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25 Best Colleges for Environmental Science 2020

By the GradReports team | Updated 4/1/2020

These are the best 25 colleges that offer a bachelor's degree in environmental studies or environmental science, ranked by median salary one year after graduation. Columbia Southern University is ranked #1 with a salary of $58,900. The school with the lowest median debt for this degree is University of California - Berkeley, at $13,000. Students who graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Environmental Science from one of the top 25 schools had a median starting salary between $35,200 and $58,900.

Tuition, median salaries, and median debt were reported by the U.S. Department of Education in November 2019. View our methodology for more details about these rankings or read more about the top-ranked schools.

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Salary and debt data reported by the U.S. Department of Education
Salary and debt data reported by the U.S. Department of Education
Rank School Location Annual Tuition Median Debt Median Salary
#1 #1 Orange Beach (AL) Orange Beach (AL) $6,600 $23,841 $58,900
#2 #2 Adelphi (MD) Adelphi (MD) $12,336 $21,500 $52,800
#3 #3 Buzzards Bay (MA) Buzzards Bay (MA) $26,106 $25,250 $47,600
#4 #4 San Jose (CA) San Jose (CA) $19,676 $17,625 $47,100
#5 #5 Philadelphia (PA) Philadelphia (PA) $53,244 $29,417 $44,700
#6 #6 Berkeley (CA) Berkeley (CA) $43,176 $13,000 $44,100
#7 #7 Charles Town (WV) Charles Town (WV) $6,880 $26,135 $41,100
#8 #8 Omaha (NE) Omaha (NE) $20,764 $22,500 $40,300
#9 #9 Rochester Hills (MI) Rochester Hills (MI) $24,230 $23,260 $40,200
#10 #10 Grand Junction (CO) Grand Junction (CO) $20,944 $24,397 $40,200
#11 #11 Hamilton (NY) Hamilton (NY) $55,870 $17,000 $38,400
#12 #12 Los Angeles (CA) Los Angeles (CA) $42,218 $15,000 $38,300
#13 (tie) #13 (tie) New Brunswick (NJ) New Brunswick (NJ) $31,282 $21,500 $36,600
#13 (tie) #13 (tie) Blacksburg (VA) Blacksburg (VA) $31,908 $21,500 $36,600
#15 #15 Shippensburg (PA) Shippensburg (PA) $20,760 $26,000 $36,400
#16 #16 College Station (TX) College Station (TX) $37,495 $16,750 $36,200
#17 #17 Manchester (NH) Manchester (NH) $9,600 $15,540 $36,100
#18 #18 Glassboro (NJ) Glassboro (NJ) $22,339 $17,500 $35,900
#19 #19 Nationwide Nationwide $9,552 $41,487 $35,900
#20 #20 San Diego (CA) San Diego (CA) $19,340 $15,605 $35,600
#21 #21 Denver (CO) Denver (CO) $20,847 $30,063 $35,600
#22 #22 Chestertown (MD) Chestertown (MD) $46,978 $24,250 $35,400
#23 #23 Davis (CA) Davis (CA) $43,394 $14,755 $35,300
#24 #24 Boston (MA) Boston (MA) $33,966 $20,847 $35,300
#25 #25 Tempe (AZ) (and 4 others) Tempe (AZ) (and 4 others) $18,629 - $28,336 $19,854 $35,200

2020 Best Colleges Highlights

Learn more about the top colleges for a Bachelor's in Environmental Science degree. You can also read student reviews of each school by clicking on the stars. Although student reviews were not used as a ranking factor in this list, we provide ratings and reviews so students can consider the experience of alumni in their decision-making process.

#1
Orange Beach (AL)
Median Salary $58,900
Median Debt $23,841
Annual Tuition $6,600
Graduation Rate 27%

Columbia Southern University is a private online institution that strives to offer affordable, quality certificate and degree programs to distance learners. Their online Bachelor of Science in environmental management focuses on relevant industry issues, including current environmental concerns, best practices in the field, and regulatory compliance. Students in this program will learn to use collaborative approaches that apply theory and technology to address environmental issues, explore strategies for handling environmental hazards, and assess environmentally based management practices.

The curriculum is intended to prepare graduates for positions of leadership within the field. The degree is designed to be completed in five years and requires a total of 120-semester hours. Twelve hours are devoted to program electives comprised of the following courses: Environmental Strategies, Legal Aspects of Safety and Health, Total Environmental Health and Safety Management, and Training and Development.

CSU's mission to offer an affordable education extends beyond tuition rates. They offer free textbooks and a credit transfer policy that includes previously earned credits, licenses and certificates, training programs, and credit by examination. Scholarship opportunities, military and veteran benefits, and payment options are also available.

Visit Columbia Southern University's website.

Median Salary $52,800
Median Debt $21,500
Annual Tuition $12,336
Graduation Rate 15%

University of Maryland Global Campus is an online institution that offers a broad range of certificate and degree programs. The academic catalog includes an online bachelor's in environmental management that was created with input from industry experts, scholars, and employers. The 120-credit degree program is designed to prepare graduates to manage environmental issues and prevent catastrophic events.

Students will learn how to identify concerns, gather and evaluate data, use techniques to assess risk, apply the appropriate principles to solve problems, create an environmental management plan that complies with regulations and policies, and communicate effectively on environmental issues. The curriculum includes 33 credits of major coursework, including Environment and Ecosystems Principles, Environmental Regulations and Policy, Global Environmental Management Issues, and Human Health and Disease. Nine of the major credits are devoted to a focus of the student's choice; options include toxicology and hazard control, sustainability, or one created by the student to align with their interests and career aspirations.

Program faculty have academic credentials and industry experience at organizations such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, D.C. Department of Environmental Protection, and the U.S. Armed Forces. Students are able to join the Environmental Management Club for opportunities to connect with peers and industry professionals.

Visit University of Maryland Global Campus's website.

#3
Buzzards Bay (MA)
Median Salary $47,600
Median Debt $25,250
Annual Tuition $26,106
Graduation Rate 73%

Massachusetts Maritime Academy offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs that are widely recognized in the international maritime industry. Located on Cape Cod, the co-educational university features a bachelor of science in marine science, safety, and environmental protection (MSSEP). The interdisciplinary curriculum for this program combines environmental protection and industrial health and safety courses to prepare graduates for a range of careers in the non-profit, private, and government sectors.

Students are required to complete two practical experiences to apply classroom training and develop their professional skills. Freshmen students will complete one of these experiences during winter break, where they will travel to Bermuda to participate in a sub-tropical marine ecology field experience. Upon program completion, students should understand the principal characteristics of coastal and marine environments, current environmental issues, and marine and industrial safety. They should also be able to use geographic information systems (GIS) for environmental data analysis, the scientific method in aquatic environments, and have the ability to communicate effectively in the environmental industry.

The program features an optional Massachusetts teacher concentration for students who are pursuing secondary education careers. The concentration requires the completion of two history, mathematics, humanities, or science courses as well as a classroom observation internship at a secondary institution.

Visit Massachusetts Maritime Academy's website.

#4
San Jose (CA)
Median Salary $47,100
Median Debt $17,625
Annual Tuition $19,676
Graduation Rate 65%

The Department of Environmental Studies at San Jose State University offers several bachelor's degree programs in environmental science to prepare graduates for careers in the field. With a stronger focus on science courses, the Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies is geared toward preparing graduates for employment opportunities in fields such as water resource management, renewable energy, environmental health and safety, and wilderness, park, and open space resource management.

Students in this program may choose a concentration in energy, environmental impact assessment, or environmental restoration and resource management. The Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies places more emphasis on elective courses and aims to prepare graduates for careers in areas like environmental resource management, environmental communications, integrated waste management, and environmental advocacy. This degree is available with a preparation for teaching concentration that is intended for students who are interested in pursuing teaching careers at the elementary or middle school levels.

These bachelor's programs require 120-semester units and take four years to complete. The curriculums are based upon four components: preparation courses, core classes that provide a strong foundation in environmental science, electives, and a minor that is geared toward the student's career goals. The Department of Environmental Studies has a resource page to help connect students to internship and job opportunities.

Visit San Jose State University's website.

#5
Philadelphia (PA)
Median Salary $44,700
Median Debt $29,417
Annual Tuition $53,244
Graduation Rate 74%

Drexel University offers a bachelor of science in environmental science through a partnership with the Academy of Natural Sciences, the nation's oldest natural history museum. Students work with renowned faculty and gain experience that can prepare them to pursue graduate degrees or careers in the field.

The program curriculum delivers a comprehensive environmental science education that includes core courses, such as Introduction to Environmental Science, Evolution, and General Ecology. Students are able to tailor their education with a program concentration in environmental science, biodiversity and evolution, or ecology and conservation. Each concentration requires four courses, and students will choose an additional 15 credits in environmental electives and 24 credits in free electives.

With Drexel's emphasis on experiential learning, students have the opportunity to get hands-on experience through research opportunities, including co-ops and assistantships. The cooperative education program allows students to pursue up to three six-month employment opportunities to earn valuable industry experience and connections. Graduates can pursue career opportunities in a variety of fields, including conservation, environmental research, sustainability, and ecology.

Visit Drexel University's website.