Undergraduate Programs

Program Requirements

Students who complete the major requirements for a bachelor of arts (BA) or bachelor of science (BS) degree in environmental science will develop an understanding of our natural world and how to live sustainably within it. Students will be prepared to pursue careers that involve animal observation, plant survey work, population analysis, plant restoration, education, and data and statistical analysis, or graduate work in conservation biology, ecological restoration, or ecological research.

Major Requirements

34 (BA) or 38 (BS) credit hours
46 Core Curriculum credits
120 total credits for graduation



Course Descriptions

For a complete list of all North Park’s programs and course offerings, review the academic catalog.

A presentation of the basic laws of chemistry with emphasis on stoichiometry, atomic and electronic structure, bonding, and the states of matter(gas, liquid, solid, and solution). Properties and reactions of some elements and simple compounds are used to exemplify the principles. Chemistry I and II form a year's sequential study of the principles of chemistry with applications describing elements and compounds and their reactions. This sequence meets the needs of students majoring in the physical and biological sciences. Four hours lecture and two hours laboratory per week. Prerequisite: MATH placement above 1010 or co-requisite MATH 1010.

Continuation of Chemistry I with emphasis on the energy changes associated with transformations of matter, kinetics of reactions, and the equilibrium considerations associated with reactions. General reactions of metals and non-metals and their compounds are also considered (includes an introduction to coordination compounds). Four hours lecture and two hours laboratory per week.

The chemistry of carbon compounds. Properties, synthesis, and reactions of saturated, unsaturated, and aromatic hydrocarbons, with emphasis on modern theoretical, mechanistic interpretations. Introduction to oxygen containing compounds. Four hours lecture and three hours laboratory per week.

A survey of the major functional classes of organic compounds including structure, nomenclature, properties, and reactions. Includes an introduction to the classes of natural products. Four hours lecture and two hours laboratory per week. Student must have completed one year of high school general chemistry.

A survey of chemistry of cellular compounds. Introduction to the different classes of biochemicals. Introduction to bioenergetics and enzymology and to the major pathways of cellular chemical events. Four hours lecture and two hours laboratory per week.

A survey of the chemistry of the earth's environment, including atmospheric chemistry, pollution and the greenhouse effect, renewable energy, hazardous and nuclear waste, and water pollution. The ethical and moral responsibilities of humans to the environment are also discussed. Four hours lecture and two hours laboratory per week.

Includes cell systems, cell cycles, cell function, energy production and metabolic systems, biological control systems, protein synthesis, and genetics. Lab included. It is recommended that the student complete one year of high school laboratory science.

An introduction to the meaning, ethics, and metaphysics of the human relation to various aspects of the world. Specific courses will focus on a single topic (e.g., nature, technology, culture, economics, religion.)

Survey of major animal phyla. Relationships between structure and function. Emphasis on the diversity of animal forms. Relationships of organisms with each other and with their environment. Lab included. Writing research course.

Survey of the plant kingdom and related organizsms from algae to flowering plants. Identification of campus Vascular plants. Basic life processes including photosynthesis, plant development, reproductive cycles, flowering and fruiting responses, and the ecological importance and conservation of plants. A WR emphasis with research term paper, experimental lab write-up and career development components. Lab included.

Study of living and non-living factors in biotic communities and their interaction in controlling the structure and development of various ecosystems. Principles of succession, population dynamics, and conservation. Supplemental overnight trips included. Lab included.

Selected topics in biology covered on a rotating basis. Lab included with some topics. Some topics will have prerequisites (see annual class schedule).

Influence of plants on human, economic, social, and political history, and the plants people have chosen to protect and cultivate. Numerous field trips include plant production facilities, bakery, commercial greenhouse, apple orchard, farm, and meetings with resource persons working with cultivated plants. Overnight field trip(s) and weekly lab included.

Field-based course examining the forces affecting living species in Costa Rica. After a series of weekly on-campus meetings to review basic ecology and human culture of Costa Rica, students will travel during spring break for an 8-day field trip to Costa Rica. Traveling by motor coach and boat, the course will examine high altitude volcanic effects, mountain tropical forest habitat, and low-land tropical forest along the Pacific Ocean in southwest Costa Rica. A pre-trip presentation, personal journal/species field notebook, participation, post trip meetings, and a term paper will comprise the majority of student assessment. A course trip fee over and above tuition will be assessed. Valid passport and instructor consent is required.

Experiential trip courses offered on a rotating basis. Past examples include "Ecology of the Boreal Forest", "Prairie and Ranch Resources", and "Ecology of Iceland." Variable fees over and above tuition will be assessed to cover the cost of travel. Travel documents such as passport/visa may be required.

The course is designed to provide students an experiential learning opportunity about the ecology and culture and their interaction in a selected country of Asia. Special focus will be placed on how culture developed in adaptation to the local ecosystem and the environmental issues that the local population currently faces. Interaction with local scholars, experts, and students will provide perspectives. This course includes a mandatory trip. During the trip, students are required to participate in observation, discussions and related activities. A course trip fee over and above tuition will be assessed. Valid passport is required.

This course examines the efforts to understand biological origins and diversity. Patterns and principles of biodiversity and the significance of diversity will be considered. Emphasis will be placed on the principles and process of evolution rather than on the products of evolution. The class will include lecture, discussion, and workshop elements.

A survey of the native spring wildflowers, common trees and shrubs of the Great Lakes Region. Particular attention will be given to the use of taxonomic keys and field guides in field identification as well as information on the general ecology of each species. Weekly field trips to local and regional forest preserves, natural areas and a weekend field trip to southern Illinois will be required. Lab included.

An introduction to the study of ethology (animal behavior) with emphasis on the development of behavioral patterns, orientation, maintenance behavior, and social behavior. Supplemental overnight field trips included. Lab included.

This course will focus on the identification, habitat and natural history, and life history of vertebrates. Biodiversity and strategies for survival are central themes. Fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals will be included with an emphasis on the vertebrates of North America. Lab included.

An introduction to Mendelian and non-Mendelian inheritance patterns as well as molecular genetics and biotechnology. Lab included.

A study of genes and gene regulation of living organisms at the molecular level. Particular attention will be given to modern biotechnology, genomics, and gene functions. Lab included.

Select advanced topics in biology offered on a rotating basis. Course may be taught offsite (for example at the Morton Aboretum). Some prerequisites, laboratory, or instructor's consent may be required. Multiple topics allow for course repeatability.

*This course includes a two-week trip immediately after finals week* This course examines the ecology and culture of The Bahamas through classroom study and field experience. This rich marine and island ecosystem provides a context for the interaction of humans and their environment over an extended history. Pre-trip presentations, organism identification, personal journal/species field notebook, participation, and a term paper will comprise the majority of student assessment. A course trip fee over and above tuition will be assessed. Valid passport and instructor consent is required. The required field experience will begin after final exams week and will last for 10-12 days.

Courses and field work at the Au Sable Institute (offsite). Course topics include Land Resources, Natural Resources, Ethnobotany and Ecological Agriculture, Field Botany, Animal Ecology, Water Resources, Aquatic Biology, and Ecology of the Indian Tropics. Multiple topics allow for course repeatability. Approval of the North Park Au Sable representative is required. Lab included.

This course is intended as a survey of the physics of the Earth's climate system. This course focuses on large-scale, long-term variability, ranging from days to millennia, rather than local, short-term weather. Topics include basic fluid dynamics, the energy balance of the Earth, the general circulation of the atmosphere, past and modern climate variability, and climate modeling. Lab is included in this course. Background in trigonometry is assumed.

Comprehensive examination of major requirements.