Content | Navigation |

Academic Majors


Biological Sciences/Environmental Science

Although derived from several longstanding areas of science— biology, chemistry and physics—environmental science is a relatively new and rapidly developing field. It is characterized by an integrative, multidisciplinary approach to environmental issues of concern to humans. This represents an exciting, rewarding area of science, which requires an especially strong academic background and an ability to think both analytically and comprehensively.

PDF Download

Career Opportunities

Growing human populations and the increasing impacts associated with human activities, along with heightened expectations about environmental quality, are resulting in new career opportunities. Large corporations, such as those involved with mining; power generation; production of various food, pharmaceutical and chemical materials; agriculture and waste management have a need for environmental scientists. Consulting firms are adding such specialists to their staffs, which already include attorneys, economists, engineers and planners. Government agencies charged with the responsibilities of environmental inventory, monitoring and regulation offer another professional avenue. At the federal level, this includes segments of the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Agriculture, Department of the Interior, Department of Energy and Department of Defense. Examples at the state, and sometimes county or city level, include departments such as environmental quality, health, natural resources, waste management and planning. Environmental education and interpretation programs now appear in elementary and secondary schools, colleges and universities, parks, wildlife areas, private tours and even some large resorts.

This option provides an excellent foundation for a variety of careers. It also leaves a student well-prepared to continue into graduate degree programs in the biological sciences. In fact, most professional scientists now can anticipate graduate education as being essential for career advancement.

High School Preparation

High school students should take year-long courses in biology, chemistry, physics, algebra, advanced algebra, geometry and trigonometry. If available, an advanced science course and pre-calculus are encouraged. There should be an above-average performance in such course work, as well as in the student's overall high school program. An ACT composite score of 24 or higher also is suggested.

The Program

This program is designed as an option within the biology major. It includes the course work for that major plus additional course work in chemistry, the earth sciences, mathematics and physics. Core courses total 33 semester credits, and 13 or more elective credits within the major, plus general education electives, allowing the student to design a program best fitting his/her interests and career objectives. Electives in areas such as political science, resource economics and sociology are recommended. To complete this degree in four years requires that students have an adequate science and mathematics background, begin working on sequential courses during the freshman year, and carry 15 or more appropriate course credits each semester.

Related Experiences

Career opportunities are enhanced by work experiences and extra-curricular involvement. Part-time, science-related work experiences are available in several North Dakota State University departments, as well as at the nearby U.S. Department of Agriculture laboratories. Off-campus work, such as summer employment with public agencies or private organizations, is especially valuable and has sometimes been the entry point for a first permanent position after graduation. NDSU offers many extra-curricular activities, including science-related organizations such as the Natural Resources Management Club, the Pre-Med Club, the Student Chapter of the Wildlife Society and the Range Science Club.

Faculty and Facilities

In addition to the expertise of the faculty in the Department of Biological Sciences, the environmental science option also is based on a strong, diverse foundation from departments such as animal sciences, chemistry and biochemistry, computer science, geosciences, mathematics, plant sciences, range science, soil science and statistics. Collectively, these units can provide the facilities and equipment necessary to a sound undergraduate education.

Sample Curriculum

General Education RequirementsCredits
First Year Experience
  UNIV 189 - Skills for Academic Success1
  COMM 110 - Fundamentals of Public Speaking3
  ENGL 110, 120 - College Composition I, II 3, 3
  ENGL 324 - Writing in the Sciences3
Quantitative Reasoning
  STAT 330 - Introductory Statistics3
Science & Technology10
Humanities & Fine Arts6
Social & Behavioral Sciences6
Cultural Diversity-
Global Perspective-
College and Department Requirements Credits
Hum/Soc. Science Electives (B.S. Degree) 6
Hum/Soc. Science Electives (B.A. Degree) 12
Second Year Language Proficiency -
Total 6-12
Major Requirements Credits
BIOL 150, 150L - General Biology I and Lab 4
BIOL 151, 151L - General Biology II and Lab 4
BIOL 315, 315L - Genetics and Lab 4
BIOL 359 - Evolution 3
BIOL/ZOO 364 - General Ecology 3
BIOL 480 - Ecotoxicology 3
BIOL 491 - Seminar 2
BOT 314 - Plant Systematics or
  BOT 372 - Structure and Diversity of Plants and Fungi or
   BOT 380 - Plant Physiology or
    BOT 431 - Intermediate Genetics or
     BOT 450 - Range Plants or
      BOT 460 - Plant Ecology

3 or 4
GEOL 105, 105L - Physical Geology and Lab 4
GEOL 106, 106L - The Earth Through Time and Lab 4
SOIL 217 - Introduction to Meteorology & Climatology 3
SOIL 410 - Soil and Land Use 2
Electives 12
Total 38
Additional Requirements Credits
CHEM 431, 431L - Analytical Chemistry I and Lab or
  GEOL 428 - Geochemistry

CHEM 240 - Survey of Organic Chemistry and
 CHEM 260 - Elements of Biochemistry or
 CHEM 341, 341L - Organic Chemistry I and Lab and
 CHEM 342 - Organic Chemistry II and
  BIOC 460 - Foundation of Biochemistry and Molecular
   Biology I

MATH 146 - Applied Calculus I 4
MATH 147 - Applied Calculus II 4
PHYS 211, 211L - College Physics I and Lab 4
PHYS 212, 212L - College Physics II and Lab 4

This sample curriculum is not intended to serve as a curriculum guide for current students, but rather an example of course offerings for prospective students. For the curriculum requirements in effect at the time of entrance into a program, consult with an academic advisor or with the Office of Registration and Records.

Stevens Hall
Room 201B

Stevens Hall is located on the corner of Centennial Boulevard and Bolley Drive
(Campus Map)

Contact Information

Dr. Wendy Reed
Department of Biological Sciences
North Dakota State University
Stevens Hall 201B
Dept #2715, PO Box 6050
Fargo, ND 58108-6050

Tel: (701) 231-7087/ Fax: (701) 231-7149

Office of Admission
North Dakota State University
Ceres 114
Dept #5230, PO Box 6050
Fargo, ND 58108-6050

Tel: (701) 231-8643 / Fax: (701) 231-8802



Student Focused. Land Grant. Research University.

Follow NDSU
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • RSS
  • Google Maps

Office of Admission
North Dakota State University
Phone: +1 (701) 231-8643 / Fax: (701) 231-8802
Campus address: Ceres Hall 114
Physical/delivery address: 1301 Administration Ave., Fargo, ND 58102
Mailing address: NDSU Dept. 5230 / PO Box 6050 / Fargo, ND 58108-6050
Page manager: NDSU Webmaster

Last Updated: Tuesday, May 03, 2016 1:57:41 PM