Initial Publication Date: May 1, 2012

BS Environmental Science at the University of Washington-Bothell

Information for this profile was provided by Robert J. Turner, School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, University of Washington-Bothell Campus. Information is also available on the program website. Students in this program are pursuing a bachelors degree.

Program Design & Assessment


The Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science prepares students to address environmental challenges facing the world today. The Environmental Science program features two pathways. The Conservation and Restoration Ecology (CRE) pathway links the study of conserving and maintaining ecological systems and their elements with the recovery of damaged ecosystems. The Earth System Science (ESS) pathway is an interdisciplinary field of study that examines the physical and chemical nature of the environment in various media (as well as atmosphere, rivers, lakes, oceans, soils, and lithosphere), their interaction with each other and with biological systems. ESS emphasizes the examination of human impacts on these complex environmental processes and the long term sustainability of living systems.


The program was developed to: 1) provide a home for natural science teaching and faculty within the Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences program; 2) prepare students to address significant environmental and societal challenges; 3) enhance the interdisciplinarity of the IAS program; and 4) take advantage of the local natural environment, including the 50 acre restored wetlands on campus, as sites for study.

Program Goals

The BS Environmental Science program helps students develop the depth of scientific understanding, interdisciplinary perspectives, and creative problem-solving skills needed to design and bring about solutions to these problems at local, regional, and global scales. Through community-based projects ranging from wetlands restoration and conservation planning to analyses of regional air and water pollution, students gain practical experience and make a positive difference while they are still in school.

Alumni Careers

Graduates are best prepared for careers in natural resource management, conservation, ecology, ecological restoration, water quality monitoring and assessment, GIS, environmental advocacy, and environmental education.

Other careers our alums have pursued:
Just about everything.

Program Assessment

Regular meetings of the faculty in the Curriculum Area Working Groups for the Environmental Science and Environmental Studies degree programs. Annual reports to the director of the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences (IAS). Reviews of student evaluations of courses as part of our Merit Review process. Periodic external review of the School of IAS and its degree programs.

Courses and Sequencing

Entry into the program

Prerequisites include:
  • Intermediate Algebra: 5 credits
  • Foreign Language: 10 credits
  • English Composition: 5 credits
  • Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning (QSR): 5 credits
  • One quarter of Calculus
  • Three quarters of the General Chemistry sequence
  • One Introductory Earth System Science course (Environmental Geography or Physical Geography or Oceanography or equivalent)
  • One Introductory Environmental Studies course

Prerequisites specific to the Conservation and Restoration Ecology pathway include

  • Three quarters of the Introductory Biology sequence.
Prerequisites specific to the Earth System Science pathway include:
  • One quarter of Introductory Biology
  • One quarter of Introductory Physics
  • A second quarter of Introductory Physics OR a second quarter of Calculus

Core courses

  • BIS 300 Interdisciplinary Inquiry* (5 credits)
  • BES 301 Science Methods and Practice (5 credits)
  • BIS 315 Understanding Statistics (5 credits)
  • BES 303 Environmental Monitoring Practicum (2 credits)
  • BES 312 Ecology (5 credits)
  • BIS 342 Geographic Information Systems OR BES 439 Computer Modeling & Visualization in Environmental Science (5 credits)

Pathway Requirements - Choose either (CRE) or (ESS)

Conservation and Restoration Ecology (CRE) Core Requirements (20 credits)
  • BES 316 Ecological Methods (5 credits)
  • BES 362 Intro to Restoration Ecology (5 credits)
  • BES 485 Conservation Biology (5 credits)
  • BES 311 Environmental Chemistry OR BES 318 Hydrogeology (5 credits)

Earth System Science (ESS) Core Requirements (15 Credits)
  • BES 311 Environmental Chemistry (5 credits)
  • BES 315 Environmental Chemistry Laboratory (5 credits)
  • BES 318 Hydrogeology (5 credits)

Distribution Requirements
Conservation and Restoration Ecology (CRE)(20 credits)
  • Environmental Science (5 credits)
  • Methods & Practices (5 credits)
  • Society & Environment (5 credits)
  • Environmental Policy & Management (5 credits)

Earth System Science (ESS)(25 credits)
  • Environmental Science (5 credits)
  • Methods & Practices (10 credits)
  • Society & Environment (5 credits)
  • Environmental Policy & Management (5 credits)


In the BS Environmental Science program, students have 20 or 25 credits of distribution requirements (4-5 courses) and 10 credits of general electives (2 courses).

Courses that can fulfill the Distribution Requirements for either the BA Environmental Studies and the BS Environmental Science [there actually are a few differences in terms of the courses that can fullfill the distribution requirements of the two degrees and 4 pathways, but they are mostly the same]:


To fulfill the capstone requirement for the BS Environmental Science degree, students can either complete the 10 credit Capstone Project in Restoration Ecology or 10 credits of Approved Independent Research. Students must also complete BIS 499 Portfolio Capstone within their final two quarters. In this course, students complete their learning/professional portfolio. Final portfolios include reflective essays and evidence of learning based in work completed during the degree.

Other requirements or key features

All UWB students must complete 25 credits in each "Area of Knowledge." The Areas of Knowledge are: Visual, Literary and Performing Arts (VLPA), Individuals and Societies (I&S), and Natural World (NW). At least 10 credits in each Area must be completed in courses offered by UW Bothell.

All Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences students must also complete the IPR requirement. The Interdisciplinary Practice and Reflection (IPR) requirement ensures that all IAS students complete at least one course that requires an advanced research, creative, or experiential learning project before they graduate. IAS courses meeting this requirement are low-enrollment and high-impact. They typically involve close engagement with a faculty member and assume prior study in the area. These courses allow students to complete a project that draws on their academic interests and furthers their life ambitions. The project might be a seminar paper in a particular area of study; an academic internship in a relevant field; a service-learning project that builds on the student's academic work; a study abroad opportunity; an art and media project or production. Courses that satisfy the IPR requirement ask students to reflect on the value, challenges, and effectiveness of their work in relation to their undergraduate education as a whole.