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Best Online Environmental Science Bachelor’s Degrees

Are you passionate about protecting our oceans, forests, and wildlife? Earning an online environmental science degree is the first step toward a fulfilling career as a conservationist, an environmental scientist, or a climate change expert. Find top-ranked schools and learn more about degree programs.

Author: Michael Hoffman
Editor: STEPS Staff

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A young woman with rubber gloves sits along a riverbank while holding up and looking at a vile with a sample of water from the river.

You probably consider yourself an eco-conscious person. Maybe you’ve sworn off single-use plastic for good, started taking the bus or subway when you can, or volunteered a time or two cleaning up trash at your local park or beach. Your eco-record isn’t perfect (who’s is?), but you do what you can to leave a lighter carbon footprint.

Yet something inside keeps nagging you that it’s not enough. You know you want to do more to make an impact protecting the environment – maybe even by making a career out of it. If this sounds even remotely like you, earning an online degree in environmental science can be a great way to get the college education you need to make a professional impact. These study-from-anywhere programs can prepare you to work in engineering, politics, law, and other fields where you can help address serious environmental issues like climate change and over-cultivation.

This guide will introduce you to the best online environmental degree programs currently available, potential career pathways after graduation, and much more. Read on to learn everything you need to know about online environmental science degrees and get started on your path to making a difference.

2024’s Best Environmental Science Degrees Online

Take the first step of your career in environmental science by finding a school for you. To help you start your environmental studies online degree search, we’ve spotlighted the best online environmental science degree programs available. These top programs have the accreditation, affordability, and student services you need to begin a rewarding environmental science career. Online program availability and overall affordability play a heavy role in a school’s position. So, get started and see which schools rose to the top of this year’s list.

About the ranking

College Ranking Methodology

Generate List of Eligible Schools and Programs

To be eligible for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria based on government data provided by The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

  • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • At least one program in the subject area offered partially or fully online.
  • Career placement and academic counseling services.

Assign Weightings

After generating the list of eligible schools, the STEPS data team then assigned weights and ranked schools based on their performance in a variety of key categories. Affordability metrics received the heaviest weightings, followed by online learning and academic quality metrics (equally weighted).


  • Relative cost of attendance compared to peer schools on the list. Based on in-state tuition for undergraduate students per academic year.
  • Percentage of students who receive institutional financial aid (directly from the school).
  • Average amount of institutional financial aid awarded.

Online Learning

  • Number of online programs in subject area self-reported by school to the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Percentage of students at the school taking at least one class online.

Academic Quality

  • Student-to-faculty ratio.
  • Percentage of full-time, first-time students graduating within 6 years.

About Our Data

All STEPS rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Most recent data pull: August 2023

Accreditation Glossary

ABHE: Association for Biblical Higher Education, Commission on Accreditation

ABHES: Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools

ACCJC: Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges

ACCSC: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges

DEAC: Distance Education Accrediting Commission

HLC: Higher Learning Commission

MSCHE: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

NECHE: New England Commission of Higher Education

NWCCU: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

SACSCOC: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

TRACS: Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools, Accreditation Commission

WSCUC: Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission


University of Idaho

Moscow, Idaho

The University of Idaho offers an online master's degree in environmental science that focuses on preservation and sustainability. This program was designed for students who are working full time with family and seasonal obligations. Students will be studying the role of scientific, social, political, and economic impacts on the environment through both natural and unnatural processes. Students will learn to consider the relationships between waste management, water science, land use, environmental pollution, and energy systems while keeping the complexity of multiple ecosystems in balance. To be accepted into this program, students must have an accredited bachelor's degree and three letters of recommendation. This degree comes with both thesis and non-thesis options. The thesis option requires students to conduct original research, while the non-thesis option does not.

Program Highlights:

Master of Science in Environmental Science

  • Credits: 36
  • Length: 2 years
  • Cost: $5,274/semester
  • Mode: Online
  • Accreditation: NWCCU
Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to-Faculty Ratio 16:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Accreditation NWCCU
Online Students 46%


University of Florida

Gainesville, Florida

The University of Florida offers an online master's de