Major Requirements & Information

Environmental Studies (ENVS) Program Learning Outcomes

Students graduating with a B.A. in Environmental Studies should be able to:

  • 1. Identify the societal (social, political, economic, cultural and ethical) agents and structures that contribute  to environmental change.  (Social Science Competency)
  • 2. Describe the structure and functioning of major physical and ecological components of the earth’s systems. (Natural Science Competency)
  • 3. Access and analyze a complex literature addressing specific topics in environmental studies, and evaluate the usefulness and limitations of individual sources of information.  (Analytic thinking)
  • 4. Demonstrate effective oral and written communication skills. (Communication skills)

The following information is from the 2021-2022 catalog requirements, effective Fall 2021. For prior catalog years, please visit this website. Please read the following information on the 4 majors and 3 concentrations offered in ENVS.  If you have any questions, please contact us at

1. Environmental Studies Single Major (B.A.)

In addition to comprehensive classroom-based learning, a number of our students engage in field studies, internships, independent research, study abroad, and volunteer work.  Our students are highly encouraged to seek out these opportunities to “get out into the field” during their time at UCSC.  These “academic extras” are an excellent supplement to rigorous traditional courses, and are a great way to beef up your resume and prepare for the career world or future schooling. This major has five focus areas: Agroecology & Sustainable Agriculture; Conservation Science & Natural History; Environmental Education & Sustainability; Environmental Policy; Political Economy (more info here).

Students majoring in the Environmental Studies Single major can choose one of the 3 concentrations. The concentrations are intended to provide students with courses that will provide specific tools within the field of study. The concentration will be noted on the student transcript as an indication that the curriculum chosen has followed an approved path that constitutes a concentration. Concentrations are not mandatory, students can major without a concentration. 

Below are the 3 concentrations:

Discontinued effective 2020-21: Concentration in Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (AGSA)

2. Agroecology (B.A.)

The central academic objective of this major is to provide students with a depth of expertise in interdisciplinary knowledge and skills related to agroecology and sustainable food systems. UCSC students pursuing this major will gain knowledge and skills in multiple disciplines and an increased understanding of complex agricultural and food systems.

Students in the Agroecology Major will learn about ecological concepts (including soil and water processes, microbial ecology, plant physiology, aquaculture, competition, population growth, predator-prey interactions, mutualisms, and ecosystem services) that can be applied to the development of sustainable agricultural systems. Students will develop their understanding of social, political, and economic aspects of agriculture (including traditional agriculture, agricultural policy and development, social theory, history, sustainable farm management, markets, food justice, local food system experiences, and harvested food systems). Students will also engage in hands-on experiences, and obtain skills in research, fieldwork, production, and communication in order to achieve multiple sustainability goals in complex, social-ecological food systems.

3. Environmental Studies/Biology Combined Major (B.A.)

This course of study provides students with the basic tools of biological science and sufficient understanding of resource conservation, conservation biology, and concerns about environmental sustainability.  The Environmental Studies/Biology degree program prepares students for graduate school or a career in the areas of conservation biology, restoration ecology, and other allied interdisciplinary life science fields. Students wishing to enter into specific graduate programs or seeking specific career certifications such as wildlife biologist need to check the requirements of each program and may need to add elements to their curriculum.  Important: All classes in this major must be taken for a letter grade.  

4. Environmental Studies/Economics Combined Major (B.A.)

The combined major in Environmental Studies and Economics is intended to provide students with the basic tools of economic analysis and an understanding of the principles of resource production, conservation and use in both ecological and economic terms.

5. Environmental Studies/Earth Sciences Combined Major (B.A.)

The combined major in Environmental Studies and Earth & Planetary Sciences is intended to provide students with the basic tools of earth sciences and environmental studies needed to address environmental problems. Suggested plans of study include water policy/hydrology, restoration ecology, agroecology/soil physical processes and environmental policy/climate change, among others. Consult with faculty from both the Environmental Studies and Earth & Planetary Sciences Departments.