10 Best Online Environmental Science Degrees

Worried about global warming, or how we can conserve species for generations to come? You might be a future environmental scientist and should pursue a Best Online Bachelor’s in Environmental Science.

Environmental Science is the exciting field of science pertaining to ecology, wildlife biology, natural resource conservation and management, and any other topics related to the vast and diverse world we live in. You’ll work in the lab as well as in the field, and use your skills to better the ecological world around you.

If you enjoy exploring the relationships between all organisms and how those relationships impact the global community, an Environmental Science degree might be the degree for you.

What is an Environmental Science degree?

A degree in Environmental Science allows graduates multiple opportunities for career specialization and personal exploration. While most degrees offer endless pathways, most students will begin by earning a basic undergraduate degree that includes courses like ecology, chemistry, geology, and biology.

As an Environmental Science student, you will also begin to demonstrate your knowledge in these topics by extending them to real-world environmental issues in the field and lab. Upon graduation, you will be prepared to work in a variety of fields, such as renewable energy, wildlife conservation, or environmental engineering, as well as to explore further studies.

How much can you earn with an Environmental Science degree?

Average earnings of Environmental Science graduates vary.  Most earn at least $69,400 per year, with the highest paid professionals working for the federal government and in engineering services. Other well-paid individuals are those working for local governments or in consulting. 

Environmental Science fields are facing increasing demands as the public becomes more interested in environmental protection. As our global population grows and more stress is placed on the environment, we need professionals to help analyze environmental problems and to respond to potential issues. As a result, graduates have good job prospects with an estimated 11 percent growth by 2026. 

What is required for an Environmental Science degree?

Environmental scientists develop strong scientific, mathematical, and analytical skills. You will need to be a good problem solver and take basic coursework in topics like biology, chemistry, statistics and geology. Many students will also pursue customized plans with electives such as Wildlife Management, Ichthyology, and Environmental Engineering and Planning.

Some states and municipalities will require graduates to pass certain examinations before beginning their new careers, but internships and other work-related experiences are generally more desirable to potential employers. You will need to have extensive experience in the lab and field to be successful in your career.

What are the best Environmental Science degrees?

OSR uses six data points: three school-wide and three program specific. For school-wide, OSR uses Student Satisfaction, Admission Rates, and the number of programs the school offers online. For program specific, OSR checks the Median Debt of graduates from that program, how many degrees are offered within that program’s umbrella department, and what percentage of students at that school graduated from that department.

The six statistics are displayed by each school. The sliding bar under each statistic represents how that school compares to other US institutions. “Not reported” means a school did not release that information to the US Department of Education. A more detailed description of the OSR process can be found on the methodology page.

  1. Prescott College

    20-Year ROI
    $650,436

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $28,896(in state) / $28,896(out of state)
    • Four different start dates each year
    • Credit available for life experiences 
    • Hybrid program allows for local collaboration with community partners

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction85%
    Admission Rate95%
    Programs offered online36

    Program Level

    Median DebtNot Reported
    Programs in Department1
    Popularity at School19.13%
    100%
    OSR Score

    This diverse program offers accelerated pathways to a Prescott master’s degree in environmental studies and sustainability, one of few colleges in the nation to do so. The program is heavy in liberal arts and develops profound ecological literacy in all students, giving them the ability to pursue careers in environmental law, planning, and more. All online programs are flexible, giving students the ability to complete all coursework remotely.

  2. Oregon State University

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $9,075(in state) / $27,735(out of state)
    • Offers multiple specialization areas, such as aquatic biology 
    • All courses are developed by world-renowned faculty
    • Full range of support services, like career centers and disability access

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction72%
    Admission Rate79%
    Programs offered online20

    Program Level

    Median Debt$22,836
    Programs in Department3
    Popularity at School5.76%
    95%
    OSR Score

    This program, requiring 180 quarter credits, can be started at one of four convenient start times per year. It is the most military-friendly school on the list, offering a wide variety of support services and generous financial aid. Students can also pursue related certificates and minors in topics such as environmental policy, agriculture, and water resources.

  3. American Public University System

    20-Year ROI
    $1,257,003

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $6,480(in state) / $6,480(out of state)
    • Program is taught by expert practitioners in environmental management
    • Allows students to transfer up to 90 credits
    • Free transcript evaluation and quick application process

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction73%
    Admission RateNot Reported
    Programs offered online45

    Program Level

    Median Debt$26,443
    Programs in Department1
    Popularity at School3.80%
    94%
    OSR Score

    This 120-credit program is taught by current professionals in areas such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Nature Conservancy, and more. Students can complete their coursework entirely online, and even have access to a one-of-a-kind mobile application that allows them to complete assignments offline. This affordable program provides multiple financial aid options, including a credit for textbooks and extensive military assistance.

  4. Excelsior College

    Quick Facts

    • Generous transfer credit for previous college and real-world experiences 
    • All classes are asynchronous and available at any time of day 
    • Flexible tuition payment options

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction67%
    Admission RateNot Reported
    Programs offered online51

    Program Level

    Median DebtNot Reported
    Programs in Department1
    Popularity at School< 1%
    93%
    OSR Score

    This natural sciences program is designed for working adults and offers one of the most flexible structures of all the schools on this list. Students work with award-winning faculty advisors and benefit from instructors who teach at institutions all around the world. The school offers affordable tuition and partners with various organizations to offer discounts on fees and other related costs of attendance.

  5. University of Maryland-University College

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $6,936(in state) / $11,976(out of state)
    • Interdisciplinary program that includes diverse coursework 
    • Student organizations like the Environmental Management Club 
    • Training to conduct risk assessments and environmental monitoring

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction73%
    Admission RateNot Reported
    Programs offered online31

    Program Level

    Median Debt$21,353
    Programs in Department1
    Popularity at School< 1%
    88%
    OSR Score

    This award-winning program prepares students to plan, develop, and moderate all aspects of environmental management. It is taught by world-class faculty members who are currently employed at organizations like the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and have extensive experience in the field. Online students receive access to an extensive library system, 24-hour technical support, and even online writing feedback and job search assistance.

  6. Southern New Hampshire University

    20-Year ROI
    $882,666

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $30,756(in state) / $30,756(out of state)
    • Courses can be completed over six 8-week terms per year 
    • No application fee and a seamless application process 
    • Up to 90 credits can be transferred in

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction75%
    Admission Rate78%
    Programs offered online43

    Program Level

    Median Debt$16,291
    Programs in Department1
    Popularity at School< 1%
    86%
    OSR Score

    The Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science at Southern New Hampshire University is one of the most unique, giving students the ability to pursue the stand-alone degree or add a concentration in Natural Resources and Conservation or Geospatial Technologies. Students will engage in interdisciplinary coursework that is designed in conjunction with local companies and governmental agencies. This is one of the most technologically oriented programs, and also offers students the ability to network with relevant instructors and prominent alumni.

  7. Everglades University

    20-Year ROI
    $828,429

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $16,200(in state) / $16,200(out of state)
    • Prior learning and transfer credits accepted 
    • Rolling admissions
    • Student-to-faculty ratio of 13:1 – most class sizes smaller than 20 students

    School Wide

    Student SatisfactionNot Reported
    Admission Rate73%
    Programs offered online12

    Program Level

    Median DebtNot Reported
    Programs in Department3
    Popularity at School4.56%
    84%
    OSR Score

    Everglades University – Tampa is a relatively fledgling institution, but offers a program in Environmental Science that prepares students with the management and communication skills necessary to be successful in environmental planning. Students can create their plans of study to customize their career goals, with a whopping 21 credit hours available for interdisciplinary studies and electives. The school is less selective, with an acceptance rate over 74 percent.

  8. Ashford University

    20-Year ROI
    $818,512

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $10,848(in state) / $10,848(out of state)
    • Up to 90 transfer credits accepted
    • Courses offered in five week segments
    • No SAT or ACT required

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction69%
    Admission RateNot Reported
    Programs offered online54

    Program Level

    Median Debt$40,632
    Programs in Department1
    Popularity at School< 1%
    83%
    OSR Score

    Ashford believes that Environmental Science students should be exposed to all aspects related to the environment, and as a result has created a program that covers topics like energy production, biology, and even ethics. Students will learn to incorporate and deal with all environmental factors as well as those related to socioeconomic and cultural dilemmas. Each student may tailor their degree by choosing up to 44 credits of diverse electives.

  9. University of Florida-Online

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $3,358(in state) / $15,000(out of state)
    • Generous financial aid – 50 percent of graduates have no student-loan debt 
    • Online tuition rate is less than what is paid by in-state students 
    • Coursework has extensive research and professional development

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction76%
    Admission Rate68%
    Programs offered online12

    Program Level

    Median DebtNot Reported
    Programs in DepartmentNot Reported
    Popularity at School< 1%
    81%
    OSR Score

    This program enables graduates to make a difference in the health of the planet. With 120    credit hours required, graduates are prepared to work in a variety of fields, including agriculture, natural sciences, and conservation. Each student in this program earns the same elite degree they would receive on campus, benefiting from close attention by experienced faculty instructors.

  10. The University of Alabama

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $10,780(in state) / $28,100(out of state)
    • Applications are accepted year-round
    • Dozens of scholarships available for distance learners
    • 500+ student organizations, many of which can be accessed online

    School Wide

    Student SatisfactionNot Reported
    Admission Rate53%
    Programs offered online10

    Program Level

    Median Debt$23,939
    Programs in DepartmentNot Reported
    Popularity at School< 1%
    75%
    OSR Score

    At the University of Alabama, students learn to succeed in the field of Environmental Science by choosing from a variety of classes that build upon a general curriculum. This degree is one of the most customizable on the list, and provides students with access to distinguished faculty members. These faculty also serve as student advisors, connecting students with tailored coursework and research opportunities.