Interesting College Majors Part 2: Environmental Engineering

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We meet many high school students who are not aware of the full range of options when it comes to a major. But deciding on a field of study helps narrow down your list of colleges, and provides cohesion to your overall app. This article is part of a series on unexpected majors you can pursue at a variety of different colleges. We hope these articles encourage you to explore your options and find a major that helps you achieve your goals. Next on our list is the fascinating academic world of environmental engineering.

Do you enjoy inventing and building new things? Do you also want to help the environment, and make the earth a better place to live? Well, then an environmental engineering degree could be for you. This field of study gives you the opportunity to learn how to develop cutting-edge designs. This ranges from wind turbines to solar panels, to developing entirely new technology to keep life on earth sustainable.

This field of study comes in a variety of majors offered at a number of schools. Take a look at the similarities and differences here.

Civil and Environmental Engineering

What is it: A degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering will allow you to solve technical and social problems of the future. These programs focus heavily on math, science, and research, and many of these degrees are available at the graduate or undergraduate level.

Which schools offer it: Princeton, Stanford, Berkeley, and other top colleges.

Energy Resources Engineering

What is it: This degree arguably focuses more on the energy and sustainability aspect of Environmental Engineering. The program at Stanford in particular focuses on CO2 research in a variety of environments such as geothermal and marine energy systems.

Which schools offer it: Stanford, and University of Illinois.

Environmental System Engineering

What is it: Differences between an Environmental System degree and Civil Engineering degree are subtle but relevant. The main differences lie in accreditation, although an Environmental System degree at Stanford also provides three focus areas: Urban Environments, Freshwater Environments, and Coastal Environments.

Which schools offer it: Stanford, Penn State University, and University College London

As you may have noticed by now, Stanford offers a wide variety of Environmental Engineering degrees. However, a number of other colleges offer great options as well, and depending on what aspect of the environment you want to work with, you may want to consider how location plays into your studies.


To discover more about food sciences or other interesting majors, consider working with an experienced mentor. Alternatively, you can also browse the “majors” page of different college websites. Oftentimes when a college offers majors as specific as these, they also have more general versions of the same degree. This can help you explore a field of study if you’re not ready to choose such a specific major. Of course, you can also work with a college counselor to assess your interests, explore majors, and discover colleges you love.   

Find all three final installments of this series on the blog below:

Questions? Let us know!