The bachelor of science in environmental and sustainability science program equips students with a broad foundation in the sciences with which they can take advantage of important new quantitative skills in geospatial techniques and data science and develop a concentration in either Earth and environmental science or ecological management. Required coursework incorporates science courses from across the university, with elective options including Conservation Biology, Water Resources, and Oceanography. Through varied courses, internships, and undergraduate research, students gain experience in one of the fastest-growing career fields.

Program graduates are well prepared for competitive careers in natural resource management; environmental consulting and startups; sustainability planning and policy; and compliance-oriented agencies and departments of the environment at the local, state, and federal levels. The program is also beneficial for students planning to attend graduate programs in environmental science, ecological management, or sustainability planning and policy.

This is a STEM designated program.

For information about the admission process, including deadlines, visit the Office of Undergraduate Admissions website. Applications can be submitted via the Common Application.

Supporting documents not submitted online should be mailed to:

Office of Undergraduate Admissions
The George Washington University
800 21st St NW Suite 100
Washington, DC 20052

For questions visit

The following requirements must be fulfilled:

The general requirements stated under Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, Undergraduate Programs.

The program-specific curriculum:

Foundational courses
BISC 1111Introductory Biology: Cells and Molecules
BISC 1112Introductory Biology: The Biology of Organisms
GEOG 1002Introduction to Physical Geography
or GEOL 1005 Environmental Geology
GEOG 1003Society and Environment
or SUST 1001 Introduction to Sustainability
STAT 1051Introduction to Business and Economic Statistics
or STAT 1053 Introduction to Statistics in Social Science
or STAT 1111 Business and Economic Statistics I
or STAT 1127 Statistics for the Biological Sciences
Two of the following course sets:
CHEM 1111
CHEM 1112
General Chemistry I
and General Chemistry II
MATH 1220
MATH 1221
Calculus with Precalculus I
and Calculus with Precalculus II
or MATH 1231 Single-Variable Calculus I
PHYS 1011
PHYS 1012
General Physics I
and General Physics II
or PHYS 1021
PHYS 1022
University Physics I
and University Physics II
or PHYS 1025
PHYS 1026
University Physics I with Biological Applications
and University Physics II with Biological Applications
Upper-level major requirements
Required courses
GEOG 2104Introduction to Cartography and GIS
GEOG 2196Field Methods in Geography
or GEOG 3128 Geomorphology and Natural Hazards
or BISC 3459 Field Biology
ENVR 4195Environmental Studies Capstone
Additional upper-level course requirements
18 credits in courses in the major taken at or above the 2000 level. A minimum of 12 of these credits should be within one of the two concentrations below and include at least one 3000-level course. The remaining two courses can be selected from the other concentration or from the “other upper level courses in the major” category below.
Earth and environmental science concentration
CHEM 2085Environmental Chemistry
CHEM 3140Geochemistry
GEOG 2136Water Resources
GEOG 3105Techniques of Spatial Analysis
GEOG 3108Weather and Climate
GEOG 3128Geomorphology and Natural Hazards *
GEOG 3218Arctic Systems
GEOL 2106Oceanography
GEOL 2151Introduction to Paleontology
GEOL 3138Hydrogeology
GEOL 3191Geology of Energy Resources
Ecological management concentration
ANTH 3407Conservation in a Changing World: Human and Animal Behavior
BISC 2010Global Change Biology
BISC 2401Biodiversity in A Changing World
BISC 2454General Ecology
BISC 3454Marine Ecology
BISC 3459Field Biology *
BISC 3460WConservation Biology
or BISC 3460 Conservation Biology
BISC 3461Plant-Animal Interactions
BISC 3464Ecology and Evolution of Societies
GEOG 2129WBiogeography
or GEOG 2129 Biogeography
GEOG 3132Environmental Quality and Management
Other upper-level courses in the major **
ECON 2136Environmental and Natural Resource Economics
GEOG 3105Techniques of Spatial Analysis
GEOG 3106Intermediate Geographic Information Systems
GEOG 3107Introduction to Remote Sensing
GEOG 3193Environmental Law and Policy
GEOG 4309GIS for Emergency Management
PHIL 2281Philosophy of the Environment
PPPA 2701Sustainability and Environmental Policy
PUBH 3132Health and Environment

*BISC 3459 and GEOG 3128 cannot be double counted as concentration courses if already used to fulfill the upper-level major requirement.

**May be used to fulfill the total number of required credits in the major.

In addition to the University General Education Requirement, undergraduate students in Columbian College must complete a further, College-specific general education curriculum—Perspective, Analysis, Communication (G-PAC) as well as the course CCAS 1001 First-Year Experience. Together with the University General Education Requirement, G-PAC engages students in active intellectual inquiry across the liberal arts. Students achieve a set of learning outcomes that enhance their analytical skills, develop their communication competencies, and invite them to participate as responsible citizens who are attentive to issues of culture, diversity, and privilege.

Coursework for the University General Education Requirement is distributed as follows:

  • One course in critical thinking in the humanities.

  • Two courses in critical thinking, quantitative reasoning, or scientific reasoning in the social sciences.

  • One course that has an approved oral communication component.

  • One course in quantitative reasoning (must be in mathematics or statistics).
  • One course in scientific reasoning (must be in natural and/or physical laboratory sciences).
  • UW 1020 University Writing (4 credits).
  • After successful completion of UW 1020, 6 credits distributed over at least two writing in the discipline (WID) courses taken in separate semesters. WID courses are designated by a "W" appended to the course number. 

Coursework for the CCAS G-PAC requirement is distributed as follows:

  • Arts—one approved arts course that involves the study or creation of artwork based on an understanding or interpretation of artistic traditions or knowledge of art in a contemporary context.
  • Global or cross-cultural perspective—one approved course that analyzes the ways in which institutions, practices, and problems transcend national and regional boundaries.
  • Local or civic engagement—one approved course that develops the values, ethics, disciplines, and commitment to pursue responsible public action.
  • Natural or physical science—one additional approved laboratory course that employs the process of scientific inquiry (in addition to the one course in this category required by the University General Education Requirement).
  • Humanities—one additional approved humanities course that involves critical thinking skills (in addition to the one course in this category required by the University General Education Requirement).
  • CCAS 1001 First-Year Experience

Certain courses are approved to fulfill GPAC requirements in more than one category.

Courses taken in fulfillment of G-PAC requirements may also be counted toward majors or minors. Transfer courses taken prior to, but not after, admission to George Washington University may count toward the University General Education Requirement and G-PAC, if those transfer courses are equivalent to GW courses that have been approved by the University and the College.

Lists of approved courses in the above categories are included on each undergraduate major's page in this Bulletin.