Program Overview

On UNE’s unique coastal Maine campus, you’ll be reminded every day of the importance of your education as an Environmental Science major. With a 540-acre natural wonderland for you to explore, our program combines natural sciences, social sciences, and the humanities to teach you about conservation, preservation, and restoration of ecosystems; environmental and economic sustainability; and climate change.

From the oceans to the forests, riverbanks, and marshes, our campus is your living laboratory for studying the science you’ll need in your professional quest to address the health of our planet.

Why UNE for Environmental Science

A diverse array of on-campus habitats, including dunes, wetlands, 363 acres of deciduous and coniferous forest, a mile of coastline, and our University-owned island, are home to flora and fauna that provide almost limitless opportunities for research and fieldwork.

  • Hands-on, problem-based learning with strong local applications
  • First-year interdisciplinary Green Learning Community
  • Opportunities to gain professional skills by working collaboratively with partner organizations on conservation projects in southern Maine
  • Local, national, and international internships
  • Senior capstone class
McKayla Arsenault

It’s easy to get access to what you want to do at UNE, if you have an idea, the professors and staff want to work with you.

Environmental Science


There are many ways you can navigate this major. We even have a 4+1 B.S./M.S. track that lets you complete your undergraduate and master’s degrees in just five years.

Examples of Available Courses

The following are some examples of the exciting courses that you can take as an Environmental Science major:

  • Climate Change: Causes, Consequences, and Solutions
  • Conservation and Preservation
  • Advanced Field Methods in Avian Ecology and Conservation
  • Sustainability and Ecological Restoration
  • Ecological Monitoring
  • Wetland Conservation and Ecology

Secondary Teaching Certification

If you are interested in becoming a middle school or high school science teacher, you may select the necessary courses in secondary education as electives, and complete the teaching internship required to qualify for State of Maine certification (grades 7–12) upon graduation.

Double Majors

As an Environmental Science major, you may opt to double major in another discipline. This popular way to enhance your career preparedness allows you to complete both degrees in four years and prepares you for the complexity of real-world environmental challenges.

For more information including current double major requirements and course sequences, email

Popular Double Majors

Environmental Science and Animal Behavior

This double major might be for you if your passions are to deploy a variety of scientific fields to understand human impacts on the environment and the ability of organisms to survive and reproduce. This training prepares you for work in wildlife management.

Environmental Science and Applied Mathematics

This double major might be for you if your passions are to deploy skills in statistics, data analytics, mathematical modeling, or spatial analysis, including Geographic Information Systems. This training prepares you for work in terrestrial or aquatic ecology, meteorology, toxicology, demography, natural resources planning, urban and/or regional planning, and related natural and social sciences professions.

Environmental Science and Biological Sciences

This double major might be for you if your passions are to deploy a wide-ranging set of scientific approaches (including ecology, genetics, chemistry, and physics) to understand human impacts on the environment and/or environmental health. This training prepares you for various work opportunities related to environmental impacts and mitigation, environmental research, and environmental projects with consulting firms. It also prepares you for graduate school in the biological or environmental sciences.

Environmental Science and Marine Biology

This double major might be for you if your passions are to deploy a variety of scientific fields to understand human impacts on both terrestrial and marine environments. This training prepares you for scientific work where land and sea interact.


Since 1991 the faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences has defined environmental awareness as a major theme in the College's Core Curriculum and asked Environmental Studies programs to deliver the course Introduction to Environmental Issues to all undergraduates regardless of major. The UNE College of Arts and Sciences is one of the few in the nation that requires formal instruction in Environmental Studies as a requirement for graduation.

CAS Core Requirements Credits
Total CAS Core Requirement Credits 42–46
Program Required Courses Credits
ENV 100 and 101 or ENV 104 – Introduction to Environmental Issues Credits Fulfilled by Core Requirements
BIO 105/105L – Biology I: Ecology/Evolution w/Lab Credits Fulfilled by Core Requirements
BIO 106/106L – Biology II: Cellular/Molecular w/Lab 4
LIT 121 and 122 or LIT 124 – Literature, Nature and The Environment Credits Fulfilled by Core Requirements
BUEC 104 and 105 or BUEC 106 – Economics in Context Credits Fulfilled by Core Requirements
CHE 110/110L – General Chemistry I w/Lab 4
CHE 111/111L – General Chemistry II w/Lab 4
MAT 151 – Statistics for Environmental Sciences Credits Fulfilled by Core Requirements
ENV 200 – Environment and Society: A Global Perspective Credits Fulfilled by Core Requirements
ENV 220/220L – Conservation and Preservation w/Lab 5
ENV 250 – Environmental Policy in Comparative Perspective 3
GIS 161 – GIS I: Fundamentals of Geospatial Science and Technology 3
BIO 350/350L – Ecology w/ Field Lab (third year) 4
Sixteen (16) Credits of Upper Division Science Electives* 16
Two (2) courses from different distribution groups in the list of Environmental Studies Distribution Requirements 6–8
Up to twelve (12) credits of ENV 295 and/or ENV 495 may be arranged with special permission from the Academic Director 3–12
ENV 499 – Senior Capstone in Environmental Studies 3
Total 55–65
Open Elective Courses (needed to reach 120 credits) Variable
Minimum Required Total Credits 120

*Upper-Division Science Electives – After consulting with their academic advisors, Environmental Science majors will choose at least sixteen (16) credit hours of upper-division science courses in Environmental Science, Biology, Marine Science, Chemistry, Physics, or Psychology. (This group of courses should be taken during the third and fourth years.)

Environmental Studies Distribution Requirements List

Group One (1) – Conservation, Preservation, Restoration Credits
ENV 309 – Sustainability and Ecological Restoration 3
ENV 312/312L – Wetland Conservation and Ecology with Field Lab 4
ENV 313/313L – Wetland Restoration: Science and Policy with Field Lab 4
ENV 316/316L – Land Conservation Practicum with Field Lab 4
ENV 317 – Case Studies in Preserving Biodiversity and Protected Areas 3
ENV 397 – Topics in Environmental Studies (meets ADV ST requirement for non-majors only) 3
ENV 398 – Topics in Environmental Studies 3
ENV 399 – Topics in Environmental Studies with Lab 4
Group Two (2) – Environmental Policy and Management Credits
BUEC 390 – Environmental Economics (can also meet ADV ST requirement) 3
BUEC 395 – Ecological Economics 3
ENV 204 – Urban Forestry 3
ENV 321 – Environmental Communication: Expert Practices for Ecosystem Management 3
ENV 328 – Environmental Pollution: Ecosystems, Wildlife and Human Health 3
ENV 357 – Sustaining Water: Social and Global Perspectives 3
ENV 362 – Climate Change Adaptation 3
ENV 397 – Topics in Environmental Studies (meets ADV ST requirement for non-majors only) 3
ENV 398 – Topics in Environmental Studies 3
ENV 399 – Topics in Environmental Studies with Lab 4
Group Three (3) – Arts, Humanities, and Values Credits
ENV 331 – Women and the Environment 3
ENV 333/333L – The Nature Writers with Field Lab 4
ENV 334/334L – Contemporary Nature Writing w/Lab 4
ENV 397 – Topics in Environmental Studies (meets ADV ST requirement for non-majors only) 3
ENV 398 – Topics in Environmental Studies 3
ENV 399 – Topics in Environmental Studies with Lab 4
Group Four (4) – Global Ecology and Social Justice Credits
ENV 340 – Environmental Movements and Social Change 3
ENV 341 – Indigenous Ecology, Conservation Biology, and the Politics of Knowledge 3
ENV 344 – Environmental Ethics 3
ENV 349/349L – Environment, Health, and Community Development in E. Africa w/Lab 4
ENV 376 – Caribbean Sustainable Development 3
ENV 397 – Topics in Environmental Studies (meets ADV ST requirement for non-majors only) 3
ENV 398 – Topics in Environmental Studies 3
ENV 399 – Topics in Environmental Studies with Lab 4

The Environmental Studies program also offers minors in the following areas:

Students wishing to pursue teacher certification in Life Science can complete a double major with Environmental Science and Secondary Education or a major in Secondary Education and a concentration in Environmental Science. For more information, see the Secondary Education catalog page.

Students in this major can participate in the pre-health graduate school preparation tracks.

To learn more about the program visit the Academic Catalog.

Green Learning Community

The Green Learning Community (GLC) is an intentional community of professors and first-year students dedicated to studying human relations to the environment. The year-long experience integrates courses in biology, environmental issues, literature, and economics.

In classes, you will find the same topic presented from different perspectives. You learn about the environment in an atmosphere where your opinions are welcomed and valued by supportive professors who foster a sense of community.

Much of the learning you do through the GLC takes place outside the classroom. The community-building experiences begin early in the fall with a retreat to Bryant Pond where you explore your individual goals for learning while collaborating in outdoor activities like hiking, paddling, and working through a ropes course. Additional field trips throughout the year take you to places like the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve, Wildlife Conservation Lands, and the Portland Trail System.

The small class sizes in the GLC allow you to receive individual attention and instruction that help develop your academic, research, and communication skills.

Meet our faculty and professional staff

Helping Farmers, Birds Co-Exist

Discover UNE's 363-Acre Forest


Through coursework, research, and internships, you’ll acquire the knowledge as well as the analytical, communication, and life skills you’ll need for a career in the growing environmental science field.

As an Environmental Science major, you may pursue a number of rewarding professions, such as:

  • Ecologist
  • Forest Ranger
  • Air and Water Quality Manager
  • Environmental Analyst
  • Wildlife Manager
  • Environmental Scientist

Career Advising

Whether you have a specific career goal in mind or a vague idea of the field that interests you, Career Advising is here to help you plan your next step.

Diverse Habitats

Within a short walk or drive from UNE's Biddeford Campus, you may explore a variety of unique habitats, including the University's 363 acres of contiguous forest. The State of Maine Natural Areas Program has labeled the land a "habitat of significant value" due to its high density of pocket swamps and vernal pools. The area contains both uplands and wetlands, and is home to many species, including wild turkeys, deer, coyotes, and moose.

Our Biddeford Campus is also your stepping stone to some of Northern New England’s most intriguing ecosystems.

Local Habitats

Our campus offers the chance to explore the lush coast and rich woodlands of Southern Maine.

  • UNE Nature Trail is a campus trail system runs along the Saco River.
  • UNE's 363-acre forest is explored in many classes and is also great for mountain biking.
  • Basket and Stage Islands are accessible at low tide over the sand flats.
  • East Point Bird Sanctuary is owned by the Audubon Society and has views of Wood Island lighthouse.
  • Biddeford Pool is the largest tidal pool in Maine and is great for observing coastal wildlife.
  • The Saco Heath is a raised peatland (bog), home to the carnivorous pitcher plants (protected by the Maine Chapter of the Nature Conservancy).
  • Clifford Park is a 52-acre woodland preserve owned by the city of Biddeford and is great for mountain biking and cross-country skiing.

Regional Habitats

These protected lands serve as ideal day trips from our campus.

  • Mount Agamenticus Conservation Region is 10,000 acres of bio-diverse undeveloped forest.
  • Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge is a national wildlife refuge that spans 50 miles of coastline between York and Cumberland counties.
  • The Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve expands our knowledge about coasts and estuaries with an emphasis on ensuring healthy salt marsh ecosystems.
  • White Mountain National Forest is 800,000 acres of federally managed forest and mountains in western Maine and New Hampshire. A 75-minute drive from campus.
  • Acadia National Park is comprised of a cluster of islands on the Maine coast. It is positioned within the broad transition zone between eastern deciduous and northern coniferous forests and hosts several species and plant communities at the edge of their geographic range. A 3.5-hour drive from campus.

Experiential Learning

Whether you’re knee-deep in a vernal pool, collecting data in a salt marsh, or advocating for environmental protection, UNE’s Environmental Science major emphasizes learning by doing. Come get your hands dirty and your feet wet.


No matter what your interests are — examining the ecology of the tidal marshes in our own backyard, studying gulls that nest on roof-tops in nearby Portland, or working with Kenyan partners on community conservation projects — there is always a variety of faculty research for you to participate in.


UNE's environmental studies program began formal collaborations with the Nyando District Centre for Environmental Conservation in 2010 through Dr. Richard Peterson’s study abroad course Environment, Health, and Community Development in East Africa.

Project Squirrel

Project Squirrel started with a simple question: "Is the squirrel I see outside my window everyday the same one?" This question has grown into an ecological research program conducted by students on UNE's Biddeford Campus.

Saco River Estuary

The Saco River estuary is the focus of a research project aimed at sustaining the health of the estuary. A team of researchers and undergraduate students is currently studying the ecology of the estuary as well as the policies, regulations, and economics that influence this portion of the river.

Saco Watershed Collaborative

The Saco Watershed Collaborative is dedicated to protecting the irreplaceable water resources and benefits of the Saco Watershed. The watershed system collects, filters, and stores water and includes the Saco River, which provides drinking water for approximately 250,000 residents across southern Maine. Led by UNE, in 2017 the collaborative conducted outreach field trips and meetings to demonstrate the types of stewardship occurring in the watershed. Thirty-one organizations participated to help build collective knowledge and develop an action plan to measure progress and guide the next chapters of Saco Watershed conservation.

For more information, view the Sustain the Saco website or email Emily Greene.


Local, national, and global internships enable you to put your classroom learning to work by building life skills, networking in the field, and exploring career options.

For more information email Donna Gaspar Jarvis in the Academic and Career Advising Center at

Center for Sustainable Communities

The Center for Sustainable Communities is an internship and service-learning program that creates mutually beneficial partnerships between students and environmental organizations in the communities surrounding UNE's Biddeford Campus. Through hands-on involvement with local governments, nonprofit organizations, and community groups, you field-test academic learning in situations that help you "think globally, act locally." For more information email Dr. Christine Feurt.

Possible internship sites

Local and Maine Internship Sites
  • Acadia Mountain Guides, Inc.
  • Augusta Water District
  • Baxter State Park
  • Biodiversity Research Institute
  • Black Rock Farm
  • Brook Trout Pond Survey Internship (GIS)
  • Camp Ketcha
  • Eastern Trail Alliance
  • LL Bean Outdoor Discovery
  • Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve
  • Maine Geological Survey (GIS)
  • Microbac Laboratory
  • Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge
  • Rippleffect
  • Sierra Club
  • The Center for Wildlife
  • Toxics Actions Center
  • Biddeford City Hall (GIS)
  • Wells Conservation Commission
  • Maine Audubon Center
Out-of-State Internship Sites
  • Alaska Department of Fish and Game
  • AMC Volunteer (North County Trails)
  • Boston Museum of Science
  • Calder Summer Research Program
  • Echo Hill Outdoor School
  • Frank Corporation Environmental Services
  • Great Basin Institute
  • Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (GIS)
  • Mission: Wolf
  • New England Board of Higher Education
  • New England Wildflower Society
  • Sandy Point Discovery Center
  • Student Conservation Association
  • Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
International Internship Sites
  • Global Service Corps
  • Peace Corps
  • School for Field Studies


Field Trips

Many upper-level Environmental courses include a significant field component. Through our classes you might participate in any of the following:

  • Weekend visit at an ecovillage
  • Conferences, such as the International Society of Tropical Foresters/Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies Yearly Conference
  • Overnight camping trips to UNE’s 350+ acre property and to the White Mountains
  • Visits to the offices of land conservation nonprofit organizations
  • Wetland surveying and monitoring at local bogs, freshwater marshes, salt marshes, riparian areas, and red maple swamps
  • Service Learning Trips with Cultivating Community, a nonprofit in Portland, Maine working in urban agriculture, youth leadership training, and sustainability
  • Field trips to local incinerators (Eco Maine in Portland and MERC in Biddeford)
  • Field trips to local Community Supported Agriculture Farms
  • Field trips to the Biddeford Recycling Center
  • Service Learning trip to York County Shelter, Inc. in Alfred, Maine
  • Field Trips to Portland Trails and hiking along the Presumpscot River Trail in Portland
  • Field Trip to Liberty Farms to see a horse-logger operation in Saco, Maine
  • Field trip to the Maine Forest Service office in Alfred, Maine

Field-Based Environmental Humanities

Our Environmental Humanities field trips allow you to step outside the classroom to immerse yourself in natural and human-constructed environments that enhance your understanding through direct experience. 

From your first semester, you explore the local natural landscape through different literary, historical, and philosophical lenses. For example, you might read Henry David Thoreau and then visit the Beaver Pond Trail, a local wildlife commons created and managed by a member of the faculty.

In your study of environmental history, you read characteristic New England landscapes — forests, coastlines, and waterfront cities — to learn how past interactions between humans and nature give significance to the places we inhabit today. You explore how an understanding of the past informs current environmental issues.

During these excursions, you: 

  • Explore the ocean surf and tide pools where the first Europeans wintered in North America.
  • Paddle the Saco River through the foothills of the White Mountains.
  • Bushwhack across a forest to reach Maine’s largest American Beech tree.
  • Canoe a glacial cirque lake closely resembling Walden Pond.
  • Tour by boat the historic canal system and walk the historic textile factory floor of Lowell National Historic Park to examine how 19th-century industrialization affected river conditions and laborers’ lives.
  • Read the forested landscape, searching for remnants of historic agriculture and forestry practices, and converse with longtime residents to understand the forest past and inform current conservation.
  • Tour urban parks and green spaces, expanding your appreciation of these places by retracing past visions and debates over their development.
  • Walk the coastline and trails of a historic salt marsh farm to explore the historic importance of past resource management decisions on coastal ecosystems and communities.

Global Opportunities

Aside from UNE's opportunities to spend a semester abroad, you find two travel courses — a fall semester course in Dominica and a spring semester course in Kenya. To enroll in these courses, you must submit an application to the Global Education Program. You are encouraged to apply for a Global Education scholarship when applying to these courses.


ENV 348: Adv. Environment, Health, and Community Dev. in East Africa

Dr. Richard Peterson

This is a Spring semester course offered every other year with a two- to three-week field experience trip to Kenya in late May/June. Semester studies focus on environmental, health, and community development issues facing the country today, set within East Africa’s political, cultural, and historical contexts. The trip features visits to leading universities, museums, and national parks, an overland journey from Nairobi to Kisumu through the Great Rift Valley, home-stays with Kenyan families, hiking in the Kakamega Rainforest, hands-on experience working with local partner organizations, and working with community-based conservation researchers at a Maasai-owned wildlife conservancy.

Watch Conservation in Kenya: A UNE Travel Course


ENV 376: Caribbean Sustainable Development and CIT 420: Global Citizenship

Dr. Thomas Klak

This is a Fall semester course that includes spending 13 days in early January in Dominica. You experience first-hand the challenges of — and progress toward — sustainable development in the self-proclaimed “Nature Island.” The class fulfills both UNE’s Advanced Studies and Citizenship requirements by engaging with Dominican partners who are working to achieve sustainable development, and by participating in hands-on development projects. Other experiences in Dominica include working on a fair trade banana farm to learn about Dominica’s economic mainstay crop; visiting a beach where sea turtles lay their eggs; hiking to the world’s only Boiling Lake; and bird-watching for the beautiful Imperial Parrot, Dominica’s national bird and an endangered species. You also instruct students about environmental protection at a local primary school.

a student poses in front of a mountain in the dominican republic