UC San Diego SearchMenu

The Environmental Systems (ESYS) Program


There can be little doubt that in the twenty-first century the global human community is facing a substantial growth in the environmental consequences of providing food, energy, materials, and basic services to a population of more than six billion inhabitants. The Environmental Systems Program recognizes the growing demand for environmental specialists and is designed to prepare undergraduates to enter a broad spectrum of environmental careers and graduate programs in, for example, the natural sciences, the social sciences, public policy, law, and business.

This interdisciplinary program recognizes that local, national, regional, international, and global environmental problems do not fit neatly into traditional academic departments. A measurable part of society’s inability to effectively manage complex environmental problems stems from the lack of specialists who can apply analytical tools that cross disciplinary boundaries. Many environmental specialists possess little training in the natural sciences including both the fundamental ideas and methodologies of the earth and environmental sciences. The environmental systems major was created to address both of these shortcomings.


To encourage and foster an interdisciplinary focus in the major, the Environmental Systems Program is supported by a wide range of UCSD faculty representing the natural sciences, the social sciences, the humanities, engineering, and medicine.

The program includes a required lower-division core, an upper-division “integrating course sequence,” two other upper-division courses and statistics, an advanced track, and a senior integrative project and seminar. There is a strong emphasis on a rigorous natural science foundation, as well as an introduction to the policy sciences for all students enrolled in the major.


One of the outstanding features of the ESYS Program is the three quarter upper-division Senior Internship/Project sequence to be taken senior year.

The Environmental Systems program places a significant value on interdisciplinary problem solving and all majors are expected to complete an integrative Senior Project in their final year. The Senior Project is designed by the student to focus on an interdisciplinary environmental problem or research topic. Appropriate topics for the Senior Project could conceivably include biodiversity conservation, coastal zone management, environmental health, climate change, environmental justice, and/or urban air quality. An important component of the Senior Project is an off-campus or laboratory internship where students might work on, for example, the development of a comprehensive management plan for a threatened ecosystem. The Senior Seminar provides a venue for the presentation and group evaluation of the ESYS Senior Projects.

A link to our learning outcomes can be found here.

Contact Info

Galbraith Hall, 3rd Floor, Rooms 365-368
9500 Gilman Dr.
La Jolla, CA 92093


Office Hours
8am-12pm &

Walk-in Advising:
Mon-Thurs: 10-11:30am & 1:30-3pm

*Tuesday hours will take place at the SIO Campus, Eckart 211*


Current UCSD students: 
Please submit your questions via the VAC. An advisor will respond to you within 1-3 business days.