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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.

30+ possible minors

In one of the most flexible programs at Waterloo, you can add one of more than 30 minors to your Environment, Resources and Sustainability 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.


About the program

BreifCase Choose the regular or co-op system of study

ClickAvailable as a major and a minor

Graduation Cap Earn a Bachelor of Environmental Studies degree


12Different field courses to choose from

EnvironmentOffered by the Faculty of Environment

88-month capstone project in fourth year


Admission requirements

Apply directly to Environment, Resources and Sustainability on your application.

  • Ontario students: 6 Grade 12 U and/or M courses including
    • Any Grade 12 U English (a final grade of 70% is required)
    • Recommended: One grade 12 U or M course from Canadian and World Studies or Social Sciences and Humanities or the Arts; One grade 12 U or M course from Mathematics or Science
  • Admission averages: Low 80s
  • An Admission Information Form is recommended
  • Not studying in Ontario? Search our admission requirements


When you graduate, you can apply your knowledge in a growing number of fields, from green technology to ecological consulting to environmental law. Graduates work for government, conservation authorities, environmental consulting companies, energy and power companies, and environmental NGOs.

  • Analyst, Responsible Investing, AIMCO
  • Ecologist, Dougan & Associates
  • Senior Programme Officer, United Nations Environment Programme
  • Park Naturalist, Ministry of Natural Resources, Ontario
  • Strategic Technology Professional, BC Hydro
  • Policy Analyst, Natural Resources Canada
  • Biologist, Ministry of Natural Resources, Ontario
  • Senior Environmental Specialist, Public Works and Government Services Canada
  • 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. 

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
2 electives

January to April

ERS 101 - Approaches: Environment, Resources and Sustainability
ERS 102 - Sustainability and the Really Long View
ENVS 200 - Field Ecology
2 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 a list of all the courses required for your degree.

Customize your degree

You can also add additional areas of interest and expertise by including a minor (or minors) as part of 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


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.

Sample co-op positions

  • Bird Surveys and Bird Banding Assistant, Environment Canada
  • Policy Assistant, Canadian Food Inspection Agency
  • Planner/Educator, Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs & Housing
  • Recycling Research Analyst, CleanFarms Inc.
  • Outdoor Education Intern, Toronto District School Board
  • Pest Management Scout - Tree Fruit, The Norfolk Fruit Growers' Association
  • Ecological Assistant, Earth Tramper Consulting Inc


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