Environmental degree programs

A good planet is hard to find

You want to make the world a better place – or learn about the world under your feet – or create a positive impact on the environment for generations to come. Well, you’ve come to the right place. We’re here to help you understand the options you have for studying all things environment. Here at the University of Waterloo, you have more than a dozen options for customizing a degree that gives you the skills and experience to reach (and exceed) your goals in environment.

Student holding notebook while on field trip to Antarctica

Geography and Environmental Management allowed Cassandra to embark on an Arctic adventure. She participated in a comprehensive study of the north, exploring interconnections between the human and physical environment while analyzing the impacts of climate change. Photo credit: Jeff Topham, One Ocean Expeditions


Choices can be overwhelming. We’ve divided our programs into goal-oriented categories (which can, and do, overlap – but it’s a great starting point if you didn’t realize how far-reaching careers in the environment are). Hopefully, this helps you understand the many ways programs in environment can help you reach your dreams.

  • Research: Understand the science behind environmental features, functions, and phenomena, while exploring teachings and theories in labs and field trips.
  • Industry: Apply practical scientific knowledge to commercial industries and/or use the latest technology in areas like satellite data, high-end software, and global positioning systems.
  • Policy: Influence government, industry, and the economics surrounding environmental policies. This includes socio-economic responses and planning that influence the environment of the future.
  • Management: Gain knowledge in human-centric environmental subjects like population dynamics and climate change, while also understanding business and management systems that can influence a more sustainable future.

globe icon16th in the worldfor social and economic impact based on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.Times Higher Education’s University Impact Rankings 2020
skyline icon22nd in the worldfor research on sustainable cities and communities.Times Higher Education’s University Impact Rankings 2020

Interested in more than one subject?

No problem. Whether or not you major in a program that's related to the environment, you can include minors and diplomas as part of most programs to tailor your degree to your interests. For example, you could

  • combine Environment, Resources and Sustainability with Biology,
  • mix Environmental Science with Political Science, or
  • focus on national and provincial parks with a geography degree and the Parks minor.

Wondering how to combine areas? Contact the student recruitment co-ordinator in the faculties of Engineering, Environment, or Science. They'll be able to tell you how to pursue your particular set of interests. Normally it's not possible to include minors for programs such as Engineering where you don't have a lot of elective courses.

Go beyond the classroom

Meet others who share your passion

Become part of a community that is engaged in creating a more sustainable environment. Some of our student-run clubs include

  • Climate Students
  • Campus Compost
  • Sustainable Campus Initiative

Join one (or more!) to get experience and to meet others who are working towards a better future.

Gain work experience through co-op

Many of our environmental programs let you explore careers and gain paid co-op work experience as part of your degree. Co-op students have worked in positions such as

  • Environmental geoscientist
  • Industrial wastewater engineer
  • Species-at-risk research student assistant


Waterloo researchers and students are working hard to enhance both the natural world and our urban environment. As a student, you can attend events, learn from leading researchers, or even pursue further education in areas such as

Sustainability at Waterloo

The Sustainability Office works to minimize waste, reduce emissions, and shrink our environmental footprint. The University's efforts focus on education (with over 525 courses related to sustainability), innovative research, community engagement, and a sustainability strategy that aims to

  1. be a leader in sustainability education and research,
  2. operate our campus sustainably, and
  3. imbed sustainability practices into campus culture.

    Earn your degree from one of Canada's leading universities

    2ndin Canada for water resources researchAcademic World Rankings of Universities 2020
    4thin Canada for geographyAcademic World Rankings of Universities 2020
    4thin Canada for environmental sciencesQS World University Rankings by Subject 2020

    Did you know?

    These are some quick facts about Waterloo's environmental initiatives, projects, and achievements.

    • Home to Canada’s largest Faculty of Environment.
    • Committed to becoming a zero-waste campus by 2035 and carbon neutral by 2050.
    • Designated as a Fair Trade Campus in 2019.
    • Host annual Eco Summit for the campus community to come together to reflect on our sustainability progress and new opportunities.
    • 482 professors conduct research that advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
    • In 2019, we diverted 33% of our waste from landfill.
    • 85% of all cleaning janitorial supplies are eco-friendly.
    • 31% of all the food and drinks purchased are local, produced on-site, or third-party certified for sustainability.

    Learn more about Waterloo's commitment to creating a better environment on our sustainability website.

    Campus shot