Study Climate Change at the University of Montana

Study climate change in one of the first programs of its kind in the nation. Open to all University of Montana students, the minor in climate change studies focuses on climate science, climate in society and solutions.

This program takes an in-depth look at the many different faces of climate change, giving you the opportunity to explore what fits your interests and collaborate with a diverse group of peers. It also offers exciting opportunities for hands-on learning — from field studies to study abroad to service-learning in the community.

With a minor in climate change studies, you’ll work with faculty across departments and disciplines. You might conduct research on the Greenland ice sheet with a geology professor. Create a sustainability plan for a local shop with a business professor. Study the evolution of climate reporting and rhetoric with a journalism or communication professor. Or travel to Vietnam to learn about local climate adaptation with our program coordinator.

Our graduates are effective agents of climate action in their chosen fields and are sought after by employers for their interdisciplinary knowledge and real-world training.


undergraduate climate change studies program in the U.S.


recipients of the prestigious Udall Foundation Scholarship


majors at UM represented by climate change studies students

What can you do with a minor in climate change studies?

Climate change encompasses many of today’s most urgent challenges — from global warming, to deforestation, to energy and greenhouse gas pollution, and all the economic and societal impacts that result. It’s not a problem that will be solved only by climate change experts: it is solved by people across the economy bringing a climate awareness to their work, whether that’s in biology, environmental studies, business or journalism. That’s where our graduates excel, and why they are in high demand by employers in Montana, across the nation and around the globe.

Climate change jobs

  • Climatologist
  • Environmental engineer
  • Journalist
  • Renewable energy technician
  • Geoscientist
  • Environmental lawyer
  • Wildlife biologist
  • Sustainability consultant
  • Clean car engineer

Climate change studies alumni careers

Alumni include a researcher on the Greenland ice sheet, an illustrator at the U.S. Botanical Gardens and a Montana state legislator. Others have gone on to careers in journalism or work with local and international businesses and environmental organizations. It’s also common for our graduates to find jobs through the many internships we offer through this program.

Alumni Success Story: Carmen Thissen

Carmen Thissen graduated in spring 2020 with degrees in ecology and organismal biology and climate change studies. Thissen won an Annie's Sustainable Agriculture Scholarship, which made it possible for her to study agriculture and aquaculture at the University of Hawaii for a semester. After graduation, Carmen landed a job with the international NGO Business for Nature!

Beyond the classroom: Hands-on learning in the climate change studies program

When you study climate change at UM, you’ll apply your learning outside the classroom from day one. Our introductory seminar class will have you design and implement your own project to learn the importance of small actions, personal momentum, and the role of individual and societal changes. From there, you’ll continue to build on this foundation of experiential learning — through internships, field experiences and more — to understand firsthand the meaning and value of climate action and engagement.

Climate change studies internships

Internships run the gamut from self-designed work with a local supervisor to national internship programs. Examples include working for a semester at the PEAS Farm, UM Gardens, Soil Cycle, Free Cycles, and other local, sustainability-focused institutions. Other students have worked with interest groups to follow the legislative session, joined a media team to produce human climate stories from around the state or created climate training materials for park rangers in Glacier National Park.

Climate change studies field experiences

Journey to the Mekong Delta to learn about climate change impacts on Vietnam's culture, ecology and economy in a summer intensive field course. Or bicycle 600 miles across Montana while learning about climate change, global warming and Montana’s role in creating sustainable energy solutions. You’ll have these opportunities and more through several field courses in the climate studies program. 

Climate change studies practicum projects and research

Design individual, semester-length or yearlong projects involving research, community engagement and a final deliverable. Recent examples include creating a carbon inventory and reduction plan for a local business, a global study of the interaction between climate change and human migration with a final policy white paper, and a two-year project to create a children's book about processing ecological grief. We also offer opportunities for undergraduate research for climate studies minors.

Career development in the climate change studies program

Connect with clubs, volunteer opportunities, jobs and more in the climate change studies program at the University of Montana.

Networking and professional development

We work with the Office of Sustainability (and other sustainability-minded offices at the University of Montana) to share and mentor interns interested in working on campus initiatives. We also maintain a strong network with the Missoula and Montana community, through which students often find jobs, internships or social networks allowing them to work on real-world climate action.

Clubs and student organizations

Our Climate Response Club is a student-run group that works on everything from mental health support to campus climate policy and is mentored through Climate Change Studies.

Explore classes for the climate change studies minor

The 21-credit climate change studies minor requires you to complete a three-credit interdisciplinary, team-taught introductory course and six credits in each of the science, society and solution areas. We also offer new special topics courses each year. Examples have included Energy and Climate, Human Health and Climate, Climate in the Media, and the Economics of Climate Change, to name a few.

View all classes for the climate change studies program.