Environment, Resources and Sustainability

Save the planet (superhero outfit not included)

Use insights from the natural, physical, and social sciences to help solve some of the world’s biggest environmental challenges — from water scarcity to pollution to loss of biodiversity.

Learn about conserving and restoring ecosystems, and explore issues in environmental governance. And thanks to our small classes, you’ll develop a real sense of community right from first year.

When you graduate, you can apply your knowledge in a growing number of fields, from green technology to ecological consulting to environmental law. And if you want an early start, you can also apply that knowledge to paid co-op work terms.

30+ possible minors

In one of the most flexible programs at Waterloo, you can add one of more than 30 minors to your degree. Or do a double major. Or add an option. So go ahead: customize your degree to your interests!

Get career-relevant skills

Whether you choose the regular or co-op stream, you’ll get plenty of hands-on experience through case studies, field trips, and community projects. In your final year, you’ll work one-on-one with a professor on a research project of your choice.


Tackling climate change on an individual level can feel daunting. Where do you start? What could you even do to make a difference? Ashoke, an Environment, Resources, and Sustainability student, is looking to make the fight against climate change feel more attainable by spreading the message that any positive action we each take – big or small – can create change.

8Eight-month capstone research project in fourth year

BreifCaseChoose the regular or co-op system of study

12Field courses to give you hands-on experience


Admission requirements

Ontario students

  • Six Grade 12 U and/or M courses including any Grade 12 U English (a final grade of 70% is required)

Admission average: Low 80s

We recommend completing the Admission Information Form once you've applied.

Not an Ontario high school student?

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First-year courses

September to December

  • ERS 100 - Foundations: Environment, Resources and Sustainability
  • ENVS 178 - Environmental Applications of Data Management and Statistics
  • ENVS 195 - Introduction to Environmental Studies
  • Two electives

January to April

  • ERS 101 - Approaches: Environment, Resources and Sustainability
  • ERS 102 - Sustainability and the Really Long View
  • ENVS 200 - Field Ecology
  • Two electives

After first year

About half of the classes you’ll take will be Environment, Resources and Sustainability courses. With your remaining classes, you can choose electives from many of the 100 subject areas at Waterloo.

View the courses required for your degree.

Sample upper-year courses

  • ERS 202 – Natural Resources Ecology
  • ERS 253 – Communities and Sustainability
  • ERS 341 – Professional Conservation and Restoration Practice I
  • ERS 462 – Global Food and Agricultural Politics

EnvironmentOffered by the Faculty of Environment

bookAvailable as a major and minor

Graduation CapEarn a Bachelor of Environmental Studies degree


Co-op = relevant paid work experience

By alternating school terms and paid co-op work terms throughout your degree, you can explore new career areas and types of employers as your career interests evolve, developing valuable work experience in your field of study.

Sample co-op job titles

  • Outdoor education intern
  • Ecological assistant
  • Food loss & waste data collection
  • Species at risk research student assistant
  • Landfill operations
  • Sport fish technician
  • Research assistant
  • Program coordinator

Sample co-op employers

  • Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs & Housing
  • Toronto District School Board
  • Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
  • Evergreen
  • Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada
  • City of Toronto
  • Sustainable Waterloo Region
  • Stantec Inc.

Customize your degree

You can add additional expertise to your degree by choosing one of the minors available to all Waterloo students. Popular choices include Geography and Environmental Management, Biology, and International Development. You can also pursue a double major to really focus on two subjects.

What can you do with a degree in Environment, Resources and Sustainability?

Graduates commonly pursue careers in education, environment, and research. They often work in government ministries, environmental consulting firms, and more.

Recent graduates

  • Program Advisor – Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change
  • Park Naturalist – Ministry of Natural Resources, Ontario
  • Teacher – Waterloo Region District School Board
  • Environmental Scientist – Conestoga-Rovers & Associates
  • Ecologist – Dougan & Associates
  • Biologist – Ministry of Natural Resources, Ontario
  • Environmental Consultant – North Shore Environmental Consultants

Further education

While the full range of further education depends on your individual interests, our graduates often pursue Master’s degrees in political science and public policy, attend law school, or apply to a faculty of education to become a teacher.

Learn about the future of careers in environment, sustainability, and geography.

Ready to learn more?