General Questions About the Major

Q: What is the difference between Environmental Science & Management (ESM) and Environmental Policy Analysis & Planning (EPAP)?

A: ESM and EPAP both emphasize the role of natural and social science in understanding human impacts of environment and natural resource management.  ESM focuses on the science of the environment but also looks at how that science is used to solve environmental problems, and EPAP focuses more on how to use that science to understand the efficiency, effectiveness, and equity of environmental policy. Hence there is an element of solving environmental problems in both, be it more through applying basic science or through environmental policy processes. EPAP is based more on social sciences like environmental economics, political science, planning and law, whereas ESM uses more natural sciences like biology, physics and chemistry and how they relate to living, land, air and water resources.

Q: Can I take any of my courses Pass/No Pass?

A: No, all of the courses you take for your major must be taken for a grade. This is true whether the course is upper-division or lower-division. If you take a course P/NP you will not be able to use it for the major. The one exception is for courses that are only graded P/NP, such as independent study and internships.

Q: Do I need to take summer school to finish the degree in 4 years?

A: If you started in the major as a freshmen there is no need to take summer school to complete the degree in four years. If you change into the major after freshman year or you are a transfer student it just depends on the coursework you have already completed. Unless you change into the major in your junior or senior year it is unlikely that you will need to take summer school in order to graduate on time.

Q: What classes do I need to take in order to change my major to ESM or EPAP?

A: Ideally you will want to take ESP 1 before changing into the major although that is not a requirement. ESP 1 is offered every fall and is required for both the ESM and EPAP majors. The course is team-taught by a policy professor and an ecology professor and dives deeply into both subjects.

Q: Does AP Environmental Science count for ESP 1?

A: No, AP Environmental Science is equivalent to ESP 10, which is not required for the major. AP Environmental Science is great preparation for the major but you will still need to take ESP 1.

Q: What types of careers and graduate schools do students go into?

A: Graduates of either degree have gone to work in public agencies specializing in natural resources and ecological research if they have a biology background, or as city planners and environmental analysts if they have a policy background, just to name a few of the potential occupations. They are also working in conservation organizations, environmental consulting firms and as environmental lawyers. Although nearly one-third of our graduates go on to graduate or law school within a few years of completing their B.S. degree, a graduate degree isn't necessary to obtain a good job in the environmental field.

Q: Can I do a double major or minor with ESM or EPAP?

A: Yes, but it will take careful planning. Both the ESM and EPAP majors have a lot of units so trying to add another high-unit major such as Evolution, Ecology, and Biodiversity or Managerial Economics can often add an additional year. If you choose a major with fewer units such as Economics or Statistics it is possible to finish both majors in four years as long as you start planning early on (freshman or sophomore year). It is possible to overlap classes with both majors but the maximum amount of overlap allowed is 20% of upper division units. This generally works out to be two upper division courses. There is no overlap limit with lower division courses. Minors are a great way to study a second subject without going for a full second major. Most minors are 18-24 units and are easy to fit into your study plan. Only one course can overlap between your major and your minor.

Q: What do ESM and EPAP students double major in?

A: Lots of things! The most common double major for both ESM and EPAP is Economics. Other second majors for both EPAP and ESM are Anthropology, Communication, Political Science, Spanish, Statistics, and Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology. Double majors are useful when you have a strong interest in two different areas. There is no "right" second major and a second major is not necessary to get into graduate school. The best second major is one that you have a passion for!

Q: What do ESM and EPAP students minor in?

A: Again, lots of things! The most common minor for EPAP is Managerial Economics and the most common minor for ESM is Geospatial Information Science. But as with second majors, there is no "right" minor. The right minor is the one that you like. Minors are a great way to study a subject without having to go into it as deeply as you would with a major. They are also a great way to focus your electives. These are some of the minors that EPAP and ESM students have completed: Avian Sciences, Communication, Community Development, Education, English, Geospatial Information Science, Global and International Studies, Managerial Economics, Music, Oceanography, Professional Writing, Psychology, Soil Science, Spanish, Sustainability in the Built Environment, and Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology.

Q: Is there an Environmental Club on campus?

A: Yes! Check them out on Facebook!

Transferring to UC Davis

Q: If I transfer to UC Davis as a junior, can I finish the degree in 2 years?

A: It depends on which classes you have already completed when you transfer to UC Davis.

Q:Which classes do I need to take in order to transfer into the ESM or EPAP major from my community college?

A: Technically you can transfer without taking any of the major courses, but it will take you longer to complete the degree. The more courses you have completed for the major when you transfer the less time it will take to complete the degree.

  • For ESM it would be useful to complete the equivalents of these UC Davis courses: BIS 2A, 2B, and 2C, CHE 2A and 2B, MAT 16, 17, or 21A and B, ECN 1A, CMN 1 or 3 or DRA 10, and GEL 1 or 50. If you begin a sequence course at your community college, such as biology, it is advisable to complete it there as well. The semester/quarter conversion can often cause problems with sequence courses such as BIS 2A, 2B, and 2C. This is not to say you can't do it, it's just generally easiest to do it all at one school.
  • For EPAP it would be useful to complete the equivalents of these UC Davis courses: ECN 1A and 1B, MAT 16, 17, or 21A and B, BIS 10 or 2A, CHE 10 or 2A, POL 1, STA 13, and CMN 1 or 3 or DRA 10.

Major Writing Requirement

Q: If I took AP English and/or Literature do I still need to take the UWP course for the major?

A: The ESM and EPAP majors require an upper division UWP course, AP exams give credit for lower division courses. You will still need to take an upper division UWP course for the major.

Q: If I took two writing courses at my community college, do I still have to take the UWP course for the major?

A: Yes, the major requires an upper division UWP course. Community college courses transfer as lower division courses.

Q: But my orientation advisor/friend/the dean’s office said I had already met the writing requirement. Do I still need to take an upper division UWP class?

A: Yes. There are two different sets of writing requirements that you need to meet. One is the College of Agriculture & Environmental Sciences composition requirement and the other is your major requirement. The upper division UWP course is a requirement for the ESM and EPAP majors and is not the same as the College composition requirement. Not all majors have a writing requirement, and of those that do, not all have an upper division writing requirement, so the courses you need to take may vary from what your friends need to take.

Q: I heard there was an exam I can take to test out of the requirement.

A: Yes, you can take the Upper Division Composition exam.

Choosing a Track

Q: How do I know which track to do?

A: The simplest answer is to do the track that has the most classes you like. No matter which track you choose your degree will be in Environmental Science and Management or Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning. Your specific track will be noted on your transcript but will not show up on your diploma. If you like plants choose a track with a lot of plants courses, if you like policy choose a track with lots of policy courses, if you like water choose a track with lots of water courses. It’s really as simple as that.

Q: Which track will allow me to do the largest number of careers?

A: The name of the track you choose is almost irrelevant in terms of graduate schools or careers. Graduate schools and employers will look at the type of courses you have taken rather the name of your degree or track. One thing a track does is signal to a potential graduate school or employer that you have an interest in a particular area.

Honors Thesis

Q: What is an honors thesis?

A: An honors thesis an independent research project sponsored and advised by a UC Davis professor. Usually an honors thesis happens when a student has already been working in a lab as a research assistant or intern, and either the student comes up with an independent project idea based on what he or she has been doing, or the advisor has a project that the student is excited and qualified to take the lead on. However, this isn’t the only way to do an honors thesis. Previous research isn’t a requirement, if a student has an independent research idea and can find a relevant faculty advisor that’s all they need. Previous work in a lab is the most typical way for an honors thesis to begin but it’s not the only way.

Here are the requirements for an honors thesis:

  • Have senior standing
  • Maintain a cumulative 3.5 GPA
  • Complete the thesis proposal form and send to your master advisor
  • Enroll in the appropriate number of ESM 194H units with the thesis advisor as the instructor of record (send the thesis proposal form to your student advisor for the CRN). The number of units you will register for depends on the number of hours per week you dedicate to the thesis. The thesis requires a minimum of six hours per week (2 units) and would be a maximum of 18 hours per week (6 units).
  • Complete the thesis itself, signed by the thesis advisor
  • Present (poster or oral) or publish your work in some way, such as at the UCD Undergraduate Research Conference in the spring or in the UCD undergraduate research journal, Explorations. [Note: only one of presenting or publishing is required, but we encourage both, and it does not have to be at a UCD venue; presenting at a scientific meeting or publishing in a peer-reviewed journal certainly fulfills this requirement]