2024 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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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.

School Selections

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.

North Carolina State University at Raleigh

Environmental professionals who want to stay current on regulations and new technology can earn a Master of Environmental Assessment or a Graduate Certificate in Environmental Assessment online from NC State University. The master's is designed for professionals who want to continue their education but who aren't interested in a research career. This 30-credit program requires candidates to complete a professional project, which could vary from one to six credits, and a thesis is not required. Students can enter the program in the spring or fall semester. The graduate certificate is designed for students who need to update their skills. To earn the certificate, students must complete four courses from a list of six options.

  • Advanced Placement Credit

34,015 Students

North Country Community College

Part of the State University of New York (SUNY), North Country Community College specializes in transferable degrees. The Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts & Science: Humanities & Social Science is a two-year degree that incorporates English, math and other general education coursework, and it's designed to serve the needs of future Environmental Science or other hard science majors while being flexible on course selection. It automatically transfers to any of the 64 SUNY campuses. Moreover, completing the degree earns graduates a spot at a four-year SUNY campus.

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.

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).

Southern Methodist University

Southern Methodist University offers an online program leading to a Master of Arts in Sustainability and Development through the Lyle School of Engineering's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. The curriculum focuses on solutions, and content covers environmental science, energy, urban planning, transportation, architecture, and construction. The 30-credit curriculum includes 15 credits in core classes, and students take nine credits in a concentration, either environmental resources or urban development and design. For their capstone, candidates can complete a master's thesis or a special project. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited school with a GPA of 3.0 or higher, but there are no restrictions on undergraduate major.

Southern New Hampshire University

Students in the Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science program at Southern New Hampshire University can earn a general degree in the subject or specialize in one of two concentrations: natural resources and conservation or geospatial technologies. The program includes a strong focus on natural and physical sciences, and SNHU ships custom lab kits to students so they can perform required lab experiences at home. Instructional videos walk students through the process. Classes are delivered in an asynchronous format, with eight weeks in each term and six terms per year. Students can transfer in up to 90 credits, and SNHU assists applicants by taking care of requesting transcripts from previous schools attended.

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.

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.

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.

  • Advanced Placement Credit

45,842 Students

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