science honors program website for more information.

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