San Diego State University



The Environmental Studies major is NO longer accepting new majors.
It has been replaced by the Sustainability major.


Environmental Studies (ENVST)

The Environmental Studies (ENVST) emphasis within the Social Science major includes courses from across the university for students interested in a broad, sophisticated understanding of the many serious environmental issues facing the nation and the world today.  The major is designed to help students understand environmental issues such as pollution, wildlife and wilderness preservation, land use, biodiversity loss, resource competition, global warming and sustainable development in their political, cultural social and scientific contexts.  Because the interrelations between humans and nature are so complex, the ENVST major emphasizes interdisciplinary course work, and humanities, social science and scientific perspectives. 

Program overview

Three lower-division units in Environmental Science are required as preparatory course work for the major.  In addition, students are encouraged to take a college-level biology course, and complete their GE Foundations in Natural Sciences and Quantitative Reasoning and in Humanities before undertaking the upper division courses for the major.

The upper division curriculum is designed to enable students to specialize in one area of the major, such as geography, biology, sustainability, urban environment, public policy or humanities, while still maintaining a holistic view of sustainability and environmental studies.  Some possible concentrations include environmental geography, sustainability, the urban environment, public policy, environmental and outdoor education, among others.  Students are encouraged to design their own concentrations, but must get the advisor's approval for custom concentrations before they begin their senior year.  The major consists of a 9-unit required core of courses, a 9-unit distribution requirement, and a 15-unit concentration. 

A minor in ENVST (currently listed in the catalog under Interdisciplinary Studies, as Environment and Society) is strongly recommended for all students who are interested in environmental issues or who may wish to integrate the environment into their future careers. 


The ENST program has two advisers who share the advising responsibilities and can provide more information about the major or minor. Matthew Lauer is the adviser for students whose last names start with A-M. David Carruthers is the adviser for students whose last names start with N-Z. If you need advising contact your assigned adviser.

Career Opportunities

ENVST students find work in research, analysis, and enforcement activities in state, federal and local governments.  Others work in environmental education, or for nonprofit organizations such as The Nature Conservancy, Audubon Society and the Sierra Club.  Some work as consultants to private firms, and some graduates have become primary schools, secondary schools and in universities, or interpreters at museums or parks.  A few have created their own careers in such areas as organic farming, managing cooperatives and social action.

ENVST students often go on to professional and graduate schools in such fields as law, ecology, engineering, history, journalism, economics, public health, political science, public administration, environmental policy and human ecology.

Although San Diego State does not as yet offer a SESinternship as part of the major, students are encouraged to seek out internship or volunteer opportunities in their fields of interest.  An internship or volunteer experience is very useful for almost all environmental careers.  Internships and volunteering also give students a chance to put their education to work in the community.

General Catalog

You can view more complete information regarding the ENVST program in the General Catalog under the Social Sciences major: Emphasis in Environment. You can view more complete information regarding the minor in the General Catalog (link) under Environment and Society. All students are responsible for reading and knowing the information pertinent to their areas of study available in the General Catalog. It contains requirements for all academic majors, course descriptions, policies, and regulations governing progress at the university. Catalogs are distributed at all New Student Orientation programs. To order a Catalog, call (619) 594-7535.


San Diego State University