Top 10 Environmental Science Colleges Ranked For 2009

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September 24th, 2009 in Rankings

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With Global Warming and Climate Change at the forefront of global concerns, career prospects for individuals entering environmental fields are on the rise. Nearly everyone is taking steps to “Go Green” and to become more environmentally friendly. Now more than ever environmental studies are essential. The accelerated rate of deterioration has caused increased concern about the imminence of potentially life threatening adverse effects. The preservation of the planets resources and physical condition are dependent on the advancement of knowledge and development of methods to correct or reverse the negative consequences before it is too late.

Below are our 2009 rankings for the best environmental science programs from top universities and colleges.

1. Stanford University

The School of Life Sciences at Stanford University which began in 1947 is comprised of four departments, two of which are specific to environmental studies: Geological & Environmental Sciences and Environmental Earth System Science. The school is considered a world leader in the discipline and as such endeavors to apply and utilize their knowledge and understanding to ensure the continued sustainability of the earth and its resources and to educate the public on the consequences of human irresponsibility on the environment. By training and education the future leaders in the field of Earth and Environmental Sciences and the discovery and creation of new knowledge in the field through research, Stanford University expects to accomplish their purpose and ultimately benefit all of humanity because of it.

Within the four departments at The School of Life Sciences are a range of interdisciplinary and degree programs from which students can select. Undergraduates can pursue a degree in any of the four departments. Each program offers a variety of courses to ensure students have the opportunity to tailor their course of study towards their interests. The Geological & Environmental Sciences major provides education and training on all the areas within earth sciences. Students will study the history of the earth; learn about the oceans, the atmosphere and the earth’s resources, the processes which forged the mountains and continents, and the chemistry and physics of how the elemental materials interrelate and how they impact one another. The Earth Systems major focuses on the natural changes in the various systems of the earth and the complex environmental issues and changes caused by human actions.

Students at Stanford University are afforded many opportunities to engage in meaningful activities and consequential programs as part of their curriculum requirements. The Earth Sciences program requires students to complete either an internship or a research project. An internship in the private sector is allowed as long as it is shown to be relevant to Earth Systems studies and is subject to the approval of the department. Independent research projects are another aspect of the program. The project must be approved and will be completed under the supervision of the department. The curriculum for Geological & Environmental Science undergraduates includes six weeks of field research and a written report at the completion of the project. The Honors program for both majors allows motivated students to participate in an interdisciplinary seminar series

2. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

The College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois was founded in 1867. The College strives to improve human conditions through the advancement of knowledge in the discipline. As a leader of environmental research initiatives in several of the earth and life science areas of study, the college has made an impact worldwide. The University continues its efforts through teaching, research and outreach programs.

The college offers ten undergraduate degree programs and thirty nine concentrations within the department. The Departments include Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Agricultural and Consumer Economics, Animal Sciences, crop Sciences, Food Science and Human Nutrition, Human and Community Development, Nutritional Sciences and Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences. The Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences degree has five areas of concentration: Fish and Wildlife Conservation, Forest Science, and Soil and Water Science. Each of these areas of emphasis provides students the opportunity to develop a foundation in and understanding of the fundamental properties of the field in which they are interested.

Students in the environmental science major at the university have the opportunity to engage in activities and programs which enhance their educational experience. The research projects cover the breadth of the departmental programs including the Illinois Soil N-Test, Weed Management in Fruit and Vegetable Crops and Herbicide Drift Study on White and Red Oak Seedlings. There are a number of clubs which correspond with the various concentrations in the NRES degree program. The Forestry club is involved in park clean up projects, tree plantings, forest land management plans and other related activities. The Herbology/Horticulture club focuses their efforts and energies on applying their knowledge of herbs, flowers and plants. A Soil and Water, Turf Grass and Fish and Wildlife club are also on campus.

3. University of California Berkeley

The Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at the University of California, Berkeley is committed to improving the condition of the environment through the development of new knowledge and by advancing the current understanding of the various earth systems. Through research and academics, the University intends to create and implement new solutions to correcting the problems facing the environment now and in the future. The 59 faculty members in the department are considered internationally as leaders in the field. The department is organized into three divisions: The Division of Organisms & Environment, The Division of Ecosystem Sciences and The Division of Society & Environment. Each division focuses on the earth structures and the impact on these systems by natural, evolutionary, social, economic and political forces.

The undergraduate program is intended to provide a broad understanding of the foundational aspects of the field. Four undergraduate majors are offered: Conservation and Resource Studies, Forestry and Natural Resources, Molecular Environmental Biology and Society and Environment. Each of the programs offered are multidisciplinary. The curriculum is challenging and includes courses in economics, chemistry, mathematics, biology and physics. Required courses include statistics, modeling and methodology. Students are required to complete a senior research thesis which is expected to take the entire year and draw from all four years teachings and experience at the University.

The graduate programs offered at the University of California are challenging and comprehensive. The curriculum develops students’ abilities in research and analytical skills. The interdisciplinary coursework includes studies in the various areas of science including social, biological and physical. Students learn to evaluate ecosystems from varying perspectives. The four degree programs in graduate studies include master of forestry, Ph.D. in Environmental Science, Policy and management, Master of Science in Range Management and one labeled simply as other. The programs can be tailored towards a student’s specific area of interest. A joint master/doctorate degree programs is also offered.

4. Yale University

The Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, founded in 1901, has earned the distinction of one of the top ranked environmental programs due to their efforts in research, their curriculum and their application of the principles of the field in their own building. Their newest building utilizes solar hot water heaters, a rainwater harvesting system and even a geothermal heating system. The university is a global leader in research; addressing a wide range of environmental issues. Yale strives to produce new knowledge in the area of environmental science. Students have access to the largest library in the world and work in laboratories equipped with the latest technology. Faculty members work closely with the students; developing meaningful mentoring relationships.

The undergraduate program in environmental engineering at Yale University began in 1998. Though it is a relatively new program, it is already considered ‘a world class program’. Students pursuing a degree in this challenging program have the option of selecting one of four tracks; environmental engineering technology, environmental engineering science with an environmental and earth science emphasis, Environmental Chemical and Biological Science with a chemistry and biology emphasis and Environmental Resource Management with an environmental policy and management emphasis. Certain programs offer more flexibility in terms of course selection. Students in the undergraduate programs are active participants in research and correlating campus activities.

Students pursuing graduate degrees in the environmental studies are offered an array of degree programs. The graduate programs endeavor to provide a foundational understanding of the basic processes of the earth and the issues caused by them. At Yale, graduate students can choose to pursue a master’s degree in environmental management, forestry or environmental science. Joint degree programs are an option. Students can choose an interdisciplinary program; electing to pursue a degree in any of the nine schools at Yale along with their environmental program. The doctorate programs at Yale are also interdisciplinary programs which concentrate on specific areas within the field. Students engage in and perform research on biodiversity conservation, community ecology, ecosystems management, environmental biophysics and meteorology, environmental health risk assessment among others.

5. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at MIT endeavors to balance environmental requirements and concerns with human and societal demands and effects. Research and academic efforts at the college focus on developing an inherent understanding of the earth’s systems, the practical and efficient use of the earth’s resources and advancing technologies to suit environmental requirements. The department’s mission is to develop lasting solutions in the areas of energy, transportation, housing, manufacturing, agriculture and public health. Among the 44 faculty members in the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering are two National Academy of Sciences members and four National Academy of Engineering members.

The undergraduate program in environmental engineering provides a comprehensive and innovative program. Students complete courses in environmental transport and hydrology, transport processes in the environment, hydrology, society and environment, environmental law, policy and economics to prepare them to contend with the environmental challenges facing populations across the globe. Students are expected to complete humanities, communications, arts and social science requirements in addition to their science courses. The curriculum includes case studies, design projects, theory and modeling. The students work closely with faculty members in classes and on research projects.

The graduate degree programs at MIT are broad ranging, in depth areas of study which provide students the opportunity to pursue various facets in the field. Students can obtain either a master of engineering or Master of Science degree. The Master of Science focuses mainly on research and the engineering degree on practical application. The programs incorporate environmental fluid mechanics and coastal engineering, environmental microbiology, hydrology and hydroclimatology as well as geomechanical engineering and geomechanics. Students have the opportunity to become teaching or research assistants during their studies.

6. Georgia Institute of Technology

Georgia Techs award winning School of Civil and Environmental Engineering was established in 1896. As one of the leading science and technology institutes in the nation, the school strives to use their technology and knowledge to “improve the human condition”. Their research programs have resulted in revolutionary advancements in a multitude of science and technology areas. The department offers a wide ranging program which offers six areas of study and opportunities to participate in research projects in structural engineering, mechanics and materials, geo-systems engineering, environmental fluid mechanics and water resources and environmental engineering.

The degree programs at Georgia Tech are diverse and challenging with a strong academic curriculum. Undergraduate students can choose to pursue a degree in civil engineering, environmental engineering or engineering science and mechanics. The environmental engineering program focuses on water quality and treatment, wastewater reclamation and reuse, ground water modeling and treatment, pollution control and modeling, industrial ecology and many others. The Engineering Science and mechanics program is centered on the areas of computational mechanics, fluid mechanics, biomechanics, acoustics and wave propagation. Students have the option of choosing the five year program which leads to both a bachelor and master degree. The joint master’s degree program can result in an MSCE or MS

Students are afforded many opportunities to engage in activities directly related to their area of interest. The state of the art laboratories at Georgia Tech provide students with the latest technology with which to study and practice. Students have the option of participating in any number of research projects which further their understanding of the discipline while advancing the general knowledge of the field. The Engineering Communications Program develops student’s skills in communication to augment their capabilities in this essential area. The cooperative education program allows students to alternate between working full time and being a full time student. And the International Plan integrates international studies to ensure students develop a global understanding of their major.

7. University of Texas, Austin

The Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin is committed to addressing the pressing environmental issues facing the world. By educating students, The University of Texas hopes to prepare future leaders in the discipline who will capable of successfully confronting these global issues and discovering and implementing effective solutions. The research projects within the department are intended to develop new ideologies techniques which could then be disseminated to the public through collaborative service projects. The University offers students the most current technologies and an international award winning faculty who work closely with their students in both classes and on research projects.

The degree programs offered in the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering are broad comprehensive educational experiences which provide a solid foundation in the discipline. The undergraduate degree program in civil engineering requires students to complete 125 credits. Students have the option of choosing from a number of specialization areas which, among others, includes environmental engineering, water resources engineering, and geotechnical engineering. The three graduate degree programs include Architectural Engineering, Civil Engineering and Environmental and Water Resources Engineering. The school also offers a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Civil Engineering.

In addition to the challenging curriculum, the Department offers other learning opportunities to the students. The faculty members are involved in a number of research projects in their research units. Students can participate in the Structural engineering projects which study the effects of winds, waves, earthquakes on buildings and offshore structures. The Center for Research in Water Resources investigates transport of pollutants, air and water pollution control, flood forecasting and other related matters. Students also have the option of working at an off campus research center

8. University of Michigan Ann Arbor

The University of Michigan Ann Arbor’s School of Natural Resources and Environment first began in 1950. The department focuses on research, outreach and teaching with the intent of contributing to the protection of the environment and its natural resources. Through their efforts, the university expects to advance knowledge, policies, techniques can capabilities to meet balance the needs of human society with those of the environment. The university employs innovative methods in teaching and in research. Their program of study and research is focused in five areas: Conservation of biological diversity and ecosystem management and restoration; risk perception, assessment, management, and communication; environmental equity and urban environments; corporate environmental management; and global environmental change.

The undergraduate major in the environment is within the College of Literature, Science and the arts. Students are offered the option of pursuing a dual degree program or selecting a minor in the Environment or Global Change. Students can earn either a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in the field. The interdisciplinary curriculum includes core course requirements, requisite specialization courses and field experience. Two Master’s degree programs are provided; Natural resources and environment or landscape architecture. Under the Natural Resources and Environment program are eight fields of study which include: Aquatic Sciences: Research and Management, Behavior, Education and Communication, Conservation Biology, Environmental Informatics: GIS and Modeling, Environmental Justice, Environmental Policy and Planning, Sustainable Systems, Terrestrial Ecosystems and Landscape Architecture.

In addition to the undergraduate and master degree programs, the University also offers dual degree and doctorate programs. The dual degree programs allow students to simultaneously obtain a degree in disciplines in other colleges and schools within the university. Many students choose to pursue a degree in business or in law. The Doctoral Program in Landscape Architecture can be followed as a concentrated program or a broad program. Graduate certificate programs in Industrial Ecology and spatial Analysis are also offered. The research project opportunities are offered to graduate students as part of their curriculum.

9. Cornell University

Cornell University’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering is committed to the education of future leaders in the field, the discovery of new knowledge and service to society. The various programs provide a broad foundational understanding of the fundamentals of the field. Students in the Environment program study the reciprocal relationship between the natural environment and the constructed and the impact on the various ecosystems. The program explores the areas of biology, fluid mechanics, environmental engineering, hydrology and chemistry to ensure students are equipped to become successful professionals in the field.

The undergraduate program in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering includes two programs: Civil Engineering and Environmental Engineering. Both programs result in students attaining the accredited Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering. The program permits students to take courses in other subjects; encouraging students to develop and satisfy their interests in all areas of study. Students can minor in Engineering Management, Environmental Engineering or Civil Infrastructure. The coursework in the classes generally involve small group activities as well as practical activities in addition to the academic work.

Three graduate programs are also offered within the department. Students can pursue a Master of Science degree, a Master of Engineering degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering or Engineering Management or a Doctor of Philosophy. The Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy programs are developed by the student with the assistance and approval of a special committee of faculty members. Students will need to complete a thesis and an oral examination. The Master of Engineering degree program permits students to pursue a concentration in several areas. Students can choose from civil infrastructure, hydrology, geotechnical engineering, environmental and water resource systems engineering and transportation systems engineering.

10. Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon University’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering fosters and environment of collaboration, community service and diversity. Their research efforts have gained the school international recognition in the discipline. The University endeavors to be a leader in creating new knowledge and procedures to implement useful and sustaining solutions to global environmental issues. The award winning faculty is comprised of 20 members; some of whom have joint affiliations with other schools within the university. Students are afforded the opportunity to develop a program suited towards their interests and career or educational goals.

The undergraduate program at Carnegie Mellon in the department is an interdisciplinary, flexible program. Students are permitted to take six electives in any subject of their choice in addition to two technical electives, eight humanities and social science electives and the general education requirements in math and the basic sciences. The technical electives include structural design, geotechnical engineering, and transportation engineering. Students are expected to complete an engineering design project within their curriculum. Minors and double majors are also offered.

Graduate programs in the department are offered in three main areas. Students can study advanced infrastructure systems, environmental engineering, science and management or mechanics, materials and computing. The Environmental engineering discipline studies air quality, green design/sustainability, water quality, geo-informatics and contaminated site remediation. Joint graduate degree program are offered in architecture, business and public policy. The research projects at the Carnegie Mellon research centers are versatile, varied and are often done in collaboration with other universities and the industry.

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