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Environmental Systems Major

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 (ESYS) major was created to address both of these shortcomings.


The requirements for completion of the Environmental Systems major include a lower-division core, two upper-division courses, a three-course upper-division integrating sequence (ESYS 101, ESYS 102, ESYS 103), an upper-division statistics course, advanced courses in one of four tracks, and the senior project (ESYS 190A) and senior seminar (ESYS 190B). Any questions concerning the requirements should be directed to the Faculty Director or the program advisors. Students completing the advanced tracks in “Earth Sciences,” “Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution,” and “Environmental Chemistry” will be awarded a B.S. in environmental systems. The B.A. In environmental systems will be granted to students completing the “Environmental Policy” track within the major.

A grade-point average of 2.0 or higher in the upper-division major program is required for graduation. Students must receive a grade of C– or better in any course to be counted toward fulfillment of the major requirements. In exceptional cases, students with a grade-point average in the major of 2.5 or greater may petition to have one grade of D accepted.  All courses must be taken for Letter Grade (except ESYS 190A). Links to printable degree checklists are below.  

Grading Policy for Spring 2020 Quarter: Students in any Environmental Systems major may choose to take any major courses for a Pass/No Pass grade in Spring 2020 and still have the course count toward major requirements. This exception is only permitted for courses taken during Spring 2020 and applies to required lower division major courses, required upper division major courses and upper division major elective courses. Students are not required to change to a P/NP grade and it is recommend to take advantage of the university’s extension of the grade option change deadline (June 5, 2020) to make informed decisions before opting to take a P/NP grade in any major courses.

Please keep in mind that other departments and colleges will set their own policy regarding P/NP grades for the Spring 2020 quarter. Students are encouraged to consult with their college and relevant minor or double major departments before changing the grade option on any course that is also expected to satisfy a requirement outside the Environmental Systems majors. 

If you are interested in transferring into UC San Diego as an Environmental Systems (ESYS) major, please see our ESYS Transfer Student Information.  

NOTE: The requirements for the ESYS major were updated in Fall 2017.  If you entered UC San Diego prior to Fall 2017, your major requirements might be different than those found below.  Contact an ESYS advisor if you are unclear of your specific major requirements.

Lower-Division Core Requirements

Upper-Division Core Requirements

Environmental Systems Major Tracks

There are four advanced tracks in which students must complete upper-division course work.