Environmental & Ecosystem Sciences

ENVIRONMENTAL & ECOSYSTEM SCIENCES
UNDERGRADUATE PROGRAM

Connecting Earth and Life 

Environmental science is the study of natural and modified environments and their interactions with biological (including human) systems. It is a multifaceted field that combines aspects of chemistry, biology, ecology, physics, statistics, and human behavior. 

The environmental and ecosystem sciences major at WSU Tri-Cities provides a comprehensive understanding of environmental science in an ecological context. 

The program emphasizes strong scientific knowledge and hands-on experience. You’ll learn to assess beneficial and disruptive impacts on ecological systems and get hands-on experience in the methods used to analyze these complex systems. 

RELATED FIELDS

  • Chemistry
  • Conservation Science
  • Ecology
  • Human Behavior
  • Physics

MAKE A MAJOR DISCOVERY…

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PROGRAM OF STUDY

Environmental & Ecosystem Sciences Major Requirements

The Environmental and Ecosystems Sciences (EES) major at WSU features a broad interdisciplinary science and social science core coupled with a flexible advanced curriculum. This flexibility allows students to choose in-depth studies in an area of interest, minors, and hands-on research and management experience and prepare you for graduate school and management careers. 

All majors complete core requirements and, in consultation with an academic advisor, choose an area of specialization and complete a minimum of 18 semesters credits related to the chosen topic. Students may choose from a diverse range of fields in environmental science, including natural resource sciences, geology, biology, environmental regulatory compliance, occupational and environmental health science, health science, hazardous waste management, or agricultural ecology. Your major in Environmental and Ecosystem Sciences includes opportunities for experiential learning with field trips, internships, and study abroad as well as a capstone course to apply your scientific knowledge in a problem-solving atmosphere. 

Check out the WSU Catalog for major requirements. 

Advising sheet for the Tri-Cities campus. 

Environmental & Ecosystem Sciences Minor Requirements

Minoring in a discipline outside your major field of study allows you to focus elective credits, expand your perspective, and increase your skills. A minor will make you stand out to potential employers because it demonstrates an eagerness to learn and emphasizes your willingness to go above and beyond minimum expectations. 

An Earth Science minor requires a minimum of 16 semester hours of letter-graded geology coursework or approved electives. Students must complete SOE101 and a minimum of credit hours at the 300-400 level. Courses may be taken in residence at WSU or through WSU-approved education abroad or educational exchange courses. This minor is not open to students majoring in Geology or Earth Sciences.  

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A minor in Environmental Science requires a minimum of 16 credit hours with a minimum of 9 credit hours at the 300-400 level. Courses may be taken in residence at WSU or through WSU-approved education abroad or educational exchange courses. Students must complete SOE110 and 444. Also, a minimum of 8 additional credit hours must be selected from SOE 230, 285, 303, 312, 315, 335, 450, 454, or advisor-approved electivesThis minor is not open to students majoring in Environmental and Ecosystem Sciences.  

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FRESHMAN

While the majority of students’ courses and credits are completed within the major, the UCORE curriculum provides courses that are the foundation basic skills that all WSU students must develop no matter their major.

The University Common Requirements (UCORE) is the center of the undergraduate curriculum and you will start taking these courses starting your first semester at WSU Tri-Cities. If you took AP, IB, or Running Start courses in high school, then you may already have met some of the requirements.

The UCORE curriculum is designed to be flexible enough to work for all majors. The program offers a wide variety of course choices and provides many individual pathways through the curriculum.

Not admitted yet? Talk with an Admissions Counselor to learn how easy it is to apply.

TRANSFER

Transfer students who have completed an approved Associate of Arts and Science (DTA) degree at a Washington or Oregon community college will have fulfilled most of the lower-division UCORE requirements. Because students have to also meet the College of Arts & Sciences requirements, some students must take additional courses in a foreign language in order to complete the degree. Otherwise, transfer students will have their transcripts evaluated for UCORE requirements.

Use the transfer credit equivalency guide to learn how your credits will transfer.

If you are currently enrolled at Columbia Basin College and intend to transfer to WSU Tri-Cities, then check out our Bridges Program that provides a direct academic path.

Students who have already earned a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, must complete a minimum of 30 credits of WSU coursework and fill the major requirements to earn a second degree. UCORE requirements are not required as they are met by coursework from the first bachelor’s degree.

Not admitted yet? Talk with an Admissions Counselor and learn how easy it is to apply.

STUDENT SUCCESS

Undergraduate advising is a partnership between you, your professional advisor, and your faculty mentor and it goes beyond course selection. Whether you plan to enter the workforce or continue on to earn an advanced degree, your academic advisors and professional mentors will guide you toward that goal. This holistic approach ensures that you are engaged in your academic plan, connected to the campus community and resources, and earn your degree as efficiently as possible.

Meet your advisor and get started on your academic path.

INTERNSHIPS

Liberal Arts Internship Programs offer an individualized, hands-on experience and is an ideal way to gain new skills and build your resume to stand out to potential employers.  Internships serve as a way to apply your classroom knowledge to real-world problem solving and projects.

Prior to completing an online internship packet [link], you are required to meet with your faculty supervisor and the department’s faculty internship coordinator to discuss your internship project.   Once your online internship packet is approved, the packet will be submitted to your Academic Advisor, who will provide you with permission to self-enroll in the course.

CAREERS

Graduates of WSU Tri-Cities leave campus fully ready to enter the workforce. The Career Services Office offers workshops on how to develop a job search strategy, write a compelling résumé and cover letter, and sharpen interview skills – all of which will help students land a job in today’s competitive market. 

The Career Services Office posts on- and off-campus positions for student employees and also work with students to identify internships, cooperative work experience, and post-graduation career opportunities. 

See how you can become career-ready with a major in environmental science. 

Sarah Roley

Sarah Roley

Assistant Professor 
School of the Environment 

Hello, I’m Dr. Sarah Roley, faculty in the School of the Environment at the Tri-Cities campus. I teach and run a research lab on campus, which means I spend about half of my time teaching and mentoring students, and the other half of my time supervising experiments in the lab and field. I teach Global Biogeochemistry, Limnology (the study of inland waters), Watershed Management, and Independent Research. I call my research lab the Watershed Biogeochemistry Lab, because we study biogeochemistry across watersheds, in terrestrial, riparian, and freshwater environments.

So what is biogeochemistry? I think of it as the story of elements, from their formation in stars, to their movements around planet Earth, and into organisms. I really enjoy biogeochemistry because it connects the physical, chemical, and biological worlds. It also provides us with the tools to address environmental problems, such as climate change, nutrient pollution, and soil health. My lab is currently studying nitrogen fixation, the process by which microbes make nitrogen (an essential element for all life – including us) available for plants. We are also measuring photosynthesis and respiration in the Yakima and Columbia Rivers, to better understand how these rivers function. If biogeochemistry or freshwater ecology sound interesting to you, then I hope to see you in class!