Environmental Science Concentration

Concentration in Environmental Science

The curriculum in the Environmental Science concentration focuses on the scientific study of the environment. Students in the Environmental Science concentration of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences develop knowledge and understanding necessary to characterize environmental conditions, make informed predictions about the future, and prevent or address environmental problems.

Environmental problems can involve physical, chemical, and biologic processes within the air, water, rock, and soil, and thus often require multidisciplinary solutions. The curriculum for the Environmental Science concentration in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences prepares students to tackle these challenges through a strong foundation in basic math and science courses; core courses in Earth materials, environmental geophysics, and biogeochemistry; elective concentration courses involving the fields of groundwater and surface water hydrology, biogeochemistry, the geology sediments and soils, and geophysical methods of characterization; and field course options that focus on building practical experience.

Beyond coursework, students also often take advantage of opportunities for work experience through internships, undergraduate research projects, and environmental-themed project teams.

Course Requirements

Research and Discovery Opportunities at Cornell

In addition to a great education, Cornell offers great experiences as well. A new environmental-science themed project team emphasizes developing novel instruments and means of studying the environment all the way from the atmosphere through to the subsurface. Students are also encouraged to complete research projects with our expert faculty in the areas of groundwater and surface water hydrology, biogeochemistry of rocks, air, and water, and renewable energy and sustainability. Students are encouraged to network with other students, scientists and alumni, and often participate in presentations at local, regional, and national science meetings.

Graduate School Opportunities

Students who are considering an advanced degree will also be well-prepared for graduate school, and typically add additional mathematics, physics, and interest-specific science courses to the basic curriculum. Students have gone on to complete Masters and PhDs in geosciences and related fields, often in the fields of hydrogeology, geochemistry, and geomorphology, as well as more broadly in environmental science or environmental engineering. 

Job Market

Environmental scientists are widely needed in both the private and public sector. The undergraduate Earth and Atmospheric Science curriculum with a concentration in Environmental Science is designed to provide students strong scientific foundations and practical experiences that prepare them to contribute as environmental scientists and continue to learn and adapt to new challenges. Earth and Atmospheric scientists work on environmental problems in a variety of ways, and thus job opportunities and duties can range from entirely office-based work to varying degrees of lab and/or field-based work.