Requirements for Major in ENVS

The major in Environmental Sciences (ENVS) is a 12-course sequence consisting of 4 Foundation Courses, 3 Intermediate Breadth Courses, 4 Upper-Level electives, and 1 Independent Study Course. Students may earn either a BA or a BS in Environmental Sciences, additional science coursework is required for the BS. The same general major requirements apply for students in either degree track. 

Within the Intermediate Breadth Requirements and Upper Level Electives, students must fulfill required field and lab courses in Environmental Sciences. The following three scenarios are possible when completing the field/lab requirement:

  • one approved 4-hour Field Course and one Upper Level Lab Course or
  • two approved 4-hour Field Courses or
  • two Upper-Level Lab Courses (200-level or higher courses with lab component, at least 4 hours each)

All courses used to fulfill the ENVS degree requirements MUST be taken for a letter grade. Courses taken S/U will NOT count toward your ENVS degree.

Students must have completed ENVS 131 before earning major/minor credit for advanced courses

Course Substitution Instructions:
Under certain circumstances, relevant classes from ENVS or other Emory University departments or programs may be substituted for a required ENVS class. Course Substitutions are part of the flexibility of an ENVS major and are intended to enhance student academic opportunities. However, normally no more than one substitution request will be approved towards completion of ENVS requirements. Substitution Petition forms may be picked up at the ENVS department and should be submitted to the ENVS Academic Degree Programs Coordinator. Deadlines for Substitution Petitions are: Fall semester: September 30; Spring semester: February 28.


Foundation courses introduce students to topics, skills, and methods that they will encounter in upper level courses throughout their undergraduate experience, including upper level courses and independent study classes in Environmental Sciences. 


  1. *ENVS 130: Environmental Sciences (3 hrs)
  2. **ENVS 131: Intro to Field Studies (2 hrs)
  3. ENVS 260: Quantitative Methods in Environmental Sciences (prerequisite: QTM 100) (3hrs)
  4. ENVS 390: Seminar in Environmental Issues (2hrs)

*in some cases, ENVS 120: Living in the Anthropocene may be substituted for ENVS 130
**ENVS_OX 131 fulfills the requirement of both ENVS 130 and ENVS 131


  • Students with a score of 4 or 5 on the AP Environmental Science exam will receive credit for ENVS 130; this credit must be reflected on the transcript
  • ENVS 131 is a prerequisite for most intermediate and upper level ENVS classes.
  • ENVS 260 should be completed before upper level classes or independent study courses are attempted; it is recommended that students complete the prerequisite, QTM 100, in their freshmen year. 
  • ENVS 390 is typically completed in the Junior or Senior year.

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Following the introductory ENVS 131, students must take at least one currently approved 200-level course from each of the three disciplines comprising Environmental Sciences (ecology, earth sciences, social sciences). Currently approved courses in each discipline are listed below.


  • ENVS 232: Fundamentals of Ecology w/Lab (4hrs)
  • ENVS 240: Ecosystem Ecology (3hrs) or ENVS 240 w/lab (4hrs)
  • ENVS/BIOL 247: Ecology and 247LWR: Ecology Lab (4-6hr; 247LWR is not required to fulfill the Breadth Course requirement, but it will fulfill the Upper Level Lab requirement if taken with ENVS/BIOL 247)

Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

  • ENVS 222: Evolution of the Earth w/lab (4hrs)
  • ENVS 229: Atmospheric Science w/lab (4 hrs)
  • ENVS 239: Physical Oceanography (3 hrs)
  • ENVS 230: Introductory Geoscience w/lab (4hrs)
  • ENVS 235: Environmental Geology (3hrs)
  • ENVS 241/242: Modern and Ancient Tropical Environments (1hr/3hrs; fulfills field course requirement)

Social Science and Policy

  • ENVS 225: Institutions and the Environment (3hrs)
  • ENVS 227: Environmental Policy (3hrs/4hrs WRT)
  • ENVS 228: Environmental Policy with Lab (4hrs/5hrs WRT)

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Upper level electives: Students must complete four upper-level (200, 300, 400) elective courses. When choosing upper level electives (including the required field or lab courses), the student should consult with their academic advisor and focus his/her course choices in a particular area which can be supported by the academic specialty of an ENVS faculty member(s). The focus area electives choices are intended to prepare the student for independent study or honors research during his/her senior year. Elective courses should be chosen in consultation with the student’s academic advisor. For a current list of possible electives, consult the ENVS Course list on the ENVS website.

Examples of focus areas:
1. Conservation and Resource Management
2. Environment and Health
3. Urban Ecology
4. Environmental Policy

Examples of Elective choices for a focus in Environment and Health:
  • ENVS 250: Fundamentals of Cartography and GIS
  • ENVS 321: Geology and Health
  • ENVS 359: Ecology and Evolution of Disease
  • ENVS 483: Spatial Analysis in Disease Ecology

Examples of Elective choices for a focus in Environmental Policy:

  • ENVS 250: Fundamentals of Cartography and GIS
  • ENVS 325: Energy and Climate Change
  • ENVS/HIST 344: American Environmental History
  • ENVS/POLS 377WR: International Environmental Policy

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INDEPENDENT STUDY (1 course - 4hrs)

Students must earn 4 credit hours in one of the following independent study classes (detailed infromation about Independent Study courses can be found here). Students should only consider individual directed reading (ENVS 498) an option when they are highly motivated to study a subject than is not taught in regular classes and for which there is a faculty member with relevant specialization. In addition to the courses in the bulleted list below, pre-approved study abroad courses may also fulfill the requirement:
  • ENVS 491: Service Learning in Environmental Sciences
  • ENVS 494: Individual Research in Environmental Sciences
  • ENVS 495R: Honors research
  • ENVS 497R: Undergraduate Internship
  • ENVS 498R: Individual Directed Reading
  • ENVS 499R: Independent Research

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Students must complete at least one approved Field Course and one Upper-Level Lab Course or two approved Field Courses or two Upper-Level Lab Courses during their 11 course ENVS major sequence. The lab and field course requirements are not in addition to the above listed course requirements, and may be fulfilled either by one of the three Intermediate Breadth course or by one of the four Upper Level elective courses.
  • Upper Level Lab Course:  Any ENVS course above the 100-level that includes a required lab component will fulfill the Upper Level Lab course requirement
  • Field Course:The courses listed below currently fulfill the field course requirement. In addition to the bulleted list of courses below, pre-approved study abroad courses may also fulfill the requirement.
    • ENVS 241/242: Modern and Ancient Tropical Environments (1/3 hrs)
    • ENVS/BIOL 371/371: Ecology of the Tropics (2/2 hrs)
    • ENVS 444: Ecosystems of the South Eastern United States (4 hrs)
    • ENVS 446SAF: Field studies in Southern Africa, Namibia, and Botswana (6 hrs)
    • ENVS 442: Ecology of Emory w/ Lab (4 hrs)

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