Common Advising Questions and Answers

  1. What are the significant curricular differences between the B.A. and B.S. degrees in Environmental Studies?
  2. What kind of jobs can a student get with each degree?
  3. What is the difference between the Math 3A-B and the 34A-B series? Which series should one take if I am undecided  between the B.A. and the B.S. degrees in Environmental Studies?
  4. What is the Hydrologic Sciences and Policy major? What are the difference between this degree and the two ES  majors?
  5. How do I petition a class I took at another institution for one of the ES Preparation for the Major courses and what do I need to include?
  6. How do I change my major to ES and what forms do I need?
  7. Is there an official pre-major in ES/Hydro and if so what are the requirements?
  8. If I double major and pursue a B.A. degree in Environmental Studies and a B.S. degree in Biology, which degree, B.A. or B.S., General Education requirements must I follow and why?
  9. What are the advantages/disadvantages of double majoring? How many units may I overlap between the two majors?
  10. What are the three graduation GPA requirements a student majoring in the ES/Hydro degree must meet?
  11. What, if any, courses may be taken P/NP and still apply towards a student's major requirements? Are there any exceptions to this rule and when would it apply?
  12. What is an internship and how do I get one?
  13. What is a senior thesis and how do I/should I do one?
  14. What is the difference between the ENV S 199 and 199RA courses?
  15. How can I get more involved with local student and environmental groups?
  16. Where can I apply units earned from a field studies program, such as Wildlands Studies, towards my major requirements? If yes, how would I do so?

1. What are the significant curricular differences between the B.A. and B.S. degrees in Environmental Studies?

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.

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.). 

Please check out our worksheet for a detailed breakdown of degree requirements.

2. What kind of jobs can a student get with each degree?

Employment varies widely depending on individual course work taken by each student.  However, given that some career fields are heavily dependent on a strong scientific background, those who pursue the B.S. degree tend to be more qualified for certain scientific/technical opportunities.  B.S. majors tend to enter fields where the use of science is instrumental and experience with basic laboratory techniques is preferred. B.A. majors often pursue opportunities that deal largely with interdisciplinary social, political, and economic issues such as planning and law.  These students often develop a higher degree of writing proficiency and general communication skills.  **Important: When thinking about jobs, remember many B.A. majors have secured “science” jobs and B.S. grads have become lawyers, politicians, businesswomen/businessmen.  The above description is a generalization; your degree and experiences at UCSB depend on what you make of them.

3. What is the difference between the Math 3A-B and the 34A-B series?  Which series should one take if I am undecided between the B.A. and the B.S. degrees in Environmental Studies?

The Math 34A-B series is comprised of two introductory calculus courses for social and life science majors, whereas the 3A-B/4A series is comprised of three courses in applied and differential calculus.  A student who is undecided should begin with the 3A-B/4A series.  All three of these courses are required for the B.S. major.  If a student were to take the 34A-B series and then decide they want to pursue the B.S. degree, those courses would be inapplicable towards the B.S., and therefore they would have to start again and take Math 3A-B/4A.  However, if a student were to take Math 3A-B and then choose to pursue the B.A. degree, these courses would be accepted for the calculus requirement, as both the Math 34 and Math 3 series are permissible for the B.A.   

4. What is the Hydrologic Sciences and Policy major?  What are the difference between this degree and the two ES majors?

The main focus of the hydrologic sciences and policy major is to provide students with the scientific training needed to understand and solve complex hydrologic problems at local, regional, and global levels.  The goal of the hydrologic sciences curriculum is to provide a rigorous framework for students to examine the hydrologic process in our environment.  Although the program is housed within the Environmental Studies Program, the curriculum for this degree is offered cooperatively by the departments of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology; Chemistry and Biochemistry; Geography; and Earth Science.  Lower-division courses concentrate on the physical and natural sciences and unlike the other two ES majors you are not required to complete the introductory ES series.  In the upper division, students complete a core group of hydrology courses and then select one of the following three emphases: biology and ecology, physical and chemical sciences, or policy.

5. How do I petition a class I took at another institution for one of the ES Preparation for the Major courses and what do I need to include?

A student hoping to fulfill pre-requisites with courses taken at a different institution must fill out a “Request to Petition Degree Requirements”, downloadable here.  Be sure to include the full course number and title, and provide a thoughtful justification.  Additionally, it is to your advantage to include any available catalog course descriptions for courses taken at the prior or host institution.  If the course title is different from the course a student is hoping to apply it towards, these materials could be the difference between denial and approval.

6. How do I change my major to ES and what forms do I need?

Before a student can declare a major within the ES Department they must have taken or be enrolled in either ENV S 1, 2, or 3 and must demonstrate that they are on track with the preparation for the major by taking or having taken several other pre-requisites.  Then a student must begin the process of declaring.  This process includes filling out a change of major petition and providing various supplemental materials.  For detailed instructions and downloadable forms click here.  The same process is applicable to all hydro majors, except that they do not have to be enrolled or have taken ENV S 1, 2, or 3.

7. Is there an official pre-major in ES/Hydro and if so what are the requirements?

There is currently not an official pre-major for ES or Hydro.  However, in order to declare one of these majors, students must demonstrate genuine interest in the major with a completion of several pre-requisites and the pursuit of more (see prior question). Once this interest is displayed, students should declare as soon as possible, as many classes are becoming more difficult to acquire, and being a declared major will generally make things easier for you.

8. If I double major and pursue a B.A. degree in Environmental Studies and a B.S. degree in Biology, which degree, B.A. or B.S., General Education requirements must I follow and why?

If a student chooses to pursue a B.A. and a B.S. degree both General Education requirements must be fulfilled because the B.A. General Education (GE) requirements are slightly more extensive.  Therefore, you must follow the B.A. requirements. By completing the B.A. GEs you will have automatically fulfilled the B.S. GEs since there are fewer of them.

9. What are the advantages/disadvantages of double majoring?  How many units may I overlap between the two majors?

Students who choose to double major reap all the benefits of doubling the value of their college education.  Instead of graduating as an expert in one discipline, they are well versed in two.  Additionally, a double major can be a great way to enhance your first major, as many disciplines are inherently connected and therefore very complementary.  There is no maximum amount of lower division courses you can overlap between two majors.  However, the maximum amount of upper division units you can overlap between two majors is 8.

The only disadvantage to a double major is that it is double the amount of work.  It generally requires much more prior planning in order to complete both majors within four years.  So, students who are interested in double majoring must consider it very seriously before making the decision to do so.

10. What are the three graduation GPA requirements a student majoring in the ES/Hydro degree must meet?

The three GPA requirements are the same as the College-wide GPA requirements.  These requirements are: a 2.0 overall GPA in all courses taken, a 2.0 in all courses taken for your major, and a 2.0 in all upper-division courses taken.

11. What, if any, courses may be taken P/NP and still apply towards a student's major requirements?  Are there any exceptions to this rule and when would it apply?

All courses taken to fulfill degree requirements must be taken for a letter grade. There is one exception: on a one time only basis, a student can petition one course that was taken P/NP to apply towards their major, if they were not declared in the major at the time of taking the course.

12. What is an internship and how do I get one?

An internship is any career-related work experience of limited duration, in which an individual takes on a position of responsibility outside of the traditional university environment.  Internships can be structured or unstructured, paid or unpaid, and students may or may not receive academic credit for them.  It is essential though, that there is training and supervision involved.

Since internships occur outside the classroom, it is up to the student to pursue internship opportunities.  The Internet and your family and friends are the best places to start.  Search for organizations that spark your interest and check if they offer any internship positions, or ask any family and friends to be on the look out for any positions that may interest you.  Though personal connections can be helpful, it is ultimately up to the student to stay diligent in their pursuit of an internship, and many students obtain internships by demonstrating genuine personal interest and motivation.

13. What is a senior thesis and how do I/should I do one?

The senior thesis is an elective course (ENV S 197) open to all Environmental Studies and Hydrologic Sciences majors.  It is a six-unit course taken during your senior year after all of your lower-division requirements have been completed.  In ENV S 197, you will focus the knowledge you have gained from a wide variety of disciplines on a specific problem or issue.  The official enrollment quarter of the course is Fall, but the process generally takes about three quarters (all of senior year). We greatly encourage our students to pursue a senior thesis, as nearly all students who have completed the course consider it to be one of the “best courses ever taken.”  It provides students with valuable independent academic and/or field research and often establishes important relationships with faculty members.  For a more detailed description of ENV S 197, click here.

14. What is the difference between the ENV S 199 and 199RA courses?

ENV S 199 is a course for students who wish to pursue an “Independent Studies Project,” as the title of the course suggests.  It is designed to allow students to engage in their own independent research - exploring characteristics and/or problems in the environment under the guidance of an Environmental Studies faculty member. ENV S 199RA is the “Independent Studies Research Assistant,” course, in which a student serves as a research assistant working under the direction of an Environmental Studies faculty member.   

15. How can I get more involved with local student and environmental groups?

Check out our descriptions of environmental organizations, including UCSB and student organizations as well as local community organizations by clicking here. Pay attention to what sparks your interest, then contact the organization(s) to find out how you can get involved!

16. Where can I apply units earned from a field studies program, such as Wildlands Studies, towards my major requirements?  If yes, how would I do so?

Units earned from a field studies program can be used to fulfill all or part (depending on how many units were earned) of the Area C requirement – the Outside Concentration.  If not enough units were taken on a field studies program to fulfill the requirement entirely, an additional course (or courses) pertaining or related to those taken on the program may be taken at UCSB in a department OUTSIDE of Environmental Studies in order to fulfill the remaining units.  If this is a case, students should speak with an advisor. Once all courses are completed the student must fill out and turn in a "Request to Petition Degree Requirements", which then must be approved by the department.  This can be done only after all transcripts for the field studies program have been received by UCSB and appear in the student’s academic history on GOLD.