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Monday, February 06, 2023

Badger water bottles sit next to an iced drink in the UW-Madison Education Building.

STEM Major Spotlight: Environmental Sciences

 Are you interested in sustainability, environmental science, research, conservation and more? Try looking into the Environmental Science major offered here at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

Andrew Zdroik, a third year student in the College of Letters & Science Environmental Sciences program describes the program as being distinctive from other STEM majors in that students have “an opportunity to study all the major sciences — chemistry, biology, physics — while also learning about things like ecology, geology and environmental policy.”

The major exists both in the College of L&S, within the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, and in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, within the Department of Soil Science. The program retains the same core values no matter which college you pick, both promoting critical thinking and emphasizing environmental problem solving in service to society. However, the college you pick can affect the general education credits required as the L&S school offers the option of either a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree, yet CALS only offers a Bachelor of Science degree for the program. 

No matter the college students pick, the major is very hands-on and has a wide reach. “The most interesting part of the major is learning about how the environment around us operates and how every living organism on earth has an impact,” Zdroik said. 

In addition to the core science classes, including chemistry, physics, calculus, etc., Zdroik explained that there’s room for exploration of fields such as weather, earth science and air pollution. 

Students with a degree in Environmental Sciences have a plethora of career paths available to them — including becoming an environmental scientist, researcher, zoologist, conservationist and many other options. Graduate school is not required for most employment, so recent graduates are able to go out in the field immediately. There’s also many opportunities available for internships. 

Zdroik is interested in air quality/pollution, renewable energy and conservation/sustainability. 

He believes that the major is a great option for students interested in working to create a more sustainable future. “I think the biggest thing for me is getting into a career that promotes sustainability in any way because of the huge and important role it plays in any aspect of environmental science and day to day life,” Zdroik said. 

Those interested in majoring in Environmental Sciences can look at the undergraduate guide for more details about the requirements and outcomes:

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