BA in Environmental and Sustainability Studies (CHSS)

This degree provides students with theoretical and practical knowledge of three aspects of environmental and sustainability studies: people, prosperity, and planet.

This innovative interdisciplinary program combines the study of human behavior and environmental science. It emphasizes the pivotal role that economic markets, politics, and human behavior play in creating and solving environmental problems. With an emphasis on social and environmental justice, it looks at the impact of sustainability programs on the global environment and human communities.

From your first to final class, you will learn by doing. Service and experiential learning are integral to our major. Mason is the first university in Virginia to achieve a STARS Gold Rating for campus sustainability, and you will contribute to Mason’s sustainability goals in hands-on projects on your own campus.

You will also work regionally. Our location near Washington, DC provides access to internships and service learning opportunities at government agencies, green businesses, and environmental non-profits. We partner with innovative DC area farms, including urban growers, that combine sustainable farming and social justice. You can earn credit pursuing field studies opportunities at regional conservation sites or enroll in alternative break and study abroad programs tailored to students who are passionate about sustainability, conservation, and environmental justice.

ESS graduates continue to learn, serve and prosper after they finish at Mason. Our alumni have gone on to work in the Peace Corps, for state and local government, for businesses focused on sustainability, and for advocacy groups such as the Sierra Club and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.   Other students further their education in graduate programs environmental policy, sustainable development, and sustainable food systems.

The degree program is a joint effort between the School of Integrative Studies and the Department of Environmental Science and Policy.

Interested in this major? Hear our students share their experiences.

Environmental and Sustainability Studies with Roger LeBlanc.

Environmental and Sustainability Studies graduate Raquel Friedmann shares her experience at the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation.

Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation with Raquel Friedmann.


All students have opportunities to

  • conduct independent research
  • engage in globally-related activities through coursework and language study at Mason and abroad
  • participate in many forms of public service
  • prepare for their future careers through internships, career-focused minors and other college-to-career activities