2017 Top Online Schools for Environmental Science

Scroll down to see the top not-for-profit colleges offering environmental science degrees online.

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School Rankings

1

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The Earth, Society, and Environmental Sustainability program at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign offers an online Bachelor of Science degree with two areas of concentration - society and environment and society in the earth system. The society and environment concentration is designed for students with a background in the natural sciences, while the society in the earth system concentration is geared more towards students with a general or social sciences background. All students have the opportunity to specialize in different areas such as sustainable societies, environmental informatics, and sustainable business. The College of Engineering offers an online Master of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering degree with specialty areas in the following: construction management, transportation engineering, structural engineering, and infrastructure.

CAG Score 95.7

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

45,140 Students

2

California State University-Fullerton

California State University Fullerton offers an online Master of Science (MS) in Environmental Engineering degree that can be completed with two years of continuous enrollment. The program follows a cohort model of education. Courses are delivered in four 16-week semesters and one 8-week summer session. Students are required to attend a virtual orientation prior to beginning the program, as well as a virtual mid-point symposium to review their progress towards the MS degree. The curriculum covers critical environmental issues such as potable water treatment, water reclamation and reuse, solid and hazardous waste management, landfill design, sustainable development, and air pollution control engineering. Students who complete the program are qualified to sit for the professional engineering exam in environmental engineering.

CAG Score 96.0

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

38,128 Students

3

Arizona State University

Arizona State University offers a Bachelor of Science degree in sustainability that can be pursued online. Students accepted to the program can choose from the following tracks of study: international development and sustainability, policy and governance in sustainable systems, society and sustainability, and sustainable urban dynamics. Core courses for the degree cover topics such as environmental economics, urban planning and design, and stakeholder engagement. On the graduate level, the university offers an online Master of Sustainability Leadership degree. The curriculum is organized around four major themes: sustainability and strategy, leadership for sustainability, communications and change management, and global context of sustainability. Students can organize their learning experience by enrolling in electives that reflect and support their professional goals and interests.

CAG Score 94.7

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

50,320 Students

4

Oregon State University

The online Bachelor of Science in Environmental Sciences degree available at Oregon State University offers a diverse selection of specialization areas. The following fields are currently available: applied ecology, aquatic biology, environmental agriculture, earth systems, environmental water resources, and conservation, resources, and sustainability. Courses are offered asynchronously, allowing students to access them at any time and to complete their degree from anywhere in the world. On the graduate level, the university offers an online Master of Natural Resources degree. The 45-credit program provides students with the knowledge and skills to implement viable solutions to complex and often competing economic, health, and environmental issues. Students can choose from several areas of emphasis including water conflict management and geographic information science (GIS).

CAG Score 94.8

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

28,886 Students

5

University of New Haven

The Tagliatela College of Engineering at the University of New Haven offers a Master of Science in Environmental Engineering degree that can be pursued 100 percent online. The program is comprised of 30 graduate-level credits and can be completed in just two years, or six consecutive eight-week terms. All required courses are available asynchronously and can be accessed by students from anywhere in the world at any time. The program has the following focus areas: water resources, water and waste water treatment, and industrial and hazardous waste management. Students study complex environmental problems and learn to develop sustainable alternatives and solutions to a wide range of issues and challenges such as water purification, site remediation, emission control measures, and environmental protection.

6

The University of Findlay

The University of Findlay offers an online Master of Science in Environmental, Safety and Health Management degree that is accredited by the Environmental Health Science and Protection Accreditation Council. The program consists of 30 semester hours of graduate-level coursework. Courses are offered in eight-week blocks, with one semester comprised of two consecutive blocks. In addition to enrolling in the required courses for the MS degree, students have the option of completing a 15-semester hour certificate program as a way of focusing their educational experience. The added courses can also serve as an area of specialization. At the current time, certificate programs/specialization areas are available in the following areas: emergency and disaster management, environmental management, and occupational health and safety management.

7

Green Mountain College

Green Mountain College offers a Master of Science in Environmental Studies degree that can be completed online. The program follows a bioregional approach that allows students to use their local ecosystems as the laboratories in which to test their new set of skills and knowledge. The program is comprised of 36 credits, 24 credits of which must be core course requirements. The remaining credits are to be taken within a student's chosen field of concentration. Students can design an individual program of study that reflects their interests and supports their professional goals. Alternately, they can choose from two areas of concentration - conservation biology or writing and communication. Students are encouraged to attend an optional residency offered only once a year.

8

University of Idaho

The Master of Science in Environmental Science (MSES) degree offered at the University of Idaho is a 30-credit, non-thesis program that can be completed online. The MSES is a self-paced program that can be pursued on a full-time or part-time basis. Students are required to complete 21 credits by enrolling in courses from the environmental science curriculum. The remaining nine credits must be comprised of the following: a three-credit research or statistics course, two credits of independent study seminar, and a four-credit project on a topic chosen by the student that demonstrates the ability to satisfactorily complete academically rigorous work. Students can transfer up to 12 graduate-level credits from another institution that were not used to complete another degree program.

CAG Score 95.7

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

11,702 Students

9

University of Houston-Clear Lake

Students accepted to the online Master of Science in Environmental Science program at the University of Houston Clear Lake can choose to pursue either the generalist track or the occupational and health track. Both tracks consist of 36 semester hours of coursework. Six of these semester hours must be completed as a thesis or a major research project. No more than six undergraduate credit hours may be applied towards the occupational and health track. Applicants who wish to pursue the generalist track must have satisfactorily completed 34 hours of natural science and 6 hours of mathematics coursework. The curriculum includes courses in toxicology and environmental health, sampling and analysis of environmental contaminants, human factors engineering, and control of occupational and environmental hazards.

10

Missouri University of Science and Technology

The online engineering programs available at Missouri University of Science and Technology are ranked as No.9 in the country by U.S. News and World Report (2016). A Master of Science in Environmental Engineering degree is available. Applicants must have a Bachelor of Science in Engineering or Bachelor of Engineering degree to be considered for admission. The university's MS degree is comprised of a minimum of 30 graduate-level credits. The curriculum includes coursework in environmental law and regulations, public health engineering, biological operations in environmental engineering systems, and sustainability, population, energy, water, and materials. Students can also participate in various ongoing research projects and activities that cover topics such as hazardous waste treatment, groundwater and soil remediation, and indoor air pollution control.

CAG Score 94.9

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

8,640 Students

11

Worcester Polytechnic Institute

The online Master of Science in Environmental Engineering program available at Worcester Polytechnic Institute offers both a thesis and non-thesis option. Students who choose to write a thesis (six credits) must complete eight three-credit courses (24 credits), while students who opt to pursue the non-thesis track must complete a total of 11 three-credit courses. The curriculum includes coursework in key environmental topics such as surface water quality monitoring, physical and chemical treatment processes, biosystems in environmental engineering, and groundwater flow and pollution. There is a Graduate Certificate in Environmental Engineering program that is also available online. The certificate consists of four graduate-level courses. Students must enroll in a cluster of courses that belong to the same field of study.

12

Clarkson University

Clarkson University offers a Master of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering degree that can be pursued online. The program requires 30 credits of coursework (including project or research work and seminars) and can be completed in 18-24 months. Students have the option of selecting an area of concentration from the following: construction engineering management, environmental engineering, geotechnical engineering, structural and materials engineering, transportation engineering, and water resources engineering. A thesis is required for graduation. The university has a Doctor of Philosophy in Civil and Environmental Engineering degree that is also available online. The program is comprised of 90 credit hours and includes coursework that cover topics such as environmental chemistry, industrial ecology, water and wastewater engineering, and environmental biological processes.

13

University of Illinois at Springfield

The University of Illinois Springfield offers Master of Arts (MA) and Master of Science (MS) degrees in environmental science that can both be pursued online. Applicants to the MS program must demonstrate a strong knowledge of different sciences such as biology, geology, chemistry, and physics, as well as algebra and statistics. Students who have worked for, or are currently employed by, an environmental organization or agency may be allowed to apply a certain number of hours towards the completion of the internship course/seminar required for the degree. Students pursuing the MA degree have the option of choosing sustainable development and policy as their area of concentration, or environmental planning and management. A third concentration area (environmental humanities) is not currently available online.

14

Columbia College

Columbia College offers an Associate in Science in Environmental Studies degree that can be completed online. The program is comprised of 60 semester hours broken down as follows: general education requirements (24 hours), major coursework (21 hours), electives (12 hours), and an English composition course (3 hours). The core curriculum of the environmental studies program consists of courses that cover essential topics such as American environmental history, resource management, environmental literature, principles of biology, and physical science survey. Students can personalize their educational experience by enrolling in electives that reflect and support their academic and professional goals more closely. At the current time, electives are available in areas such as biodiversity, environmental politics, ecology, evolution, and environmental ethics.

15

Florida Gateway College

Florida Gateway College offers a 60-credit Associate of Science (AS) degree in environmental science technology that can be pursued online. The program provides specialized training in the field of water resource management and requires students to complete 28 credits from the environmental science technology coursework. This includes classes in the chemistry and biology of natural waters, environmental sampling and analysis, treatment of waste and wastewater, and water analysis and monitoring. Students who complete the program are qualified to take the Florida Level C license examination in waste and wastewater operations. There is also an online Bachelor of Applied Science in Water Resources Management degree available. The AS credits from the environmental science technology program above transfer readily to this 121-credit hour program.

CAG Score 94.5

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

2,912 Students

16

The University of Tennessee

The University of Tennessee Knoxville offers a Master of Science in Environmental Engineering degree that can be completed online. The program follows a multi-disciplinary approach to education, combining traditional engineering components such as mathematics, physics, and chemistry, with several other disciplines including ecology, public health, geology, and economics. Students are required to take the following courses: Environmental Chemistry, Advanced Applications in Water and Waste Treatment, Environmental Transport and Kinetics, Solid and Hazardous Waste Management, Environmental Microbiology, and Air Pollution Engineering and Control. Working with a faculty advisor, students can personalize their educational experience by enrolling in electives that support and reflect their academic and professional goals. Electives cover a wide range of topics including open channel hydraulics and air pollution dispersion modeling.

CAG Score 94.5

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

30,386 Students

17

Mesa Community College

Mesa Community College offers an online Academic Certificate in Sustainability program that gives students the opportunity to study the concept of sustainable development within regional and global contexts. The program has five specialized tracks: land use and human transformations, water and other natural resources, political and economic treatment of the earth, coupled human-environment interactions, and sustainable entrepreneurship. Of these five tracks, only the coupled human-environment interactions track is currently available online. Students must complete a minimum of 23 credits to earn the certificate, 9-12 credits of which must consist of courses from the student's chosen track of study. The curriculum includes coursework in environmental ethics, human impacts on ancient environments, chemistry and the environment, environmental biology, and society and the environment.

18

NorthWest Arkansas Community College

The Northwest Arkansas Community College offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in environmental and regulatory science that can be pursued entirely online. The program has a concentration in safety, health, and hazardous material management. Courses are available asynchronously, giving students 24/7 access. Students are required to complete a minimum of 60 credit hours to earn the degree, 24 hours of which must be comprised of courses from the concentration area and 15 hours of technical support coursework. The curriculum includes courses that cover topics such as environmental compliance documentation, fundamentals of industrial hygiene, and occupational safety and health. The degree meets the guidelines developed by the American Society for Safety Engineers (ASSE) and the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP).

19

Goodwin College

Goodwin College offers an online Bachelor of Science degree in environmental studies that can be pursued on a part-time or full-time basis. Students accepted to the program can customize their learning experience by selecting a specialized track of study - environmental health or river studies. A total of 18 credits must come from a student's chosen track of study and 37 credits from the environmental studies core coursework. Students enroll in classes that cover topics such as environmental law and regulations, geographic information systems, environmental physics, general chemistry, and environmental public policy, theory, and practices. The university offers a 61-credit Associate of Science degree in environmental studies that can also be completed online following a part-time or full-time plan of study.

20

Bismarck State College

The online Certificate in Water and Wastewater Technology available at Bismarck State College is comprised of a minimum of 30 credits and can be completed within two semesters. The required coursework for the certificate are only available in the fall and spring semesters. The curriculum includes courses in safety, health, and environment, introduction to the water industry, mechanical fundamentals, control systems, water treatment, print reading, and wastewater treatment. Students who plan to take state certification exams upon graduation must participate in on-campus labs or a job shadowing experience at an approved facility. Students who complete the program are eligible for the certification track that allows students with reduced professional experience to sit for the Class II, III, and IV certification exams.

21

Rio Salado College

Rio Salado College offers a 16-credit Academic Certificate in Sustainability and Ecological Literacy program that can be completed online. The program is designed for students who plan to pursue an Associate in Arts degree and eventually transfer to a four-year program in a large university. The certificate can be earned on a part-time or full-time basis (12 credits or more per semester). The curriculum includes coursework that cover essential topics including the following: environmental ethics, economics of natural resources, population, and the environment, and environmental biology. Students should note that not all classes are available online every semester. It is necessary to consult with a faculty advisor in order to ensure the availability of courses during each term.

22

Southern Arkansas University Tech

Southern Arkansas University Tech offers an Associate in Professional Studies degree with an emphasis in environmental management that can be completed online. Students accepted to the program are required to complete 60 graduate-level credits in order to earn the degree. General education requirements come to a total of 33 credits, while focus area coursework make up the remaining 27 credits. Students may be required to enroll in basic skills courses, such as a writing workshop, transitional mathematics, or a class in language arts, after an evaluation of their placement test scores. The focus area curriculum consists of nine three-credit courses, and covers topics such as environmental safety, water treatment technology, environmental management, solid waste management, and industrial treatment technology.

23

University of North Dakota

The Graduate Certificate in Environmental Engineering available at the University of North Dakota is comprised of nine credits that can be taken completely online. The program combines aspects of different engineering fields (chemical, civil, and geological) as they relate to major environmental issues. Ideal applicants must possess a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical, environmental, civil, or geological engineering from an ABET-accredited institution. Applicants with a bachelor's degree in other science or engineering fields with a strong foundation in fluid mechanics, mathematics, and chemistry may also be considered. Students can access recorded lectures and course materials, take exams, and submit their assignments at any time. Certificate credits can be applied to a master's degree in engineering at a future date.

24

Ocean County College

Students admitted to the Associate in Science (AS) in Environmental Science program at Ocean County College can pursue the degree online. The program focuses on the impact of human activity on the earth and on devising and implementing solutions to a variety of environmental problems and challenges. The program consists of 64 graduate-level credits, 34 credits of which must come from completing the required coursework in general biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, English, and environmental science. The remaining credits are comprised of general education requirements and electives, which must come from an approved list of courses. AS credits from Ocean County College transfer in full to four-year programs in a related field offered at larger colleges and universities.

25

Prescott College

Prescott College offers three degrees in the field of environmental studies and sustainability: Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts, and Doctor of Philosophy. All are low-residency programs, which means students spend only a limited amount of time on campus, with many courses available online. Students pursuing the BA degree can choose from two tracks - sustainable community development or environmental studies. The MA program offers four areas of concentration: conservation science, environmental education, social ecology, and sustainability science and practice. The doctoral program follows a cohort-based learning model and can take up to three years to complete on a full-time basis. After completing a common core of coursework, PhD students follow a self-designed program of study within the sustainability education niche.

Evaluating Online Environmental Science Degrees

Environmental science is known as a hands-on profession, so please think carefully about choosing an online program. Many employers will want to see evidence of lab work, field research and team-based experiences.

If you’re determined to get a degree that’s 100% online, look for:

  • Regional Accreditation
  • Labs/Practicums: Ask how bachelor’s programs deal with labs. Some schools allow you to fulfill your lab requirements at a local community college. For example, in SNHU’s Online BS in Environmental Sciences, custom lab kits are mailed to students for instructor-led online labs.
  • Internships & Field Research: A good school will help arrange internships or field research projects within your geographical area.
  • Faculty Quality: Check that online courses are being taught by the same faculty who teach on-campus. Your professors should have solid research credentials and verifiable “on-the-ground” experience in environmental science.
  • Collaboration Opportunities: Most environmental science work involves collaborating with a team of professionals. How does your online program plan to help you build this skill?
  • Support Services: Ensure your school has distance learning counselors/advisors and support services for any technical and academic hurdles you might face.
  • Transferable Credits: If you’re considering further education after your degree, ask if your online credits will be transferable to accredited graduate programs.

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