Environmental Science

Environmental Science is an interdisciplinary field of study that investigates the interrelationships in the modern environment of humans and natural phenomena and focuses on important modern concerns, like how our global climate is changing and how that change may affect human activities, how to maintain and improve vital natural resources like drinking water, and how to manage and balance the quality of the environment in the face of improving the quality of life in the United States and abroad.

IUPUI's program prepares students for graduate studies and for a variety of careers with emphasis on investigation of the environment by federal and state agencies, industry, and consulting firms. The program allows flexibility to accommodate the needs and interests of all students.

Learn more about our undergraduate degree programs.

Qualities and Skills of an Environmental Scientist

• Ability to work with a team
• Communication and quantitative skills (PUL*)
• Critical thinking & problem solving (PUL*)
• Detail-oriented
• Inquisitive
• Interpersonal skills
• Integration and application of knowledge (PUL*)
• Observational and investigative skills
• Physical stamina for fieldwork
• Professional values & ethics (PUL*)
• Understanding of relationships, interactions and patterns

*PUL = Principles of Undergraduate Learning define a set of abilities and skills that undergraduate students are expected to master. They reflect the expertise that graduate and professional schools and the workforce are seeking.

Why Study Earth Sciences?

Earth science (which includes geology and environmental science among other sub-disciplines) is a great field to study because:

  • It combines the strengths of biology, geography, physics, chemistry, and biology and applies them to our knowledge of the Earth.
  • The career opportunities are very diverse. Some geologists spend most of their time outdoors, others spend their entire time in the laboratory, and many spend a mixture of time outside, in the lab, and at their desk.
  • As a smaller discipline of study, faculty and advisors can give one on one attention to each and every student.
  • Employment opportunities are spread evenly across the U.S., both in rural and urban areas, with the highest concentration in large metro areas like Indianapolis.
  • Students can easily advance to the graduate level and earn a Masters or PhD degree.

The faculty research in our department speaks of the diversity. Several faculty are researching climate change and global warming, which has involved trips on ocean research ships and Antarctica. Other faculty are researching water quality issues and behavior in Central Indiana, while another faculty member researches the geologic history of mountain building in southern California. Some faculty do their research entirely in the laboratory or by computer, but most require some field work to collect samples that are then processed in our laboratories.

What Can You Do with a Degree in Environmental Science?

What kind of work can you do with a degree in environmental science?

• Aquatic ecology and toxicology
• Ecology
• Education
• Environmental compliance
• Environmental consulting
• GIS analyses
• Groundwater protection
• Hydrology and Hydrogeology
• Industrial hygiene
• Landfill operation & monitoring
• Land use planning
• Natural resource management
• Natural resource utilization
• Planning-land use, water, air quality
• Political action and lobbying
• Public and environmental health
• Quality control & risk assessment
• Reclamation of contaminated lands
• Research
• Recycling
• Safety and health management
• Soil and water conservation
• Surface water management
• Sustainability planning
• Technical writing
• Waste treatment and disposal
• Water resource protection & mgmt.
• Wetland protection

Education - Where will your degree take you?

Bachelor Degree
Masters DegreeDoctoral Degree
Entry level positions in local, state, federal government, consulting, land trusts, and industry and preparation for graduate programs in science and lawManagerial positions in government, consulting, industry, non-government organizations, and research and teachers at high school and community collegesPositions in independent research at universities, university faculty, government agencies (USEPA, NASA, USDA etc), thinktanks, non-government organizations


Where do environmental science majors find jobs?

• Colleges and universities
• Environmental agencies and companies
• Environmental consulting firms
• Environmental research labs
• Government agencies
• Indian nations
• Land trusts

• Law firms
• Military
• Mining companies
• Museums
• Non-profit organizations
• Political action committees
• Private waste management firms
• Scientific foundations
• State farm bureaus
• Utilities and timber companies
• Zoos and wildlife parks

IUPUI environmental science graduates have been employed by

  • City of Anderson
  • City of Indianapolis
  • Indiana Geological Survey
  • Indiana State Department of Agriculture
  • Indiana State Department of Environmental Management
  • Indiana State Department of Natural Resources)
  • Indiana State Museum
  • Marion County Health Department
  • United States Geological Survey
  • Local private environmental consulting firms

Occupational Outlook + Average Salary

Employment for environmental scientists is expected to grow much faster than the average compared to all other occupations for the 2008-2018 decade. Employment for environmental scientists is projected to increase by 28%. Job growth should be strongest in private sector consulting firms. Driving the growth is the increasing demand placed on the environment by population growth and increasing awareness of the problems caused by environmental degradation. Also spurring employment is the need for organizations to comply with an increasing number of environmental laws and regulations, particularly with groundwater contamination and clean air. (2010-2011 Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Salaries earned by environmental scientists are dependent on degree level. According to the most recent data from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, median salaries for environmental scientists and specialists were $59,750.

According to the May 2012 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates for Indiana, average salaries for environmental scientists were as follows:

Science PREPs Office: Pre-Professional + Career Preparation for Science Majors

  • Explore career options and evaluate majors based on your interests, skills and values.
  • Plan for graduate or professional school.
  • Find jobs, internships and job-shadowing programs. 

Learn more at Science PREPs.