Study Abroad for Environmental Studies Majors

Explore the Global Environment!

A variety of environmental problems now affect our entire planet. As globalization continues and the earth’s natural processes transform local problems into international ones, no societies are untouched by major environmental problems.

UCSB’s Environmental Studies Program strongly encourages its students to consider completing some portion of their undergraduate study through the Education Abroad Program (EAP) or similar “off-campus” studies program. An opportunity to study in a foreign university not only offers an international dimension to an undergraduate education, but can deepen a student’s understanding of the causes and effects of today’s environmental problems on a global scale.

Why study abroad?

Each year dozens of Environmental Studies (ES) majors study abroad. With careful academic planning, ES majors can have an experience of a lifetime studying in a foreign university with no loss of time in completing their degrees. Develop a global understanding of the structure and dynamics of complex environmental systems and enhance your future career through classroom, laboratory and field experiences that are unique to the country and region in which you study.

Where should I study abroad?

UC’s Education Abroad Program provides Environmental Studies students opportunities to study environmental problems and issues in over 30 countries located on six different continents. Students wishing to complete a substantial part of your major requirements abroad have a wide variety of options. There are over 20 different countries with host universities that have environmental studies programs or departments. Additional countries offer a variety of environmental courses through more “traditional” academic departments such as biology, sociology, geography, and anthropology. And with the option for students to satisfy your “outside concentration” requirement by taking units from any single, non-environmental, department or program, ES majors have a world of choices.

See this web page for a list and links to EAP programs particularly for environmental studies and biology.

When should I study abroad?

ES majors are advised to complete their lower-division preparation courses at UCSB before leaving to study abroad during the academic year. Summer programs are popular for students with sophomore standing.

Transfer students are eligible to participate as early as their first quarter at UCSB. For more information, visit the EAP web site.

What classes should I take?

Keep in mind that students in the College of Letters and Science must complete at least 20 units of upper-division major coursework (or 12 upper-division minor units) in residence at UCSB along with other residence requirements. Consult an advisor in the College of Letters & Science for more information.

Depending on a student’s area of academic interest and the number and type of courses offered at their host university, it is possible for an ES major to apply as many as 36 upper-division EAP units towards major requirements. Here are some helpful guidelines for applying EAP courses towards major requirements, including the maximum number of EAP upper-division units that may be applied:

For B.A. and B.S. ES majors:

  • Area A (required courses) -- max 4 units. The description of the EAP course must be VERY similar (70% +) to the course offered/required at UCSB.
  • Area B (electives) -- max 12 units. Either the course content is similar to an ES course offered at UCSB, OR it’s a unique course, with no UCSB equivalent, that studies how humans interact with their natural environment.  NOTE:  ES B.S. majors must complete 20 units from the B-1 elective list (emphasizing physical and/or natural science concepts).  Students may apply EAP units to this section, but you must prove that the course integrates physical or natural sciences concepts while addressing an environmental topic.  Generally, if the course has a biology, chemistry, math, statistics, or earth science prerequisite, then chances are good it will apply to Area B-1.
  • Area C (outside concentration) -- up to the entire 16 (B.S.) or 20 (B.A.) units. This is the most flexible part of the ES major. Students may follow one of two options:
  1. Single department option:  Complete any 16-20 upper-division, letter-graded units from any ONE department or program.  
  2. Interdisciplinary emphasis:  Combine 16-20 upper-division units from more than one department or program to create a concentration of study that forms a coherent emphasis linking the Area C courses together.  Students pursuing this option must justify how the chosen courses relate to each other and create a desired emphasis. Students may combine units from both UCSB and abroad to meet one of these two requirements.

For Hydrologic Sciences and Policy majors:

  • Area A (required courses) – max 8 units.
  • Area B (required for emphasis) -- max 4-8 units.
  • Area C (electives) -- max 8-12 units.

Note: Area A and Area B required courses must match the UCSB course content very closely.  Area C electives may be similar to a UCSB course, OR they may be hydrology-related courses with no UCSB equivalent or are related to your emphasis.

EAP students automatically earn UC credit for the work they complete abroad. However, application of credit to major requirements is subject to the discretion of the department and approval of the college.

Check the EAP Course Catalog for specific courses taken by UC students on EAP during the last five years. More courses may be found by navigating to the host universities’ websites.

How do I get started?

Begin by identifying your goals for study abroad and then consult the EAP web pages ( to identify appropriate EAP programs. To find programs which offer particular disciplines or to search courses taken by EAP students over the last 5 years by subject, keyword and/or location, explore the resources found under Program Search and Course Catalog. Navigate to host universities’ web sites on the available links to learn more about the schools and their departments.

Stop by the EAP office at 2431 South Hall. Peer advisors who have recently returned from studying abroad as well as staff advisors are eager to answer your questions. Go see your Undergraduate Advisor in the department office and make an appointment to speak with an advisor in the College of Letters & Science. 

Department of Environmental Studies
4312 Bren Hall, Rm. 4312 
University of California, Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-4160
Phone: (805) 893-2968

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