Six Best College Majors for a Green Career


Congratulations: after long hours of research, reflection, and work – including, perhaps, an internship with SCA – you’ve decided to devote your professional life to protecting the environment. But as you visit campuses, fill out applications, and write essays, you’re probably wondering what it is you should actually major in to get a head start on your career. In today’s post, we’ll explore six fantastic “green” majors, some tried-and-true, some up-and-coming – and a few you might not have thought of!

1. Marine Biology

With this degree, you’ll study the ocean and everything that lives in it: precisely 99.5% of our livable habitat. And that habitat is under siege by shipping, plastics, chemicals – and, most of all, climate change. Studying marine biology is a first step towards joining the fight to save our seas. Interested in other sciences as well? A sister major, marine sciences, takes a more interdisciplinary approach to the study, wrapping in physics, chemistry, and more.

2. Communications

Being green is great – but convincing others of its importance is even better. And that’s where the study of communications comes in. You’ll learn the ins and outs of media, messaging, public speaking, and presentations. Businesses, governments, and NGOs alike need communications experts to design campaigns, promote environmental initiatives, and raise consciousness about key issues.

3. Environmental Science

Unlike more traditional science majors such as biology, chemistry, or physics (also excellent choices for green careers), environmental science explores how these disciplines interact with each other and the environment. The degree injects a practical element into the study of science, one that will come in handy when navigating environmental dilemmas later on.

4. Sustainable Agriculture

The closest link between the wider world and our personal well-being is the food we put into our bodies. The field of sustainable agriculture studies the farming methods that protect the environment, public health, and animal welfare—and this sector is booming. The US Department of Agriculture even hosts a Sustainable Agriculture Education and Training Directory, so you can find the program that works for you.

5. Fashion Design

What? Really? Yes, indeed! In today’s market, it’s no longer enough to create beautiful clothes – it’s important that they be sustainable as well. That means knowing about organic fibers, sustainable design, and labor-friendly practices. Even mainstream manufactures like Levi’s and H&M are getting in on the game. Sustainable fashion programs can be found almost anywhere you want to study.

6. Bioethics

Building a green world requires making choices that aren’t always easy. Is there room for genetically-modified food in a world where people go hungry? What about stem-cell research or physician-assisted suicide? Bioethics goes beyond the practical to the philosophical, allowing you to understand the implications of both personal and public decisions. Studying bioethics could prepare you for green careers in public policy, health care, education, advocacy, or the law.

In a world of often-bewildering options, combining academic interests with a sense of personal purpose is the ideal way to choose a field of study. And by choosing a green program, you’ll have one leg up for future graduate study or professional work. And if you’re interested in finding out more about the green jobs awaiting you, check out our post about environmental career options.

Related Resources

Student Conservation Association