Environmental Science Degree
Earn Your Environmental Science Degree
The Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science at GCU prepares students to explore issues related to environmental science and environmental health and remediation. Graduates learn to engage in the principles of social and ecological responsibility and humanitarianism.
Students who earn an environmental science degree use critical thinking to apply their learning in practical ways. Coursework includes both lectures and labs to ensure students develop a deep understanding of scientific theory and know how to apply it in real-world settings.
The College of Science, Engineering and Technology designed this environmental studies degree program to produce well-rounded scientists who are comfortable with inquiry, research and practical methodology. To ensure these outcomes, the college defined the following coursework domains:
- Science Foundations
Explain and apply biological, chemical and physical principles and concepts
- Scientific Communication
Access and think critically about current research to demonstrate scientific inquiry skills
- Professionalism and Ethics
Research and put into practice the historical, social, professional, ethical and legal aspects of environmental science
- Data Mining and Statistical Modeling
Retrieve data and translate it into useful information, within in a given context
- Environmental and Human Health Regulations
Examine and select the appropriate regulations for environmental and human health protection
- Environmental Science
Apply laboratory and field techniques to the practices of environmental assessment and remediation
- Environmental Health
Perform risk assessment of various contaminants to determine environmental and human health impact
To demonstrate the necessary skills needed to matriculate into an environmental science career, graduates complete a capstone project. The project includes an extensive written scientific report or proposal based on your personal research and/or industry experiences. Course content and scientific practice knowledge are integrated into the project.
Study Sustainability and Environmental Management
This environmental science degree from GCU gives graduates strong foundations of science, communication, statistics and research, and environmental and human health. In addition, the program stresses important workplace skills, such as the ability to work as a team, strong work ethic, analytic skills, adaptability and thoughtful communication.
The program includes courses in the areas of:
- Chemistry, including environmental, organic and analytical chemistry
- Biology, including microbiology
- Environmental law, management and sustainability
- Probability and statistics
- Environmental and Human Health Risk Assessment
- Chemical Investigation and Remediation Strategies
Environmental Science Degree Careers
This Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science program can lead to a number of potential career choices. Some students may begin an environmental science-related position right away while others may opt to further their academic studies with graduate coursework and specialize further in a certain environmental area.
Graduates may find work as:
- Environmental engineering techs
- Environmental scientists
- Geoscientists or specialists
- Environmental science and protection techs
- Environmental science postsecondary teachers
- Occupational health and safety specialists
They may also work as a scientist, consultant, analyst, manager, instructor or researcher.
If you have a passion for the environment and want to use your love of science to help make a difference, environmental science might be the right career path for you. Join other globally-focused scientists in the Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science degree program at GCU.
General Education Requirements
General Education coursework prepares Grand Canyon University graduates to think critically, communicate clearly, live responsibly in a diverse world, and thoughtfully integrate their faith and ethical convictions into all dimensions of life. These competencies, essential to an effective and satisfying life, are outlined in the General Education Learner Outcomes. General Education courses embody the breadth of human understanding and creativity contained in the liberal arts and sciences tradition. Students take an array of foundational knowledge courses that promote expanded knowledge, insight, and the outcomes identified in the University's General Education Competencies. The knowledge and skills students acquire through these courses serve as a foundation for successful careers and lifelong journeys of growing understanding and wisdom.
Upon completion of the Grand Canyon University's University Foundation experience, students will be able to demonstrate competency in the areas of academic skills and self-leadership. They will be able to articulate the range of resources available to assist them, explore career options related to their area of study, and have knowledge of Grand Canyon's community. Students will be able to demonstrate foundational academic success skills, explore GCU resources (CLA, Library, Career Center, ADA office, etc), articulate strategies of self-leadership and management and recognize opportunities to engage in the GCU community.
- UNV-112, Success in Science, Engineering and Technology & Lab: 4
- UNV-103, University Success: 4
- UNV-303, University Success: 4
- UNV-108, University Success in the College of Education: 4
Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to construct rhetorically effective communications appropriate to diverse audiences, purposes, and occasions (English composition, communication, critical reading, foreign language, sign language, etc.). Students are required to take 3 credits of English grammar or composition.
- UNV-104, 21st Century Skills: Communication and Information Literacy: 4
- ENG-105, English Composition I: 4
- ENG-106, English Composition II: 4
Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to express aspects of Christian heritage and worldview. Students are required to take CWV-101/CWV-301.
- CWV-101, Christian Worldview: 4
- CWV-301, Christian Worldview: 4
Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to use various analytic and problem-solving skills to examine, evaluate, and/or challenge ideas and arguments (mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics, geology, astronomy, physical geography, ecology, economics, theology, logic, philosophy, technology, statistics, accounting, etc.). Students are required to take 3 credits of intermediate algebra or higher.
- MAT-154, Applications of College Algebra: 4
- MAT-144, College Mathematics: 4
- PHI-105, 21st Century Skills: Critical Thinking and Problem Solving: 4
- BIO-220, Environmental Science: 4
Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to demonstrate awareness and appreciation of and empathy for differences in arts and culture, values, experiences, historical perspectives, and other aspects of life (psychology, sociology, government, Christian studies, Bible, geography, anthropology, economics, political science, child and family studies, law, ethics, crosscultural studies, history, art, music, dance, theater, applied arts, literature, health, etc.). If the predefined course is a part of the major, students need to take an additional course.
- HIS-144, U.S. History Themes: 4
- PSY-102, General Psychology: 4
- SOC-100, Everyday Sociology: 4
Program Core Courses
This course is a study of biological concepts emphasizing the interplay of structure and function, particularly at the molecular and cellular levels of organization. Cell components and their duties are investigated, as well as the locations of cellular functions within the cell. The importance of the membrane is studied, particularly its roles in controlling movement of ions and molecules and in energy production. The effect of genetic information on the cell is followed through the pathway from DNA to RNA to protein. Co-requisite: BIO-181L.
This lab course is designed to reinforce principles learned in BIO-181 through experiments and activities which complement and enhance understanding of macromolecules, cell membrane properties, cellular components, and their contribution to cell structure and function. Assignments are designed to relate cellular processes such as metabolism, cell division, and the flow of genetic information to cell structure. Co-requisite: BIO-181.
This course examines the risks and the environmental impact of human behavior and population growth on natural resources. Emphasis is placed on a holistic approach to environmental science using hands-on exercises, environmental surveys, and class discussions to reinforce scientific principles.
This course presents the fundamentals of algebra and trigonometry with an applied emphasis; it provides the background and introduction for the study of calculus. Topics include review of linear equations and inequalities in one and multiple variables; functions and their graphs; polynomial, rational, exponential, logarithmic, and trigonometric functions; vectors and complex numbers. Slope and rate of change are introduced to set up the concepts of limits and derivatives. There is an emphasis on both an understanding of the mathematical concepts involved as well as their application to the principles and real-world problems encountered in science and engineering. Software is utilized to facilitate problem analysis and graphing. Prerequisite: MAT-134 or MAT-154.
This course provides an introduction to the principles and applications of microbiology and a study of the general characteristics of microorganisms, their activities, and their relationship to humans. Students develop understanding of microbial cell structure and function, microbial genetics, related pathologies, immunity, and other selected applied areas. Co-requisite: BIO-205L.
The laboratory section of BIO-205 supports further learning surrounding principles gained in the lecture course. Students develop fundamental skills in microbiological laboratory techniques, microscopy methodologies, and the isolation and identification of pathogenic microorganisms. Co-requisite: BIO-205.
This is the first course of a two-semester introduction to chemistry intended for undergraduates pursuing careers in the health professions and others desiring a firm foundation in chemistry. The course assumes no prior knowledge of chemistry and begins with basic concepts. Topics include an introduction to the scientific method, dimensional analysis, atomic structure, nomenclature, stoichiometry and chemical reactions, the gas laws, thermodynamics, chemical bonding, and properties of solutions. Co-Requisite: CHM-113L.
The laboratory section of CHM-113 reinforces and expands learning of principles introduced in the lecture course. Experiments include determination of density, classification of chemical reactions, the gas laws, determination of enthalpy change using calorimetry, and determination of empirical formula. Co-Requisite: CHM-113.
This course is a study of basic concepts of physics, including motion; forces; energy; the properties of solids, liquids, and gases; and heat and thermodynamics. The mathematics used includes algebra, trigonometry, and vector analysis. A primary course goal is to build a functional knowledge that allows students to more fully understand the physical world and to apply that understanding to other areas of the natural and mathematical sciences. Conceptual, visual, graphical, and mathematical models of physical phenomena are stressed. Students build critical thinking skills by engaging in individual and group problem-solving sessions. Prerequisite: MAT-154, MAT-250, MAT-261 or College Algebra. Co-Requisite: PHY-111L.
This course utilizes lab experimentation to practice concepts of physical principles introduced in the PHY-111 lecture course. Learners are able to perform the proper analysis and calculations to arrive at the correct quantifiable result when confronted with equations involving gravity, sound, energy, and motion. Prerequisite: MAT-154, MAT-250, MAT-261 or College Algebra. Co-Requisite: PHY-111.
A study of plants and animals as individuals and in communities in relation to their physical and biological environment. Prerequisite: BIO-181. Co-Requisite: BIO-320L.
A laboratory course designed to complement and support the principles being learned in Biology (BIO-320). Co-requisite: BIO-320.
This is the second course of a two-semester introduction to chemistry intended for undergraduates pursuing careers in the health professions and others desiring a firm foundation in chemistry. Upon successful completion of this course, students demonstrate knowledge and/or skill in solving problems involving the principles of chemical kinetics, chemical equilibrium, and thermodynamics; understanding chemical reactions using kinetics, equilibrium, and thermodynamics; comparing and contrasting the principal theories of acids and bases; solving equilibrium involving acids, bases, and buffers; describing solubility equilibrium; describing terms associated with electrochemistry and solving problems associated with electrochemistry; and describing fundamentals and applications of nuclear chemistry and organic chemistry. Prerequisites: CHM-113 and MAT-154 or higher. Co-Requisite: CHM-115L.
The laboratory section of CHM-115 reinforces and expands learning of principles introduced in the lecture course. Experiments include determination of rate law, examples of Le Châtelier’s principle, the use of pH indicators, buffer preparation, experimental determination of thermodynamic quantities, the use of electrochemical cells, and qualitative and quantitative analysis. Prerequisites: CHM-113L and MAT-154 or higher. Co-Requisite: CHM-115.
This course provides an introduction to the study of basic probability, descriptive and inferential statistics, and decision making. Emphasis is placed on measures of central tendency and dispersion, correlation, regression, discrete and continuous probability distributions, quality control population parameter estimation, and hypothesis testing. Prerequisite: Grade of C or better in MAT-134, MAT-144 or MAT-154.
This course will introduce students to the fundamentals of environmental protection laws in the United States, including environmental law in the areas of case law, common law and administrative law. Topics include air and water quality, toxic and hazardous substances, endangered species and wetlands, and coastal management issues.
This course is a survey of basic structure and reactivity of carbon-containing structures with examples in biological and industrial processes. Students will learn how to name organic compounds, draw and understand their structures in two and three dimensions, and learn how structure and reactivity are interrelated. Students will be able to describe reactivity in terms of addition, elimination, and substitution. Biological compounds discussed in the course include the structure and reactivity of carbohydrates and polysaccharides followed by amino acids and proteins. The final topic for the course is a discussion about industrially important polymers. Prerequisites: MAT-250 or MAT-261, CHM-115, and CHM-115L. Co-Requisite: CHM-235L.
This is the lab section of CHM-235. It supports the lecture with hands-on activities. Lab experiments expand students’ understanding of organic compounds, drawing and understanding their structures in two and three dimensions, and learning how structure and reactivity are interrelated. Students will be able to describe reactivity in terms of addition, elimination, and substitution. Biological compounds discussed in the course include the structure and reactivity of carbohydrates and polysaccharides followed by amino acids and proteins. The final topic for the course is a discussion about industrially important polymers. Prerequisites: MAT-250 or MAT-261, CHM-115, and CHM-115L. Co-Requisite: CHM-235.
This writing intensive course focuses on the fundamental chemical principles involved in environmental phenomena and how they are influenced by human actions. Prerequisite: CHM-115.
A study of the interaction between people and the geologic environment. Emphasis will be placed on catastrophic geologic processes, earth resources, pollution, and regional planning. Principles of Geographic Information System (GIS) will also be included.
This course introduces students to the concepts, data sources, and methodologies used in the field of human risk assessment, including environmental hazard identification, dose-response assessment, exposure assessment, risk characterization, and risk communication. Prerequisite: ENV-301.
This course will introduce students to environmental management practices and sustainability practices. Prerequisite: ENV-301.
This course introduces advanced principles and theory of quantitative analysis, including stoichiometry, equilibria, photometric methods, electrochemistry, separation processes, statistical data analysis, and applications to advanced topics in analytical chemistry. Sampling strategies and sample preparation for analysis will also be discussed. Prerequisite: CHM-235, CHM-235L or CHM-231, CHM-231L. Co-Requisite: CHM-315L.
This course will discuss the fundamental principles of analytical chemistry. Topics will include sampling strategies, sample preparations and analysis, instrument operation, data collection and statistical analysis, and presentation of results. Prerequisites: CHM-235 and CHM-235L or CHM-231 and CHM-231L. Co-Requisite: CHM-315.
This course introduces students to the quantitative, qualitative, and instrumental analysis of various sample types. Methods for selecting proper techniques to answer various questions are discussed. Analytical methods for the qualitative and quantitative analyses of sample by gas chromatography, mass spectroscopy, infrared spectroscopy, fluorescence spectroscopy, capillary and gel electrophoresis, and ultraviolet and visible spectroscopy are also covered. Other techniques, such as high-pressure liquid chromatography and thin layer chromatography, are discussed as well. Prerequisites: 1) CHM-231 and CHM-231L, or 2) CHM-235 and CHM-235L. Co-Requisite: CHM-365L.
The laboratory section of CHM-365 reinforces and expands learning of principles introduced in the lecture course. This course allows students to apply quantitative, qualitative, and instrumental analysis of various sample types. Focus is on the validity of results. Analytical methods for the qualitative and quantitative analyses of sample by gas chromatography, mass spectroscopy, infrared spectroscopy, fluorescence spectroscopy, capillary and gel are also covered. Prerequisites: 1) CHM-231 and CHM-231L, or 2) CHM-235 and CHM-235L. Co-Requisite: CHM-365.
This course introduces students to various strategies that exist for remediating contaminated environmental samples, including air, water, and land. The following will also be discussed -- methods of site analysis, toxicology of chemical contamination, use of chemical fingerprinting, determination of exposure methods and exposure routes, analysis of epidemiological data, general methods for remediation of toxic and hazardous wastes, and use of both technical and moral considerations in decision making. Prerequisites: Prerequisites: BIO-181, BIO-181L and one of the following combinations: 1) CHM-231, CHM-231L, or 2) CHM-235, CHM-235L. Co-Requisite: ENV-402L.
This course introduces students to various strategies that exist for remediating contaminated environmental samples, including air, water, and land. The following will also be discussed -- methods of site analysis, toxicology of chemical contamination, use of chemical fingerprinting, determination of exposure methods and exposure routes, analysis of epidemiological data, general methods for remediation of toxic and hazardous wastes, and use of both technical and moral considerations in decision making. Prerequisites: BIO-181, BIO-181L and one of the following combinations: 1) CHM-231, CHM-231L, or 2) CHM-235, CHM-235L. Co-Requisite: ENV-402.
The capstone project is a culmination of the learning experiences while a student in the science programs at Grand Canyon University. Students discuss and write on current topics in their field and prepare an extensive written scientific report or proposal on select topics on the sciences, relevant to their program of study. The capstone project needs to reflect synthesis and integration of course content and good scientific practice. This is a writing intensive course. Prerequisite: Senior status.