McMicken College of Arts & SciencesMcMicken College of Arts & SciencesUniversity of Cincinnati

McMicken College of Arts & Sciences


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Environmental Studies

During an era when the world is facing a wide range of environmental problems that are in the news virtually every day, environmental studies (EVST) has become a particularly timely and important major.

The environmental studies major provides an opportunity for the systematic investigation of the natural world and the interaction of humans with their own environment. Environmental issues and conflicts of this century are highly complex and transcend traditional academic disciplines. The goal of the environmental studies program at UC is to provide the interdisciplinary training and conceptual framework required to analyze and respond to the complex and dynamic environmental problems of the modern world.

The solutions to environmental issues and conflicts will continue to require expertise from the natural and social sciences such as biology, economics, engineering and political sciences, but the real-world solutions will also require a more interdisciplinary perspective. They require professionals who take a systems approach: an approach that addresses the complex interrelationships within and among components of natural, built and social environments.

The goal of our environmental studies curriculum is to produce professionals with a strong foundation in the key sciences who also "speak the languages" of the multiple disciplines involved in environmental problem solving and have learned to interact in interdisciplinary teams. The curriculum includes courses that examine the biological environment (e.g., biology and ecology), the physical environment (e.g., chemistry, geology and geography), and the social-human environment (e.g., policy, ethics and economics). The curriculum also emphasizes the acquisition of "tools of the trade," such as field and lab skills, data analysis, the identification of plants and animals, and computer-based approaches such as satellite remote sensing and geographic information systems.


Quick Info

Program Code


Real-World Learning Components

Optional internship(s), Research


4 years

Admission Criteria



Main Campus

Freshman Class Profile for this Major

3.070 - 3.800 (4 pt. scale)
21.0 - 27.0
1000 - 1115


Center for Environmental Studies
McMicken College of Arts and Sciences


612 Rieveschl Hall
PO Box 210006
Cincinnati,OH  45221-0006
Paula Breslin
Phone: 513-556-9707

Student Success Factors

The keys to success in environmental studies are both a curiosity about and a passion for the natural world. The complex nature of environmental issues and solutions also requires creativity in problem-solving, flexibility, imagination and a talent for both written and oral communication. Successful students have strong analytical and critical thinking skills and an interest in the sciences that form the foundation of UC’s approach to environmental studies.

Career Possibilities

Graduates of environmental studies may choose to pursue professional careers after the BS or to continue their studies in either graduate schools (MAs or PhDs in fields such as biology, ecology or environmental science/studies) or professional schools (e.g., law school, education, or medicine). Career opportunities include positions in federal, state and local agencies, corporations, nonprofit organizations, consulting firms and academic institutions. Examples of potential careers include:


  • Air or water pollution analyst
  • Aquatic ecologist 
  • Resource, land or lake management 
  • Ecologist or biological researcher 
  • Environmental agency or nonprofit official
  • Environmental consultant 
  • Environmental risk assessor
  • Environmental attorney 
  • Environmental compliance analyst
  • Hydrologist/limnologist
  • Park naturalist or ranger
  • Environmental mediator/negotiator
  • Hazardous waste manager
  • Satellite remote sensing
  • Geographic information systems specialist 
  • Conservation biologist 
  • Natural resource specialist
  • Environmental protection specialist
  • Wetlands/grasslands restoration specialist 
  • Zoologist/wildlife biologist
  • Waterway restoration specialist
  • Policy analyst

Additional career options are listed on the Center for Exploratory Studies website.

Major Details

One of the key advantages of the environmental studies curriculum is its diversity and flexibility. Students start with a unified core of courses but can specialize in areas of concentration by selecting upper-level electives, research opportunities and internships that reflect their interests and long-term goals. Although much of the curriculum draws on courses offered across multiple colleges of the university, it unifies students in the program through two unique sequences. Both are team-taught by environmental studies faculty and cover the diverse areas and skills of the various disciplines that make up this uniquely interdisciplinary field.

The introductory sequence integrates lectures, case studies, videos and Web exploration. The second, the environmental studies capstone sequence, is a projects-based course that provides opportunities for seniors to apply what they have learned to real-world situations, sites and problems.

Students work with the environmental studies advisor to design an elective track suited to their long-term goals. Program electives are available from environmental studies, numerous other departments within the UC McMicken College of Arts and Sciences (A&S), the UC College of Engineering and Applied Science and the UC College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning. The approved list of electives is frequently updated and can be obtained from the environmental studies website or the environmental studies office (612 Rieveschl). Other curricular aspects of the program include seminar series, a student environmental organization (LEAP), professional development workshops and internships.

A&S offers flexible degree requirements which allow and encourage students to pursue multiple areas of study. Free electives in many majors allow for enough credits for students to pursue a minor, certificate program or even complete a second major. Some of the most common pairings are listed below.

  • Anthropology
  • Biochemistry
  • Biology 
  • Chemistry
  • Communication
  • Economics
  • eography
  • Geology
  • History
  • Journalism
  • Political science
  • Women's, gender, and sexuality studies
  • Spanish

Minor Details

Minors are asked to take courses at all levels of the Environmental Studies curriculum, from groups paralleling those available to majors. The groups emphasize: 1) core learning of EVST-themed subjects and focused in allied disciplines (three courses); 2) upper-level electives (three courses); 3) Interdisciplinary, team-taught courses focused on important environmental-themed (one course).


Course Requirements, 28-30 hours total:


Required Courses, 10 hours total:

EVST 1011-1012, Introduction to Environmental Studies I & II, 6 hours

EVST 2082C, Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics, 4 hours


Sophomore/Junior Level “core” courses (choose two from this group), 6-8 hours:

EVST 2004, Communicating About Health, Environment, and Science, 3 hours

EVST 2020C, The Human Impact on the Natural Environment, 4 hours

EVST 2021, Economics, Society, and Environment, 4 hours

EVST 2022, Environmental Politics and Policy, 4 hours

EVST 2024, Global Environmental History, 3 hours

EVST 2025, Hydrology and Biogeochemistry, 3 hours

EVST 2053, Ecological Anthropology, 3 hours


Advanced topic themed course (choose one from this group), 3 hours total:

EVST 4011, Advanced Topics in Environmental Studies: Water, 3 hours

EVST 4012, Advanced Topics in Environmental Studies: Biodiversity, 3 hours

EVST 4013, Advanced Topics in Environmental Studies: Atmosphere and Climate, 3 hours

EVST 4014, Advanced Topics in Environmental Studies: Urbanization, 3 hours


Upper Level electives (choose three from this group), 9 hours total:

EVST 6010, Environmental Risk Analysis, 3 hours

EVST 6002, Global Biodiversity: Law and Policy, 3 hours

ECON 3085, Environmental Economics, 3 hours

EVST 3007, Environmental Sociology, 3 hours

EVST 3027, Environmental Ethics, 3 hours

EVST 3033, Advanced Environmental Geography, 3 hours

EVST 3040, Environmental Journalism, 3 hours

EVST 4020, Environmental Justice and Equality, 3 hours

EVST 4093, Environmental Writing, 3 hours

EVST 6001, Global Environmental Law and Policy, 3 hours


These tools assist students to identify course requirements and individual progress toward completion of academic programs. It is important to utilize these resources with personalized guidance from a UC academic advisor regularly to ensure timely graduation..

My Degree Audit - for confirmed and current students

My Transfer Course Equivalencies - for students considering transfer to UC

UC Schedule of Classes - search course availability and descriptions

Curriculum Guide Versions:

UC Advantages and Special Opportunities

Students in the UC McMicken College of Arts and Sciences enjoy many benefits afforded through study at a research-intensive institution ranked among the nation's top 25 public research universities. UC's urban, Tristate location offers exciting opportunities for global education, research and service learning, while its student-centered focus includes an 11:1 student-faculty ratio, a nationally recognized Center for Exploratory Studies and a highly successful First Year Experience program that teaches critical skills for first-year students and provides connections with important campus resources.

Special Programs

The University of Cincinnati and its Center for Environmental Studies present an ideal physical and intellectual location in which to study, producing broadly trained, interdisciplinary environmental professionals. Cincinnati is an urban area surrounded by rural communities; this urban-to-wild land gradient provides an array of diverse ecosystems for academic study and research. As such, the local environment is challenged by both the municipal and industrial needs of a city, and the broad impact of activities such as farming and land management. UC is home to a diverse faculty and a rich curriculum that actively address environmental issues and problems. Faculty in the center have many interests and are drawn from several departments of the UC McMicken College of Arts and Sciences (e.g., biological sciences, geography, geology, economics and communication), the UC College of Engineering and Applied Science and the UC College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning, as well as from professional scientists of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The expertise within the university is supplemented by the presence of three major research divisions of the EPA: the National Center for Environmental Assessment, the National Environmental Research Laboratory and the National Risk Management Research Laboratory. The close proximity (across the street!) of the EPA facility markedly expands the resources available to environmental research and education, and many UC students have held positions and internships at the EPA. Additional opportunities include affiliated student environmental groups such as LEAP (Leaders for Environmental Awareness and Protection), undergraduate research opportunities, and internships with local or national agencies and organizations.

Admission Requirements

Freshmen applicants, please visit the Admission Requirements page for more information.

Transferring to UC Requirements

Admission to A&S is generally available for any off-campus student who was admissible directly from high school and has cumulative 2.0 GPA and a 2.0 in the most recent institution.

Students who were not admissible directly from high school must have:

  • 24 semester (36 quarter) hours earned
  • at least a cumulative 2.0 GPA and a 2.0 at most recent institution
  • successfully completed one semester of English composition or its equivalent
  • successfully completed one semester of math with a grade of C- or higher that minimally meets on of the following:
    • Mathematical Literacy (MATH 0029)
    • Intermediate Algebra (MATH 0034)
    • Algebra for College (MATH 0039)
    • Students may also take the UC math placement exam, but must score an MPT of 420 or higher

University transfer scholarships are available to those who meet specific requirements and ANY admitted A&S transfer student might qualify for an A&S transfer scholarship. Deadlines and eligibility criteria are online via the previous links.

Changing Majors Within UC

Admission to A&S is generally available for University of Cincinnati students enrolled in other colleges if they were admissible directly from high school, have a cumulative 2.0 GPA and a 2.0 in their most recent UC college.

Students who were not admissible directly from high school must have:

  • at least a 2.0 GPA in all college-level courses (both at UC and at other institutions)
  • successfully completed one semester of English composition or its equivalent
  • successfully completed one semester of math with a grade of C- or higher that minimally meets on of the following:
    • Mathematical Literacy (MATH 0029)
    • Intermediate Algebra (MATH 0034)
    • Algebra for College (MATH 0039)
    • Students may also take the UC math placement exam, but must score an MPT of 420 or higher

Graduation Requirements

To graduate from the UC McMicken College of Arts and Sciences, students must:


  • Earn at least 120 credits. This can include transfer credit, AP credit and free electives, but does not include preparatory coursework. Students who have met all other degree requirements must continue earning credit until the total number of their earned hours comes to at least 120.
  • Attain a 2.0 grade point average for all courses taken at the University of Cincinnati.
  • Be in good academic standing, that is, not on either academic probation or disciplinary probation or suspension.
  • Complete the residency requirement by earning at least 30 credits after matriculating into the college.
  • Complete all of the requirements of at least one major (see major requirements above).
  • Complete the College Core Requirements.
  • Submit an application for graduation to the registrar's office by their posted deadline.

Application Deadlines

While midyear admission is possible, fall semester is generally the best time to enter the college, since many course sequences begin in that semester. Applicants to the UC McMicken College of Arts and Sciences who are enrolled or who were previously enrolled as degree-seeking students in A&S or in other UC colleges should apply for admission directly to A&S (in French West, 2nd Floor). All other applicants who wish to earn an undergraduate degree from A&S should apply through the Office of Admissions (3rd Floor, University Pavilion).


The University of Cincinnati is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.