Environmental Studies Major Requirements (B.A.)

(Also see Requirements for a Bachelor's Degree.)

The Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies is an interdisciplinary major that introduces students to the ways in which human activities impact Earth systems and vice versa. It equips students to use a variety of tools, such as policy, science, communication, and individual and societal behavior change, to solve environmental and sustainability problems, with an emphasis on the perspectives and tools of the social sciences. Environmental Studies majors must complete a set of core courses common to both ENVS majors, including a research-focused senior capstone course and an applied experience involving an internship, plus three additional social science core courses and a suite of electives in the student's area of interest.

The ENVS senior capstone experience involves both the completion of a research project or comparable scholarly endeavor under the supervision of a JHU faculty member and participation in a 1-credit senior seminar that explores career development and current events to support seniors as they transition to post-graduate life and work. A 1-credit research design course taken in the junior year guides students in the development of their senior research project proposal. All ENVS majors must enroll in the capstone and senior seminar courses in the fall semester of their senior year.

The applied experience can be completed during any semester including summers and involves at least 80 hours of supervised, hands-on experience working with an organization on environmental or sustainability issues through an internship or similar work or volunteer experience. Synthesizing assignments reflecting on the experience are also required. The goal of the applied experience requirement is to ensure that students have practical experience in a workplace or community setting that will help prepare them for the next step in their education and career.

The Environmental Studies major requires a total of 65 or more credits to complete. All courses must be taken for a letter grade, and students must earn a grade of C- or better to apply the course to the major. All ENVS majors are encouraged to consider studying abroad at some point during their undergraduate years to develop a more global, culturally sensitive perspective on environmental and sustainability issues. Students are not permitted to double-major in both Environmental Studies and Environmental Science. Consult the ENVS program's website for additional information: http://krieger.jhu.edu/envs/requirements/major/


Common ENVS Core
AS.270.103Introduction to Global Environmental Change3
AS.271.107Introduction to Sustainability3
AS.270.202Introduction to Ecology3
AS.270.205Introduction to Geographic Information Systems and Geospatial Analysis3
AS.270.336Freshwater Systems3
AS.271.399Research Design1
AS.271.401Environmental Ethics3
AS.271.403Environmental Policymaking and Policy Analysis3
AS.271.496Senior Capstone Experience3
AS.271.499Senior Seminar1
AS.271.509Applied Experience1
AS.030.101Introductory Chemistry I3
AS.110.106Calculus I (Biology and Social Sciences)4
or AS.110.108 Calculus I (Physical Sciences & Engineering)
AS.180.102Elements of Microeconomics3
AS.190.102Introduction To Comparative Politics3.0
or AS.190.111 Introduction to Global Studies
or AS.190.108 Contemporary International Politics
or AS.190.226 Global Governance
AS.230.205Introduction to Social Statistics4.0
or AS.280.345 Public Health Biostatistics
or EN.553.111 Statistical Analysis I
or EN.553.211 Probability and Statistics for the Life Sciences
or EN.553.310 Probability & Statistics for the Physical Sciences & Engineering
or EN.553.311 Probability and Statistics for the Biological Sciences and Engineering
Social Sciences Core
AS.180.101Elements of Macroeconomics3
AS.230.202Research Methods for the Social Sciences3
or AS.200.200 Research Methods in Psychology
or AS.070.317 Methods
or AS.230.323 Qualitative Research Practicum
AS.271.302Exploring Nature3
or AS.271.320 Environmental Photojournalism
Choose 12 credits of approved courses related to the student's area of interest, at least 9 credits of which are at the 300-level or above.12
Total Credits65


Each student should work with their advisor to choose a coherent suite of elective courses totaling at least 12 credits, 9 of which are at the 300-level or above. These courses should be relevant to the student's individual interests and career plans and may center around one or more environmental/sustainability issues or environmental studies disciplines, such as anthropology or economics. Appropriate elective courses are those that concentrate directly on environmental or sustainability issues. The ENVS Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) distributes a list of approved focus area courses each semester, and approval for other courses can be sought by emailing the major advisor and DUS.

Sample Program of Study

First Year
First SemesterCreditsSecond SemesterCredits
 13 10
Second Year
First SemesterCreditsSecond SemesterCredits
 6 6
Third Year
First SemesterCreditsSecond SemesterCredits
Elective course3Elective course3
 Elective course3
 9 8
Fourth Year
First SemesterCreditsSecond SemesterCredits
Elective course3 
 7 6
Total Credits 65

Honors in the Environmental Studies Major

To qualify for honors in the major, a student must:

  • Earn a cumulative GPA of 3.5 in the courses taken to fulfill the major requirements.
  • Successfully complete 3 credits of senior thesis, AS.271.511 Senior Thesis, beyond the senior capstone experience involving an environmental or sustainability-related research project or other comparable scholarly endeavor.
  • Earn a rating of good or excellent on the final product of the thesis, as determined by the faculty research advisor.
  • Present the results of the thesis orally in an appropriate JHU department.

B.A./M.S. Option

Undergraduates majoring in Environmental Studies may apply for accelerated status toward an M.S. in Environmental Sciences and Policy (ESP) or an M.S. in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) through the JHU Krieger School of Arts & Sciences' Advanced Academic Programs. Interested students should speak with their advisor and the Director of the ESP and GIS Programs, Jerry Burgess (jerry.burgess@jhu.edu), in their senior year. Students may apply up to three courses taken as undergraduates toward the M.S. in Environmental Science and Policy and up to two courses toward the M.S. in GIS, thereby leaving only seven to eight more courses to complete the M.S. following receipt of their bachelor's degree.  Students will receive two separate degrees, so the requirements of both degrees must be fulfilled. Students cannot earn the M.S. degree without completion of the B.A. or B.S., however, students who do not complete the M.S. retain their B.A. or B.S.