Environmental Studies Major

The environmental studies major offers unique opportunities for undergraduate students to broaden their studies through interdisciplinary course work related to the environment. Because this major must be taken simultaneously with another undergraduate major, students not only learn about current environmental issues, they will also learn how to link environmental science, policy, literature, art, and philosophy to another chosen field of study.

A Unique Program With a Unique Structure

The environmental studies major provides students with an academically rigorous course sequence that encompasses introductory through advanced understandings of this interdisciplinary field.

This major includes courses from across campus that expose students to the perspectives and methods used by the physical, biological, social sciences and humanities to wrestle with environmental questions and solutions.

Two students sitting at Gaylord Nelson's desk in Science Hall

Environmental studies is unlike almost all other undergraduate majors at UW-Madison. The environmental studies major can only be earned if the student is enrolled in and completes another major.

This unique structure ensures that environmental studies majors graduate with both a deep understanding of their disciplinary major and the broad interdisciplinary skills needed to work on environmental issues in a wide variety of career settings.

A professor demonstrating the burning properties of hydrogen and oxygen gas held in a balloon.

All undergraduate students enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-Madison pending approval from their home school or college are eligible to apply for the environmental studies major. Overlap between the environmental studies major and the student's other major is limited.

Why Earn an Environmental Studies Major?

In today’s world many academic programs, even in environmental fields, encourage students to specialize — to focus on relatively narrow subject areas. Yet real-world problems often require understanding beyond a single academic discipline. For this reason, more and more employers seek people with interdisciplinary training.

The environmental studies major exposes students to a broad range of environmental thinking. It helps put the courses of your other major into perspective. The environmental studies major is always completed as part of a full double major. This rigorous program of study is evidence to employers that the graduate has acquired not only depth in one major field, but breadth of environmental understanding within and beyond that field — an excellent combination.

Meet Some of Our Students

Jeremy Sanford is a driving force behind conservation efforts at UW-Madison. He’s active in community outreach efforts ranging from his internship with the Office of Sustainability to his work with fraternities and underrepresented communities. Read Jeremy’s story

Joe Foye found his passion for environmental advocacy while working to raise money for trips with his Boy Scout troop. He is working to educate and inspire diversity in the community while exploring the outdoors. Read Joe’s story

Natalie Brunner used a study abroad scholarship to take a course on sustainable development in Denmark and Norway. The experience transformed the way she thinks about sustainability and has inspired her to pursue graduate school in the future. Read Natalie’s story

Contact Us

Becky Ryan
Distinguished Undergraduate Program Coordinator
70A Science Hall
undergrad@nelson.wisc.edu
(608) 262-7996
(608) 262-2273 (fax)

Nick Horan
Undergraduate Program Assistant
70 Science Hall
horan@wisc.edu
(608) 262-9206
(608) 262-2273 (fax)

We ask students to use our primary email account for all undergrad program inquiries: undergrad@nelson.wisc.edu. Nick can also assist via phone.