Apr 19, 2021  
Undergraduate Record 2017-2018 
Undergraduate Record 2017-2018 [ARCHIVED RECORD]

Environmental Thought and Practice

Return to: College of Arts & Sciences: Departments/Programs  

253 Clark Hall
University of Virginia
P.O. Box 400123
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4123

Requirements for the Major

The Environmental Thought and Practice interdisciplinary major requires four prerequisites, three core classes, and seven electives. Before enrolling in the major students must meet the College’s natural sciences and social sciences area requirements.


All four prerequisite courses listed below are required for Environmental Thought and Practice majors. In order to apply for the major students must be enrolled in, or have already completed, at least two of the four prerequisite classes:

  1. ECON 2010 Microeconomics
  2. Any Environmental Sciences class other than those taken to meet the core or Natural Science area requirements
  3. One of the following Statistics classes: STAT 1120, 2120, STAT 2020, SOC 3110, SOC 3130, ECON 3710 (requires MATH 1210 or equivalent), ECON 3720, EVSC 5030 (requires MATH 1110, STAT 2120, or equivalent), MATH 3120 (requires MATH 3100), or APMA 3120 (requires APMA 3100 or equivalent), or PSYC 3005/3006 (taken together) 
  4. PLAN 1010 Introduction to Community and Environmental Planning OR ETP 2020 / ARCH 5150/2150 / COMM 3880 / ENGR 2595 / EVSC 2559 Global Sustainability OR RELG 2210

Core courses

The following core courses are required of all majors.

  1. EVSC 2030/ETP 2030/PLAP 2030 Politics, Science, and Values: Introduction to Environmental Policy (fall only)
  2. Either EVSC 2800/2801 (Physical Geology) or EVSC 3200/3201 (Fundamentals of Ecology) or EVSC 3600/3601 (Physical Hydrology) or EVSC 3300/3301 (Atmosphere and Weather). EVSC 3200, 3600, and 3300 all require one semester of calculus; EVSC 2800 recommends one semester of chemistry; EVSC 3200 recommends one semester each of chemistry and biology; EVSC 3300 recommends one semester of physics with lab.
  3. ETP 4010 Environmental decisions (majors only, taken in spring of 4th year) (spring only)


Each student must also choose seven (7) classes distributed across the three areas indicated below, with the restriction that at least two (2) classes must be taken in Area I (Values, Culture, and History) and at least one (1) class must be taken in each of Areas II and III (two classes are required in Area I because there are no such classes in the core curriculum).

We recommend checking SIS frequently for environmentally-themed courses, as courses often come and go. Students who wish to have classes not specified here counted against their ETP elective requirements must submit their request plus the full course syllabus to Professor Thomson.  Please give this information to Professor Thomson during her office hours or leave it in her Clark Hall mailbox. ETP elective courses must be upper-level or graduate three- or four-credit classes and they must have environmental concerns as the central focus.  Requests to count courses that do not meet these basic requirements will not be considered.

I. Values, Culture, and History

If approved by one of the ETP Program Directors, students may count one related 3000-, 4000-, or 5000-level class in History, Anthropology, Philosophy, English, Religious Studies, Landscape Architecture, or Science, Technology, and Society against the two-class requirement for this area.

II. Policy, Planning, and Society

Students may fulfill their one-class requirement for this track by taking any one of the following specific classes (there are no prerequisites for these upper-level Planning classes):

If approved by one of the ETP Program Directors, students may take one related 3000-, 4000-, or 5000-level course in Economics, Government and Foreign Affairs, Sociology, the Law School, Darden, or Urban and Environmental Planning to meet the overall seven-course elective requirement, but not to meet the basic one-class requirement for this area.

The College allows students to count 18 credits of classes in other schools toward the 120-credit graduation requirement.

III. Natural Science

Any 3000- or 4000-level EVSC course. If approved by one of the ETP Program Directors, students may take one related 3000-, 4000-, or 5000-level class in Biology, Chemistry, or Environmental Engineering (e.g., MAE 4140, CE 2000) to meet the overall seven-class elective requirement, but not to meet the basic one-class requirement for this area. (Upper level EVSC classes build on the classes listed above under “Core Classes.” Upper-level Biology, Chemistry, and Environmental Engineering classes can have several prerequisites.) 

Pre-approved Non-EVSC or 2000-level courses include:

Distinguished Majors Project (DMP)

Majors with a minimum 3.6 GPA in the major (and 3.4 GPA overall) are eligible for a distinguished majors program (DMP) for their fourth year. DMPs take a year-long independent study with a faculty advisor, with the goal of producing a thesis that is evaluated by outside readers. To participate in the ETP distinguished majors program, set up an appointment with Professor Thomson during the spring semester of your third year. 

Credit/No Credit Grades

Please note that the ETP program adheres strictly to the College of Arts and Science’s policy regarding classes taken for CR (credit) or NC (no credit). Courses counting towards the ETP prerequisites, area requirements, and core courses may NOT be taken on a CR/NC basis.

The College does not permit students to take courses on a CR/NC basis in interdisciplinary programs, nor does it permit students to count courses taken on a CR/NC basis towards a major, minor, or College area requirements.

Double Majors/Minors

Many ETP majors pursue double majors and minors in a variety of other subjects. Please read the requirements about double majoring and minoring set forth by the College of Arts and Sciences.

Study Abroad

The ETP program does not have any official positions on overseas programs. In the past, several ETP students have done Semester at Sea, an interdisciplinary global comparative program sponsored by UVa.  We also recommend that ETP students interested in studying abroad go to other universities’ websites for ETP-like majors and see if there are recommended programs through those universities. 

In the course approval process, students must go to the UVa departments for which they seek credit. For example, if you would like credit for a civil engineering class taken abroad, you must go to the Engineering Department to file for this credit. Unless it is an ETP course, we cannot approve it for credit.


Students should apply in the spring of their second year.

Students interested in becoming ETP majors should submit:

  1. a completed ETP application form;
  2. a letter of recommendation from a faculty member (other than the ETP Director and Associate Director; and,
  3. a 300-400 word essay that addresses why you are interested in becoming a ETP major.
  4. an official transcript

The above materials should be sent to the Administrator of the ETP program by the date announced on the website. Candidates will hear from the committee by mid-March.

The Administrator and Director, are available to answer any questions about admission procedure and program requirements. Students may also obtain this information from the ETP website at etp.virginia.edu.

Additional Information

For more information contact:

Hallie Miller, ETP Administrator, hem5nv@virginia.edu 

Vivian Thomson, Clark Hall, P.O. Box 400123, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4123, (434) 924-3964, vet4y@virginia.edu