Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science

The Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science is designed for students intending to prepare for graduate school or direct entry into a career as an environmental scientist or environmental manager in industry or government. Entry to the major presupposes prior coursework 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–.

Program Learning Outcomes

  1. Students will investigate environmental systems from an interdisciplinary perspective including interactions between systems and interactions with human activities.
  2. Students will critically evaluate environmental plans, and strategies as well as resource management practices with respect to environmental sustainability and social justice.
  3. Students will utilize GIScience techniques to investigate environmental questions.
  4. Students will conduct field based sampling and/or observational studies, analyze results and critically evaluate the method.
  5. Students will design, conduct and report on independent research projects using appropriate and well developed methods

Environmental Science (B.S.) – 65 units minimum

Lower-Division Requirements (27 units)

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

Electives (29-32 units)

Distributed as 11-12 units of Environmental Science, 11-12 units of Environmental Management, and 7-8 units of Analytical Methods:

Environmental Science11-12
Select 11-12 units: Allows for one 3-unit course
CHEM 380Chemistry Behind Environmental Pollution3
GEOG 312Geography of Landforms4
GEOG 313Earth's Climate System4
GEOG 314Bioclimatology4
GEOG 316Biogeography4
GEOG 317Geography of Soils4
GEOG 342/ERTH 442Surface Water Hydrology4
GEOG 644Water Quality3
Environmental Management11-12
Select 11-12 units: Allows for one 3-unit course
GEOG 421Future Environments3
GEOG 427Agriculture and Food Supply4
GEOG/ERTH 642Watershed Assessment and Restoration4
GEOG 646The Geography of Marine Resources4
GEOG 647Geography of Water Resources4
GEOG 648Management of National Parks and Protected Areas4
GEOG/USP 652Environmental Impact Analysis4
GEOG/ENVS 657Natural Resource Management: Biotic Resources4
GEOG 666Geography of Garbage: Recycling and Waste Reduction3
Analytical Methods7-8
Select 7-8 units: Allows for one 3-unit course
BIOL 458Biometry4
GEOG 602Field Methods in Environmental Science & Physical Geography4
GEOG 604Environmental Data Science3
GEOG 610Remote Sensing of the Environment I4
GEOG 611Remote Sensing of the Environment II4
GEOG 620Geographical Information Systems4
GEOG 621Geographic Information Systems for Environmental Analysis4
GEOG 625Programming for Geographic Information Science3

General Education Requirements

Requirement Course Level Units Area Designation
Oral Communication LD 3 A1
Written English Communication LD 3 A2
Critical Thinking LD 3 A3
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
Humanities LD 3 C2
Arts or Humanities LD 3 C1 or C2
Social Sciences LD 3 D1
Social Sciences: US History LD 3 D2
Lifelong Learning and Self-Development (LLD) LD 3 E
Ethnic Studies LD 3 F
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), a major or minor, or an elective.
American Ethnic and Racial Minorities LD or UD 3 AERM
Environmental Sustainability LD or UD 3 ES
Global Perspectives LD or UD 3 GP
Social Justice LD or UD 3 SJ

Note: LD = Lower-Division; UD = Upper-Division.

First-Time Student Roadmap (4 Year)

The roadmaps presented in this Bulletin are intended as suggested plans of study and do not replace meeting with an advisor. For a more personalized roadmap, please use the Degree Planner tool found in your Student Center.

First-Time Student Roadmap

Transfer Student Roadmap (2 Year)

For students with an an AS-T in Environmental Science.
ENVS ADT Roadmap

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

For information about satisfying the requirements described in (1) and (2) above at a California Community College (CCC), please visit 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 requirements.

Remedial courses are not transferable and do not apply to the minimum 60 semester units/90 quarter units 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 a course was not passed on the 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 the 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 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. Note that, as described below, 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 (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. To review more information about the A3 requirement, please visit

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.