Environmental Science and Sustainability Bachelor's Degree

Physical and biological science. Social, political, and technological aspects of the environment. Sustainability.

A bachelor's degree in environmental science and sustainability from Michigan Technological University provides you with the tools to create a sustainable future for the environment. Integrate societal needs and perspectives with science-based environmental practices. Gain an understanding of the natural world in our own backyard that may be applied to global issues. Become what tomorrow needs.

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 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 Science and Sustainability?

Environmental science and sustainability are two closely related fields that focus on understanding, protecting, and preserving the natural environment and its resources. Environmental science seeks to understand the natural world and its processes, while sustainability seeks to ensure that human activities are conducted in a way that maintains the health and viability of the natural world while promoting human well-being over the long term. Together, these fields play a vital role in addressing the environmental challenges facing our planet and working towards a more sustainable future. While they share common goals, they have distinct areas of emphasis and approaches:

What is Environmental Science?

Environmental science is an interdisciplinary field that studies the physical, chemical, and biological processes that occur in the environment. It seeks to understand how natural systems function, how human activities impact the environment, and how to mitigate or manage these impacts. Encompassing a wide range of topics, including ecology, geology, chemistry, biology, physics, and sociology, it explores natural ecosystems, pollution, climate change, and conservation including gaining knowledge of environmental processes, identifying environmental issues, and providing data insights to inform environmental policy and management decisions. 

What is Sustainability?

Sustainability is a concept and practice that aims to meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It involves finding ways to balance economic, social, and environmental interests to create a more equitable and enduring society. Sustainability extends beyond environmental concerns to address broader aspects of human well-being. It encompasses economic sustainability (ensuring long-term prosperity), social sustainability (equity, justice, and quality of life), and environmental sustainability (protecting natural resources and ecosystems). The goals of sustainability include reducing resource consumption, minimizing environmental degradation, promoting social equity, and fostering economic stability. It involves strategies like sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, green building, and responsible consumption.

What Will I Study?

Students in this program gain a technical foundation in measuring and monitoring environmental factors and the environmental challenges faced by society. Attain the fundamentals of environmental sustainability. Explore social and cultural aspects of the environment and the ways in which society perceives sustainability. Understand the policies and regulations that affect a more sustainable future. Collaborate with leading scientists to address issues in climate change, environmental policy, and sustainable use of natural resources. Get skills to land a summer job in your field, and start building a career after your first year of classes.


Choose an area that you are most passionate about. You will specialize in one of three tracks to gain an interdisciplinary perspective on Climate Science, Environmental Policy, or Geospatial Science. 

Climate Science

Complete classes relating to topics such as the science of climate change, wildland fire, and environmental biogeochemistry. Utilize team dynamics and decision making to gain skills for the workplace.

Environmental Policy

Take courses related to policy such as conservation biology and wetlands, as well as social sciences to broaden your perspective on linkages between the environment and the needs of humans. 

Geospatial Science

Complete courses that add to your skill sets in collecting geospatial data, visualizing this data and large-scale landscapes. Understand physics relevant to remote sensing technologies.

Be Career Ready

Our graduates attain careers with federal agencies (such as the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Agriculture, Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), state agencies, nonprofits, and private companies. 

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 Science and Sustainability

  • Environmental Scientist
  • Environmental Policy Specialist
  • Conservation Scientist
  • Sustainability Specialist
  • Air Quality Forecaster
  • Climate Change Specialist
  • GIS Technician or Analyst
Students in the woods simulating rain.
From monitoring materials exposed to extreme weather to analyzing wildlife habitat, our forest hosts year 'round management practices, studies, and demonstrations for students, researchers, and the public.

Ready to take the next step?

Learn more about studying environmental science and sustainability 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 teaching another student how to use a measuring tool.

Be what tomorrow needs. 

Tomorrow needs a sustainable environment, community, and future.

Student Learning Goals for Environmental Science and Sustainability

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:

Degree Learning Goals

  1. Explain core concepts in the field of environmental science and sustainability.

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

  3. Summarize and analyze alternative solutions to situations or problems associated with issues in environmental science and sustainability.

  4. Assess the diverse human relationships, perceptions, and policies related to the environment.

  5. Communicate effectively (orally and in writing) about issues related to environmental science and sustainability.

  6. Recognize the professional standards that ensure their behaviors are consistent with working in the environmental science field.

  7. Perform effectively in teams.

Concentration Learning Goals

Climate Science

Students will explain atmospheric processes, describe defining features of climates, and discuss the major factors that influence climate change

Environmental Policy

Students will evaluate and apply environmental policy to environmental and sustainability issues.

Geospatial Science

Students will integrate the use of geospatial tools to address issues relating to the natural environment.

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.