College of Liberal Arts & Sciences - Zulauf 201 - 815-753-0114

A 2 + 2 Plan Leading to a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science Degree in Environmental Studies

All degree requirements are subject to the provisions and notices in the Undergraduate Catalog. Information is valid through August 2015.

B.A. or B.S. Degree in Environmental Studies

Environmental Studies seeks to (1) evaluate the nature and magnitude of environmental and climatic change at local, regional, and global scales; (2) understand and explore solutions to energy challenges; and (3) assess the impact of environmental, climatic, and energy challenges on society and contribute toward the development of a public policy that promotes sustainability.

Students who complete the degree program should be able to (1) Evaluate the nature and magnitude of environmental and climatic change at local, regional, and global scales; (2) demonstrate knowledge and analyze solutions to our energy challenges; (3) assess the impact of environmental, climatic, and energy challenges facing society and contribute towards the development of a public policy that promotes sustainability; and (4) identify the cases, scales, and remediation and mitigation approaches to major local, regional and global environmental problems.

The Environmental Studies major offers six emphases:

  • Biodiversity and environmental restoration appeals to students who want to take the challenge of learning how to best use biodiversity resources while providing effective stewardship to ensure that biodiversity resources are maintained for future generations.
  • Energy studies links the world of green technology and energy-related issues with the human component. The focus of the emphasis includes, but is not limited to, green concepts in power production, processing, manufacturing, ecologically friendly materials, and transportation. Graduates of this emphasis will be able to connect engineers with the people who implement these technologies.
  • Human experience provides students with an understanding of social movements and community-based responses to environmental problems. This includes a wide-ranging examination of environmental issues through time and from diverse perspectives in order to provide students the ability to better understand and critically assess contemporary environmental challenges. The human experience emphasis is selected by students interested in working in the many areas of environmental justice and advocacy.
  • Environmental policy is for students interested in the legal process or who plan to attend law school upon graduation from NIU. This emphasis is also selected by students who seek public service or business careers that use the knowledge of how American law and policy has responded to environmental problems.
  • Non-governmental organizations prepares students for careers in government, public interest groups, non-profit agencies, and business enterprises. It is also selected by students who plan to pursue a master's degree in public administration or who plan to attend graduate school or law school.
  • Water is for students who want to work in the rapidly growing field of water resources. Whether it is for agriculture, industry, or personal consumption, current use of fresh water by humans is unsustainable. In many parts of the world, access to clean, safe drinking water is lacking. It is essential that students pursuing environmental studies are well grounded in the economic, legal, physical, and biological facets of water resources.

From your entry into the environmental studies program, you will work closely with the program advisor for your emphasis to ensure that you make appropriate course choices and effective progress.

Transferring to NIU

The following information is intended to help you plan your studies at your community college so you can complete your baccalaureate degree in environmental studies at NIU in the shortest possible time. Please remember to check the Articulation Tables available at your advising office to be certain of the courses that will transfer to NIU. This is particularly important for courses used to fulfill B.A. or B.S. requirements in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at NIU.

The 2 + 2 Plan for Community College Students

As you earn your associate's degree or work toward completion of the Illinois Articulation Initiative General Education Core Curriculum, you should try to take classes that will satisfy requirements for your degree at NIU. For example, you must choose either a B.A. or B.S. sequence in environmental studies at NIU. Students with interests in biodiversity and environmental restoration, energy studies, or water will need the B.S. and take chemistry, while students in the human experience, environmental policy, and non-governmental organization can choose either the B.S. or B.A. option.

A B.S. at NIU requires you to take a combination of math and science courses (check the Articulation Tables to see which classes at your community college are equivalent to required courses at NIU). A B.A. requires completion of the second year of foreign language. If you choose a B.A. in environmental studies, it doesn't matter what language you take, but if you have specific interests in particular regions of the world, it makes sense to take a language appropriate to that interest (e.g., Spanish for Latin America). What is most important is that you complete as many of your B.A. or B.S. requirements as possible at your community college (these include math, statistics, chemistry, physics, English, communications, foreign languages, and general education classes as appropriate).

Suggested Semester Plan

Following is a four-semester plan for your community college. This plan will most easily articulate for students when transferring into the environmental studies program at NIU.

Semester 1     credits     Semester 2     credits
ENGL 103    3 ENGL 104    3
BA/BS Class   3-4          BA/BS Class   3-4
MATH Core Competency      3 Statistics    3
Gen Eds    6 Gen Eds    3
     TOTAL 15-16      TOTAL             15-16



Semester 3 credits Semester 4  credits
BA/BS Class   3-4 BA/BS Class   3-4
CHEM    3 COMS 100    3
Gen Eds    9 Gen Eds  9-12
     TOTAL 15-16      TOTAL 15-16

* This is only a suggested schedule. You may have to deviate from it, depending on availability of classes and other obligations. Try to finish your B.A. or B.S. requirements while earning your associate's degree or completing your IAI General Education Core Curriculum.

* Some community colleges have a wider selection of courses that articulate as environmental studies electives or even as required courses at NIU; others have only a few such classes. Check the Articulation Tables for possible equivalents.


About the Department

The Environmental Studies program is a collaborative program with faculty from the College of Liberal Arts & Science, College of Engineering & Engineering Technology, and the College of Law. Other Colleges at NIU are joining the collaborative efforts, such as the School of Art and the College of Health & Human Sciences, through team-taught courses and research programs.

For More Information

For more information on the environmental studies program at NIU, contact:

Environmental Studies
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, Illinois 60115-2854



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For a current NIU Undergraduate Catalog and application materials, contact:

Office of Admissions
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, Illinois 60115­-2857
(800) 892­-3050 (toll-free in Illinois)
or (815) 753­-0446

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