Environmental Science Major - Undergraduate Degree Program | Briar Cliff University

Environmental Science Program

Degree Type: Bachelor of Arts
Program(s) Offered: Major, minor

Do you love the outdoors? Have you always wanted to solve challenges like pollution, habitat destruction and loss of biological diversity? Then an environmental science major might be for you! Our program fits perfectly with Briar Cliff University's Franciscan heritage, which emphasizes "care for all creation."

Environmental Science


The nation′s largest urban tallgrass prairie sits literally in Briar Cliff's own backyard. What better place to study environmental science than a 150-acre classroom?

As an environmental science major, you'll also embark on an annual, week-long trip to South Dakota’s Black Hills, or join department learning trips that have included the West Texas desert, Southern California chaparral, the Kansas prairies, Ozark forests, Hawaiian islands and the Costa Rican jungle. 


Land an internship with one of the area's many professional environmental organizations, including the Iowa Nature Conservancy, Ponca State Park, Stone State Park and the Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center.


What can you do with an environmental science degree? Our graduates work as park rangers, conservationsists, ecologists, resource managers, lab technicians, teachers — even wildfire fighters! An environmental science degree is also a great stepping stone for graduate school in veterinary medicine or other biology related fields.


Major in a science at Briar Cliff, and you might be eligible to become a STEM Pathways Scholar — a scholarship opportunity worth thousands of dollars!

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Environmental Science Program Courses

BIOL 152 - General Biology II

This course in an introduction to organismal biology. Topics covered include the scientific method, ecology, evolution and the diversity of life forms. Three lectures, one lab per week. Read more »

BIOL 212 - General Botany

A survey course of organisms traditionally treated as plants. Topics will also include a review of structure and function of vascular plants, physiological processes characterized by plants, and the importance of plants in everyday life. Three lectures, one lab per week. Read more »

BIOL 213 - Invertebrate Zoology

A survey of representative phyla of the invertebrates, organisms which consist of at least 90 percent of the earth's fauna. Three lectures, one lab per week. Read more »

BIOL 22IS - Scientific Writing and Research

This course examines the various components of scientific primary sources as well as how each section is written. Students will demonstrate the use of basic computer skills: database search strategies, spreadsheets, presentation software, word processing and use of e-mail. Students will demonstrate scientific analytical and communication skills through writing assignments and an oral presentation. Read more »

ECON 210 - Principles of Microeconomics

Introduction to basic economic theory, with emphasis placed on decision making by individual units such as households, firms, or industries and with individual markets for final goods and resources. Prerequisite: Sophomore status or permission of instructor Read more »

ESCI 110 - Environmental Science

A survey of environmental issues and problems facing today's society. Includes a study of population biology, ecology, natural resources and energy, environmental quality, land use and bioethics. Three lectures, one lab per week. Read more »

ESCI 211 - Earth Science I: Introductory Geology

An introduction to the classification and formation of rocks, strata and soils. Three lectures, one lab per week. Read more »

ESCI 212 - Earth Science II: Earth Processes

A survey of the action of various geomorphological processes (such as wind, water and glaciation) which shape our globe. Ecological hazards inherent to land-uses of the landforms associated with these processes will also be discussed. Three lectures, one lab per week. Read more »

ESCI 213 - Earth Science III: Weather and Climate

An introduction to the daily variation of local atmospheric conditions and the results of the long-term patterns of such. Three lectures, one lab per week. Read more »

ESCI 237 - General Ecology

A study of the interrelationships of organisms to their environment and each other at the population, community and ecosystem levels reinforced with a survey of North American biomes. Field observations and lab exercises in natural habitats. Three lectures, one lab per week. Read more »

ESCI 300 - Entomology

An introduction to the biology, ecology and identification of insects. Lecture topics will also include adaptations, evolution, classification and medical applications of insects. Laboratory and field activities include dissection, sampling, specimen preparation and identification. Three lectures, two labs per week. Read more »

ESCI 339 - Principles of Microbiology

An in-depth study of microorganisms, including ultra structure, growth characteristics, metabolism and genetics. Not open to students having credit for BIOL 239. Three lectures, two labs per week. Prerequisite: eight hours of chemistry or permission of the instructor Read more »

ESCI 401 - Environmental Law and Policy

An overview of environmental law and public policy. Read more »

ESCI 412 - Field Botany

An introduction to the classification, nomenclature and identification of vascular plants. Taxonomic and biogeographical relationships of families, genera and species will also be discussed. The laboratory will be devoted to an examination of the spring flora by emphasizing the identification and recognition of ferns, trees, shrubs and herbs. Proper collection and herbarium techniques will be practiced as students prepare specimens for a required plant collection. Three lectures, one lab per week. Read more »

LIBA 200 - Black Hills Experience

The Black Hills Experience is a multidisciplinary course which is conducted in the Black Hills of South Dakota in May during the week immediately after Term III. Subject matter includes biology, chemistry, geology, history and literature of this unique area of the country. The course can be taken as an elective. Read more »

PSCI 101 - American Government

This course covers the basic elements of politics and government at the national level in the United States. It examines the structures, processes, behaviors, institutions, and policies of the American system with a relative emphasis on conflicting theories of power. By the end of the semester, students should have a solid understanding of how the system operates in addition to a comprehension of some of the key issues that face the country today. Read more »

Additional Program Requirements

 Environmental science students are expected to complete an environmental internship, field station course or participate in a field experience.

 For additional requirements and curriculum information, download the latest University academic catalog.

Upcoming Events

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Olivia Matz Study Abroad Ruins

When you leave the country, you quickly realize that the world is a bigger place than what you thought. Now is the time to build those worldwide relationships and connections.

Olivia Matz

Biology and Spanish

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