Requirements for the Major and Minor in Environmental Studies (ENS)

Requirements for the Major

The major in Environmental Studies leads to the Bachelor of Arts degree. No more than one course required for the major can receive a letter grade less than C.

Completion of the major requires approx­imately 62 credits.

A. Foundation Courses (33 credits)
1. Natural Sciences

  • BIO 201 Fundamentals of Biology: Organisms to Ecosystems
  • BIO 204 Fundamentals of Scientific Inquiry in the Biological Sciences I
  • CHE 131, CHE 133 General Chemistry and Lab (See Note 4)
  • MAT 125 or MAT 131 or MAT 141 or MAT 171 Calculus. If students do not place into MAT 125 or 131 or 141 or MAT 171 on the basis of the math placement examination, MAT 123 is a required course for the major.
  • PHY 119/ENS 119 Physics for Environmental Studies (See Note 1)

One of the following:

2. Social Sciences

  • ANP 120 Introduction to Physical Anthropology or ANT 104 Introduction to Archaeology (by permission)
  • ECO 108 Introduction to Economic Analysis
  • POL 102 Introduction to American Government

3. Humanities

4. Communications
Proficiency in writing, oral communication, and computer literacy will be encouraged in all students. These skills will be developed within the context of formal coursework and no additional credits are required.

5. Upper-Division Writing Requirement
All students in the major must register for the 0-credit ENS 459 and submit two papers from any upper division course in the major to the Director of Undergraduate Programs for evaluation by the end of the junior year.

Students should consult with the department advisor to ensure that their plan for completing the Upper Division Writing Requirement is consistent with university graduation requirements for General Education.  Students completing the Stony Brook Curriculum (SBC) must complete a course that satisfies the  "Write Effectively within One's Discipline" (WRTD) learning objective to graduate.  The Upper Division Writing Requirement is consistent in most cases with the SBC learning outcomes for WRTD.

B. Core Courses (17 credits)

1. One of the following statistics courses:
    AMS 102, AMS 110, AMS 310, ECO 320, POL 201, PSY 201, or SOC 202
2. MAR 340 Environmental Problems and Solutions
3. ENS 301 Contemporary Environmental Issues and Policies
4. ENS 311/BIO 386 Ecosystem Ecology and the Global Environment
5. ENS 312 Population, Technology, and the Environment
6. One of the following (2 credits):
    ENS 443 Environmental Problem Solving‑Independent Research (See Note 2)
    or 487 Research or 488 Internship (See Note 3)

C. Concentration (12 credits) 
Students should select four upper division courses in a thematic area in consultation with the undergraduate director. Some sample concentrations are listed below, but other possibilities may be approved if discussed in advance with the departmental advisor. For all concentrations, appropriate substitutions will be permitted with approval of the undergraduate director.

1. Atmospheric Studies

  • ATM 205 Introduction to Atmospheric Science
  • ATM 237 Global Atmospheric Change
  • ATM 397 Air Pollution and its Control
  • MAR 334 Remote Sensing in the Environment
  • Other upper-division ATM courses (ATM 345, ATM 346, or ATM 348) may be substituted with permission of the undergraduate program director

2. Conservation Biology/Physical Anthropology
Four courses from the following:

  • ANP 321 Primate Evolution
  • ANP 350 Methods in Studying Primates
  • ANP 360 Primate Conservation
  • MAR 315 Conservation Biology and Marine Biodiversity
  • BIO 336 Conservation Biology
  • BIO 356 Applied Ecology and Conservation and Biology Lab

3. Marine Science, Marine or Terrestrial Ecology
A variety of courses focusing on different aspects of ecology and marine sciences are available in both MAR and BIO. Students should choose four related courses from those below in consultation with the undergraduate director or departmental advisor.
The following courses are biological in nature: BIO 351, BIO 352, BIO 353, BIO 354 or BIO 385, BIO 319, BIO 356, BIO 359, MAR 301, MAR 302, MAR 305, MAR 315, MAR 349, MAR 366, MAR 370, MAR 371, MAR 375, MAR 380, MAR 385, MAR 386, MAR 388
The following courses are cover aspects of marine science other than biology:
MAR 303, MAR 304, MAR 320, MAR 333, MAR 334, MAR 336, MAR 346, MAR 351, MAR 352+MAR 353 (other courses may be substituted with permission)

4. Environmental Economics

5. Environmental History

  • HIS 103 American History to 1877 or HIS 104 United States since 1877

Plus three additional courses from the following:

6. Environmental Law, Waste Management, and Public Policy
Four courses from among the following:  

1. PHY 121/PHY 123, PHY 122/PHY 124 or PHY 125, PHY 126, PHY 127 or PHY 131/PHY 133, PHY 132/PHY 134 or PHY 141, PHY 142 may be substituted for PHY 119/ENS 119.
2. Two credits of any course numbered 487 or equivalent with one of the following designators: ANP, ANT, ATM, BCP, BIO, CHE, ECO, ENS, EST, GEO, MAR, PHY, POL. In addition to other prerequisites, credit toward the major requires approval of the research topic by the Director of Undergraduate Studies of the Marine Sciences Research Center.
3. Two credits of any course numbered 488 or equivalent with one of the following designators: ANP, ANT, ATM, BCP, BIO, CHE, ECO, ENS, EST, GEO, MAR, PHY, POL. In addition to other prerequisites, credit toward the major requires approval of the internship by the Director of Undergraduate Studies.
4. CHE 129/130 may be substituted for CHE 131.

Honors Program in Environmental Studies

Graduation with departmental honors in Environmental Studies requires the following:

1. Students are eligible to participate in the Honors Program if they have a 3.50 GPA in all courses for the major by the end of the junior year. Students should apply to the SoMAS undergraduate director for permission to participate.
2. Students must prepare an honors thesis based on a research project written in the form of a paper for a scientific journal. A student interested in becoming a candidate for honors should submit an outline of the proposed thesis research project to the SoMAS undergraduate director as early as possible, but no later than the second week of classes in the last semester. The student will be given an oral examination in May on his or her research by his or her research supervisor and the undergraduate research committee. The awarding of honors requires the recommendation of this committee and recognizes superior performance in research and scholarly endeavors. The written thesis must be submitted before the end of the semester in which the student is graduating.
3. If the student maintains a GPA of 3.5 in all courses in their major through senior year and receives a recommendation by the undergraduate research committee, he or she will receive departmental honors.

Undergraduate College Academy Minor in Environmental Studies

The Environmental Studies Undergraduate College Academy, housed in the Science and Society College, offers a minor in Environmental Studies as well as activities that emphasize both scientific and social issues encompassed by the broad field of environmental studies. Through this program, motivated natural science and social science students are able to apply their other coursework specifically to the study of the environment. In addition, participation in the program adds a rewarding  academic component to each student's residential experience. The minor in Environ­mental Studies provides enhanced exposure to one subfield of environmental studies, the natural science of the environment.


Requirements for the Minor

All core courses must be taken at Stony Brook University. No more than two courses applied to the minor can count toward the student’s major or other minor. No more than one elective course in the minor may be taken under the Pass/No Credit option; all other courses required for the minor must be passed with a letter grade of C or higher. (Note: The P/NC option carries financial implications. All students should check with their financial aid advisor before choosing this option.)

Declaration of the Minor

Each ENS minor is open to all undergraduate students and takes approximately 4 semesters (fall/spring) to complete and students are encouraged to declare before the start of their sophomore year but no later than the first semester of their junior year depending on target date of graduation. Students should consult with the Faculty Director as soon as possible and plan their course of study for fulfillment of their degree requirements.

Completion of the minor requires 18 credits.

1. One introductory course chosen from the following:

2. ENS 101 Prospects for Planet Earth
3. ENS 301 Contemporary Environmental Issues and Policies
4. ENS 443 Environmental Problem-Solving OR at least 3 credits of (i) ENS 487: Independent Research in Environmental Studies; or (ii) research in any SBU department; or (iii) ENS 488: Internship in Environmental Studies, approved by the faculty director.
5. Two advanced courses chosen from the following:

  • ANP 360 Primate Conservation
  • ANT 420 Environmental Analysis Using Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems
  • ATM 397 Air Pollution and Its Control
  • BIO 351 Ecology
  • BIO/GEO 353 Marine Ecology
  • BIO 353/GEO 353 Marine Ecology
  • CHE 310 Chemistry in Technology and the Environment
  • EHM 315 Ethnographic Field Methods
  • EHM 320 Artists and Designers of the Environment and Ecosystems
  • GEO 304 Energy, Mineral Resources, and the Environment
  • GEO 315 Groundwater Hydrology
  • GSS 355 Remote Sensing GIS Data
  • SBC 308 American Environmental Politics
  • SBC 311 Disasters and Society: A Global Perspective
  • SBC 312 Environment, Society, and Health
  • SBC 325 Environmental Writing and the Media
  • SUS 301 Environmental Ethics
  • Any upper division ENS or MAR course