Environmental Studies is the systematic study of human interaction with their natural environment.

The ES curriculum at UC Santa Barbara is designed to provide students with the scholarly background and intellectual skills necessary to understand complex environmental problems and formulate decisions that are environmentally sound. The academic process is interdisciplinary, drawing upon the diversity of environmentally related departments and disciplines throughout UCSB as well as practicing professionals from the local community. A student majoring in environmental studies will explore a wide variety of environmental issues, including:

The social and human environment, such as urban and regional planning, ethical and values systems, environmental law and policy, indigenous and religious beliefs, history and impact of past decisions, and environmental impact analysis

The physical environment, including the hydrologic cycle, waste management, coastal processes, energy production technologies, soil preservation, geography, and air/water pollution

The biological environment, including the function of ecosystems, population dynamics, and toxicology

A fundamental comprehension of all these topics produce an understanding of the complex interactions between humans and the world we live in and develop the intellectual tools needed to be an effective environmental problem solver and leader.

Student Lagoon Trip

If you love the environment you'll get the training in the ES Program to really make a difference. When I graduated from the program I already had a portfolio of experience that put me well ahead of graduates from other universities.

— Brian Baird
Assistant Secretary for Ocean & Coastal Policy with the California Resources Agency
Class of 1977


The Environmental Studies Program offers three undergraduate degrees

Bachelor of arts (B.A.) and bachelor of science (B.S.) in environmental studies. While both environmental studies majors are similar in that they stress the importance of understanding the interrelationships between the humanities, social sciences, and natural science disciplines, two degree options allows a student the opportunity to choose a major that will most appropriately fit their environmental interests and goals.  

Bachelor of science (B.S.) in Hydrologic Sciences and Policy. The main focus of this major is to provide students with the scientific training needed to understand and solve complex hydrologic problems at local, regional, and global levels. The goal of the hydrologic sciences curriculum is to provide a rigorous framework for students to examine the hydrologic process in our environment.