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Environmental Studies Major Guide for 2010-2011

What is Environmental Studies

Solutions to environmental problems require interdisciplinary approaches. The environmental studies program requires a sound base in both biological and physical sciences to provide an understanding of how the world works. Courses in agriculture, sociology, philosophy, and economics are required in order to provide an understanding of the importance of human and economic values in making environmental decisions. Thus, a goal of the program is to offer a curriculum that emphasizes the relevance of human economic values and science in making prudent environmental decisions.

Career Opportunities in Environmental Studies

Graduates of this program have an exceptionally wide range of options. These include careers in environmental policy and law, environmental regulatory agencies, business careers in industries that promote sustainable lifestyles, and many scientific and technical careers such as groundwater testing, wildlife management and toxic waste cleanup. Careers in environmental education are also popular.

Salary Trends in Environmental Studies

Salaries for graduates in this field have generally increased over the past decade. This increase has been driven by the growing demand for expertise in cleaning up many environmental problems ranging from air and water pollution to species extinction from habitat loss and the introduction of exotic species.

High School Preparation

A good foundation in biological sciences, especially ecology, chemistry and earth sciences are important. Broad training is social sciences including psychology, sociology and economics is very useful.

How to Major in Environmental Studies

Contact Professor Michael McKinney, Environmental Studies Director, at 974­6359 or e-mail:

Requirements for Environmental Studies


  • Biology 130–140 or Biology 111–112 or Biology 101-102
  • Biology 250
  • Chemistry 120-130 or Chemistry 150-160
  • Geology 101 or Geology 102
  • Geography 131
  • Economics 201
  • Math 123–125 or 141–142 or 151–152

    Environmental Studies Core
  • 15 hours from Geography 345; Sociology 360 or 464 or 465 (only one); Philosophy 245; Economics 362 or Agricultural Economics 470 (only one); Global Studies 250; Journalism and Electronic Media 451; Geology 490. 
  • 3 hours from: Geology 455, 456; Geography 436; or Ecology Evolutionary Biology 484; 
  • 3 hours from: Geography 334, 433, 434; Environmental and Soil Science 462.

    12 hours at the 300 level or above in one of the following departments: Biochemistry and Cellular and Molecular Biology; Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science; Chemistry; Earth and Planetary Sciences; Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Economics; Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries; Geography; Plant Sciences; Political Science; or Sociology.

Special Programs, Co-ops, and Internships

Students have an opportunity to intern at over 20 environmental organizations. These range from non-profit grass-roots environmental groups to state and federal governmental agencies to childhood and adult environmental education.

Highlights of Environmental Studies

This is a very flexible major that allows students to prepare for a wide range of opportunities in environmental fields. The student is encouraged to develop skills that allow them to solve real-world problems, ranging from scientific and technical skills to critical thinking and policy analysis.

Ready for the World logoReady for the World

"Ready for the World” is part of a long-range plan to transform the UTK campus into a culture of diversity that best prepares students for working and competing in the 21st century.  Thus students are encouraged to actively participate in the diverse cultural programs offered on campus.  Some of these events include the guest lecture series, cultural nights at the International House, and international film screenings.  Visit the Center for International Education web site ( or the Ready for the World web site ( for more information on upcoming cultural programs and activities. 
Students are also encouraged to develop a global perspective within their academic program through study abroad.  Visit the Programs Abroad Office web site ( for information on study abroad opportunities.

Learn more about UT's Ready for the World initiative to help students gain the international and intercultural knowledge they need to succeed in today's world.

Sample Curriculum

Freshman Year Credit Hours
English Composition 6
Foreign Language 6
Math 123-125 or 141-142 or 151-152 6-8
Chemistry 120-130 8
Social Science 3
General Elective

Sophomore Year Credit Hours
General Electives 3
Biology 101-102 or 111-112 or Biology 130-140 8
Economics 201 4
Geography 131 4
Geology 101 or 102 or 103
English 206 or 254 (Humanities and WC requirement) 3
Environmental Studies (core 300 level or above)

Junior Year Credit Hours
Non-US History Sequence 6
Global Studies 250
Environmental Studies (specialty 300 level or above) 6
Environmental Studies (core 300 level or above) 9
Biology 250 4
Arts and Humanities 

Senior Year Credit Hours
Environmental Studies (core 300 level or above) 6
Upper Level Distribution 6
Upper Level Elective 3
Arts and Humanities 3
Social Science (upper division)
Environmental Studies (specialty 300 level or above) 6
Communicating Orally 3

GRAND TOTAL (minimum) 120

For More Information

Professor Michael McKinney
Environmental Studies Director



The information on this page should be considered general information only. For more specific information on this and other programs refer to the UT catalog or contact the department and/or college directly.