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Top universities for Environmental Sciences in the USA

02 Jun, 2024
Top universities for Environmental Sciences in the USA

Environmental Science is the study of relationships within and between ecosystems. It helps us understand the complex interactions that occur in ecosystems and the impacts humans have on them, and is an area of study with increasing global significance.

There are many universities globally which excel in this area, including some in the UK, Canada, the Netherlands and Australia, but many of the top 30 according to subject rankings such as those published by QS are in the US. In this article, we take a look at some of those in more detail.

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Why Choose Environmental Science Studies in the USA

Top Universities for Environmental Sciences in the USA

Why choose Environmental Science studies in the USA

Environmental science is an integral part of understanding and solving issues of climate change, pollution, and sustainability. Pursuing studies in environmental science in the USA provides students with an opportunity to learn from some of the world's leading universities and scholars.

These universities offer cutting-edge research, access to advanced technologies, and invaluable resources to equip students with the latest tools and insights that will enable them to contribute effectively to shaping a sustainable future.

With a vast array of ecosystems from coastlines to deserts and high-tech cities, America provides unparalleled opportunities for diverse environmental research topics such as climate change and conservation biology.

With a degree in environmental science from a US university, students can look forward to exciting career opportunities in diverse fields, including renewable energy, conservation, environmental policy, and more.

Top universities for Environmental Sciences in the USA

Here, we explore some of the top universities in the USA for Environmental Sciences, according to global and local university rankings.

University of California, Berkeley

UC Berkeley is undoubtedly one of the best colleges, not just in the US, but globally for Environmental Sciences.

The Environmental Sciences (ES) major at University of California Berkeley’s Rausser College of Natural Resources is a top-rated, interdisciplinary program that deals with the impact of human activities on natural system.The discipline involves the study of interactions between human activities and biological and physical environments on all scales, from the local to the global. ES majors finish their degree with a year-long research project, the senior thesis.

Stanford University

  • Location: Stanford, California
  • QS Ranking: 5=
  • Fees: $19,582 per quarter (11-18 units)
  • Degree: Masters In Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Acceptance Rate: 4% (US News and World Report)

For those seeking a world-class education in this burgeoning field, Stanford University on the West Coast offers an exceptional program.

With renowned faculty and state-of-the-art facilities, the Environmental Science, Technology, and Policy Program at Stanford provides students with a deep understanding of the key drivers of environmental change and the tools to mitigate its impacts, while also emphasizing the critical role of interdisciplinary collaboration and innovative approaches to problem-solving.

Studying environmental science at Stanford not only provides students with the skills and knowledge needed to address pressing environmental issues today, but also prepares them to become leaders in this vital field for years to come.

Harvard University

  • Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • QS Ranking: 1
  • Fees: $63,624 (2024-25)
  • Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Science and Engineering/Bachelor of Science (S.B.) in Engineering Sciences
  • Acceptance Rate: 3%

Students interested in Environmental Science & Engineering at Harvard have the option to pursue:

  • Bachelor of Arts (A.B.) in Environmental Science and Engineering
  • Bachelor of Science (S.B.) in Engineering Sciences (an ABET accredited program) on the Environmental Science and Engineering Track

Environmental Science and Engineering (ESE) AB and SB interdisciplinary programs at Harvard’s John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), focus on understanding, predicting, and responding to environmental problems.

Students receive strong and broad training in physics, chemistry, engineering, ecology, and mathematical modeling, in a way that makes them uniquely understand the connections needed to solve environmental problems. They take advanced classes in energy systems, climate science, hydrology, and environmental pollutants. They also gain practical experience through field, laboratory, computer modeling, and big data projects, working with ESE faculty who are world leaders in their fields.

Yale University

The Master of Environmental Management curriculum at Ivy League Yale University draws from coursework in the natural and social sciences and focuses on the complex relationships among science, management, and policy.

The purpose of the program is to provide students with an in-depth understanding of natural and social systems that can be applied to environmental and natural resource problem solving in a policy or management context. In addition to course work, students are expected to hone their capacities as leaders and managers through summer internships, professional skills courses, and other opportunities.

University of California, Santa Barbara

  • Location: Santa Barbara, California
  • QS Ranking: 130
  • Fees: $45,658 (out of state, 2024-25)
  • Degree: BA in Environmental Studies/BS in Environmental studies
  • Acceptance Rate: 26% (US News and World Report)

The Environmental Studies Program at UC Santa Barbara offers three undergraduate degrees: BA and BS degrees in Environmental Studies and a program in Hydrological Sciences and Policy. All paths engage students in foundations in the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities.

UC Santa Barbara, located in sunny California, is surrounded by diverse ecosystems, providing a unique and immersive learning experience for students. Studying environmental studies in California, a leader in green initiatives and progressive environmental policy, offers opportunities to engage with cutting-edge research and work alongside industry experts.

University of Washington

  • Location: Seattle, Washington
  • QS Ranking: 31
  • Fees: $42,105 (total tuition, 2024-25)
  • Degree: Environmental Science and Terrestrial Resource Management
  • Acceptance Rate: 48% (US News and World Report)

Through the University of Washington’s School of Environmental and Forest Science, students have access to a range of undergraduate programs, including Environmental Science and Terrestrial Resource Management. Students learn about natural and human-dominated landscapes and how to apply this knowledge to real-world problems.

With a focus on sustainability, students work with professors and regional experts on environmental issues. Field work gives students enhanced opportunities for experiential learning and service in a rich contextual landscape.

University of Florida

  • Location: Gainesville, United States
  • QS Ranking: 92
  • Fees: $28,658 (out of state students, 2024-25)
  • Degree: Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science
  • Acceptance Rate: 23% (US News and World Report)

The School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Florida offers a degree program sequence combining either the Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science and the Master of Science in Interdisciplinary Ecology.

This program consists of the existing Bachelor's degree requirements, except that eligible students take up to 9 credits of graduate courses as part of their undergraduate electives, as approved by the School. These graduate courses count towards the required 30 credits for the Master of Science (thesis and non-thesis) in Interdisciplinary Ecology. This program can be completed in one or more years beyond the Bachelor's degree.

As a leading research institution located in Florida, the University of Florida has access to unique ecosystems that offer students hands-on experience in studying and managing Florida’s natural resources.

University of Wisconsin, Madison

By studying Environmental Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, students gain the knowledge and skills to address global issues that range from pollution control to climate change. The program boasts expert faculty with diverse backgrounds, cutting-edge research facilities, and world-renowned centers that provide hands-on, immersive learning experiences. From the urban environment of Madison to the very rural areas of Wisconsin, students have access to a wealth of natural and cultural resources from which to draw inspiration and motivation.

The Environmental Sciences program emphasizes critical thinking and problem solving, preparing graduates for entry-level positions in nonprofit and private sectors or graduate school. Students may pursue their degrees through either the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) or the College of Letters & Science (L&S) under the BS or BA degree programs. They may also pursue double majors with a variety of other majors.


Combining theory, community, and real-world practice, the bachelor’s degree in environmental science at UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability is a diverse, immersive experience that prepares students to tackle complex environmental issues. Students complete the program by undertaking a Senior Practicum, a year-long capstone program, where they will work alongside peers and a faculty member or another environmental expert.

UCLA is situated in the bustling city of Los Angeles; one of the world’s most diverse megacities. From the Santa Monica Mountains to the beaches of Malibu, Los Angeles is surrounded by a wealth of natural habitats and therefore a case study in how an urban humanity interacts with nature.

The Institute hosts a range of events focusing on topics such as renewable energy, GMOs and transportation, engaging broad audiences and fostering communication with the public, stakeholders and decision-makers.

University of California, Davis

UC Davis, set in a small traditional college town, is justly famous for its outstanding programs in the biological and agricultural sciences. The quality of life on campus is enhanced by its proximity to the state capital and the San Francisco Bay Area, sites that offer a wealth of additional social, cultural and political opportunities.

UC Davis’ College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences is home to the Environmental Science and Management major. The program includes a capstone course integrating science, policy, management, and biology aspects of the major, and students will gain practical experience through field courses and a required internship.

Other universities to consider for the Environmental Sciences

The following US institutions also offer Environmental Science programs, and many also feature among QS’ top universities for the subject.

  • Columbia University, New York
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT, Cambridge (Massachusetts)
  • University if Michigan, Ann Arbor (Michigan)
  • Caltech, Pasadena (California)
  • Cornell University, Ithaca (New York)
  • Princeton University, Princeton (New Jersey)
  • Texas A & M University, College Station (Texas)
  • Duke University, Durham (North Carolina)
  • University of Colorado, Boulder (Colorado)
  • Pennsylvania State University, University Park (Pennsylvania)
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana Champaign (Illinois)
  • Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore (Maryland)
  • Brown University, Providence (Rhode Island)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about the study of environmental sciences, along with their answers.

What are the benefits of studying environmental sciences at universities in the USA?

As environmental issues continue to affect our world, the demand for professionals who possess the knowledge and skills to tackle them is on the rise. Studying Environmental Sciences at universities in the USA opens up a world of opportunities for students who are passionate about creating a more sustainable future. The US is home to some of the leading universities in the world for environmental studies, with programs that cover topics such as climate change, conservation, and sustainability.

The benefits of studying Environmental Sciences at universities in the USA are numerous, including exposure to cutting-edge research and access to resources that provide hands-on learning opportunities. Furthermore, graduates from Environmental Science programs are highly sought after by employers across a range of industries, making it a wise choice for students who seek an impactful and meaningful career.

What career opportunities are available to graduates of environmental science programs in the USA?

A degree in Environmental Science opens up a world of career opportunities in the USA. Graduates of this program are equipped with the skills and knowledge necessary to address complex environmental problems. Many choose to work for government agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, where they can play a vital role in implementing policies to protect the environment. Others may work for private companies, consulting firms or environmental organizations, providing advice and solutions for issues ranging from climate change to pollution.

In addition, the growth of industries such as renewable energy and sustainable agriculture has created a demand for environmental scientists who can help ensure that these practices are both environmentally sound and economically viable. The possibilities for graduates of environmental science programs in the USA are endless, and the need for their expertise has never been greater.

How can I choose the best university for environmental sciences in the USA?

Choosing the best university for environmental sciences in the USA can be a daunting task, but it is crucial to consider certain factors before finalizing your decision.

Firstly, you need to research universities that have a dedicated program or department for Environmental Sciences. Look for universities that can offer you a well-rounded education in this field, including courses in biology, ecology, and environmental policy. Additionally, consider the location of the university and its proximity to environmental research centers, as this can enhance your learning opportunities. Moreover, carefully evaluate the faculty members and their areas of expertise, as their research interests can align with your own and give you access to valuable resources.

Lastly, take into account the academic reputation and ranking of the university, as this can impact your career prospects after graduation. By considering these key factors, you will be able to choose a university that provides you with the necessary foundation to excel in your environmental sciences career.


We hope that this article has provided an overview of some of the top universities for the study of Environmental Sciences in the USA.

At Kings, we offer a range of programs designed to help international students gain access to the very best US universities and still graduate in 4 years.

Through our Guaranteed Outcome programs, students begin a bachelor’s degree at one of our partner universities in Boston, New York, California, Oregon and Wisconsin.

They are supported extensively by our specialist on-campus teams as they adapt to US college life. They learn more about the US education system, improve their GPA, and gain a host of new skills and experiences.

After 2 years they are then able to transfer to a Top 50 or Top 100 university, from where they will graduate - as an Environmental Sciences major if this is their area of interest. Our expert advisors will guide each and every student through the entire transfer process from target university identification, course selection to transfer university applications.

Kings advisors are passionate about securing the best possible acceptances for our students, which is why so many progress to the very best US universities.

If you would like to receive more detailed information about Kings and our university pathway programs, please get in touch with us at

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