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Potsdam Prepared: Fall 2021 Updates

SUNY Potsdam Launches Career-Ready Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Science

November 4, 2021

SUNY Potsdam Announces Interdisciplinary Bachelor of Science Degree in Environmental Science 

Veronica Borracci '22 examines rock formations along the Raquette River in Colton as part of her geology field methods class in Dr. Sara Bier.

SUNY Potsdam is proud to announce its newest baccalaureate degree in the growing field of environmental science. The new Bachelor of Science degree program integrates coursework in the sciences and environmental studies, to prepare graduates for fulfilling careers in environmental protection and conservation. 

“Environmental scientists use their knowledge to protect the environment and public health and safety. They make sure that we have clean air and water, protect organisms and ecosystems, write and oversee environmental regulations, and communicate with the public and policymakers,” said Department of Geology Chair Dr. Michael Rygel, who helped to develop the new program. “We were a natural fit to develop a program here at SUNY Potsdam, given our existing strengths in the STEM fields and the many opportunities we offer for field experiences.” 

The average salary for environmental scientists is $73,320 per year, and the bachelor’s degree is the typical entry degree, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nearly 10,000 job openings are projected annually for the field, and there is a projection of 8 percent growth for environmental science jobs between now and 2030—making the new major a promising choice for many new students, Rygel said. 

“This curriculum provides comprehensive, interdisciplinary training that gives our students the background they need to help solve some of society’s most pressing problems,” he said. 

Trent Kirkey '24 collects samples from the Raquette River in Potsdam during his biology class with Dr. Walt Conley.

The interdisciplinary degree will be housed in the Department of Geology, and brings together coursework from across The School of Arts and Sciences, with a particular emphasis on courses from three of SUNY Potsdam’s departments which already have a heavy focus on the environment: 

  • Biology: Understanding of animals, plants and ecosystems 

  • Environmental studies: Understanding of human impacts, policy and planning 

  • Geology: Understanding of soil, water, pollution and natural hazards 

Students can begin majoring in the field starting in the Spring 2022 semester. The program includes 30 credits of foundational math and science courses, 29 credits of core classes focused on the Earth’s major systems, and a minimum of 14 credits in elective courses. Students can further explore their interests by pursuing a concentration, a minor or even a double major in allied fields, including biology, chemistry, geology/GIS, or policy and sustainability.  

Environmental science students will also benefit from SUNY Potsdam’s dedication to applied learning, with numerous opportunities to gain field experience, conduct research alongside faculty, complete internships, and take part in service learning activities.  

SUNY Potsdam’s Department of Geology prepares students for in-demand careers in the sciences, or for further study on the graduate or professional level. The department offers majors in geology, geographic information science (GIS) and environmental science, with a strong focus on both lab and field experience. SUNY Potsdam’s location in the St. Lawrence Valley near the Adirondack Mountains provides a natural laboratory for students in all of the department’s programs. To learn more, visit www.potsdam.edu/academics/AAS/depts/geol. 

About SUNY Potsdam:  

Founded in 1816, The State University of New York at Potsdam is one of America’s first 50 colleges—and the oldest institution within SUNY. Now in its third century, SUNY Potsdam is distinguished by a legacy of pioneering programs and educational excellence. The College currently enrolls approximately 3,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Home to the world-renowned Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam is known for its challenging liberal arts and sciences core, distinction in teacher training and culture of creativity. To learn more, visit www.potsdam.edu. 

For Media Inquiries

Alexandra Jacobs Wilke

jacobsam@potsdam.edu 315-267-2918

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