5 majors that lead to careers in sustainability

an engineering student works on solar power panels

You might have heard that Colorado State is kind of a big deal when it comes to campus sustainability practices. But did you know that we also have a slew of majors that can help you find a career in sustainability? While our campus clubs, residence halls, public spaces, classrooms, and leadership have all made an effort in the realm of sustainability, our academics have, too. Here are just five (of many!) majors you might want to consider if you want to make sustainability a career.

#1. Environmental Engineering

The Environmental Engineering major is a great fit if you want to help design and create solutions to earth’s pollution problems, as well as enhance and repair resources that may have already been affected by pollution and waste. Environmental engineers work with technology and science to provide safe drinking water, treat and properly dispose of wastes, maintain air quality, control water pollution, and remediate contaminated sites due to spills or improper disposal of hazardous substances. In the program, you’ll have opportunities to explore environmental measurements, hydrology, and environmental law and ethics.

#2. Restoration Ecology

The Restoration Ecology major teaches you to revive natural areas and to examine the science behind ecosystems. While the coursework includes everything from the fundamentals of ecology to global cultural awareness to natural resources, you’ll also spend time in the field. The stunning rangelands, forests, and mountains near campus are perfect places to do research and explore, and you’ll come out of the program prepared for careers in restoration, plant, or riparian ecology, soil conservation, and mine reclamation.

#3. Environmental and Natural Resource Economics

The Environmental and Natural Resource Economics major prepares you to evaluate natural resources and the management of our environment using economic analysis and theories. By studying economics through a natural resources lens, you’ll gain an understanding of environmental issues and learn how to predict environmental effects of government policies. You’ll explore solutions to pressing economic and environmental problems. In contrast to other natural resource programs, this major focuses on weighing the private and public implications of choices that we make on local and global scales. You’ll graduate ready to work in fields like community development, international relations, and environmental and conservation analyses.

#4. Environmental Horticulture

The Environmental Horticulture major will prepare you to design and create outdoor spaces that are both environmentally sound and aesthetically pleasing. Environmental horticulturists design landscapes like golf courses, botanical gardens and parks, and manage landscape-design firms. In this major, you’ll round out your passion for plants with science- and business-based courses, and choose from four concentrations to narrow your studies: landscape business, landscape design and contracting, nursery and landscape management, or turf management. You’ll graduate ready to work in fields like nursery and garden center management, plant propagation, green-industry account management, irrigation design and water resource management, arboriculture, and many more.

#5. Sociology (Environmental Sociology concentration)

The Sociology major is a popular program that explores the interactions between humans and social groups/the societal systems that affect our everyday lives. Concentrating in environmental sociology allows you to explore sociology from an environmental lens, focusing on the relationship between human society and the environment/natural resources they use. You’ll explore global change, population, and environmental justice and governance, while also gaining insight from the broader theories of sociology along the way. Environmental sociology grads can go into government, public policy, and nonprofit work, connecting sociological theories to environmental change and helping agencies interested in sustainability understand society’s affect on natural resources.

Bonus: Minor in Global Environmental Sustainability

If you’re already committed to majoring in something else, but have an interest in incorporating sustainability into your degree, consider the Global Environmental Sustainability minor. This is an interdisciplinary program with classes in 25 different subject areas that allows you to tailor your coursework to your specific interests. No matter what your major is, this minor can complement it and offers you ways to incorporate sustainability learning into your current academic path and future. You’ll come out with a deep understanding of the complexity surrounding the problems we face and the solutions that we need to implement to address climate change, biodiversity, pollution, public health, oceans, food security, and development on a global scale.

Still trying to find the perfect academic path?

Whether you choose a sustainability-related major or something else, there are so many ways to customize your academic journey at CSU.


Prairie Smallwood

Prairie Smallwood is a writer and content creator for the Office of Admissions at Colorado State University. She is passionate about education and exploration, and knows that going to college can be both an adventure and an overwhelming experience. She aims to create content that helps students through that journey — the wonderful, the scary, and everything in between.