Environmental Science

Get a science degree. Save the planet.

An Environmental Science student at the University of Waterloo.

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.

TrophyWaterloo ranks fourth in Canada for environmental science research

Breifcase Available as a co-op and regular program

blue 3 iconSpecializations available in Ecology, Geoscience, and Water Science


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.


A student in the environmental science degree program wears chest waders while taking water samples in a pond.

Benefit from 20 months of paid co-op work experience and graduate ready for a career as an exploration geologist, groundwater specialist, environmental geochemist, consultant, teacher, and more.

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
  • Communication
  • 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

24% earth, 22% biology, 8% chemistry, 8% math, 11% geography and planning, 19% free electivess, 8% other

This is a general guideline. The ratio of courses may change slightly from year to year.


Get tips from Waterloo students

Sign up for insider advice that can help you now and in the future.

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.


CapGraduate with a Bachelor of Science degree

BeakerOffered by the Faculty of Science

ClickApply 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?

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.