Environmental Studies

Environmental Studies offers an interdisciplinary approach to the complex relationships between humans and the natural and built environment. The Environmental Studies curriculum includes the natural and social sciences, as well as the humanities. Earth and life sciences provide the means to observe and assess environmental change. Social sciences such as anthropology, political science, and economics enable students to examine how human societies shape environments, and the ways that environmental factors influence communities, governments, and social institutions. The humanities—including history, literature, ethics, religion, and the fine arts—allow students to consider the origins and influence of human values and practices, and the ways that nature has been perceived, depicted, and incorporated into culture.

Environmental Studies students may elect to pursue either a B.A. or a B.S. degree. The B.A. program is intended for those students interested in an interdisciplinary exploration of environmental issues. The B.S. program is designed for students who want to pursue training in interdisciplinary environmental science. Both programs require students to identify a thematic concentration defined as six courses that provide analytical depth in a particular environmental problem or issue of interest, as well as disciplinary expertise. 

Common concentrations within the major include: biodiversity and conservation; climate change and energy; environmental history; environmental policy; food and agriculture; human health and environment; and urban environments. Students can also work with the director of undergraduate studies (DUS) to design their own unique concentration.

Environmental Studies is particularly rewarding for students with a passion for environmental issues who wish to study environmental problems and solutions in an interdisciplinary manner. Students frequently undertake research and internships during the summer with support from the Summer Environmental Fellowship. 

Environmental Studies majors also conduct substantial independent research, which culminates in a rewarding senior essays. Students considering the Environmental Studies major should complete the science prerequisites as early as possible in their Yale career, ideally before the end of the sophomore year. Admission to the Environmental Studies major is by application during the sophomore year. The prerequisites for the B.A and B.S. degrees are distinct. For more detailed information about Environmental Studies prerequisites as well as requirements for both the B.A. and B.S. degrees, please see the Environmental Studies Website.

First-year students interested in the major are encouraged to consult with the DUS and to attend Environmental Studies information sessions to learn more about the major.