Environmental Science

Major: Environmental Science
Degree Awarded: Bachelor of Science (BS)
Calendar Type: Quarter
Total Credit Hours: 182.5 - 186.5
Co-op Options: Three Co-op (Five years); One Co-op (Four years); No Co-op (Four years)
Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) code:
03.0104
Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code: 19-2041

About the Program

The environmental science program at Drexel University is committed to educating undergraduates for technical careers and graduate study in the diverse areas of environmental science vital to restoration of a clean and healthy environment in the 21st century. The affiliation between the Academy of Natural Science and Drexel University offers the opportunity to take a national leadership role in environmental science and environmental policy, and grow the scope, capacity and reputation of the natural sciences at the University. The philosophy of the Biodiversity, Earth, and Environmental Science Department is “Experiential Learning Early and Often."

Environmental science is a multidisciplinary field designed to examine environmental problems and find solutions. This field requires understanding of a number of disciplines, including biology, physics and chemistry. Solving some of our environmental problems also requires knowledge of environmental policy, ethics, and scientific data analysis. 

The program has an integrated curricular approach designed around student laboratory investigations. The goal of this program is to give students not only knowledge about biology, chemistry, and ecology but also the ability to use the tools and skills of a scientist. The program includes extensive use of computers in the laboratory, and students make frequent oral and written presentations based on their laboratory projects.

Field experience electives may includes trips to local aquatic and terrestrial habitats such as streams, lakes, the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge, New Jersey Pine Barrens, Delaware, Barnegat and Chesapeake Bays, and Appalachian Mountains. Students are also encouraged to take advantage of study abroad options. These programs often require early planning so it is advisable for interested students to speak to their advisor about opportunities in their first year.

Concentrations are available in:

  • Biodiversity and Evolution
  • Earth Science
  • Ecology & Conservation
  • Environmental Science

Additional Information

For more information about the program, visit the Department of Biodiversity, Earth & Environmental Science's web page.

Susan Cole
Undergraduate Advisor
Environmental Science
coless@drexel.edu or email bees@drexel.edu.

Degree Requirements

The program is designed to prepare students for careers in environmental science, environmental assessment, marine science, applied ecology, biodiversity and conservation and paleontology. The requirements for specific concentrations in biodiversity and evolution; earth science; ecology & conservation; and environmental science follow the list of degree requirements.

Degree Requirements
Humanities and Social Science
CIVC 101Introduction to Civic Engagement1.0
COM 230Techniques of Speaking3.0
COM 310 [WI] Technical Communication3.0
ENGL 101Composition and Rhetoric I: Inquiry and Exploratory Research3.0
ENGL 102Composition and Rhetoric II: Advanced Research and Evidence-Based Writing3.0
ENGL 103Composition and Rhetoric III: Themes and Genres3.0
PHIL 341Philosophy of the Environment3.0
or PHIL 251 Ethics
UNIV S101The Drexel Experience1.0
UNIV S201Looking Forward: Academics and Careers1.0
Humanities/Social Science electives6.0
Mathematics and Statistics18.0
Select one of the following sequences:
Calculus sequence
Calculus I
Calculus II
Calculus III
Analysis sequence
Introduction to Analysis I
Introduction to Analysis II
Mathematics for the Life Sciences
Additional required mathematics courses:
Scientific Data Analysis I
Scientific Data Analysis II
Physical Sciences
CHEM 101General Chemistry I3.5
CHEM 102General Chemistry II4.5
CHEM 103General Chemistry III5.0
Choose two from:5.0-7.0
Organic Chemistry I
Environmental Chemistry Laboratory
Introduction to Environmental Chemistry
Physics sequence
PHYS 152Introductory Physics I4.0
PHYS 153Introductory Physics II4.0
PHYS 154Introductory Physics III4.0
Biological Sciences
BIO 122Cells and Genetics4.5
BIO 124Evolution & Organismal Diversity4.5
BIO 126Physiology and Ecology4.5
Geoscience Requirements
GEO 103Introduction to Field Methods in Earth Science2.0
GEO 201 [WI] Earth Systems Processes3.0
GEO 301Advanced Field Methods in Earth Science2.0
Environmental Science Core Requirements
ENSS 341Environmental Movements in America4.0
or ENSS 347 Introduction to Environmental Policy Analysis
ENVS 101Introduction to Environmental Science5.0
ENVS 102Natural History, Research and Collections2.0
ENVS 201Practical Identification of Plants and Animals2.0
ENVS 202Tree of Life2.0
ENVS 203The Watershed Approach2.0
ENVS 212Evolution4.0
ENVS 230General Ecology3.0
ENVS 308GIS and Environmental Modeling3.0
ENVS 441 [WI] Issues in Global Change I: Seminar2.0
ENVS 442Issues in Global Change II: Research2.0
ENVS 443Issues in Global Change III: Synthesis2.0
Environmental Science Lab Requirements2.0
Environmental Concentration Requirements12.0-16.0
See list of concentration requirements below.
Environmental Electives15.0
Free Electives24.0
Total Credits181.5-187.5

Environmental Science Concentrations

Each concentration has four required courses. In addition, the department maintains a menu of electives specific to each concentration. Check with the department for selecting the appropriate 12.0 - 16.0 credits of  Environmental Science electives.

Biodiversity & Evolution Concentration
Required Courses
BIO 244Genetics I3.0
ENVS 312Systematic Biology3.0
ENVS 438Biodiversity3.0
ENVS 470Advanced Topics in Evolution3.0
Total Credits12.0
Earth Science Concentration
Required Courses
GEO 101Physical Geology4.0
GEO 102History of the Earth4.0
GEO 309Geochemistry4.0
GEO 310Sedimentary Environments4.0
Total Credits16.0
Ecology & Conservation Concentration
Required Courses
ENVS 284Physiological and Population Ecology3.0
ENVS 286Community and Ecosystem Ecology3.0
ENVS 328Conservation Biology3.0
Ecology & Conservation elective3.0
Total Credits12.0
Environmental Science Concentration
Required Courses
ENSS 341Environmental Movements in America4.0
or ENSS 347 Introduction to Environmental Policy Analysis
ENVS 275Global Climate Change3.0
ENVS 310Introduction to Environmental Chemistry3.0
GEO 101Physical Geology4.0
Total Credits14.0

Notes about Environmental Science Opportunities:

  • Field experience electives include quantitative environmental measurements in local aquatic and terrestrial habitats, such as streams, lakes, the Delaware Bay, the Poconos, and the New Jersey Pine Barrens (for example, Field Botany: NJ Pine Barrens; Ecology of the Pine Barrens; Marine Field Methods).
  • Students are required to consult frequently with their academic advisors for curriculum planning. Many of the graduate courses in environmental science are also open to qualified seniors who wish to become familiar with some of the applications in the field. Prerequisites and descriptions of available graduate courses appear in the graduate catalog.
  • The Equatorial Guinea: Bioko Island Study Abroad Program offers a unique opportunity for undergraduates and recent graduates to study tropical biodiversity and its conservation, with an emphasis on field work that takes advantage of Bioko Island's pristine rainforests ranging from sea level to over 10,000 feet in altitude, its seven species of rare monkeys and its four species of nesting sea turtles. For more information, please visit the Drexel Study Abroad Office.

Writing-Intensive Course Requirements

In order to graduate, all students must pass three writing-intensive courses after their freshman year. Two writing-intensive courses must be in a student's major. The third can be in any discipline. Students are advised to take one writing-intensive class each year, beginning with the sophomore year, and to avoid “clustering” these courses near the end of their matriculation. Transfer students need to meet with an academic advisor to review the number of writing-intensive courses required to graduate.

A "WI" next to a course in this catalog may indicate that this course can fulfill a writing-intensive requirement. For the most up-to-date list of writing-intensive courses being offered, students should check the Writing Intensive Course List at the University Writing Center. Students scheduling their courses can also conduct a search for courses with the attribute "WI" to bring up a list of all writing-intensive courses available that term. Transfer students need to meet with an academic advisor to review the number of writing-intensive courses required to graduate.

Sample Plan of Study 

The plan of study below is a generic plan, suited for all four concentrations. Contact the program advisor for additional details.

Term 1Credits
CHEM 101General Chemistry I3.5
ENGL 101Composition and Rhetoric I: Inquiry and Exploratory Research3.0
ENVS 101Introduction to Environmental Science5.0
MATH 101
or 121
Introduction to Analysis I
Calculus I
4.0
UNIV S101The Drexel Experience1.0
 Term Credits16.5
Term 2
BIO 124Evolution & Organismal Diversity4.5
CHEM 102General Chemistry II4.5
CIVC 101Introduction to Civic Engagement1.0
ENGL 102Composition and Rhetoric II: Advanced Research and Evidence-Based Writing3.0
MATH 102
or 122
Introduction to Analysis II
Calculus II
4.0
 Term Credits17.0
Term 3
BIO 126Physiology and Ecology4.5
CHEM 103General Chemistry III5.0
ENVS 102Natural History, Research and Collections2.0
GEO 103Introduction to Field Methods in Earth Science2.0
MATH 239
or 123
Mathematics for the Life Sciences
Calculus III
4.0
 Term Credits17.5
Term 4
BIO 122Cells and Genetics4.5
ENGL 103Composition and Rhetoric III: Themes and Genres3.0
ENVS 201Practical Identification of Plants and Animals2.0
Env Chem elective3.0-4.0
Free elective3.0
 Term Credits15.5-16.5
Term 5
ENVS 202Tree of Life2.0
ENVS 308GIS and Environmental Modeling3.0
GEO 201 [WI] Earth Systems Processes3.0
Humanities/Social Science elective3.0
Free elective3.0
 Term Credits14.0
Term 6
ENVS 203The Watershed Approach2.0
ENVS 212Evolution4.0
ENVS 230General Ecology3.0
PHYS 152Introductory Physics I4.0
Humanities/Social Science elective3.0
 Term Credits16.0
Term 7
ENSS 341
or 347
Environmental Movements in America
Introduction to Environmental Policy Analysis
4.0
PHYS 153Introductory Physics II4.0
UNIV S201Looking Forward: Academics and Careers1.0
ENVS concentration course*3.0-4.0
Free elective3.0
 Term Credits15.0-16.0
Term 8
COM 230Techniques of Speaking3.0
GEO 301Advanced Field Methods in Earth Science2.0
MATH 410Scientific Data Analysis I3.0
PHYS 154Introductory Physics III4.0
ENVS concentration course*3.0-4.0
 Term Credits15.0-16.0
Term 9
COM 310 [WI] Technical Communication3.0
MATH 411Scientific Data Analysis II3.0
ENVS concentration course*3.0-4.0
Env Chem elective2.0-3.0
Free elective3.0
 Term Credits14.0-16.0
Term 10
ENVS 441 [WI] Issues in Global Change I: Seminar2.0
ENVS concentration course*3.0-4.0
Environmental Science (ENVS) elective3.0
Environmental Science (ENVS) lab elective2.0
Free elective3.0
 Term Credits13.0-14.0
Term 11
ENVS 442Issues in Global Change II: Research2.0
PHIL 341
or 251
Philosophy of the Environment
Ethics
3.0
Environmental Science (ENVS) electives6.0
Free elective3.0
 Term Credits14.0
Term 12
ENVS 443Issues in Global Change III: Synthesis2.0
Environmental Science (ENVS) electives6.0
Free electives6.0
 Term Credits14.0
Total Credit: 181.5-187.5
*

 See degree requirements.

Co-op/Career Opportunities

Environmental scientists pursue careers in environmental assessment, environmental health, ecology, conservation, marine science, and atmospheric science.

Co-op Opportunities

Co-op and research opportunities will be available with the scientists at the Academy of Natural Sciences. In addition, recent co-op experiences have included:

CHPlanning, Center City Philadelphia
Lakes Environmental Assn., Maine
US Environmental Protection Agency, Center City Philadelphia
Criterion Lab Inc, Philadelphia PA Suburbs
Philadelphia Water Department, Philadelphia
Temple University, Philadelphia
Fairway Testing Co., NYC
University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Alaska
Bioko Biodiversity Protection Program, Equatorial Guinea
React Environmental Professional Services Group Inc., Philadelphia
Air Management Services, Philadelphia
Exelon Corporation, Philadelphia

Graduate Opportunities

Graduates in this major typically work for government environmental agencies, in environmental consulting firms, and in environmental departments of various industries. Additional training at the graduate level is an option for many students.

Visit the Drexel Steinbright Career Development Center page for more detailed information on co-op and post-graduate opportunities.

Environmental Science Faculty

Walter F. Bien, PhD (Drexel University) Director, Laboratory of Pinelands Research. Research Professor. Natural resource management, restoration ecology, conservation biology, and New Jersey Pinelands community dynamics.
Elizabeth Burke Watson, PhD (University of California, Berkeley). Assistant Professor. The implications of global and regional environmental change, and unraveling the interacting effects of multiple anthropogenic stressors on coastal ecosystems to promote more informed management, conservation, and restoration.
Donald F. Charles, PhD (Indiana University) Senior Scientist and Section Leader, Phycology Section, Academy of Natural Sciences. Professor. Diatoms as water quality indicators; paleolimnological approaches for inferring change in biology and chemistry of lakes; lake management; assessment of perturbations in aquatic ecosystems due to municipal and industrial effluents, land-use change, acid deposition, eutrophication and climate change.
Carol Collier, FAICP, MRP (University of Pennsylvania) Sr. Advisor, Watershed Management and Policy at the Academy of Natural Sciences; Director, Environmental Studies and Sustainability Program.. Water resources management, environmental planning, climate change policy, the intersection of science, policy and decision making.
Ted Daeschler, PhD (University of Pennsylvania) Associate Curator of Vertebrate Zoology; Vice President for Systematic Biology and the Library: Academy of Natural Sciences. Associate Professor. Vertebrate fauna of the Late Devonian Period in eastern North America; fossil collecting; systematic work focusing on freshwater vertebrates; nature of early non-marine ecosystems.
Daniel P. Duran, PhD (Vanderbilt University). Assistant Teaching Professor. Phylogeography, systematics and taxonomy, population and conservation genetics, ecological niche modeling, focusing on insect systems to better understand fundamental evolutionary processes and maintain biodiversity.
Jon Gelhaus, PhD (University of Kansas) Curator, Department of Entomology: Academy of Natural Sciences. Professor. Systematic expertise in crane flies (Tipuloidea); phylogenetic reconstruction; historical and ecological biogeography; biodiversity measures and evolution of morphological character systems.
Richard J. Horwitz, PhD (University of Chicago) Senior Scientist; Fisheries Section Leader; Ruth Patrick Chair of Environmental Sciences. Associate Professor. Reproductive ecology, life history and distribution of freshwater fishes; effects of land use, habitat structure and hydrology on population dynamics and species composition in aquatic systems; ecological modeling and biometry; anthropogenic contaminants in fishes.
Susan S. Kilham, PhD (Duke University). Professor. Aquatic ecology: phytoplankton; physiological ecology, especially of diatoms in freshwater and marine systems; large lakes; food webs; biogeochemistry.
Danielle Kreeger, PhD (Oregon State University). Research Associate Professor. Trophic interactions in aquatic ecosystems.
Tatyana Livshultz, PhD (Cornell University) Assistant Curator of Botany. Assistant Professor. Expertise of the milkweed and dogbane family (Apocynaceae); evolution and species diversity of the genus Dischidia; differences in floral form and function.
Richard McCourt, PhD (University of Arizona) Associate Curator of Botany, Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University; 2010-2012: Program Director, Division of Graduate Education, National Science Foundation. Professor. Biodiversity, evolution, ecology, and systematic of green algae, specifically charophyte algae.
Michael O'Connor, MD, PhD (MD, Johns Hopkins University; PhD, Colorado State). Associate Professor. Biophysical and physiological ecology, thermoregulation of vertebrates, ecological modeling.
Sean O'Donnell, PhD (University of Wisconsin-Madison). Professor. Tropical ecology, focusing on geographic variation and elevation effects on ecology and behavior of army ants and ant-bird interactions; neurobiology, focusing on brain plasticity and brain evolution in social insects.
Marina Potapova, PhD (Russian Academy of Sciences) Assistant Curator. Assistant Professor. Taxonomy, ecology, and biogeography of freshwater diatoms; methods of quantifying morphological characters of diatom frustules based on geometric morphometrics; systematic of monoraphid freshwater diatoms.
Gary Rosenberg, PhD (Harvard University) Pilsbry Chair of Malacology. Professor. Magnitude and origin of species-level diversity in the Mollusca.
Jacob Russell, PhD (University of Arizona). Associate Professor. Microbiomes and metagenomics; ecology and evolution of symbiosis.
Ron Smith, MS (Rutgers University). Instructor. Shorebird Ecology and Conservation; Amphibians of the NJ Pine Barrens; Restoration Ecology; Climate Change – Regional Effects and Education
James R. Spotila, PhD (University of Arkansas) L. D. Betz Chair Professor. Professor. Physiological and biophysical ecology, thermoregulation of aquatic vertebrates, biology of sea turtles.
Loyc Vanderkluysen, PhD (University of Hawaii). Assistant Professor. The cyclicity of volcanic eruptions, volcanic degassing processes, and large igneous provinces.
David J. Velinsky, PhD (Old Dominion University) Department Head, Biodiversity, Earth and Environmental Science. Professor. Geochemical cycling of organic and inorganic constituents of sediments and waters; Sedimentary diagenesis of major and minor elements; Isotope biogeochemistry of carbon, nitrogen and sulfur in marine and freshwater systems.
Jason Weckstein, PhD (Louisiana State University) Associate Curator of Ornithology. Associate Professor. Avian phylogenetics, comparative biology and evolutionary history; biodiversity surveys of birds and their parasites and pathogens; coevolutionary history of birds and their parasites.

Emeritus Faculty

John G. Lundberg, PhD (University of Michigan). Professor Emeritus. Diversity and diversification of fishes; documenting and interpreting the morphological, molecular, and taxonomic diversity of living and fossil fishes in the interrelated fields of systematic, faunistics and biogeography and paleobiology; exploration and collecting in poorly-known tropical freshwater habitats and regions.
Daniel Otte, PhD (University of Michigan) Senior Curator, Systematics and Evolutionary Biology. Professor Emeritus. Taxonomy and biogeography of Orthoptera (grasshoppers, crickets, katydids and their relatives).
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