Environmental Science Research Opportunities for Students

By Peterson's Staff updated on Friday, October 18, 2013

American college students can look forward to many challenging opportunities to participate in cutting-edge research programs, internships, and volunteer programs as they pursue graduate degrees and future careers as environmental scientists and engineers.

Many U.S. schools offer programs in environmental studies, natural resources, environmental engineering, and related areas that run the gamut from atmospheric sciences, forestry, and ocean engineering to biosystems engineering, zoology, and environmental management and policy. Many of the programs are focused on environmental research and provide opportunities to actively participate in research programs and environmental internships as they earn credit.

Programs Offer Many Choices

Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York, for example, provides its environmental science and engineering students with broad backgrounds and prepares them for innovation. Its interdisciplinary graduate programs consider biological, chemical, physical, and social systems when tackling challenges in energy, the environment, technology, engineering, business, and medicine.

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga offers future environmental scientists a broad array of research programs that cover avian conservation and management, microbial ecology, bioremediation, reptile and amphibian conservation biology, and more. For their major projects, students may do environmental internships rather than a thesis; about 50 percent of the students choose that path.

The program at University of Nevada at Reno emphasizes interdisciplinary teaching and environmental research as it seeks, among other things, to help integrate Nevada's traditions of ranching and mining with the demands of its increasingly demanding cities. At the same time, in response to global change, its research and teaching interests reach from Alaska to Antarctica.

A Research Sample—One Among Many Projects

Diverse environmental research projects are taking place throughout the country. One project, requested by the California Department of Fish and Game and the National Parks Service, gives future scientists the chance to study the impact of the reinstatement of man-made livestock wells on mule deer and vegetation in the Mojave National Preserve.


The National Science Foundation offers an environmental science research fellowship program to future environmental scientists in the early stages of graduate study. The Graduate Research Fellowship Program awards fellowships for study leading to research-based degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines relevant to the NSF's mission.

In another program, the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Biological and Environmental Research provides Graduate Research Environmental Fellowships to promote education and training in support of its global-change research activities. The fellowships encompass such areas as atmospheric sciences, ecology, global carbon cycles, climate, and terrestrial processes.

Online Resources

Many resources are available online where students can begin to explore dozens of online links to schools, businesses, organizations, and government agencies offering education programs, volunteer work, internships, and employment in environmental engineering and sciences.

Environmental Science Programs
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