6 Best Online Environmental Science Degree: Ultimate Guide (2023 Updated)

The environment is getting a lot more attention now than 10 years ago. Rightfully so. We finally realized that we are guests on this planet, and that treating it poorly would lead to undesirable outcomes.

Environmental science is a relatively new study field that arms students with the right knowledge to have a positive impact on the environment. More specifically, graduates should expect to work with companies that want to improve their processes. This improvement will lead to better sustainability.

Studying environmental science means becoming an expert on ecology, environmental chemistry, atmospheric science, geosciences, and social sciences.

With the extra attention climate change is bringing on the topic, now is the best time to enroll in an online environmental science degree. People in this field are sought after, as regulations are making it progressively harder to keep up with outdated and polluting processes.

In this article, you are going to learn more about online environmental science. Why you should enroll in one? What are your career prospects? What about salaries?

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about a potential career in environmental science.

Why Pursue a Career in Environmental Science?

Why Pursue a Career in Environmental Science
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While I can’t give you a definitive answer to this question, I can give you pointers that will let you decide if a career in environmental science could be for you. Bottom of Form

Carefully weigh all the factors to decide if this is the right choice for you.

You Care about the Environment

This should be the biggest factor. We all care about the environment…or most of us do anyway. But not everyone cares enough to study in the field.

Some people are happy with just doing the bare minimum to help the environment. Others want to go the extra mile and change the system. If you belong to the second category, studying environmental science is for you.

You will work directly with companies looking to change their processes. These changes will lead to a more sustainable production, and a better planet.

If you’re passionate about sustainability, and how you can improve how we treat our planet, perhaps this is the right field for you.

It’s a Growing Field

Treating our environment well is all the rage nowadays. You can stay sure you’ll be employable for the foreseeable future. Even assuming we will manage to colonize other planets, we’ll still need people to know how to make them sustainable.

Companies all over the world are looking to improve their sustainability. Many of them are on a clock, with only 10 or less years to completely switch their production.

But it’s not just about the products. Packaging is also another big field of opportunity for environmental scientists. Improving packaging and logistics is another challenge we will have to overcome if we want to save the environment.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor expects jobs in the field of environmental sciences to grow by 8% by the end of 2029.

It’s Interdisciplinary

Interdisciplinary means you’ll learn about a lot of different fields to get your degree. A degree in environmental science prepares you for a wide range of jobs. You’ll also be able to pursue further education in many different fields.

If you’re someone who gets easily bored by dwelling on the same thing over and over, this is easily one of the best degrees you can get.

You’re Making a Real Impact on the World

Let’s face it. Environmental scientists are going to save our lives and make our planets more livable. That’s amazing.

If you become an environmental scientist, you’ll have a positive effect on the environment. That’s a cause of pride and satisfaction. More than many other degrees.

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What Will You Study?

While all colleges are different, basically every program you attend will have certain courses. Here’s a list of the ones you’ll find in any online environmental science degree program:

  • Biology (with lab)
  • Geology
  • Principles of physics
  • Environmental science
  • Chemistry (with lab)
  • Ecology

You will learn how humans impact the environment and how to make companies more sustainable. You will also learn how the materials we use in our everyday lives affect our planet.

Think about all the plastic that ends up in the ocean. We all know that’s bad. But what makes it especially bad? What can we do to fix the issue?

The same goes for other big fights like the one against pollution. You’ll learn how we can reduce it without compromising on productivity. And how businesses can implement processes that have a positive impact on the environment.

The 6 Best Online Environmental Science Degrees

Once you have decided to pursue a career in environmental sciences, it’s time to pick which college to attend. What’s great about online degree is that you don’t have any limitation. You can easily finish a program that’s being taught thousands of kilometers away.

Editor’s note: we are going to focus on B.S. programs on this list. We will briefly mention M.S. programs too when offered by the university.

B.S. in Environmental Science at Oregon State University

This is an online program that lasts 4 years. Completing all the credit hours will get you a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science.

Here are the areas you can focus on for your degree:

  • Applied ecology
  • Aquatic biology
  • Conservation, resources, and sustainability
  • Earth systems
  • Environmental agriculture
  • Environmental policy and economics
  • Environmental water resources

Why study at Oregon State University?

A very good reason is that the school consistently ranks top 10 among the best provider of online education. That means you are in good hands. The quality of the program is very high.

The school is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

If you don’t know what you’ll be able to do with a B.S. from Oregon State University, here’s a list of careers suggested by the school’s website:

  • Environmental consulting firms
  • Government agencies (DEQ, EPA, Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service)
  • Health and safety field (HAZMAT)
  • Research labs
  • Teaching in outdoor or nature centers
  • Nonprofit agencies (Institute for Applied Ecology, etc.)

This is just the tip of the iceberg though. While the B.S. is a great introduction to a fruitful career path, it also opens the door to higher education. You aren’t stuck with environmental sciences thanks to the program’s interdisciplinarity.

B.S. in Environmental Science at American Public University

If you have a burning passion for safeguarding the environment, a BS in Environmental Science at the APU is an excellent choice.

What makes this university great is its teachers. They all have demonstrable real-world experience on the topics they teach. They are people who worked with the Environment Protection Agency, the Bureau of Land Management, and other similar organizations that deal with the environment.

Real-world experience is crucial when it comes to teaching about the environment. Theory is only a small part of this field. If you don’t see what solutions are currently being used, and how making decisions works, you’ll never be a complete environmental scientist.

Students have to pick an area of focus for their BS. Here are the options:

  • Environmental Technology and Management
  • Fish and Wildlife Management
  • General
  • Regional and Community Environmental Planning
  • Sustainability

American Public University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, and it’s a terrific choice for anyone looking to become an environmental scientist.

If you want to continue your education beyond your bachelor’s, you can enroll in the online Master of Science in Environmental Policy and Management.

The APU is one of the best choices if you want to get a complete education online with a bachelor’s and a master’s degree.

B.S. in Environmental Management at University of Florida

The University of Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). The institution offers a B.S. in Environmental Management.

This program is focused on agricultural and life sciences. Here, you will learn about hydrology, soil science, pest management, agricultural ecology, and water resources.

The focus is on teaching the student about managing the environment. As an example, here are the types of jobs you’ll be qualified for once you’ve gotten your degree:

  • Conservation Scientist
  • Environmental Consultant
  • Environmental Scientist
  • Hydrologist
  • Natural Resource Manager
  • Conservation Officer
  • Restoration Ecologist
  • Sustainability Consultant

You’ll become an expert in managing environmental resources. You’ll create sustainable products. You’ll improve companies’ systems to ensure they meet the highest standard of quality and minimize their environmental impact.

B.S. in Environmental Science at Southern New Hampshire University

Another excellent online program to become an environmental scientist is the B.S. program at SNHU.

This program is cool because it sends you custom lab kits via mail, so you can conduct the lab experiments right at home. Most other universities with courses requiring lab will need your presence there.

Another reason to pick with B.S. over others is that it offers a concentration on data analytics in science. That’s not something you see in most other environmental science courses. Data science is a trending industry right now, and it will become even bigger in the future. Data sustains the current world. Good data analysts are always in demand.

As for the kind of jobs you should expect to get after getting this degree, here’s a small sample, see if there’s anything that looks interesting to you:

  • Environmental scientist
  • Environmental health and safety specialist
  • Conservation land manager
  • Climate change analyst
  • Soil and water conservationist
  • Geospatial analyst
  • Park ranger

Specifics of each career can be found on the course’s page on the website.

B.S. in Environmental Management at University of Mariland Global Campus

The University of Mariland has been around since 1947, and keeps offering top-quality education both offline and online.

We picked this B.S. because it offers a degree focus that makes the degree different from others on this list: toxicology and hazard control.

Natural disasters aren’t always 100% natural. By picking toxicology and hazard control as a focus, you’ll learn to assess risks caused by things like pollution and dumping toxic chemicals in rivers. Basically, everything we hate. Our planet hates those too.

The other focus is something you’ll see in every single online environmental science degree. It focuses on sustainability. It talks about pollution prevention and urban watersheds. It’s interesting, but every other university offers the same courses, so it’s not as exciting as toxicology.

B.S. in Environmental Science and Policy at Wilmington University

What makes this program special enough to appear on this list is its focus on writing and conveying your thoughts well. Other programs on this list focus exclusively on the environmental aspect, and almost ignore communication.

Wilmington’s B.S. program gives students a solid foundation in environmental sciences, while also teaching them how to write like a policy maker. You need extreme clarity in your writing, because everyone has to understand what you’re talking about.

Another perk of picking this course is its partnership with Delaware Space Grant Consortium, a project funded by NASA to train students and researchers in various scientific fields.

What this means is that this B.S. program is treated more like a STEM degree program than most other environmental science ones. The scientific knowledge you’ll acquire will set you up for a prosperous career in this field. Or you could use this as a starting point for other types of studies. The foundations are that good.


Becoming an environmental scientist is a job that will give you plenty of satisfaction. You are literally going to save human lives by improving our relationship with the planet. You will also be responsible for ensuring we create sustainable business processes.

Who knows, maybe you’ll solve the water shortage, or you’ll figure out a way to clean our air. But even if you don’t do anything groundbreaking, you’ll still greatly impact the environment thanks to your knowledge.

Do you love nature? Do you wish to save the environment? If you answered yes to these questions, getting a degree—and subsequently a job—in the field is something you should consider.

While I made this last part sound a little too grandiose, it’s at least partially true. And while the statistics might not be that encouraging, especially when it comes to salaries, know that we are at the beginning of the green revolution.

The projected growth is way above the nation average, and while the monetary aspect might seem a little low on average, we are still in a phase where companies don’t realize they must act quickly.

In 5-10 years, every company will probably need multiple environmental scientists. Not just governments. That’s why you should get enrolled soon, to reap the benefits of the field’s explosive growth that is going to happen soon.

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