Is Environmental Science Hard? (With Student Quotes)

Do you love science? Are you interested in environmental issues? Then you should consider becoming an environmental scientist. But is environmental science hard?

Many students planning to study environmental sciences wonder if it will be an easy or tough degree. This article gives you a realistic idea of how hard environmental science is. 

Environmental scientists play a vital role in protecting our environment. Some work with plants, others with animals, and yet others with humans. But regardless of the type of environment you study, you will learn valuable skills that will help you succeed. 

Let’s start by discussing the difference between environmental science and environmental studies, so there’s no confusion between the two. 

Environmental Scientist Performing Water Tests
Environmental Scientist Performing Water Tests

Environmental Science vs Environmental Studies – What’s the Difference?

Environmental science and studies focus on the natural world, whereas environmental studies concentrate on how people interact with nature. This is the major distinction between the two fields of study.

For instance, you could major in environmental science in school and work in industry protecting the environment from pollution. On the other hand, you may major in environmental studies in college and go on to work in policymaking, where you would be required to make choices regarding what can be done to save the environment.

Ecology, geography, conservation, natural resource management, and other environmental issues are all included in the broad category of environmental studies.

The term “environmental science” is more specifically used to refer to environmental physical sciences. For instance, engineering, chemistry, physics, biology, geology, meteorology, oceanography, atmospheric sciences, hydrology, soil science, and geology are all included in environmental science.

What Is Environmental Science?

Environmental science is the scientific study of the physical processes which affect the Earth’s ecosystems. That includes the study of air, water, soil, climate change, and many more topics.

You may also hear the term “environmental biology” when people talk about environmental science. 

What Is Environmental Studies?

Environmental studies are similar to environmental science, except they include topics such as economics, politics, sociology, ethics, and history. They also often involve the use of statistics, research methods, and quantitative techniques. 

Is Environmental Science Hard?

Environmental Science is mildly difficult as a major because it’s a very broad subject. An introductory environmental science class isn’t too difficult, but as you progress through college, you’ll find yourself studying harder subjects like organic chemistry, physics, and calculus. An environmental major will be more difficult. 

You will have to learn about Physics, Chemistry, Geology, Biology, Atmospheric Science, Mathematics and many other subjects. It is not easy to understand everything about the subject, but it is possible if you put your mind to it. 

As an environmental scientist, you will always be required to keep up to date with current trends in the field. You may even be expected to stay abreast of developments in other fields like biology, chemistry, physics, etc. 

Additionally, an environmental science degree is not enough to land a high-paying position in environmental science. You must also have a solid resume that demonstrates your expertise in fieldwork, relevant experience, and both. Environmental science, in contrast to many other disciplines, has a significant amount of both practical and theoretical work. 

Environmental Scientist Performing Soil Tests
Environmental Scientist Performing Soil Tests

How Hard is an Environmental Science Degree?

Environmental science is not very hard by itself. What makes the degree hard is that it’s an interdisciplinary subject that combines several scientific fields. You will need to understand physics, chemistry, mathematics, geology, biology, and atmospheric science. Environmental science is relatively easy compared to other STEM degrees. However, it is still challenging because of its interdisciplinary nature.

How hard an environmental science degree will be is also highly dependent on your passion for the topic. If you love the subject, then you should do well because you’ll put more effort into it. But if you’re just doing it to get into graduate school or a job, then it can be much harder than you think. If you don’t enjoy the subject, it will become very boring and tedious to study for it.

However, as a broad subject, environmental science also allows you to experience different things. That helps you find your focus for future endeavors and steer your studies in that direction. 

Environmental science major students may find these aspects of the degree hard: 

  1. Math is Complex – The math requirements for environmental science majors are quite complex. In addition to algebra, trigonometry, geometry, and calculus, you will need to master probability theory, statistics, and linear programming. These concepts are all new to most people who take environmental science classes. 
  2. Science is Broad and Difficult – There is a lot of information to process in environmental science courses. This means that you will need to read books, articles, and journals. This takes time. You will also need to write papers, which requires research skills.
  3. Research and Practical Work – Research is one of the hardest parts of environmental science. You will need to conduct experiments and gather data from different environments. This requires a good understanding of how things work and what they look like.

Is Environmental Science a Hard Class?

The first environmental science course is not difficult. Actually, taking this course is among the simplest. You only begin to understand how challenging the degree actually is until you begin taking the more challenging and specialized courses.

If you’re considering taking an environmental science course, you shouldn’t be concerned about how challenging it will be. The majority of environmental science courses are simple and introductory in nature, so if you don’t intend to major in environmental sciences, you probably won’t have any issues with the course.

As a subject, environmental science is quite diverse. It includes numerous academic disciplines. A lot of environmental knowledge will need to be committed to memory. Biology, chemistry, physics, geology, ecology, conservation, and climate change are some of the subjects covered in environmental science courses.

Earth’s history is another thing you must be familiar with. You’ll be studying the atmosphere, oceans, land, and biosphere for most of the time.

Environmental Science Pollution Study
Environmental Science Pollution Study

Is an Environmental Science Degree Worth it?

An environmental science degree is well worth it if you want to help save the environment. If you want to be able to make decisions about the future of our planet, then you should consider getting an environmental science degree. After graduating from college, you can get a job working on projects related to environmental issues.

Environmental scientists and specialists make $76,530 annually according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Job opportunities are also growing 8% every year. A career in environmental science gives you the opportunity to do something positive for the world around us.

You can also become a teacher or a scientist. An environmental science degree could even lead to jobs in government agencies, non-profit organizations, and businesses.

If you want to become a scientist or engineer, then an environmental science degree would be very helpful. 

Is Environmental Science Right for Me?

Environmental scientists investigate their immediate surroundings. They collect information on what occurs in nature and then attempt to explain why it occurs. They may also assist other naturalists in data collection.

Environmental scientists frequently work with other scientists to find solutions to challenges. Some scientists specialize in specific fields, such as climate change, air quality, and ocean acidification. Others concentrate on expansive subjects such as biodiversity and conservation.

Typically, students with a background in the hard sciences, such as biology or chemistry, are ideal candidates for master’s degrees in environmental science. These programs require that students have a solid understanding of at least one science discipline.

In order to apply to the Master of Science in Environmental Studies program at the University of Georgia, you must have completed coursework in biology, chemistry, earth science, geology, physics, or a related discipline. This criterion guarantees that students entering the program are prepared to engage in concentrated, intensive coursework requiring a high degree of scientific knowledge.

Frequently, environmental science courses need substantial study and laboratory work. Additionally, students may develop systems for data analysis. However, the greatest master’s degrees allow students to acquire significant expertise in a variety of professions.

Students may, for instance, study ecology alongside economics, sociology, political science, and law. This enables them to recognize the interconnections between many fields of study and teaches them how to apply their knowledge to other disciplines.

Environmental science graduates typically pursue positions in academia, industry, or research. Others may choose roles in government, non-profit organizations, or commercial companies. Many graduates will pursue advanced degrees, such as PhDs, MSDs, or professional certificates, at graduate institutions or universities.

Environmental Scientist Performing Soil Tests
Environmental Scientist Performing Soil Tests

Is AP Environmental Science Easy Or Hard?

AP Environmental Science is generally considered an easy class and exam in high school with 50.4% of students getting a passing score of 3 or higher (AP College Board) last year. It’s a popular AP class because it’s a great way to get started with your studies in environmental science.

It covers many of the same concepts as an introductory environmental science class in college, but focuses more on practical applications. You’ll learn about ecosystems, pollution, and human impact on the environment. There are many lab experiments in the class. 

What can make the AP environmental science class hard for students is the amount of lab experiments, field work, and reading required. The class has a lot of material to cover, so most students find themselves studying for hours every night. You’ll need to put in time to conduct experiments, analyze data, and write reports and proposals. 

Is Environmental Science Hard? Final Thoughts

If you wish to major in environmental science, you should be aware that success in this profession requires a great deal of commitment and effort.

Environmental science is not difficult if you are passionate about the environment. Environmental science is suited you if you appreciate engaging in hands-on activities and learning from real-world experiences.

If you have a passion for the environment and want to assist protect it, environmental science is a fantastic option. To earn a decent grade, you will need to study diligently, but it won’t be a chore.

Students interested in environmental science have access to a variety of possibilities. Work in government agencies, non-profit groups, and commercial corporations are examples. Students may also elect to conduct research.

Learn more about related subjects and degrees: 

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Written by:

Chris Wood
I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from Stanford University. I’ve been working as a Software Engineer for the past 5 years. While working in this field I’ve had the pleasure of developing software in a wide variety of industries. I look forward to using my experience in order to find a role where I can utilize my creativity and passion for solving complex software engineering problems.

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