The curriculum for the Environmental Science program is a science-intensive, cross-disciplinary experience that also includes a required "active learning" component.  Students take a suite of "core" introductory courses in Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Geology, along with 2 semesters of calculus and a statistics course.   Another 20 semester hours of "Environmental" courses - which includes courses such as ecology, environmental chemistry, and Geographical Information Systems, among others - are required as well.  The curriculum is rounded out with at least 12 additional semester hours in "concentration" areas: Chemistry, Geophysical Sciences, and/or Biology.  The complete curriculum description is outlined in detail in the curriculum checksheets (see below).  Futher information on the active learning component is also provided below.

Environmental Science = Physics+Mathematics+Chemistry+Biology+Geology+Geography

Related Academic Programs:

Department of Biology
A.R. Smith Department of Chemistry
Department of Geography & Planning
Department of Geology
Department of Mathematical Sciences
Department of Physics & Astronomy

Sister Programs:

Enology and Viticulture
Fermentation Science

Curriculum Checksheets

To graduate, the student must satisfy both the

Example 4-year Programs of Study based on the approved 2013-2014 catalog (these are not official, just provided as a guide - see the official Environmental Science Checksheets).

  • The following are "preferred", listed MOST preferred at the top of the list:
    • Starting with BIO/MAT/PHY (Note that MAT 1110 is co-requisite with PHY 1150)
    • Starting with GLY/MAT/PHY (Note that MAT 1110 is co-requisite with PHY 1150)
    • Starting with BIO/CHE/GLY
    • Starting with CHE/MAT/PHY (Note that MAT 1110 is co-requisite with PHY 1150)
  • The following will work, but it is recommended that MAT 1110/1120 be taken at the same time as PHY 1150/1151.

Here is an HTML version of the MAT/CHE/BIO starting option (based on the approved 2013-2014 catalog):

 Fall SemesterSpring Semester
Year 1

MAT 1110 - Calc 1 (4)

CHE 1101/1110 - Intro to Chem 1 w/Lab (4)

BIO 1801 - Bio Concepts I w/Lab (4)

UCO 1200 or equivalent (3)


MAT 1120 - Calc II (4)

CHE 1102/1120 - Intro to Chem 2 w/Lab (4)

BIO 1802 - Bio Concepts II w/Lab (4)

ENG 1000 or FL 1000 or WGC 1103 (3)


Year 2

PHY 1150 - Analytical Physics I w/Lab (5)

GLY 1104 - Water: Mtns to Sea w/Lab (4)

STT 3850 - Statistical Data Analysis (4)

ENG 2001 or WGC 2001 (3)



PHY 1151 - Analytical Physics II w/Lab (5)

GLY 2250 - Evolution of the Earth w/Lab (4)

GHY 3812 - GIS class (3)

GEN ED THEME class (3)

PE (1)


Year 3

CHE 2101/2102 or CHE 2201/2203* (4)

BIO 3302 - Ecology w/Lab (4)

ENV 3010 - Dynamics of Complex Systems (3)

ENV 3100 - Issues in Env. Science (1)

GEN ED THEME class (3)



CHE 2550 or GLY 3131 (3)

PLN 4460 - Env. Policy & Planning (3)

Science concentration (Part II.C of POS) (3)

GEN ED THEME class (3)

GEN ED THEME class (3)

PE (1)


Year 4

GLY 4630 - Hydrogeology w/Lab (3)

Science concentration (Part II.C of POS) (3)

Science elective (Part II.D of POS) (3)

GEN ED THEME class (3)

GEN ED THEME class (3)


ENV 4100 (or ENV 4510; honors only) (3)

Science concentration (Part II.C of POS) (3)

Science concentration (Part II.C of POS) (3)

GEN ED THEME class (3)

Elective outside major (3) (Part IV of POS)


*    If CHE 2201/2203, the student should take CHE 2202/2204 as part of their Science Concentration (Part II.C of POS)


It is strongly recommended that incoming Freshman take at least 12 hours of math and/or science in each of their first two semesters in order to complete pre-requisites that are required for the Sophomore year and beyond - general education courses should be delayed until later.  Incoming Freshmen with AP-credit and transfer students should appeal to the individual departments for establishing credit for the respective course equivalencies

GIS Certification

The Department of Geography and Planning offers courses toward GIS certification.  For Environmental Science students with an interest in being certified in GIS in support of potential professional requirements, this is a nice option, although not required.  Environmental Science students become proficient in GIS as part of their stardard curriculum, and GIS is often used as part of their active learning component.  For more information, please refer to the Department of Geography and Planning GIS Certification website.

Pre-Engineering (option)

Environmental Engineering is a discipline experiencing astounding growth world-wide.  To facilitate students who wish to pursue an Environmental Engineering degree at an accredited engineering program elsewhere (Appalachian does not have an accredited engineering program), students may opt for the "pre-engineering" option, administered through the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Appalachian.  In the pre-engineering program, students take courses at Appalachian that transfer directly to their target engineering program toward their engineering degree.  For more information, please refer to the pre-engineering website or contact Dr. Chris Thaxton, Interim Director of the Environmental Science program.

Active Learning Component

The "active learning" component of the undergraduate degree in Environmental Science can take several forms, depending on the interests of the student, the availability of work, and the guidance of the academic and program advisors.  Near the end of their academic career at Appalachian, students enroll in the required Environmental Science capstone course, ENV 4100 "Environmental Science Seminar", which is designed to teach (among other things) students how to disseminate their active learning project to the scientific community through journal articles and professional presentations.  Students can perform active learning projects in the following ways:

  • Research: Since the Environmental Science program is first and foremost a "science" degree program, students are encouraged to seek out faculty research projects within the various science departments at Appalachian toward becoming an active member of their research team.  Faculty expertise for our advisory board can be found here, but students need not be limited to these faculty - all faculty within the College of Arts and Sciences are potential research mentors.  In addition, students are encouraged to seek research experiences off campus through programs such as the National Science Foundation's Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program - students in the REU program travel to other universities or governments labs or agencies for a summer research experience.
  • Internships: Internships provide students a wide range of experiences with agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S EPA, or the Smithsonian ERC, just to name a few.  Also, the  Environmental Jobs Service listing provides options to our students.  The Appalachian Internship office can also provide guidance for finding internship opportunities.  Internships normally occur over the summer semester(s) after the sophomore year and can be either paid or unpaid - either way, students earn credit hours toward their degree.
  • Community Service: Being located in the rural setting of the Southern Appalachians, many opportunities exist for Appalachian's students to get involved in community service activities, ranging from helping to clean up our local waterways to raising community awareness and politically-based activities. To qualify as an "active learning" project for ENV 4100, students must link their service activities to motivations and quantifiable outcomes of the service activities.  For more information on service-learning and community-based research, go to the ACT website or speak to a faculty member involved in projects of interest.
  • Educational Outreach: Appalachian State University has a long-standing tradition in educational excellence - a major part of our outstanding reputation is the extension of knowledge and methodologies to our local communities and region.  Examples of educational outreach include demonstrations at local elementary schools, participation in on-campus workshops, and pedagogical development for outreach.
  • Study Abroad: Appalachian State University provides several options for students interested in studying abroad - see the Education Abroad website under the International Education and Development office.  Students and faculty should reference Appalachian's new Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), “Global Learning: A World of Opportunities for Appalachian Students,” which may provide long-term guidance for the planning and support of study abroad educational, research, and outreach opportunities.