FAQs

Current Students

Environmental Sciences, what is this major about?
The Environmental Science (ES) major has been designed for those students who have a keen interest in ecology and the interaction between humans and the natural world. Environmental Science majors take a wide variety of science and non-science courses. Further, those majoring in Environmental Science also have great latitude in their course choices. This freedom to specialize is one of the key features of the Environmental Science major.

What types of opportunities are open for E.S. majors post-graduation?
Environmental Science majors can pursue graduate work in diverse areas, ranging from their undergraduate focus to law, public health, or policy. In addition, Environmental Science majors graduate with the necessary skills to join government or non-governmental agencies such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or the World Wildlife Fund.

Does an ES degree prepare me for medical or dental school?
Yes! Every year ES majors pursue advanced degrees in the medical field including, dentistry, physical therapy, and general medical school. In fact medical schools are looking for students who come from broad backgrounds.

Can I study abroad as an ES major?
Yes! Several programs can accommodate ES majors including the Puebla, Mexico; Dublin, Ireland; and Perth, Australia. Biology majors have the opportunity to take courses that count towards their major while experiencing the culture and education of a different country.

I started off in a different major. If I switch to ES, will I still be able to graduate on time?
The answer to this question depends on when you switched majors and what your previous major was, but most students who switch from another science major as late as first semester sophomore year have no problems graduating in four years. After the first four semesters, the core and elective curricula become flexible and allow a student to create a course load that fits his or her needs.

Can I use my science AP credits towards the ES major?
ES majors may use AB or BC Calculus AP Credit towards the math requirement in the College of Science. ES majors who pursue graduate, medical, dental, or veterinary school after graduation should keep in mind all such programs prefer core science courses taken at the college level; for that reason, the Notre Dame College of Science and ES major does not typically accept science AP credits.

What summer opportunities and funding sources are available to ES majors?
One great opportunity is the UNDERC program. Every year ES majors travel to one of two University of Notre Dame field sites and spend two months performing their own research programs. A complete listing can be found under the “Undergraduate Research” tab to the left, but ES majors have the opportunity to continue their research full time in the summer with funding from the College or University.


Prospective Students

What is the profile of a “typical” ES major at Notre Dame?
The most accurate answer would be to say that there is no “typical” ES major. However, a keen interest and passion for the natural world is present in just about every environmental sciences major. As a group ES majors tend to enjoy getting their hands dirty in the field and then returning to the lab to analyze results. Because the major is small many ES majors form friendships that last a lifetime.

How soon can I get involved in research?
First, it is probably best to simply take your freshmen year to get your feet firmly planted in the ND ground and do well in courses. Take a semester or two to meet people, adjust to living away from home, and taking classes that might be challenging for you. If you are interested, there is an Introduction to Undergraduate Research course in the spring of your freshman year. After your freshman year the ES advisor (Professor Filchak) will be more than happy to help you secure a research area.

What is a typical class size for ES majors?
Freshman begin with two semesters of introductory biology in a large lecture hall but have the opportunity to meet students and experience a smaller class size in their introductory labs. Each progressive year, classes become smaller and more specialized, providing personal attention to students.

What sets apart the ES major at Notre Dame from that of other universities?
The Notre Dame Environmental Sciences Major provides an extremely broad-based curriculum to its majors. Further, every individual has the freedom to customize their own curricula for specialization. It is not an exaggeration to say that every ES major has a custom curricula! Further, the small size of the major allows each student great access to their advisor, professor K.E. Filchak. His door is always open for questions and concerns. Finally, the ES program at Notre Dame has been extremely successful placing graduates in high level post-graduate programs around the nation.


Parents

What careers do science majors pursue?
Environmental Science majors can pursue graduate work in diverse areas, ranging from their undergraduate focus to law, public health, or policy. In addition, Environmental Science majors graduate with the necessary skills to join government or non-governmental agencies such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or the World Wildlife Fund. Every year ES majors pursue advanced degrees in the medical field including, dentistry, physical therapy, and general medical school. In fact medical schools are looking for students who come from broad backgrounds.

I will be visiting my daughter/son next weekend and would like a tour of the science facilities. Who should I contact?
We would be delighted to show you the facilities and showcase our students’ research.