B.S. Environmental Science and B.A. Environmental Studies

HPU Downtoan and Loa campus

What is Environmental Science/Studies?


The challenges of today’s environment, such as air and water pollution, species loss, peak oil and climate change, are complex and interconnected issues. The interdisciplinary field of Environmental Science/Studies is dedicated to the study of these critical problems with the aim to identify feasible solutions. Environmental Science focuses on the study of natural systems and the application of technology to protect and improve the environment. Environmental Studies focuses on the interaction between human and natural systems and the connection between science and policy.

The B.S. major is designed for those students with an interest in more technical aspects of environmental systems. Students take a series of rigorous courses in chemistry, physics, biology, earth systems science, and mathematics. Upper level B.S. students can follow a general environmental science track, or complement their environmental science courses with a biology or chemistry concentration.

The B.A. major is designed for students with an interest in the policy and management aspects of environmental and sustainability issues. Coursework includes a foundation in environmental science (via introductory courses in chemistry, biology, and earth systems and environmental science). Students build upon that foundation with courses in economics, policy, communication, management, and ethics to gain a breadth of perspective for examining environmental and sustainability issues.


Environmental and sustainability issues are overarching and complex; addressing these issues requires a unique set of skills. Therefore both majors utilize an interdisciplinary approach, build critical analysis and problem solving skills, and provide students with experience in a wide range of tools. Students from both majors work together in many of the same upper division courses, fostering respect for diverse perspectives and abilities, and building skills for working effectively within interdisciplinary teams.

What can I do with an ENVS degree?

The B.S. Environmental Science major prepares students for advanced studies in the environmental sciences or careers in the private or public sectors as environmental scientists.

The B.A. Environmental Studies major prepares students for advanced studies in environmental policy, management, or law and for careers in the increasing number of public and private organizations and companies pursuing environmental and sustainability goals.

Why do I want to study environmental science/studies at HPU?HPU Loa Campus

  • We have a unique location for studying the environment -- tropical ecosystems, coral reefs, volcanoes, and watersheds. The surrounding natural beauty provides us with exceptional opportunities for field trips and class, lab, and practicum projects. Examples include on-campus projects at the University's Hawai'i Loa campus, boat labs on Kaneohe Bay, and field monitoring at nearby He’eia stream.
  • Our island setting provides a microcosm of national/global environmental and sustainability issues related to energy, water, natural resources, and coral reefs, all within our own unique context and at a local scale. Our island is home to many communities (rural, urban, agricultural, military) and hosts a wide mix of cultures from the Pacific Islands, Asia, Europe and the United States.
  • Our students in this program come from all over the world -- many from the mainland United States, but we also have students from, among other countries, France, Malaysia, India, the Caribbean, Brazil, Ecuador, Sweden, Norway, and Japan. This provides a culturally rich experience for students both in and out of the classroom.
  • Some of our special program features include student interaction with the community through practicum and research experiences for hands-on, project-based learning; on-going faculty mentoring of students; and regularly scheduled information meetings and programs about the curriculum and career opportunities.
  • Our majors provide many choices for students depending on their interests, background, and abilities. Our small class sizes allow for greater interaction among students and faculty that can further cultivate individual interests and experiences.