Environmental Science BS
Environmental scientists solve problems relating to power generation, waste reduction and recycling, pollution control, land use and land cover change, preserving biodiversity and ecological services, transportation, forestry, agriculture, economics, and a wide range of other areas. They study our relationship to nature and to each other, developing solutions that prevent or reverse environmental deterioration and work toward sustainability. Meeting these challenges requires problem-solving abilities based in science, mathematics, the social sciences, and other disciplines. The BS program provides students with the education and experiences they need to be successful.
Habitat loss, global climate change, water and air pollution, ozone depletion, species invasions, loss of biodiversity, and the accumulation of toxic wastes are among the many environmental dilemmas our society faces. Existing complex problems pit environmental limits against economic development, diverse cultures, ethics, values, and social stability and therefore require an understanding of science, policy, society, history, and economics. Environmental scientists must use integrated and holistic approaches to understand and find sustainable solutions to these problems. Graduates of the environmental science program are well prepared for a variety of environmental careers including consulting, research, policy, and outreach, or further graduate work towards a doctoral degree.
- Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, Combined BS/MS
- Approximately 60undergraduate and 13 graduate students.
Cooperative Education & Experiential Education Component
- Although a cooperative education experience is optional for environmental science majors, participation is strongly encouraged during the summer term of the second, third, or fourth years.
Student Skills & CapabilitiesFor BS Students: The practice of environmental science demands that students be well-rounded specialists. To accomplish this, each student is required to complete an environmental science concentration in one of the following areas: digital imaging, environmental biology, environmental economics, environmental public policy, mathematics and statistics, or remote sensing. Students also may develop a self-designed concentration in an area of personal interest, subject to approval from an environmental science review committee. RIT’s stature as a top technical university gives our students a significant advantage as technology revolutionizes the way environmental data are collected and analyzed.
For MS Students: Built on the concept that environmental issues are inherently interdisciplinary, the program is offered in collaboration with the College of Liberal Arts. The curriculum provides students with a deep understanding of the science behind our environmental problems, the complex set of circumstances that impact environmental issues, and how environmental decisions and policies must attempt to find a balance between environmental conservation, human well-being, and economic development. Students augment their hands-on classroom work with in-depth experiential learning through an individual thesis or project that provides students with the chance to work on real-world environmental problems under the guidance of skilled environmental scientists.
Student Skills & Capabilities
- Field skills
- Analytical skills
- Application of skill beyond the classroom
Equipment & FacilitiesEquipment & Facilities
10 student/faculty research laboratories
Greenhouse and plant tissue culture facility
Monitoring, Mapping, and Field Equipment:GIS Software (ArcGIS & IDRISI, access to ENVI and ERDAS), Garmin and Trimble GPS receivers, soil sampling equipment, soil analysis equipment, water sampling devices, multimeters, individual probes for water quality analysis, LiCor light meter with 2 pi and 4 pi sensors, Hach LDO oxygen meters, ponar dredges, plankton samplers, macroinvertebrate nets/samplers, and a library of field reference texts. The Environmental Science program also runs and maintains an on-campus bird banding facility (RITBO) www.rit.edu/~w-birds/.
Other Equipment: Fluorimeter, Raman Spectrometer, UV-Vis, GC-MS, ICP, Atomic Absorption, Polarimeter, TGA’s Micro-extruder, Centrifuge, Electrochem Equipment, Gas Chromatography, HPLC detectors, Viscometer, ESR (built in-house), Incubators, Infrared Spectrophoto-meters, Capillary Electrophoresis, DSC’s, DMA, Asher, 300 MHz NMR, drying oven, leaf area index meter, digital clinometer, Wiley mill, Lachat QuikChem Autoanalyzer, Ocean Optics Spectrometers, Hitachi UV-Vis Spectrophotometer, Unisense picoammeter and microelectrode profiling system.
Nature of WorkEnvironmental scientists and technicians use their knowledge of the physical makeup and history of the Earth to protect the environment and human health. They may be responsible for locating water, mineral, and energy resources, predicting future geologic hazards, and offering environmental site assessments and advice on indoor air quality, hazardous waste site remediation and construction and land-use projects. Environmental Scientists also conduct research or perform investigation for the purpose of identifying,abating, or eliminating sources of pollutants or hazards using knowledge of various scientific disciplines, may collect, synthesize, study, report, and recommend action based on data derived from measurements or observations of air, food, soil, water, and other sources. Environmental Technicians also perform laboratory and field tests to monitor the environment and investigate sources of pollution, including those that affect health, under the direction of an environmental scientist, engineer, or other specialist. May collect samples of gases, soil, water, and other materials for testing. Most of their time is devoted to office or field work and often includes data analysis, consulting, and technical and policy writing.
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook)
Training / QualificationsA bachelor’s degree is adequate for most entry-level positions, but environmental scientists and technicians increasingly need a master’s degree in a natural science. RIT’s BS/MS dual degree program can provide this additional education with minimal extra time. (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics O.O.H.)
Job OutlookEmployment of environmental scientists and specialists is projected to grow 11% from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations. Heightened public interest in the hazards facing the environment, as well as the increasing demands placed on the environment by population growth, is expected to spur demand for environmental scientists and specialists. Environmental scientists held about 94,600 jobs in 2014. (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics O.O.H.)
City Research Scientist, Education Presenter, Environmental Analyst, Environmental Scientist, Field Biologist, Graduate Research Assistant, LiDAR Technician, Philanthropy and Operations Coordinator, Physical Scientist, Pump and Process Operator Trainee, Remote Sensing Technician, Research Engineer
Selected Employer Hiring PartnersEmployer sectors include: government regulatory agencies, private environmental organizations, engineering/consulting firms, and industrial companies. Recent employers include: Agrinetix, LLC, EagleView, General Dynamics, Horsley Witten Group, Lender Consulting Services, Monroe County Department of Environmental Services, Nature Conservancy, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, Oswego Hospital, Rochester Institute of Technology, The Walt Disney Company, Triumvirate Environmental, US Army, US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Contact UsWe appreciate your interest in your career. We will make every effort to help you succeed. Call our office and ask to speak with Kris Stehler, the career services coordinator who works with the Environmental Science program. For your convenience, you can access information and services through our web site at www.rit.edu/careerservices.
Rochester Institute of Technology . Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education
Bausch & Lomb Center
57 Lomb Memorial Drive . Rochester NY 14623-5603