With a major in Environmental and Sustainability Studies through a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental and Sustainability Studies (BAESS) degree, you will gain broad introduction to the complex system-scale challenges of sustainability, as well as the tools needed to address problems that transcend solely social or environmental domains. The study of sustainability complements traditional disciplines and bridges natural and human systems, encompassing the study of the environment, society, economy, and the arts.

The minor in Environmental and Sustainability Studies allows you to integrate sustainability studies into other degrees.

Is it for you?

The BAESS program attracts students from a variety of backgrounds and interests, but they typically have some of the following qualities:

  • Interest in sustainability, human-environment interaction, sustainable food systems, and/or environmental ethics
  • Desire to bridge the arts and humanities, social sciences, and physical and life sciences
  • Interest in a career such as environmental planning, education, or communications; sustainability consulting in the private or public sector; green design; environmental law or public affairs; or graduate study
  • Desire to help make the world a better place

Because the major and minor are jointly offered by the College of Arts and Sciences and the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs, you will have access to a large selection of courses on a wide range of topics. More than ninety faculty members and instructors across IUB work to deliver the program's sustainability courses.

You will complete your degree requirements based on your matriculation date – the date you entered Indiana University Bloomington.

Your Academic Advisement Report is your personalized report outlining your progress toward graduation. The requirements below are for general purposes only and are not official. To discuss your degree requirements and academic goals, make an appointment with your academic advisor.

Find my academic bulletin

Getting started

Your starting point with the Environmental and Sustainability Studies major is one of the following introductory courses:

  • ANTH-E 101 Sustainability and Society
  • EAS-E 116 Our Planet and Its Future
  • GEOG-G 185 Environmental Change: The End of the World as We Know It?
  • GEOG-G 208 Environment and Society
  • SPEA-E 183 Environment and People

Tracks and concentrations

Students majoring in Environmental and Sustainability Studies choose one of four concentration areas:

  • The Biodiversity and Sustainability Concentration integrates the humanities, arts, and sciences to explore the variety of life and the role of biodiversity in sustaining the symbiosis between humans and nature.
  • The Environmental Ethics and Justice Concentration emphasizes the role of the environmental humanities and social sciences in understanding and analyzing the relationships between humans and the environments of which we are a part.
  • The Sustainable Energy, Resources, and Climate Concentration provides students with a focus on sustainability in energy, water, and natural resource systems.
  • The Sustainable Food Systems Concentration provides students with a focus on sustainability issues in relation to food and agriculture systems.

In some cases, students may elect to study new and innovative sustainability dimensions that do not fit the existing concentration areas. To accommodate these cases, students may choose to develop an individualized concentration area to match their particular academic interests. Students interested in this option should consult the academic advisor.

Upper level coursework

As an Environmental and Sustainability Studies major, you choose at least one course from a varied list in each of the following areas: 

  • Human-environment systems
  • Communication and creative expression
  • Data collection and analysis 
  • Environmental science
  • Economics

You also select upper level coursework from your chosen concentration. You may have the opportunity to pursue an independent study, readings, research, or practicum experience in your concentration area.

The academic advisor will help you select courses and experiences that best suit your interests.


You can get involved in research as early as your first year through the Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Research Experience (ASURE) program, Sustainability Scholars, or the IU Research and Teaching Preserve.

Undergraduate scholarships and awards

Because the BAESS degree is offered jointly by the College of Arts and Sciences and the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs, students are eligible for both College and O’Neill scholarships and awards. Research funding is also available through IPE and the IU Research and Teaching Preserve.

Commonly pursued majors and minors

You may wish to complement your Environmental and Sustainability Studies coursework with a second major or minor. Talk with an academic advisor to consider your options.

Popular majors include Anthropology, BiologyEarth and Atmospheric SciencesGeography, International Studies, Media, and Spanish.

Popular minors include Anthropology, Business, History, and Nonprofit Management.


Internships offer you a chance to develop both technical and transferable skills while making vital professional contacts with others in the field. Many students begin exploring internship opportunities, including overseas study programs with internships, as early as their first year.

Internships of particular interest to BAESS students include the Office of Sustainability Internship Program, the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs Greater Good Internship Program, and opportunities through the Research and Teaching Preserve.

Overseas study

Study abroad is an important part of undergraduate education in our increasingly interconnected world. Learn more about study abroad opportunities and locations through conversations with Environmental and Sustainability Studies faculty, your academic advisor, and through the Office of Overseas Study.

Career Services

Because the BAESS degree is offered jointly by the College of Arts and Sciences and the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs, our students have access to two career centers: the Walter Center for Career Achievement and the O'Neill Career Hub.

Both centers offer a wide range of services, including:

  • Individualized career coaching
  • Help with developing resumes, cover letters, and interview skills
  • Career courses for academic credit
  • Job and internship postings aimed specifically at IU students
  • Internship scholarships
  • Opportunities to build relationships with employers and IU alumni

After Graduation

The BAESS degree prepares students for career success in the environmental sector and beyond. Our graduates have become researchers, policy advisors, educators, political activists, businesspersons, conservationists, journalists, and aid workers.

Many of our graduates go on to pursue a master’s degree, doctorate, or other further education. Popular fields of graduate study include public affairs/administration, environmental science, education, urban planning, and law school.

Want to see where your fellow majors go right after graduating from IU? Check out the Walter Center’s First Destinations survey!