Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science

This is an archived copy of the 2016-2017 bulletin. To access the most recent version of the bulletin, please visit Any changes will appear on our errata page.

The Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science is designed for students intending to prepare for graduate school or for direct entry into a career as an environmental scientist or environmental manager in industry or government. Entry to the major presupposes prior course work comprising the high school equivalents of two years of algebra, one year of plane geometry, one-half year of trigonometry, one year of biology, and one year of physics and/or chemistry.

The Environmental Science curriculum comprises a core providing a foundation of science and methods courses—introductory earth systems and environmental science, biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics – as well as distributed electives in environmental science, environmental management and analytical methods, and a capstone proseminar. GEOG 205 provides introductory research design, statistical and geospatial methods. Geospatial methods are then further developed in GEOG 603, which is a prerequisite for all advanced GIS classes. The GWAR course (GEOG 500GW) focuses on the physical and human dimensions of climate change, providing a rich source of topics for composition at the upper division level.

Student progress toward the degree is aided in that some of these core classes also meet lower-division general education requirements. Students will complete their entire Area B, Scientific Inquiry and Quantitative Reasoning in GEOG 101 (Area B1 Physical Science), GEOG 160 (Area B2 Life Science), GEOG 160 lab (Area B3 Laboratory Science), and MATH 226 (Area B4 Quantitative Reasoning). They will also complete three units toward their Area D Social Sciences requirement in GEOG 102.

Electives are distributed into three areas:

  1. Environmental Science, including investigations of the atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, pedosphere (soils), environmental chemistry, and the biosphere;
  2. Environmental Management of managed lands and waters, natural resources, threatened species and livable environment; and
  3. Analytical Methods, including geographic information science, statistical analysis, and field-based environmental analysis methods.

Through choices in each area, students can tailor their program in a variety of ways, to focus on water, soils and agriculture, biotic systems, restoration science, coastal systems, bioclimatology, pollution management, protected land management, water resources management, or others. The capstone course, GEOG 690, prepares students for careers and graduate study.

Students are advised that the CR grade is acceptable in any two courses to be counted for the major.  No more than one course counted toward major requirements may be completed with a grade less than a C-.

Environmental Science (B.S.) — 68 units

Lower Division Requirements (27 units)

GEOG 101Our Physical Environment3
GEOG 102The Human Environment3
GEOG 160Introduction to Environmental Science4
GEOG 205Geographic Techniques3
MATH 226Calculus I4
CHEM 180Chemistry for the Energy and the Environment3
Select one of the followng:3
The World of Plants
Animal Diversity
Principles of Ecology
Select one of the following:4
General Physics I
and General Physics I Laboratory
General Physics with Calculus I
and General Physics with Calculus I Laboratory

Upper Division Requirements (6 units)

GEOG 500GWPhysical and Human Dimensions of Climate Change - GWAR3
GEOG 603Introduction to Geographic Information Systems3

Capstone (3 units)

GEOG 690Senior Seminar in Geography and Environmental Science3

Upper Division Electives (32 units)

Distributed as 12 units of Environmental Science, 12 units of Environmental Management and 8 units of Analytical Methods:

Environmental Science Electives
Select 12 units of the following:12
Chemistry Behind Environmental Pollution
Geography of Landforms
Earth's Climate System
Geography of Soils
Surface Water Hydrology
Water Quality
Environmental Management Electives
Select 12 units of the following:12
Future Environments
Agriculture and Food Supply
Watershed Assessment and Restoration
The Geography of Marine Resources
Geography of Water Resources
Management of National Parks and Protected Areas
Environmental Impact Analysis
Natural Resource Management: Biotic Resources
Geography of Garbage: Recycling and Waste Reduction
Analytical Methods Electives
Select 8 units of the following:8
Field Methods in Physical Geography
Remote Sensing of the Environment I
Remote Sensing of the Environment II
Geographical Information Systems
Geographic Information Systems for Environmental Analysis
Programming for Geographic Information Science
Coastal and Marine Applications of GIS

General Education Requirements

Requirement Course Level Units Area Designation
Oral Communication LD 3 A1
Written English Communication I LD 3 A2
Critical Thinking LD 3 A3
Written English Communication II LD 3 A4
Physical Science LD 3 B1
Life Science LD 3 B2
Lab Science LD 1 B3
Mathematics/Quantitative Reasoning LD 3 B4
Arts LD 3 C1
Arts or Humanities LD 3 C1 or C2
Humanities: Literature LD 3 C3
Social Sciences LD 3 D1
Social Sciences: US History LD 3 D2
Social Sciences: US & CA Governement LD 3 D3
Lifelong Learning and Self-Development (LLD) LD or UD 3 E
Physical and/or Life Science UD 3 UD-B
Arts and/or Humanities UD 3 UD-C
Social Sciences UD 3 UD-D
SF State Studies
Courses certified as meeting the SF State Studies requirements may be upper or lower division in General Education (GE), in a major or minor, or may be an elective.
American Ethnic and Racial Minorities (AERM) LD or UD 3
Environmental Sustainability (ES) LD or UD 3
Global Perspectives (GP) LD or UD 3
Social Justice (SJ) LD or UD 3

Note: LD = lower division; UD = upper division.

First Time Student Roadmap (4 year)

This 2016 - 2017 roadmap opens in a new tab.

General Advising Information for Transfer Students

  1. Before transfer, complete as many lower division requirements or electives for this major as possible.
  2. The following courses are not required for admission but are required for graduation. Students are strongly encouraged to complete these units before transfer; doing so will provide more flexibility in course selection after transfer.
    • a course in U.S. History
    • a course in U.S. & California government
    • a 2nd-semester course in written English composition

For information about satisfying the requirements described in (1) and (2) above at a California Community College (CCC), go to Check any geographically accessible CCCs; sometimes options include more than one college. Use ASSIST to determine

  • Which courses at a CCC satisfy any lower division major requirements for this major
  • Which courses at a CCC satisfy CSU GE, US History, and US & CA Government

Remedial courses are not transferable and do not apply to the minimum 60 units/90 quarters required for admission.

Additional units for courses that are repeated do not apply to the minimum 60 units required for upper division transfer (for example, if course was not passed on first attempt, or was taken to earn a better grade).

Before leaving the last California community college of attendance, obtain a summary of completion of lower division General Education units (IGETC or CSU GE Breadth). This is often referred to as a GE certification worksheet. SF State does not require delivery of this certification to Admissions, but students should retain this document for verifying degree progress after transfer.

Credit for Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or College-Level Examination Program courses: AP/IB/CLEP credit is not automatically transferred from the previous institution. Units are transferred only when an official score report is delivered to SF State. Credit is based on the academic year during which exams were taken. Refer to the University Bulletin in effect during the year of AP/IB/CLEP examination(s) for details regarding award of credit for AP/IB/CLEP.

Students pursuing majors in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines often defer 6-9 units of lower division general education in areas C and D until after transfer in order to focus on preparation courses for the major. (This advice does not apply to students pursuing associate degree completion before transfer.)

Transferring from institutions other than CCCs or CSUs

Review SF State's lower division General Education requirements. As described above, the four basic skills courses required for admission meet A1, A2, A3 and B4 in the SF State GE pattern. Courses that fulfill the remaining areas of SF State’s lower division GE pattern are available at most two-year and four-year colleges and universities.

Of the four required basic skills courses, a course in critical thinking (GE A3) may not be widely offered outside the CCC and CSU systems. Students should attempt to identify and take an appropriate course no later than the term of application to the CSU. Review more information about the A3 requirement here.

Identify and complete a 2nd-semester written English composition course before transfer. This is usually the next course after the typical “freshman comp” course, with a focus on writing, reading and critical analytical skills for academic purposes, and developing skills in composing, revising, and the use of rhetorical strategies.

Waiting until after transfer to take a single course at SF State that meets both US and CA/local government requirements may be an appropriate option, particularly if transferring from outside of California.

All students must meet the transfer eligibility requirements outlines below for admission. For more information, visit the Undergraduate Admissions section.

  • Complete 60 or more transferable semester units or 90 or more quarter units
  • Earn a college grade point average of 2.00 or better in all transferable courses. Non-local area residents may be held to a higher GPA standard.
  • Be in good standing at the last college or university attended
  • Complete 30 semester units (45 quarter units) of general education, including four basic skills courses:
    1. One course in oral communication (same as CSU GE area A1)
    2. One course in written composition (same as CSU GE area A2)
    3. One course in critical thinking (same as CSU GE area A3)
    4. One course in mathematics or quantitative reasoning, with intermediate algebra as a prerequisite (same as CSU GE area B4)
  • The four basic skills courses and minimum of 60 transferable semester units (90 quarter units) must be completed by the spring semester prior to fall admission, or by the fall semester prior to spring admission. Earn a "C" or better grade in each basic skills course.