B.A. vs. B.S. Requirements in ES

While both the B.A. and B.S. majors in environmental studies are similar in they stress the importance of understanding the interrelationships between the humanities, social sciences, and natural science disciplines, the ES Program offers two degree options to allow the opportunity to choose a major that will most appropriately fit a student’s environmental interests and goals. Download the detailed .PDF titled: "What is the Difference Between the BA and BS Degree in ES?"

What are the differences between the two degrees?

Simply put, the BA degree is the more interdisciplinary major with a swath of introductory courses in the social, physical, and natural sciences. It stresses the importance of comprehending basic social, cultural, and scientific theories and understanding how they interact with one another and play an equal part of every environmental issue.  Students pursuing this degree have maximum flexibility in selecting upper-division electives and outside concentration courses that best fit their interests.

Whereas the BS degree is more focused on training a student to become proficient in the natural and physical sciences. While a BS major must still take some introductory social and cultural studies courses to assure they understand their importance within environmental problems, BS students will have developed strong quantitative tools necessary to break down and analyze such problems from the most basic levels.

In terms of lower-division (1st and 2nd year requirements) the major curricular differences is in the amount of chemistry, calculus, biology and physics that are required.  Below is a table that breaks down the differences between the lower-division requirements.

ES Lower Divison comparison chart

At the upper-division level (3rd and 4th years) there are core ES courses both majors must take.  The difference is in the upper-division ES electives and outside concentration requirements.  The B.A. major can take any 28 units of ES electives they wish to pursue (all ES courses numbered 100-199).  The B.S. major must take a total of 32 units, 20 of which must be taken from a list of ES electives that have a physical and natural science emphasis.  The remaining 12 units can be taken from any of the upper-division ES electives just like the B.A. major.  The outside concentration for the B.A. major can be fulfilled by courses from any department or program at UCSB.  The B.S. major is restricted to just those in the natural or physical sciences (i.e. biology, earth sciences, math, chemistry, geography, statistics, physics, biopsychology, etc.). 

Because of the interdisciplinary design of the Environmental Studies majors (B.A. and B.S.) students are afforded the opportunity to select/customize their upper-division elective and outside concentration courses to create a distinct “environmental concentration.” A student may choose to take a wide selection of courses covering a breadth of disciplines or pursue a specific emphasis or track.  Download a .PDF for specific list of examples on "How to Create Your Own Environmental Emphasis in ES" by selecting specific electives and outside concentration courses.  Please Note: the examples on this handout are suggestive only and students are welcome to complete the required units with any combination of applicable courses/emphasis they wish to take (see below for specific requirements for the B.A. and B.S. majors).

Ba Vs BS upper-division chart

What are the general employment differences between BA and BS majors?

Employment varies widely depending on individual course work taken by each individual student. However, given that some fields heavily depend on a strong scientific background, there is a tendency to be a few more opportunities for majors with the BS degree. The BA majors often pursue opportunities that deal largely with sociopolitical issues such as planning and law. Its students often develop a higher degree of writing proficiency and general communication skills. The BS majors tend to enter related fields where the use of science is instrumental. The BS degree also tends to offer more experience with basic laboratory techniques which can be important in jobs which require a lot of field work and testing for pollutants and other hazards.

» Download the detailed .PDF titled: "What is the Difference Between the BA and BS Degree in ES?"
» Download .PDF with examples on "How to Create Your Own Environmental Emphasis in ES"