B.A. Degree Requirements in Environmental Studies

The bachelor of arts degree (B.A.) in environmental studies addresses these interdisciplinary relationships by providing the flexibility necessary for students to explore the social, cultural, and scientific issues pertaining to the environment. For their major preparation, students in the B.A. degree program 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 Environmental Studies Program strongly encourages its students to participate in experiential elective courses such as the ES Internship Program (ES 192), study abroad programs, or any other academic opportunities which enhance their environmental education. The environmental studies curriculum has a number of special courses which allow students to conduct independent research projects (ES 199), work as a research assistant for one of its faculty members (ES 199RA), or pursue a senior thesis on a topic of their choice (ES 197). Approximately one-half to two-thirds of all environmental studies majors complete at least one environmental field studies or study abroad program before graduating. Additional information about these opportunities and affiliated environmental field studies programs and study abroad programs is available from the Student Info page of this website.

Bachelor of Arts Requirements:

The major is divided into three parts: preparation for the major, upper-division requirements within environmental studies, and outside concentration in related areas.  Note: One may wish to view/download the ES Program's B.A. Major Requirement/Progress Check worksheet  for a comprehensive view of these requirements.

1) Preparation for the Major (1st and 2nd years)

UCSB Courses:
3 Intro Environmental Studies courses: Environmental Studies 1, 2, and 3
1 course in Micro, Macro, or Intro Econ or Env Econ: Economics 1 or 2 or 9 or Environmental Studies 30
1 course in Earth System Sciences: Eart Sci. 2 or 4 or 20 or Geography 3 or 4
1 course of Intro Calculus: Mathematics 34A or 3A (or 2A)
1 additional course of Intro Calculus, or
1 course of Intro to Quantitaive Methods:
Mathematics 34B or 3B (2B), or
Env S 25 "Quantitative Thinking in Env. Studies"
1 course of Intro Statistics: PSTAT 5A or 5LS (by petition Psych 5, or
Pstat 109 or Comm 87 will be considered)
2 courses of Intro Gen Chemistry w/lab, or Chemistry 1A-AL and Chemistry 1B (no lab)
2 course of Intro to Env. Chemistry Env S 15A and 15B/BL  "Intro to Env. Chemistry"
1 course in Intro General Biology: MCDB 20 or EEMB 22 (or W22) or MCDB 1A-AL and EEMB 2
1 course in Intro Logic or Ethics: Philosophy 3 or 4 or Political Sci. 1
1 Intro to Culture and Society (any one):

Anthropology 2 or Geography 5 or Global Studies 1 or 2 or
Psychology 1 or Religious Studies 1 or 14 or Sociology 1

1 Intro to Policy and Politics (any one): Geography 7 or History 5 or 7 or
Political Science 6, 7, 12;




















2) Upper-division Environmental Studies Units (3rd and 4th years):

All environmental studies majors pursuing a bachelor of arts degree must complete 13 required units and 28 elective units for a total of 41 units within environmental studies.

Area A. Required Environmental Studies Courses (13 total units):

Environmental Studies 100, 115, and 190; and either Environmental Studies 106 or 188.

Area B. Environmental Studies electives (28 total units):

Any 28 units of UD Environmental Studies elective courses numbered between 101-199. The 28 units of elective courses can be used to either cover a wide breadth of different subjects or create an environmental emphasis that constitutes a specific plan of study in a variety of disciplines such as, but not limited to: environmental planning, natural resource management, environmental law, energy, and Third World studies. Students are encouraged to meet with either an academic advisor or ES faculty member to discuss possible options to fulfilling this requirement. View the Supplemental Emphases Worksheet (.PDF)for some example emphases.

NoteNo more than 4 units each from Environmental Studies 192, 194, 199, and 199RA will apply, and no more than 8 units of these courses combined will be accepted toward the major.

3) Outside Concentration (Area C):

B.A. Environmental studies majors must complete an outside concentration consisting of 20 upper-division units taken outside the Environmental Studies Program. This may be done in a number of different ways:

Complete an outside concentration by taking any 20 upper-division units from one single department or program within the College of Letters and Science at UCSB (i.e. History, Geography, Geology, Economics, etc...). A double major or a minor of 20 units or more will satisfy this requirement automatically.

Alternatively, students may propose an interdisciplinary concentration, combining 20 upper-division units taken from more than one department or program other than Environmental Studies. A plan of study listing the 20 units to be taken must be petitioned and approved by the environmental studies academic advisor or program for this option to accepted. To be approved, the plan must demonstrate a coherent focus or theme. Environmental field studies and/or study abroad units may be used as part of this section as long as they are UC transferable and upper-division credit. Although a list of UCSB courses most often used to create interdisciplinary emphases is available (Supplemental Emphases Worksheet .PDF), students are welcome to use courses not on the list as long as they form a coherent environmental focus. Students interested in satisfying their outside concentration with an interdisciplinary mix of courses should consult the ES Academic Advisor for more information prior to beginning.

Study abroad and/or environmental field studies units may be applied to satisfy part or all of Area C.  UNits earned must me UC transferable, upper-division level, and related to a student's chosen emphasis (either options above).  A petition must be submitted and approved by the ES Program for such courses to apply.

NoteAny course cross-listed with environmental studies and another department used for the outside concentration may only apply to one required area, not simultaneously to both the elective area and the outside concentration.


P/NP GRADING OPTION ............. Env St 190 must be taken P/NP and up to 4 units of Env St 192 may be taken P/NP for major credit. All other courses, including those applied to the major from other departments, must be taken for letter grades. 

SUBSTITUTIONS ............... In the major requirements permissible only by petition to the department. 

RESIDENCE REQUIREMENTS .......... At least 20 UD units in major while in residence at UCSB. 

G.P.A. REQUIREMENTS .............. At least 2.0 overall average in a) all UD major courses; and b) all major courses (Prep and UD) while in UC.

Related Resources:

» View High School and Transfer Student Preparation for the B.A. ES Major
» View and download the ES Program's B.A. Major Requirement/Progress Check worksheet
» Download the official College L&S B.A. in ES major requirements sheet from the UCSB General Catalog.
» View the Guide to Completing the B.A. Degree & GE's in Four Years (.pdf)
» Supplemental Emphases Worksheet: How to use the electives and outside concentration to create an emphasis (.pdf)