Feb 17, 2020  
2011-2012 Catalog 
2011-2012 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Environmental Science Department

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The Environmental Science Department offers undergraduate degrees in Earth Sciences (B.S., B.A.), Environmental Science (B.S., B.A., minor), Environmental Policy (B.A.), Environmental Studies (B.A.), Marine Biology (B.S., B.A., minor), and Mathematics (minor). These degree programs focus on a firm, conceptual understanding of the natural world in order to more clearly view human impacts on the natural world. Course, lab, and field work cover topics in the natural sciences, conservation, resource management, environmental policy, and quantitative approaches. Concentrations within the Environmental Science Degree include Earth Systems Science, Biological Science, and General Environmental Science. The B.S. differs from the B.A. degree in that it requires more physical science and quantitative courses. Students with degrees from APU’s Environmental Science Department have gone on to graduate school, or employment with environmental consulting firms, industry, non-government organizations, and government agencies.  Often, our graduates follow both options, in either sequence.

Graduates of the Environmental 

Science Department degree programs:

  • Have gained knowledge in a diverse array of natural and management sciences
  • Have completed significant environmental projects including class exercises, internships, and field experiences, culminating in a senior project
  • Possess technical abilities in mathematics, statistics, GIS, as well as field and laboratory practices to address contemporary environmental and natural resource issues
  • Have good oral and written communication skills 


The many different courses offered in the Department of Environmental Sciences address a wide diversity of topics across different field. However, this diversity is tied together by the professional competencies that students gain through study, hands-on work, and interaction with instructors and fellow students.

These competencies are:

Conceptual Understanding (CU),

Communication Within Discipline (CWD),

Practical Ability (PA), Quantitative Skills (QS),

Project Management Ability (PMA),

Practice of Sustainability (PS). 

Of course, each course does not address all competencies, and different courses may address the same competencies at different levels. The standard the department uses for assigning a particular competency to a particular course requires that the area addressed by a competency introduce the student to concepts and applications that are likely to be first encountered in the course or adds to already familiar concepts and applications through higher levels of intensity or novel situations.

The courses within Environmental Sciences are designated with one of the following four prefixes: MAR (Marine Biology), MT (Mathematics and Statistics), SC (all courses in the majors of Earth System Science, Environmental Science, and Environmental Policy), and ES (all graduate courses within the Department). Each course description includes a list (using the abbreviations designated above) of the particular competencies that apply to that course. These lists allow:

  • students to better understand what instructors of the courses feel those courses address
  • academic advisors to better meet the needs and desires of their advisees
  • instructors to better assess whether student needs are being met.


Environmental Science Major or Minor

The Environmental Science B.A. and B.S. degrees allow students to focus on scientific approaches to assessing and solving environmental questions and problems by providing solid conceptual foundations and extensive real-world applications. The B.A. in Environmental Science is tailored for students who wish to enter the professional environmental field.  Graduates with a B.A. are often competitive when applying for graduate schools, however. The B.S. degree in Environmental Science requires additional coursework in the natural sciences, mathematics, and statistics. This degree is especially useful for students intending to pursue a graduate degree in the environmental sciences or in related fields. Environmental science majors must complete the environmental science Major Requirements and specify an area of concentration in Earth Systems Science, Biological Science, or General Environmental Science. The Environmental Science minor offers students in other majors, such as Outdoor Studies, Education, or Liberal Studies, an opportunity to strengthen their analytic and scientific background.

Marine Biology Major or Minor

The B.A. degree in Marine Biology (MAR) provides students with expertise in the biological sciences applied to marine environments. The B.S. degree in Marine Biology requires additional coursework in the physical and natural sciences while maintaining the traditional B.A. degree program focus on active learning and project-based learning experiences. The B.S. degree is recommended for students who intend to pursue a graduate degree or who intend to work professionally in the field of marine biology. Marine Biology majors must complete 64 credit hours in the Marine Biology Core (B.S.) and 16 credit hours of Marine Biology electives.

The Marine Biology minor offers students in other majors, such as Education or Liberal Studies, an opportunity to strengthen their analytic and scientific background; and offers students in Environmental Science an opportunity to learn applications of their field to marine systems and resources.

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