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    University of Virginia
  Feb 21, 2018
Undergraduate Record 2005-2006 [ARCHIVED RECORD]

Environmental Sciences

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Requirements for Major

The Department of Environmental Sciences offers both Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and Bachelor of Sciences (B.S.) degrees. The B.A. degree is designed for students interested in environmental sciences as a career, including those intending graduate education in environmental sciences or one of its sub-disciplines. Additionally, this degree can provide a strong base for entry into other areas such as medicine, law, business, or education. The B.S. degree is a more intensive experience designed for students wishing to enter professional-level careers in environmental sciences that are primarily available in the private sector. Distinguished Major’s options are available in both degree programs.

For all degree programs, students who score a 4 or a 5 on the Environmental Science Advanced Placement exam will receive 3 credits for EVSC 101. Any three credits of non-core, lower division courses, or advanced placement credit on the Environmental Science exam, may be counted toward the major or minor if taken prior to declaration of the major. (Note that only 3 credits of non-core courses below the 300 level may count toward the major, so EVSC 101 and EVSC 120 may not both be used.)

Requirements for Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Sciences

Students must complete 30 graded credits of departmental course work with a 2.000 cumulative grade point average. EVSC 280, 320, 340, and 350 with their laboratories are the required core courses; the lectures and labs for any specific core class must be taken together unless a waiver is granted by the instructor. See the department web page for details. The interdisciplinary nature of the environmental science’s advanced courses is one of the program’s great strengths and unique features. To take maximum advantage of these courses, students should complete the four core courses by the beginning of their fourth year. Three credits of non-core 100- or 200-level course work, taken prior to declaring the major, may be counted toward the major. At least 11 credits of non-core courses at the 300 level or higher must be taken. Once a student is enrolled at the University, transfer credits that count toward the major must be approved prior to taking the course and must be consistent with the curricular goals of the department. The department’s Director of Undergraduate Studies is responsible for overseeing the pre-approval of transfer credits.

The department requires one semester of calculus and two semesters of college-level chemistry, biology, or physics with laboratories. Students should begin to fulfill this requirement in their first year by taking MATH 131 and any two of the following: CHEM 141, CHEM 142, BIOL 201, BIOL 202, PHYS 231, or PHYS 232 with their labs. (Note that the laboratories for PHYS 201, 202 are used to fulfill this requirement.)

Although not required for the degree, to do serious research and compete effectively in graduate school and employment, additional math and science is generally needed. Work in any environmental sciences area necessitates developing an understanding of related fields. Thus, to encourage each student’s success in research and the competition for top graduate schools and jobs, the department requires students to undertake related work selected on the following basis: Ecology depends on a basic knowledge of chemistry (CHEM 141, 142) and biology (BIOL 201, 202). Geoscience, hydrology, and atmospheric science depend on chemistry and physics (PHYS 231, 232). All of these areas depend on calculus (MATH 131, 132 recommended) and the techniques of statistics (STAT 212 or ECON 371) and computer programming (CS 102 or 120). If the appropriate related work has been accomplished, students can begin the department’s core courses in the first or second year. With college-level chemistry and calculus, most students are prepared for EVSC 280 (Fundamentals of Geology) and EVSC 320 (Fundamentals of Ecology). Students are advised to obtain computer skills and an understanding of statistics as early as possible, and to take additional related science as their interests develop.

Requirements for Bachelor of Science in Environmental Sciences

The B.S. degree in Environmental Sciences is similar to the B.A., except that the course requirements are much more extensive. Students must fulfill all of the College Area Requirements in addition to the requirements for the major. Because of the more enhanced and more restrictive structure of the B.S. degree, careful planning of course selection and scheduling is essential very early. Interested students should contact the department as soon as possible to get help with establishing a program quickly with appropriate adjustments for AP or transfer credits. AP credits in related science or math are especially helpful, as is a strong performance on the foreign language placement exam to remove some of the obligation for these proficiency requirements to be completed upon arrival at the university.

Related Math and Science

One semester each of each of the three basic sciences with their associated labs, viz., Biology 201/203, Chemistry 141/141L, and Physics 151/201L, along with one year of Calculus (Math 131/132). Additionally, 2 more semesters of related sciences or math are required (e.g. BIOL 202/204, CHEM 142/142L, PHYS 152/202L, MATH 231, or equivalent courses).

Majors Requirements

The lectures and labs for any specific core course—EVSC 280, 320, 340, and 350 and their associated labs EVSC 280L, 320L, 340L, and 350L respectively, for a total of 16 core credits—must be taken together unless a waiver is granted by the instructor; see the department web page for details. An additional 24 credits of graded EVSC courses are required. Three of these credits may be taken below the 300-level (i.e. 100- or 200-level), if they are completed prior to declaring the major. The remainder must be taken at or above the 300-level, and at least one must be a laboratory course. Once a student is enrolled at the University, transfer credits that count toward the major must be approved prior to taking the course and must be consistent with the curricular goals of the department. The department’s Director of Undergraduate Studies is responsible for overseeing the pre-approval of transfer credits.

Requirements for Specialization in Environmental and Biological Conservation

The Department of Environmental Sciences, in conjunction with the Department of Biology, offers an opportunity for students to obtain the Bachelor of Arts or Science in Environmental Sciences with a Specialization in Environmental and Biological Conservation. Candidates for the Specialization must fulfill all the requirements for the Environmental Sciences major.

The requirements for the Specialization are as follows: (1) Related math and science courses required are calculus (MATH 121 or 131), organismal biology (BIOL 202 or BIOL 301) with lab (BIOL 204), and either chemistry with lab (CHEM 141/141L) or physics with lab (PHYS 151/201L); (2) The four core environmental science courses (EVSC 280, 320, 340, 350) with their labs; 3) Two introductory courses in environmental conservation (EVSC 222, BIOL 345), population ecology (EVSC 413) and a 2-credit seminar in environmental conservation (EVSC 493/494); (3) and an additional twelve upper-level credits in Environmental Sciences or Biology. The Conservation Specialization requires at least one course in each of the following areas: Biological Diversity—a course focused on a particular group of organisms (e.g. plants, birds, mammals); Environmental Diversity—a course focused on a particular habitat (e.g. wetlands, oceans, forests, grasslands, tundra); Techniques in Conservation—a course focused on policy, related chemical or physical sciences, statistics, modeling, geo-spatial analysis or field methods; Field Experience—this can be fulfilled with an independent study, a field course at a University of Virginia biological or ecological field station (Mountain Lakes Biological Station, Blandy Experimental Farm), involvement with the Africa research program in the Environmental Sciences department, or an internship with a conservation agency. The Conservation Specialization can be completed as part of the B.S. degree in Environmental Sciences provided that all of the B.S. requirements are met.

Students who are interested in this Specialization should consult with an advisor who is a faculty of the Environmental Conservation Program, preferably when declaring their major.

Requirements for Minor

A minor consists of at least 16 credits of environmental sciences course work in a program of study proposed by the student and approved by the department faculty. The program must include at least two core courses (EVSC 280, 320, 340, 350) with laboratories, and one non-core course at the 300 level or higher, with no more than six credits of non-core courses below the 300 level. To take advantage of advanced interdisciplinary courses, the core courses should be completed early.

Environmental Sciences Organization

The Environmental Sciences Organization, recognized by Student Council, presents an undergraduate professionalization seminar, field trips, career and job search activities, curriculum review and planning, and many social events. All University students are welcome to join.

Distinction and Prizes

The department participates in the College’s Distinguished Majors Program designed for highly qualified students. This program must be started early. Information can be obtained from an advisor.

Each year, the department gives the following awards to members of the graduating class who have distinguished themselves academically during their four years of study at the University:

  1. the Wallace-Poole Award to the most outstanding major;
  2. the Wilbur A. Nelson Award, the Mahlon G. Kelly Award, and the Michael Garstang Award to students who are outstanding in the areas of environmental geology, ecology, and atmospheric sciences;
  3. an award to the outstanding student in the area of hydrology; and
  4. the Trout Unlimited Award for excellence in aquatic ecology.

Each year, the department offers the following awards to majors in the program:

  1. the Bloomer and Mitchell Awards for geoscience-oriented students; and
  2. the Chamberlain Award for departmental majors.

Blandy Experimental Farm and the Orland E. White Arboretum

The Blandy Experimental Farm and the Orland E. White Arboretum of the University of Virginia are located in Boyce, Virginia at the northern end of the Shenandoah Valley. At this facility, faculty and students conduct research on the ecology of plants, mammals, and insects. Field classes from the Departments of Environmental Sciences and Biology conduct laboratory exercises at the facility, and each year an extensive summer program of course work is presented. The farm contains a wide array of habitats including forest, successional fields, pasture, cropland, ponds, and marshes. The Orland E. White Arboretum, the State Arboretum of Virginia, contains a beautifully landscaped collection of 1,000 species and varieties of trees and shrubs. The facilities also include greenhouses, laboratories, computer facilities, and housing, laundry and dining facilities. Students may participate in supervised research or independent study at Blandy Farm primarily during the summer.

Research Opportunities

Research projects throughout the department provide a number of employment and experience opportunities for undergraduates.

Students in their third and fourth years are encouraged to gain research experience by participating in faculty research or initiating their own research projects with faculty supervision. These projects can be conducted for credit by arranging with a faculty member to supervise an independent study (EVSC 493, 494) or research project (EVSC 495, 496).

Additional Information

For more information, contact James Galloway, Faculty Advisor, Department of Environmental Sciences, Clark Hall, P.O. Box 400123, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4123; (434) 924-7761;

Course Descriptions

Environmental Sciences

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