• Chapman student walking through snow
Schmid College of Science and Technology

BS in Environmental Science and Policy

» Environmental Science and Policy

Passionate about the environment? Want to make an impact? You’re in the right place. A degree in Environmental Science and Policy from Chapman will put you on the path to doing just that and much more.

From learning about the environment abroad, to helping conserve the wetlands in our own SoCal backyard, to advocating for environmental justice for all, you’ll put environmental science into practice and turn that practice into impact.

Students sit in chairs in a circle in a wooded area.

In this program, you will:

  • Get experience in the classroom, the lab and the field.
  • Explore post-graduation opportunities and join an alumni community that will help you pursue your goals.
  • Combine the natural and social sciences to help drive policy change based on informed, scientific decisions.
  • Specialize in earth systems, ecology or environmental policy and publish your research in leading scientific journals.
A student works in a lab.

By the time you graduate, you'll be able to:

  • Use your skills and knowledge to bolster environmental awareness and effect change.
  • Work for environmental consulting firms, environmental nonprofits and research-based agencies.
  • Continue your studies as a graduate student of conservation biology, environmental chemistry, environmental law and more.


collaborative lab spaces with cutting-edge equipment in our Keck Center for Science and Technology.


final capstone project that you can use to demonstrate your skills and knowledge once you graduate.


extra year of study to earn a master’s degree on top of your BS in our accelerated (4+1) master’s programs.

Leah Thomas '17
As an environmental advocate, Chapman alumna Leah Thomas understands that sustainability, identity, social justice and inclusion are all pieces of a larger intersectional puzzle. That’s why she founded Intersectional Environmentalist, a nonprofit that works to educate people about the environment, amplify marginalized voices and create a more ju...

Start with a Story...

From our SoCal backyard to the nation’s capital, Chapman students are working towards environmental sustainability, awareness and justice. Check out a few of their stories.


Three students in Washington, D.C.



Gaining real political experience to help effect real political change, these five Chapman students traveled to Washington D.C. to lobby Congress.

Students work towards restoring a local habitat.



Restoring our local Southern California habitats is just one activity you can find aspiring environmental scientists up to here at Chapman.

Three students who were involved in the Swamp Monsters research lab at Chapman.



Can your work in the lab and in the field create lifelong connections? You bet. That’s how these three members of the Swamp Monsters got connected and took their environmental research even further after graduation.

…then Write Your Own

As an Environmental Science and Policy student at Chapman, you’ll have plenty of opportunities of your own to explore your interests, pursue your goals and find your path as an environmental scientist. Here’s what you’ll learn, plus a look at where it might take you.

Take Classes

You’ll take classes with a focus on biology, geology, ecology, and environmental policy. Why the last one? Because environmental science needs the backing of legislation to drive lasting, positive environmental policy. (If it sounds overwhelming, don’t worry; we’ll help you get there.)

Along the way, you’ll take ENV 205, a professional-development seminar series where you will join the conversation on current, real-world science and policy issues as well as complete a resume and cover letter, learn how to find jobs and more.

For a more detailed look at the classes you will take, check out our Environmental Science and Policy catalog page.

Dive into Research

Research in the lab and the field is at the heart of any environmental scientist’s work. At Chapman, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to get involved, starting as early as your first semester.

You’ll have the chance to do hands-on research in:

  • Climate change ecophysiology
  • Greenhouse gas dynamics in wetlands
  • Atmospheric pollution
  • Science communication
  • Population health disparities
  • Bioaccessibility and bioavailability of toxic metals and metalloids in contaminated soils and sediments

At the end of the program, you’ll complete a capstone research project as a culmination of your research and present it at our Student Scholar Symposium.

Get Connected

Being a science student isn’t just about the classwork and the research projects. It’s also about following your passion as a part of the larger scientific community.

At Chapman, you’ll connect with a wide network of environmental scientists and join the discussion with events like our networking mixers.

Find Your Focus

In the program, you’ll get to choose one of three specializations (earth systems, ecology or environmental policy), putting you on track to follow your interests and achieve your goals.

Synthesize Your Studies

Finally, in your last year in the program, you’ll help put together our annual environmental audit. This audit focuses on a single local company or organization each year and collates local environmental data to provide actionable solutions to sustainability issues.

Past audits have focused on:

  • Waste management, reusables, and sustainable food options.
  • Energy efficiency, behavior change, LEED EBOM certification, and sustainability policies.
  • Overall water and landscaping processes and alternatives.

Past organizations that our students have audited include:

  • The Honda Center, a local sports arena
  • The City of Costa Mesa
  • Chapman University (a self audit)
Communicating Climate Change
Nationally recognized for her skill as a science communicator, Chapman professor and environmental advocate Dr. Richelle Tanner shares five great ways to talk to people about climate change. Check them out in this blog post, and then check out her class “Environmental Advocacy Through Story,” where she teaches Chapman students how to share what ...

Are You Up to the Challenge?

There’s a lot that sets a Chapman education apart. But the biggest factor? The Grand Challenges Initiative.

The Grand Challenges Initiative is research experience that you will take part in during your first two years in the Environmental Science and Policy program.You’ll work with your peers and other science students to formulate solutions to relevant scientific problems.

Along the way, you’ll work in real labs and start learning how to do the work that environmental scientists do.

Explore Your Opportunities and Plan Your Post-Grad Path

Studying what you’re passionate about is great. Putting it to use after you graduate is even better. As an environmental scientist, you’ll have all the resources you need to pursue your post-grad goals:

  • Career advising specifically for Environmental Science and Policy.
  • On-campus career fairs.
  • Industry connections and internship opportunities.

Not quite sure what you want to do yet? That’s ok too. We’ll help you find out. You’ll be able to get advice from your career advisor, get ideas for potential career paths on our Environmental Science and Policy careers page, or explore your options through internships.


Internships: they’re a great way to get credit towards your degree, get experience in real workplace settings and maybe even get paid.

They’re also one of the best ways to gain experience doing environmental science directly in the field. We partner with local nonprofits to give you an internship network that you can rely on.

  • Bolsa Chica Conservancy
  • Chapman University Sustainability Management
  • Ecos
  • Irvine Ranch Conservancy
  • Irvine Ranch Water District
  • OC Watersheds
  • Orange County Coastkeeper
  • Project Grow
  • Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority
  • Southern California Coastal Water Research Program


12:1. That’s student:teacher ratio at Chapman. Here, you won’t just watch your teachers lecture. You’ll get to know them as mentors, learn from them as research partners, and work with them personally on achieving your post-graduation goals.

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Clayton Heard '16
As a volunteer for Citizens Climate Lobby , Clayton advocates for congressional action to address the dangers of global warming. He’s even attended the UN climate talks in Paris.

Taking Environmental Science Further

Exploring your passions: it’s what the college experience is all about. As an Environmental Science and Policy student at Chapman, you’ll have room to do just that by pairing your study of the environment with your other interests.

How? By double majoring or earning a minor. Pursuing another major or a minor alongside your study of environmental science is a great way to broaden your horizons, combine your interests and carve a unique path for yourself in the sciences.

But don’t just take it from us. Take it from some of our past students:

Fernando Silva '19
Double Major in Environmental Science and Policy and Art
“I see art as a tool to get the message out. Visual imagery can help to effectively present what we learn from our data.”
Tami Chipeco '18
Environmental Science and Policy Major/Rhetoric and Composition Studies Minor
“I learned so much about the science that informs political decision-making on the local and global scale, but also about the power, privilege, and identity that inform language and how we can effectively communicate climate issues”
A student wearing a tie-dye lab coat performing an experiment outside

Get Involved: Student Clubs and Organizations

Round out your skills as a scientist (and meet lifelong friends along the way) in one of our many student-run clubs and environmental organizations:

  • Environmental Justice Club: Learn about how justice, equality and the environment intersect, and get involved in projects to work towards environmental justice for all.
  • Mission Environment: Educate your peers about the environment and help implement sustainable practices at the university through events like beach cleanups, volunteer opportunities, documentary screenings and much more.
  • Orange County Association of Environmental Professionals: This student chapter of the county-wide organization gives you the chance to dive headfirst into the policy side of environmental issues.
  • Schmid Student Leadership Council: Become an ambassador for Chapman's Schmid College of Science and Technology and promote the sciences on campus and in the larger community.
  • STEMtors: Lead outreach events and inspire a passion for the sciences within young scientists in the local community.
  • Veg Club: A club for vegetarians, vegans and anyone interested in eating and living in a healthier, more compassionate, more eco-friendly way.
  • Women in Science and Technology: Get involved with this group of students and faculty who provide professional development and mentoring to women in STEM fields.

Beyond our environmental organizations, we have clubs for any interest or hobby you can imagine. Nearly 200 of them in fact! Check them out on our full list of clubs.

Study Abroad

Take your passion for science abroad in one of our many study abroad programs. We'll work closely with you to find one that aligns with your schedule and goals so that you can go abroad and still graduate on time. Our programs range from a full year living and studying abroad to international internships over summer/winter break, and everything in between.

As a fun fact: Environmental Science and Policy majors study abroad more than any other science major at Chapman!

Explore Your Study Abroad Options
Want to learn more about travel courses, international internships and all the other ways you can study abroad as a science student at Chapman? Check out this article.
Laurel Tamayo '21
Environmental Science and Policy Major and Documentary Film Minor
"I decided to study abroad in New Zealand after learning about how environmentally conscious the country was! I was a part of a group that advocated for the Zero Carbon Bill, a law that would legally bind New Zealand to have net-zero carbon emissions by the year 2050."

Admission and Tours

Interested in taking the next step? Learn how to apply or check out our transfer prerequisites.

Want to learn more about Chapman? We are always available for tours of campus and tours of our Keck Center for Science and Engineering. We’d love to meet you!

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Contact Us

Program Questions
Cheryl Stack
(714) 628-2862

Admission Questions
(714) 997-6711

Grand Challenges Imitative

Chapman University students partaking in the Grand Challenges Initiative

GCI is a unique two-year research project that is part of the curriculum for all incoming first-year students in Schmid College.

Keck Center for Science & Engineering

Keck Center at Chapman University

The Keck Center is the home of Schmid College and where you will take classes, research and collaborate using cutting-edge instrumentation and facilities.