Course Advice

First-Year Students

Students interested in environmental issues should begin their studies with Introduction to Environmental Studies (ENVST 100), which provides a broad overview of the field. ENVST 100 is a requirement for both the major and the minor.  Other recommended introductory courses include Introductory Biology (BIOL 145), General Chemistry I (CHEM 101), World Regional Geography (GEOG 105), Introduction to the Physical Environment (GEOG 107/108), Physical Geology (GEOL 100), Environmental Geology (GEOL 101/107), Oceanography (GEOL 103), Foundations of Physics (PHYS 100), Renewable Energy (PHYS 104), Force, Motion, and Energy (PHYS 110), and Introduction to the Ideas and Applications of Statistics (STAT 140).

All students must take a 100-level lab science (required for 200-level lab science courses in environmental studies) and a course in statistics.

Introductory Courses

All students must take Environmental Studies 100, Introduction to Environmental Studies. Other recommended introductory courses: BIOL 145 (Introductory Biology), CHEM 101 (General Chemistry I), GEOG 105 (World Regional Geography), GEOG 107 (Introduction to the Physical Environment), GEOG 108 (Introduction to the Physical Environment with lab), GEOL 100 (Physical Geology), GEOL 101 (Environmental Geology with lab), GEOL 107 (Environmental Geology), GEOL 103 (Oceanography), PHYS 100 (Foundations of Physics), PHYS 104 (Renewable Energy), PHYS 110 (Force, Motion, and Energy), and STAT 140 (Introduction to the Ideas and Applications of Statistics). Note that a 100-level science course with lab is a pre-requisite for the ES 200-level Group A core courses and is a distribution requirement for the college. See each concentration for particular statistics requirements or recommendations.

Intermediate Courses

All students must take two courses from Group A and three courses from Group B (see major requirements checklist for comprehensive lists of Group A and Group B courses). In Group A, one of the courses must be ENVST 200, Environmental Science, or BIOL 223 Ecology, or GEOL 203 Surface Processes. (Note the two course requirement in Group A can be met by taking two of these required courses.) In Group B, one of the courses must be ECON 203 Environmental Economics, ENVST 210 Political Ecology, or POLIT 266 Environmental Politics in America, and ONE must be an approved humanities course. Other recommended intermediate courses: CHEM 201 (General Chemistry II), ECON 220 (Introduction to Econometrics), STAT 240 (Elementary Data Analysis and Experimental Design). See each concentration for particular statistics requirements or recommendations.

Intermediate and Advanced Courses

The program offers intermediate-level courses on such topics as political ecology, environmental change, and reading/writing about nature. Advanced courses (300 level) include conference courses on issues such as sustainable agriculture, ecosystem science, environmental history, conservation, and the capstone course for the major, Senior Seminar in Environmental Studies (ENVST 390).

Majors and minors also take courses in other departments at Mount Holyoke and, through the Five College Consortium, at Amherst, Hampshire, and Smith Colleges and the University of Massachusetts. A list of approved courses is available below (Major and Minor Checklist and Concentration Checklists) and in the department office.

  • Environmental Studies Independent Research/Thesis Guidelines 2013-2014
  • Environmental Studies Independent Research/Thesis Guidelines 2014-2015

Major and Minor Checklist

  • Introductory and Intermediate Courses

Concentration Checklists

  • Conservation
  • Ecosystem Science
  • Environment and Development 
  • Environmental Politics, Policy, and Economics
  • Geoscience
  • Natural History
  • Nature/Culture/History