Study Environmental Studies at the University of Montana

The University of Montana environmental studies program shapes students into environmental leaders of the future by providing an education that emphasizes community engagement and environmental problem-solving.

We are passionate faculty and students who strive make a difference in the environment, both personally and professionally.

Through classroom, experiential and service learning, students gain the skills needed to engage in effective environmental thought and action — skill sets they can apply throughout their lives and future careers.

10 Acre

PEAS Farm where students learn the science and practice of sustainable farming


certificate options available within the Environmental Studies major


of Environmental Studies students complete an internship

Other Environmental Studies Degree Options at UM

Minor in Environmental Studies

Bachelor of Science in Sustainability Science and Practice

Master of Science in Environmental Studies

BA in Environmental Studies: Environmental Justice Certificate

BA in Environmental Studies:  Indigenous Knowledge and Environmental Sustainability Certificate

BA in Environmental Studies: Sustainable Agricultural and Food Systems Certificate

BA in Environmental Studies: Environmental and Nature Writing Certificate

What can you do with an environmental studies degree?

Environmental studies majors hone their skills in analysis, writing and problem-solving, and sustainable use of resources. Many of our alumni are entrepreneurs, nonprofit leaders and employees in government environmental agencies.

Some students opt to pursue their master’s in environmental studies or bachelor’s in sustainability and practice. Others may further their studies in sustainability, environmental writing, environmental law and environmental justice.

What is environmental studies?

Environmental studies examines human interaction with the environment, as well as solutions to environmental problems while considering ethical and multicultural perspectives. This interdisciplinary field brings together the natural sciences, social sciences and the humanities to understand and address pressing environmental problems. The environmental studies field often involves field-based work across disciplines with the people who make up our local and global communities.

Environmental studies jobs

  • Sustainability professional
  • Nonprofit program manager
  • Environmental educator
  • Environmental scientist
  • Agroecologist
  • Entrepreneur
  • Nature conservation specialist
  • Government agency manager
  • Nonprofit executive director
  • Environmental consultant

Environmental studies salaries

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, environmental scientists and specialists can earn $73,230 per year. Conservation specialists can earn $64,010 per year. 

Student Success Story

After I took the Sustainable Communities course my freshman year, I thought: ‘This is where I belong.’ It introduced all of these topics that were completely new to me. And it really drew me in.”

- Zoe Transtrum, Class of 2022

Experiential learning in the environmental studies degree program

UM’s environmental studies program embraces and exemplifies community-engaged teaching, research and service. We provide students with valuable learning opportunities through civic engagement, applied research, class projects and internships.

Environmental Citizenship, a project-based class, pairs students with campus and community partners to complete sustainability projects. Two students recently conducted a composting survey of businesses in the food and beverage industry and entered their findings into a city-wide zero waste contest. They proposed starting a Zero Waste Certification for Missoula businesses and their project won the competition. As a result, the city began the We Pledge! Program.

Internship and service learning in the environmental studies degree

Environmental studies students intern with a variety of governmental offices, nonprofits and businesses in Missoula and around the state.

For instance, through the PEAS (Program in Ecological Agriculture and Sustainability) Farm supervised internship, students get their hands dirty in every facet of UM’s 10-acre PEAS farm, sowing seeds, transplanting and harvesting all while learning about community-based agriculture. Students grow 15,000 pounds of food each year for Missoula Food Bank and the farm’s community-supported agriculture program. Students also host hundreds of local children at the farm through a practicum class.

In our native plant and ethnobotany supervised internship, students gain hands-on experience with about native plant gardens, invasive species, restoring natural areas and ethnobotany of Native peoples while working in native plant gardens on campus and around Missoula.

The MontPIRG (Montana Public Interest Research Group) internship provides students with the tools to foster positive social environmental change through community organizing and activism. Interns gain valuable civic engagement and leadership skills.

Career development in the environmental studies major

Environmental studies creates thinkers who can do and doers who can think. Notable alumni include a current state legislator, the founder and director of the nonprofit Indigenous Vision, two Missoula County commissioners, the superintendent of Glacier National Park, and the in-house botanical illustrator for the U.S. Botanic Garden.

The program imparts knowledge, skills, perspectives and practical experiences that allow students to understand and work effectively on environmental problems in various sectors, including nonprofits, government and business.

Networking and professional development in the environmental studies program

Environmental studies strongly encourages students to work together and with the community. Many serve on the Kless Sustainability Fund, which funds student-initiated climate and clean energy projects on campus. Students organize a variety of Earth Week activities.  The program also offers a Sustainability Careers course where students hear about the career paths of our many successful alumni.

Many environmental studies students are involved in UM’s student government, known as the Associated Students of UM – or ASUM. Elected as senators or to the ASUM cabinet, our students build leadership skills and bring change to campus and the greater Missoula community.

Clubs and student organizations for environmental studies majors

The UM Forum for Living with Appropriate Technology (FLAT), a student-run residential community next to campus, is dedicated to everyday sustainability in urban settings. Environmental studies majors carry out sustainability projects on the FLAT site and conduct community sustainability education and outreach.

Students also participate in such environmentally focused student groups as the ASUM Sustainability Center, and the UM Climate Response Club, which engages and mobilizes the campus community to combat the climate crisis.

Environmental studies scholarships

UM cares about the environment and the students helping to protect it. A number of scholarships are available for environmental studies majors, including the Kain-McKay scholarship.

Learn more about scholarship opportunities for environmental studies majors.

Explore classes for environmental studies

The environmental studies curriculum is interdisciplinary, with courses in food systems, environmental justice, environmental history, sustainability studies, policy, writing, ethics, environmental science and ecology. In the Sustainable Communities course, students conduct interviews with community leaders and learn about the connections among environmental, economic and social systems. 

View all classes for the bachelor’s degree in environmental studies.