A small group of students work along the shoreline of the Tyler Run Creek, collecting samples and observing the stream.

Environmental and Sustainability Studies

Pursue a career designed for impact.

York College of Pennsylvania’s innovative Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Environmental and Sustainability Studies degree program bridges the gap between a high-impact scientific background and an examination of the change-making, human-based policies and processes that bring the science of sustainability to life.

The global environment is changing, inching closer to a tipping point. Increasing efforts to find creative, sustainable solutions to protect Earth’s climate and resources will task international organizations, governments, businesses, and individuals to draw from the expertise of scientists — but just as important, they'll also need skilled thinkers and policymakers.

As a student in our environmental science and sustainability program, you’ll become prepared to do the valuable work of managing projects, persuading audiences, and making a real difference on whatever level you choose. Whether you are driven to a career path in local organic farming, regional waterways, or tackling national legislation, the BA in Environmental and Sustainability studies ensures you’ll be able to expertly study an ecosystem and inspire others to protect it.

A student kneels in the middle of a shallow riverbed, measuring with a ruler.

About the BA in Environmental and Sustainability Studies

  • Key Courses

    Environmental Sustainability Degree Requirements

    Students in the bachelor’s in Environmental and Sustainability Studies degree program complete a balanced curriculum consisting of core physical science topics, sociology, philosophy, and history studies contributing to theories of sustainability and applied learning opportunities.

    Courses in the BA in Environmental and Sustainability include:

    • PHL 240: Environmental Ethics
    • LIT 379: Literature and the Environment
    • SOC 301: Environmental Justice
    • HIS 387: North American Environmental History
    • SES 491: Internship in Sustainability and Environmental Studies

    Through additional elective courses, students adapt their course of study to specific career interests. The variety of these sustainability courses illustrates the forward-thinking, interdisciplinary approach of our program.

    • ECO 315: Environmental and Natural Resource Economics
    • G 331: Urban Land Use and Sustainability
    • PS 327: Environmental Law
    • LIT 370: Literature and the Environment
    • WRT 321: Accessibility and Usability Research

    In addition to Environmental and Sustainability Studies major requirements, students take a number of free electives and complete Foundations general education requirements.

    Apply to the BA in Environmental and Sustainability Studies

    York College of Pennsylvania’s BA in Environmental and Sustainability Studies degree program allows students to develop skills in a range of disciplines in preparation for the diverse career pathways approaching the issues of global climate change.

    If you’re ready to begin or progress a career dedicated to the beautiful world around us, review York College of Pennsylvania Admissions information.

  • Career Opportunities & Benefits

    Environmental Studies and Sustainability Career Preparation

    Earning a degree in Environmental and Sustainability Studies can position students for a multitude of fulfilling career paths. Whether you’re interested in helping businesses of any size minimize their ecological impact or in analyzing the impacts of climate change at a community level, the BA in Environmental and Sustainability Studies allows you to build a strong foundation in your preferred career focus.

    These are just a few of the many career opportunities graduates of the Environmental and Sustainability Studies degree may find:

    • Sustainability Officer
    • Policy Advisor
    • Sustainability Consultant
    • Climate Change Analyst
    • Community Organizer
    • Agricultural Specialist
    • Environmental Manager
    • Sustainability Sector Marketer
    • Grant Writer

    Your studies in ecological science and sustainability principles, backed by a holistic understanding of the humanities and applied work and research opportunities, will fully prepare you for entry-level positions in areas like direct environmental action, environmental advocacy, and sustainability advising in both workplaces and government agencies.

    Pathway to Graduate Study

    Students interested in more advanced careers in business management, public policy, or education may find they want to pursue graduate school to open further opportunities. Supported by your undergraduate education at York College of Pennsylvania, you’ll feel confident to apply to programs in pursuit of roles such as:

    • Sustainability Program Director
    • Non-Profit Manager
    • Environmental Scientist
    • Policy Writer
  • Internships & Work Experience

    Applied Experience in Sustainability and Conservation

    Each Environmental and Sustainability Studies major participates hands-on in the expansion of knowledge about how human systems interact, shape, and change the physical world. From project-based course components to professional work experiences like internships and co-ops, students will develop their experience and expertise in their desired career field.

    Built-in Fieldwork

    As part of the regular bachelor’s in Environmental and Sustainability Studies coursework, students complete in-field projects. Fieldwork projects expose students to imperative technical aspects of environmental science and demonstrate a level of specialized experience to future employers and graduate programs. You might complete projects in branches of sustainability such as:

    • Streambed and wetland remediation
    • Watershed mapping
    • Erosion mitigation
    • Urban light pollution
    • Sustainable organic agriculture

    Learn all about project- and community-based learning at York College of Pennsylvania.

    Environmental Studies and Sustainability Internships

    Each student in the BA in Environmental Studies and Sustainability degree program has the choice to participate in an internship or independent study — and the nature of your work experience will depend on your personal interests and career goals.

    In a field as far-reaching as environmental studies and sustainability, the kinds of internships our students complete can range from business development and public relations to policy writing and community organizing. Past students have interned in settings such as:

    • Local organic farms 
    • Environmental organizations
    • Governmental departments
    • Local non-profits

    Review the events and services the Career Development Center provides for students interested in applying for internships.

    Study and Work Abroad

    York College of Pennsylvania offers extensive opportunities to study and complete fieldwork around the world. There are regular opportunities for course-related travel during the semester as well as study abroad opportunities during the January and summer terms.

    Students in the Environmental and Sustainability Studies major have traveled to study the cloud forest in Costa Rica for a course linking the science of climate change to local contexts and responses. Other locations for study abroad include:

    • India
    • Turkey
    • Greece
    • Australia
    • Peru

    For truly global issues like climate change and sustainability, we understand the importance of preparing students to pursue their careers with an understanding and awareness that transcends borders.

    Explore the various student travel programs facilitated by the Study Abroad Center.

  • Mentorship & Community

    Mentorship and Research Opportunities

    As a student in the Bachelor of Arts in Environmental and Sustainability Studies degree program, you’ll have unrivaled opportunities to conduct research as an undergraduate and further tailor your experiences to benefit your future career.

    Professors work closely with students to develop successful and meaningful research projects, and our on-campus student associations offer ways to connect with peers from different disciplines for a common goal.

    In addition to in-field projects, environmental and sustainability studies majors can choose to hone their research and writing skills through self-designed research projects or by partnering with York faculty to assist them on their research agendas.

    Both the optional independent study and student-created research initiatives are guided by experienced and knowledgeable faculty members. Research projects in the past have focused on:

    • Solar energy
    • Farm-to-market agriculture
    • Green marketing
    • Promotion of public transportation

    Learn more about undergraduate research initiatives at York of PA.

    Student Organizations

    At York College, sustainability is an ever-growing focus of our campus culture. A number of student organizations are involved with on-campus sustainability efforts, like the Spartans for Sustainability and the President's Task Force for Campus Sustainability (PTFCS)

    Additionally, the Student Senate includes an Environmental Campus Climate committee, perfect for students interested in learning about politics and policy.

    View student organizations at York College.

  • High-Demand Skills

    Develop Skills for Careers in Environmental Studies and Sustainability

    In-field and research projects as well as well-rounded coursework prepares our students for careers in a variety of green sectors as well as advanced research, education, and advocacy careers focused on environmental and sustainability issues.

    Whether you’re passionate about renewable energy, policy, agriculture, or environmental remediation, gain key interdisciplinary skills including:

    • Environmental policy analysis skills informing development of frameworks and ability to follow local and national regulations
    • Ability to understand and apply scientific concepts surrounding ecological systems, climate change, and natural resource management
    • Foundations in communication and critical thinking skills enabling professional advisement of how sustainable practices can be implemented in business, engineering, agriculture, and other sectors
    • How to integrate approaches from multiple disciplines including natural science, social science, and the humanities, into sustainable development projects at any scale
    • Research and quantitative analysis abilities for understanding and developing cutting-edge scholarship

    Best Minors for Environmental and Sustainability Studies Minors

    Tailor your skills and further your career opportunities in the dynamic fields of environmental studies and sustainability with one of York’s minor programs.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is an environmental sustainability degree?

    An environmental sustainability degree is one that focuses on the study of environmental and scientific principles as well as sustainability issues. Often intended to prepare students for careers focusing on policy and organizational management, environmental sustainability bachelor’s degrees encompass curriculum topics such as renewable energy, conservation, sustainable agriculture, climate change, and more.

  • What can you do with an environmental studies degree specializing in sustainability?

    Graduates of a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies and sustainability may pursue careers or further study to effect change in non-profit organizations, private businesses, consulting firms, government agencies, academic institutions, and other settings.

    Various careers popular in this field include renewable energy analysts, sustainability consultants, environmental policy analysts, and more. It can be the foundation for careers in environmental education, fundraising, outreach, or lead to advanced careers in environmental policy after further study and experience.

  • What is a sustainability consultant and how do you become one?

    A sustainability consultant is a professional who helps organizations and businesses implement environmentally responsible practices and reduce their carbon footprint. To become a sustainability consultant, you typically need a bachelor’s or master’s degree in a related field, such as environmental science, sustainability, or business, or have relevant work experience. There are some certification organizations in the field, such as the International Society for Sustainability Professionals (ISSP).

Program Requirements

Required Courses and Degree Requirements for Graduation
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2024-2025 Undergraduate Catalog

Contact Us
History and Political Science Department
Corey Brooks, Ph.D., Chair
Humanities Center, 101
Phone: 717.600.3869

Deb Staley, Administrative Assistant
Humanities Center, Room 100
Phone: 717.815.1349