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Environmental Science, University of Mary Washington

Information for this profile was provided by Melanie Szulczewski in 2009.

University of Mary Washington is a public four-year institution, primarily undergraduate .

Overview and Context

Illustration of the UMW environmental science curriculum, constructed by Monica Bruckner, based on information provided by Melanie Szulcewski. Click on the image to see a larger version.
Environmental science is an interdisciplinary major which promotes the study of our environment and the impact that human activities have on natural systems. Majors choose either a natural science or a social science track.
These two tracks in environmental science with a wide range of course offerings allow students to prepare for their own personal career goals, providing a strong background for graduate school or entering the workforce.

Program Design

The science core of this major is particularly important. Even the social track majors end up with an Environmental Science degree, not one in environmental studies. The new GIS requirement for both tracks is also important preparation for any relevant field.

Goals and Assessment

The Natural Science Track provides a background in biology, chemistry, and geology. Analytical skills acquired in this program, coupled with an appreciation of socioeconomic considerations, will prepare the student to evaluate environmental problems and work on solutions with the limits of societal resources in mind.

The Social Sciences Track focuses on the economic, political, and sociological impact of humans on the environment. This program, coupled with an appreciation of the biotic and physical parameters of the environment, prepares students to evaluate government, industry, and environmentalist positions on environmental issues.

The senior capstone course includes an overall assessment of the student's progress. This major also has a designated outcomes assessment coordinator who conducts exit surveys of graduating seniors, focus groups, and periodic mailed surveys of alumni.

Courses and Sequencing

Entry into the program

  • Introduction to Environmental Science

Core courses

Both tracks:

  • Introductory Geology
  • Evolution of the Earth
  • Computer Applications in Environmental Science and Geology
  • Environmental Geochemistry (or similar in chemistry dept)

Natural Sciences Track:

  • Hydrogeology, Aquatic Ecology (or similar in biology dept)

Social Sciences Track:

  • Environmental and Resource Economics


Students are required to take 12 credits (usually 4 courses) of electives, selected from the following list:
  • Oceanography
  • Environmental Soil Science
  • Fluvial Geomorphology
  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Pollution Prevention Planning
  • Environmental Regulations Compliance
  • plus select courses from biology, chemistry, economics, geography, political science, and sociology

Other required courses

Both Tracks:
  • General Chemistry I and II
  • Biological Concepts I and II
  • Introduction to Ecology


  • Environmental Science Seminar

Additional comments

There is an Honors in Environmental Science available. Internships and undergraduate research are strongly encouraged.

Additional Materials

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