Area of Focus
  • Environmental Science & Sustainability
Degrees Offered
  • B.S.
Academic Division
  • Physical and Biological Sciences
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences

Program overview

The UCSC Environmental Sciences (ESCI) major is an interdepartmental, undergraduate-only degree program. The purpose of the ESCI major is to educate students interested in environmental science problems and issues, with a focus on issues within the physical sciences (versus focusing on biological sciences).

The Bachelor of Science (B.S.) program is designed for students who intend to pursue professional careers in environmental sciences, engineering, policy, law, teaching, or business or who otherwise desire the broad, quantitative training available at UCSC. In addition to providing comprehensive preparation in the basic physical sciences, and particular breadth and depth in environmental sciences, the curriculum is structured to prepare students for the competitive graduate school and career marketplace

Professor with students ocean in background

Learning Experience

The core of the major includes calculus, physics, chemistry, and core foundational upper-division environmental sciences courses. Students also select at least five additional courses from a diverse list of upper-division electives. These electives provide the student with expertise in one or more subdisciplines within environmental sciences. A senior comprehensive experience is required of all majors. Students may choose from an intensive senior seminar capstone course or completion of a senior thesis to satisfy this requirement.

Study and Research Opportunities
  • The major specializes primarily in the following areas of study:

  • Climate and climate change: Earth's past, present, and future climate
  • Global biogeochemical cycles: Cycles of water, carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, mercury, etc.
  • Atmosphere: Meteorology, air quality, and atmospheric chemistry
  • Oceans: Physical, chemical, and biological oceanography
  • Fresh Water: Water resources and water quality
  • Pollution: Water pollution, air pollution, pollutant transport

Courses in other areas are also available. The core faculty of the major are primarily from two departments, Earth and Planetary Sciences and Ocean Sciences. Faculty from other departments such as Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and Environmental Studies may also be involved.

The Environmental Sciences program has a wide range of laboratory and computational facilities. Please go to the faculty web pages for more information.

First-Year (Freshman) Requirements

In addition to the courses required for UC admission, high school students who intend to major in Environmental Sciences should take high school courses in chemistry, advanced mathematics (precalculus and/or calculus), and physics.

Students outdoors on a beach discussing research

Transfer Requirements

This is a screening major. The Environmental Sciences program welcomes applications from community college students who are prepared to enter as junior-level majors. Prior to transferring and to be considered for admission to UCSC as an ESCI major, students complete equivalents of the following courses with a 2.00 or higher:

CHEM 1A and CHEM 1C/N and

MATH 11A and MATH 11B or

MATH 19A and MATH 19B and


Students transferring to UCSC as an ESCI major from a California community college should reference ASSIST to determine which courses are equivalent to required courses and should consult the Environmental Sciences website for more information on preparing to transfer.

Students doing research outdoors

Internships and Career Opportunities


Graduates of the ESCI major will be prepared to continue on to a variety of careers, such as:

  • Business and industry
  • Environmental consulting
  • Governmental agencies at the federal, state, and local level
  • Non-profit organizations
  • Research at universities, governmental research institutions, or other scientific agencies
  • Graduate/professional school in areas such as science, engineering, teaching, law, public health, business



apartment Earth and Planetary Sciences Building, Room A234A
phone (831) 502-7070