Get a science degree. Save the planet.
Get a solid grounding in science and geography and still have lots of room to explore environment-related courses in math, ecology, microbiology, hydrology, and more. You’ll learn about climate change, groundwater flow and contamination, environmental impacts of pollution, responsible extraction of Earth resources, waste disposal, and human engineering of Earth processes.
Specialize in Ecology to address ecological sustainability and biodiversity while learning about the fundamental science of life on Earth. Go the Geoscience route and focus on the interactions among the geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere as well as the human activities that encompass the complex and dynamic Earth System.
Or specialize in Water Science and investigate the unique properties of water; the distribution and movement of fresh and salt water above, on, and within the Earth; and the quality and quantity of water that humans depend upon to survive and thrive on this planet.
Any route you choose, whether you want to gain paid work experience through co-op or not, you’ll be part of one of the top four environmental science programs in Canada (Academic Ranking of World Universities 2020) — and graduate with the scientific knowledge, creativity, and expertise you need to create a more sustainable world.
Environmental Science admission requirements
Ontario students: six Grade 12 U and/or M courses including
- English (ENG4U) (minimum final grade of 70% is required)
- Advanced Functions (minimum final grade of 70% is required)
- Calculus and Vectors (minimum final grade of 70% is required)
- Two of: Biology, Chemistry, Earth and Space Science, Mathematics of Data Management, Physics
- Recommended courses: Chemistry, Earth and Space Science, Physics
Admission averages: Low 80s
We recommend completing the Admission Information Form once you've applied.
Not studying in Ontario? Search our admission requirements.
What will you learn?
Programs/majors in the Faculty of Science start right in first year. To select your program with confidence, here’s some handy info to get you started.
Skills you'll develop with this major
- Critical thinking
- Problem solving
- Fieldwork capabilities, including skills such as groundwater and surface water sampling, as well as geological mapping
This isn't an exhaustive list – rather a glimpse into the skills an Environmental Science major can provide.
Your experience will be unique, and the skills you develop will depend on your goals; which courses you take; and your involvement with any clubs, jobs, or research projects.
Types of courses you'll take
This is a general guideline. The ratio of courses may change slightly from year to year.
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Monthly topics include how to choose a university program, what it's like to be a Waterloo student, and more.
Questions? Ask a student!
Contact a Science student ambassador to learn about their experience.
Ask them questions such as why they chose their program, what the classes are like, and how you can get involved on campus.
Sample first-year courses and beyond (Geoscience specialization)
September to December
January to April
After first year
You must choose one of three specializations.
Sample upper-year courses
View the courses required for your 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.
Sample co-op job titles
- Regulatory affairs coordinator
- Water treatment project assistant
- Research and development technician
- Laboratory technician
- Environmental services and approvals assistant
- Undergraduate research assistant
- Science peer tutor
Sample co-op employers
- Public Works and Government Services Canada
- Yale University
- Hydro One Inc.
- Environment & Climate Change Canada
- City of Toronto
- Toronto District School Board
- Natural Resources Canada
Customize your Environmental Science major
For any of the specializations, you can choose electives from many of the 100 subject areas at Waterloo.
You can also add additional areas of expertise to your degree by including one of the minors or diplomas available to all Waterloo students. Popular areas of focus for Environmental Science students include Biology; Earth Sciences; Chemistry; and Environment, Resources, and Sustainability.
What can you do with an Environmental Science degree?
Your career path will really depend on your interest. If you're very interested in a specific topic, you might continue on a specialized Master's degree. You can also go directly into your career in fields such as environmental or ecological consulting, industry (such as engineering firms), government research, and not-for-profits. Management of resources, particularly water; policy and legislation; environmental conservation and remediation; and environmental monitoring are some potential career areas.
- Environmental Assessment Coordinator - Environment Canada
- Environmental Scientist - Summit Environmental Consultant Inc
- Geochemical Analyst - Activation Laboratories Ltd.
- Project Manager - Peritus Environmental Consultants Inc.
- Scientific Support Technologist - Environment Canada
Learn about the future of careers in science.
Offered by the Faculty of Science
Apply directly to this program on your application
How is Environmental Science different from programs in the Faculty of Environment?
Environmental Science takes an analytical (and science-based) approach to understanding systems and interactions in the environment. Programs in the Faculty of Environment focus more on social science and impacts to people and communities. Faculty of Environment programs are ideally suited to policy, decision making, and government whereas Environmental Science often focuses on environmental processes and the impact of human-related activities on the natural environment.
Not sure which is for you? Learn more about each of Waterloo's environmental programs.
Ready to learn more?
- Visit the Environmental Science website
- Related programs
Green your campus
Don’t wait until you graduate to make a difference. Help create a greener environment through activities like the Sustainable Campus Initiative Project.
25+ field courses
Hone your hands-on skills. We offer a ton of upper-year field courses, from hydrogeology on our north campus to marine biology in New Brunswick.