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Studying Environment at UC San Diego

There are many ways to study the environment at UC San Diego, depending on your academic preparation and where you want to place your emphasis.

Majors and Minors

The Environmental Systems (ESYS) Major and Minor

The ESYS Major and Minor offers four different tracks at the advanced level for students to choose from: Earth Sciences; Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution; Environmental Chemistry; and Environmental Policy. For all tracks, the major and minor both require lower division courses in Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, and Biology. Majors require additional upper-division courses in Economics and Political Science, as well as an integrating course sequence that will prepare the student for the advanced track. More information can be found at

The Environmental Studies Minor

The Environmental Studies Minor is the most broadly based of the programs of environmental study at UC San Diego. It intended for students from all departmental majors who seek an understanding of the issues presented by the environment and sustainability as they pertain to their particular fields of study. The Minor’s two core courses, ENVR30 and ENVR130, introduce students to the basic science and policy issues relating to the environment and have no prerequisites. Students then choose five additional upper division courses from a wide range in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities.

Environmental Chemistry Major

Students interested in declaring the Environmental Chemistry major have the option of choosing B.S. degree that is ACS-Certified or not. The B.S. is recommended for students who plan to pursue graduate education. Although the Major emphasizes a strong training in chemistry, the program also requires courses from other disciplines. These courses allow students to specialize in a secondary level of interest such as economics, political science, biology, earth sciences, or additional chemistry. For more information, see the requirements for the Environmental Chemistry B.S. Degree.

Environmental Engineering Major

The newly established Environmental Engineering program within the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE) at UCSD is a modern interpretation of this rapidly changing field. The interdisciplinary nature of environmental problems is addressed through links with other departments such as the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO), the Departments of Chemistry and Urban Studies and Planning, and the Environmental Systems program. The major prepares students for more specialized Master’s and Doctoral programs in Environmental Engineering at other universities and for positions in industry. For more information, see

Earth Sciences Major and Minor

For students interested in careers in Earth Sciences, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) offers a B.S. degree and a contiguous B.S./M.S. degree in Earth Sciences. In addition, students may follow Chemistry/Earth Sciences Major, a Physics major with a specialization in Earth Sciences, or an Environmental Systems/Earth Sciences Major. Lower-division requirements for all areas of specialization provide the foundation in Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, and Biology that are essential to modern quantitative Earth Sciences. All Earth Sciences majors take an introductory course, SIO50, and four upper division course requirements. The program also offers a minor in Earth Sciences. See

Marine Sciences Minor

Ocean science is relevant to many contemporary environmental problems and central to understanding earth-system evolution, dynamics, climate change, and sustainability. SIO offers an undergraduate minor program in Marine Science designed to complement the strong disciplinary training of UCSD basic science majors by providing a broad interdisciplinary perspective with an environmental focus. The minor consists of courses and research opportunities offered primarily by faculty and researchers at SIO. Students choose from a course track or a research track. The course track offers a flexible curriculum that serves students with a broad range of educational and career interests including environmental management and regulation, teaching, environmental law, economics and policy, and a wide range of graduate programs. The research track is intended for students interested in an undergraduate research experience at UCSD and serves as an excellent preparation for graduate student. More information is at

Courses on the environment with no prerequisite

  • ENVR 30 Environmental Studies—Natural Sciences
  • ENVR 120 Coastal Ecology
  • ENVR 102 Wilderness and Human Values
  • ENVR 130 Environmental Studies—Social Sciences
  • SIO 10 The Earth
  • SIO 12 History of Earth and Evolution
  • SIO 15 Natural Disasters
  • SIO 16 Geology of National Parks
  • SIO 20 The Atmosphere
  • SIO 30 The Oceans
  • SIO 35 Water
  • USP 2 Urban World System