Ecology, the study of organisms and their environment, is an interdisciplinary science. Ecologists work at the interface of basic science fields such as biology, geology, chemistry, and mathematics, and may draw more broadly on subjects such as economics, public policy, environmental law, anthropology, and geography. There is a growing need to understand how organisms and the environment interact and to examine the influence of humans on the earth and its processes and biodiversity.
There are currently about 100 majors in Ecology. Class sizes in the major are relatively small and students are encouraged to get to know their professors and participate in research projects. Students may elect to expand their experience through field courses and study abroad programs, and internships with the School of Ecology or other sponsors. These activities provide valuable experiences for students and fulfill the university’s experiential learning requirement.
Many students completing this major will elect to enter graduate programs in Ecology or allied fields. Employment opportunities exist with consultant or environmental businesses that provide environmental services to local communities or industries as well as state and federal agencies or non-profit organizations. We encourage students to choose elective courses that enhance the academic breadth in their curriculum and build the skill set appropriate for their career goals. Excellent writing and speaking skills are critical in nearly all ecological fields and for students interested in environmental policy, experience in conflict resolution is valuable.
Two degree options exist for an undergraduate degree in Ecology. The Bachelor of Science degree has a strong basic science emphasis and provides training in all levels of ecological study from organismal to population and community and ecosystem ecology. This program prepares students for graduate study in Ecology or allied fields or careers in ecological research, environmental consulting or work with governmental agencies in natural resource management or protection.
The new Bachelor of Arts degree in Ecology provides a strong foundation in Ecology with an emphasis on the application of ecology to issues of societal importance such as conservation and climate change. Students pursuing this degree track will likely seek careers in environmental policy, conservation or similar fields. This is also an appropriate degree for students interested in environmental law or journalism.
Students in either degree program will meet with an advisor to discuss career plans and choose major electives to tailor their course of study to focus on areas of emphasis such as health, environmental policy, conservation, marine ecology, or ecology education.
Areas of Emphasis in the Ecology Major
We have developed several areas of emphasis in the Ecology degree to help students structure their elective courses towards a career goal. An area of emphasis is not required to receive a degree in Ecology.
If you want additional information about the Ecology B.S. or A.B. major, or want to arrange a departmental visit, please contact:
About the Major in Ecology
Area of Emphasis Brochures