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Academic programs

Academic programs

The interdisciplinary programs in the Center for Environmental Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University allow students to delve into the overlapping fields of environmental life sciences, technology and policy.

Faculty associated with the Center provide over 60 different course topics (undergraduate and graduate) across policy sciences (e.g., Politics of the Environment and Environmental Policy & Administration), earth sciences (Meteorology & Climatology and Hydrogeology), life sciences (Environmental Pollution and Tropical Field Ecology), and quantitative analyses ( and ) and geospatial technology (Environmental Data Visualization and Introduction to Geographic Information Systems). 

The undergraduate and graduate curriculum in the Center for Environmental Studies are designed with the following guiding principles:

  • Students should should have a high level of quantitative aptitude. We are in the age of big data and ENVS students should be able to easily work with large and often geospatial data sets.
  • Course work throughout the curricula should highlight the interaction between policy, life, and earth sciences.
  • An environmental scientist performs their duties within a regulatory, economic, and societal context and must be able to communicate the importance of their environmental activities to the larger public.

Undergraduate program

The B.S. in Environmental Studies prepares students for entry-level field and research positions in government service, nonprofit management and private industry.

The curriculum is shaped by the philosophy that environmental science and policy are inseparable. Students build on the VCU Life Sciences general education requirements, with core math and sciences, which prepare them for later physical and social sciences classes tied to the environment.

Class lectures and guest speakers introduce the importance of policy-making and awareness in the environmental field, while laboratory and internship experiences provide a working knowledge of the latest in environmental technology and field practices.

Graduate program

We offer two graduate-level options. Both provide an ideal research setting at the VCU Rice Rivers Center:

  • M.S. in Environmental Studies, a thesis-based program designed for students interested in environmental research. This degree focuses on environmental planning, environmental science, environmental health and environmental technology.
  • Master of Environmental Studies a terminal, non-thesis, two-year professional degree for individuals working in the private/public sector of the environmental field.

Opportunities for doctoral study are provided through the Integrative Life Sciences Ph.D. program.

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