Senior Exits

Senior Exit

The Senior Exit requirement is designed to integrate the knowledge and skills learned throughout the Environmental Studies curriculum. The senior exit is a required course for all students pursuing an Environmental Studies degree in any of our majors. Each senior exit has different benefits; if you need advice for which senior exit to choose, feel free to email or visit us at ENVS advising

How to pick a senior exit: 

There are many options and it can be overwhelming! You can check out a slideshow presentation or video recording where we go through each senior exit option, and help you decide which one might be best for you.

Senior Exit Information: Google Slides or Video

Prerequisites for all ENVS senior exit options:

1) Senior standing (135+ credits)

2) Passed ENVS 100 and ENVS 100L

3) Passed three other upper division courses that provide relevant background knowledge and skills

4) Must be taken for a letter grade.

For more information, please read the Guidelines for the Senior Comprehensive Requirement.

Senior Exit Options 
Please refer to your major worksheet to review which senior exits you can choose from. Read the descriptions for each senior exit carefully. 

  1. ENVS 109B - Ecology and Conservation in Practice "Supercourse"

Usuallly offered every other Spring  Click here for a recent flyer and here for the course website.
As part of a 4 course field-oriented ecological research supercourse, 109B combines an overview of methodologies and approaches to field research with practical field studies.  Students complete field projects in ecology and also learn the natural history of the flora and fauna of California. Course to be conducted in California Natural Reserves and Baja California Sur, Mexico.

Note: For students in the ENVS single major, ENVS 109ABCD (Supercourse) can count for your senior exit requirement and two upper division electives OR it could count as three upper division electives, if you plan to do another senior exit requirement. 

2. ENVS 190 - Capstone Course, Environmental Problem Solving

Offered in Spring and Summer
A synthetic course that draws on the knowledge and skills students bring from other courses in the major. Focuses on written and oral individual and group projects in which students must take the initiative. Emphasizes developing skills critical for students in their future careers.  Capstone is a large-lecture course that promotes discussion of primary, current literature surrounding important environmental issues. No special interview or application process is needed, ENVS 100/L and senior standing are the only pre-requisite and students are able to directly enroll into this 5-unit course through the student portal enrollment menu.

3. ENVS 196 - Senior Seminar, Various Topics
Offered every quarter 
Senior seminars explore advanced aspects of current and future environmental issues.  Such courses are reading and writing intensive and promote discussion and hands-on learning.  Courses are usually restricted to graduating seniors and are generally 20 students or less in size.  If interested in using a senior seminar to fulfill the senior exit requirement, discuss the prospect of joining the class with the course’s instructor.  Senior seminars have an application process, pre-requisites and/or interview requirements (see the Seminar Application page).  PLAN EARLY!  Do not assume you will get in to a senior seminar course. 

4. ENVS 183A & 183B - Senior Internship
Offered each term, but requires a TWO-QUARTER COMMITMENT
Open to declared majors only, this course combines fieldwork at an agency and a comprehensive analytical paper produced for the agency. Equivalent to a thesis in terms of the depth and quality of the work expected, it is begun with enrollment in ENVS 183A completed the quarter before enrolling in ENVS 183B. If the first quarter is not completed satisfactorily, you will not enroll in ENVS 183B and you will need to make another arrangement to complete the senior exit.  Enrollment restricted to environmental studies majors and the ENVS combined majors with Earth sciences, biology and economics who have completed the ENVS core course, ENVS 100/L.  A senior internship is a wonderful way to develop your own senior exit requirement with the help of an agency sponsor (from your internship) and a faculty sponsor (within the ENVS department).  For further information, please contact the internship office.

Note: Students must have senior standing, and passed ENVS 100/L and three upper division ENVS courses before enrolling in ENVS 183B (must be taken for a letter grade). 

5. ENVS 195A  & 195B - Senior Thesis
Offered each term, but requires a TWO-QUARTER COMMITMENT 
A thesis is an independent research project guided by an ENVS faculty mentor.  It is a substantial, comprehensive, formal resarch paper or essay written upon a specific theme.  For that reason, this is a great way to go more in depth in an area of interest to you. Meet with your faculty sponsor to discuss your thesis project idea and to receive the class number to enroll.


The quarter prior to the writing of a thesis, the student enrolls in an independent study course for 5 units of credit, in order to gather data, do research and begin writing drafts of the thesis. ENVS 195A  (5-units) is the independent study course number and requires a petition to enroll.  Thesis preparation requires at least 1 thesis prep quarter. If the first quarter is not completed satisfactorily, you will not continue on to finish the thesis and you will need to make another arrangement to complete the senior exit.

Upon successful completion of 195A, students can then enroll in 195B to complete their senior thesis. This second quarter is dedicated to writing up the thesis project in close coordination with the faculty sponsor. Students submit their final thesis directly to the faculty sponsor.

Note: Students must have senior standing, and passed ENVS 100/L and three upper division ENVS courses before enrolling in ENVS 195B (must be taken for a letter grade). 

The petition to enroll in this independent study course, and the thesis class itself, is available with the faculty sponsor or on the Registrar's website at this link.


Senior Thesis projects will be housed on a department server.  Theses titles, abstracts, keywords, and authors can be searched on the ENVS Thesis library through the secure website EndnoteWeb, which has links to pdf files of each thesis.   The thesis database and repository is for the use of the UCSC/ENVS community, not the general public;  access information and instructions are provided to authorized users only.  Access will be provided only to those with a valid UCSC email address. Email the department to request access.