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Academics and Education

UC Merced offers an undergraduate major leading to a B.S. in Earth Systems Sciences (ESS) or Biological Sciences (BIO) and a minor degree program in Environmental Science and Sustainability


  • Environmental Systems Science Degree Program

The Environmental Systems Science major is designed to prepare students to meet the challenges of environmental and ecological research in the 21st century. Students who study Earth Systems Science will gain a quantitative understanding of the physical, chemical, and biological principles that control the processes, reactions, and evolution of the Earth as a support system for life. The major emphasizes a highly interdisciplinary approach, incorporating field studies, laboratory experiments, and computations. 

Complementary coursework in the social sciences will expose students to the political, economic, and societal implications of human interactions with the environment. A unique aspect of the major is its flexibility - students can select upper-division classes in areas that reflect their individual interests within Earth Systems Science.

This educational experience provides students with knowledge of the foundations of Life and Environmental Sciences and the skills needed to apply Life and Environmental Sciences to real-world phenomena in the social sciences, natural sciences, and engineering. 

  • Biological Sciences 

There has never been a more exciting and important time to study biology. From using the human genome to understand the molecular and environmental interactions that cause human disease, to predicting the effects of global climate change on ecosystems, it is essential that we understand fundamental processes that produce and sustain life on Earth. The Ecology and Evolutionary Biology emphasis in the Biological Sciences is at the forefront of finding answers to some of scoiety's most vexing problems. Biology students graduating from UC Merced will have a common foundation necessary for biologists in the 21st century, as well as specialized skills and knowledge to aid in their pursuit of careers in biology-related fields or graduate/professional school training. 

  • Environmental Science and Sustainability Minor

Environmental science and sustainability is an interdisciplinary academic field that focuses on application of concepts and methods from the physical, chemical, biological and social sciences to the study of the natural environment and seeks solutions to environmental problems. Sustainability science aims to improve the quality of human life within the carrying capacity of supporting ecosystems.

The Environmental Science and Sustainability minor at UC Merced allows students from diverse backgrounds to pursue interests in Earth and environmental sciences in some depth without requiring the breadth of coursework and extensive laboratory and field time required for the Earth Systems Science major.

For more information on academic sustainability please visit the website.

For a list of all sustainability-related courses, see here

  • Carson House 

Carson House is one of UC Merced's Natural Sciences Learning Living Communities (LLC) that provides opportunities to build a economically, socially and environmentally sustainable way of living that preserves the ability of current and future generatiosn to meet the community's needs. For more information on Carson House and how to join, please visit their web page.