Environmental Data Science Bachelor's Degree

Sustainable solutions and forest management at your fingertips. Be a part of the climate solution using data and advanced technologies to inform decisions. Be what tomorrow needs with a Bachelor of Science in environmental data science at Michigan Tech. 

If you want to make a difference to the environment but have a greater passion for computing or mathematics, the environmental data science program will make you feel at home. Gain the fundamentals of ecological science with computational and analytical skills to make informed decisions about environmental issues. This technical knowledge will be grounded in an understanding of biophysical sciences, as well as skills such as computer science and statistics.

Other schools own forests—but ours is right out the back door at the Ford Center and Forest. There isn't a better place to study natural resources than the wild Keweenaw Peninsula, bordered by Lake Superior, blanketed with forests and wetlands (and 218+ inches of snow each winter). First-year students have two outdoor field labs and are all eligible to participate and be paid as Earn and Learn students, acquiring the hands-on knowledge and experience to land a summer job or internship after their first year.

What is Environmental Data Science?

Environmental Data Science is the study of large scale environmental data using statistics, modeling, and analysis to help fix real world problems like climate change. 

Environmental Data Science is about exploring interrelationships related to the natural environment, drivers of ecosystem processes, and the tools to understand the data that describe land, water, air, and biodiversity. You’ll use scientific processes to analyze information from data that was once unstructured, creating useful, clear facts that can be used to sustain the environment. Understand the fundamentals of ecological science, as well as the computational and analytical skills to manage and visualize data, then draw inferences from it that will address environmental challenges. 

What Will I Study?

Study programming, databases, environmental sustainability, geographic information systems, soil science, regression analysis, spatial statistics, and biotechnology. Fieldwork, teamwork, leadership, and professional development prepare you to model, analyze, compare, communicate and deploy tools and techniques used to understand large environmental data sets, biodiversity drivers, hydrological development, and climate change. 

  • Explore, measure, document, and analyze the terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems of the Keweenaw Peninsula. Bordered by Lake Superior, blanketed with forest and wetlands, our backyard is an ideal living lab.
  • Be a part of land-use decisions to enhance ecosystem composition, structure, and function.
  • Collaborate with leading scientists to solve ecological and environmental problems.
  • Learn how to use Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and be proficient in GPS, land measurement and remote sensing skills.
  • Put your newfound skills and knowledge to work ASAP. After the first year of classes you'll be qualified to find a summer job or internship in your field and start building your future career.


Choose an area that you are passionate about. You will specialize in one of four tracks to gain an interdisciplinary perspective on Global Change Science, Environmental Statistics, Geospatial Information Science, or Genomics and Bioinformatics. 

Global Change Science

Complete classes on the science of climate change, wildland fire, biogeochemistry, biodiversity loss, and land use change. Take team based classes in data management and learn about the communication necessary between life scientists and computer scientists. 

Environmental Statistics

Take courses that cover experimental design, hypothesis testing, and data collection and analysis as it pertains to environmental research and policy. Gain a greater understanding in mathematics and predictive modeling. 

Geospatial Information Science

Learn from courses such as remote sensing, python programming and spatial statistics. Collect geospatial data, analyze and visualize information by using mapping. Use physics to learn how systems like LiDAR are relevant to remote sensing technologies. 

Genetic Applications in Data Science

Complete courses that explore the role of the environment on genetic structure, evolution, and adaptation. Explore gene expression and bioinformatics. 

Be Career Ready

As humans continue to value sustainable ethics, tomorrow’s environmental data scientists will hold the answers for land management decisions and sustainable solutions. 

Data that has always contributed to these understandings is now being created at an astonishing pace. This large stream of data presents enormous opportunities for advancing our understanding of some of the greatest challenges facing humanity today. 

Each year, the College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science hosts its own Natural Resource Career Fair. ~20 companies from across the US travel to the college in late fall to educate and recruit employees.

Career Opportunities for Environmental Data Science

  • Ecological Forecasting Specialist

  • Environmental Data Scientist

  • GIS Data Engineer

  • Geospatial Analyst

  • Environmental Modeler

  • Ecosystem Services Consultant

  • Sustainability Analyst

Did You Know?

$100,901 median annual wage with a Bachelor's (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Less than 5% of available data is being utilized—in part to the lack of properly trained data scientists.

36% from 2016-26 projected job growth above any mathematical group

Ready to take the next step?

Learn more about studying environmental data science at Michigan's flagship technological university.

  • 8:1
    student-to-faculty ratio
  • 25
    typical lab size
  • 3.5K
    acres to explore at our residential field camp

Student Learning Goals

Students in the College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science can expect to achieve the following learning goals—which also align with the University's Undergraduate Student Learning Goals:

  1. Explain core concepts in the field of environmental data science and approaches to understanding, manipulating, and analyzing data sets.

  2. Identify and evaluate sources of data and information relating to the environment.

  3. Summarize and analyze alternative ways to use data and computer programming to address problems in environmental science.

  4. Assess the diverse human relationships, ethics, and policies related to data collection and access.

  5. Communicate effectively (orally and in writing) about issues related to environmental data science at local, regional, and global scales.

  6. Recognize the professional standards that ensure their behaviors are consistent with working in the environmental and computer science fields. Demostrate the ability to apply ethical reasoning to data use, privacy and security.

  7. Develop the ability to work effectively in teams.

Concentration Specific Learning Goals

Climate Science

Students will model and forecast the effects of global change on ecological and human-altered systems.

Environmental Statistics

Students will design experiments that provide statistically significant support for environmental issues and policies.

Geospatial Information Science

Students will integrate the use of geospatial tools to address issues relating to land use and ecological processes.

Genetic Applications in Data Science

Students will use genetic data to analyze the effects of environmental factors on gene and protein expression, evolutionary processes ,and adaptation.

Diverse Ecosystem of Environmental Stewardship

If you have a love for the woods, and a desire to sustain resources for the future, you will feel at home in the College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science (CFRES). Our College is a community on a first-name basis, connected by a shared passion for study, research, and work centered on forest health and ecosystem integrity. Similar to Keweenaw’s biodiverse ecosystems, CFRES is a community of undergraduates, graduates, faculty, staff, and alumni who learn, lead, and thrive in the unique environment the college has to offer. You’ll notice flags from countries around the world when you step into the door of our atrium. We are a safe space for all who love natural resources, with a commitment to a sense of belonging

3,650 Acres of Research Forest

Michigan Tech’s Ford Center is home to our 3,650-acre forest. Located just over 40 miles from campus, students in their third year get to live, learn, and play in the woods for a whole semester. Learn how to navigate among the trees, count board feet, identify forest pests and diseases, and explore ways to mitigate them. Take a swim in the Sturgeon River while taking water samples, quantify woody and herbaceous plants, design maps, and learn to mark timber.  Spend a couple of hours in the classroom, and the rest of the day outdoors. Work closely with your peers and professors to create management plans that best suit the environment for the changing climate.

Integrated Field Practicum at the Ford Center

The Integrated Field Practicum (IFP) is the cornerstone of natural resource management at Michigan Tech, and stands out among the rest as the only off-campus, semester-long field practicum in the United States. Offered in the Fall and Summer.

Tomorrow Needs Data-driven Environmental Scientists

Join a community that believes in renewable resources, sustainability, and the use of technology to manage our natural resources at a flagship public research university powered by science, technology, sustainability, and passion. 

Undergraduate Majors

Explore trends in air pollution. Monitor trash in the ocean. Analyze damage drivers of wildfire. Help land managers make informed decisions. In a growing field, learn the most advanced technology and help make a global impact. 

Or, start with our General Forestry option and give yourself time to decide.

"Environmental data scientists are a critical part of our efforts to understand and mitigate the impacts of global climate change on people and natural systems."Nan Pond '12, PhD Forest Biometrics/Silviculture