Frequently Asked Questions about the BSES

Can the BSES be completed in 4 years?

Yes. The program requires 120 credit hours and is designed to be completed in 4 years if a student takes an average of 15 credit hours each semester. However, if a student changes majors (or must re-take a course) it may require additional time to complete the BSES.

Should I do the BSES in SPEA or the College?

It is the same degree in both units, so this is largely a matter of personal preference. There are, however, two situations in which the unit does matter:
1. A student has financial aid, a scholarship, or some other opportunity that requires them to be in a particular unit.
2. A student wants to pursue SPEA's accelerated Master's degree in Environmental Science (see below).  For this, the student must be an undergraduate in SPEA.

Can I do overseas study with the BSES?

Yes, in fact we encourage it. Please arrange a meeting with an academic advisor to determine how the study abroad courses might be used in your degree program.

Is there an Honors program available for the BSES?

Yes. Both SPEA and the College of Arts and Sciences have Honors programs available to BSES students. In both units, the BSES Honors Program requires completion of a senior research thesis and an oral presentation of the thesis at the IU Undergraduate Research Symposium held each spring. Students pursuing this option should identify a faculty mentor during their junior year who will serve as the senior thesis advisor.

I'm not in an honors program, but I want to do independent research with a faculty member. Is this possible?

Absolutely. We strongly encourage BSES students to pursue independent research opportunities with environmental science faculty.

I want to use a substitute course for one of the required BSES courses. Can I do this?

Possibly. Start by speaking with an academic advisor. Be prepared to explain why the course substitution is needed. Course substitutions must be approved by the chair of the BSES Program Committee, and will be granted only in exceptional circumstances. 

There is a Topics course I want to take, but it isn't on the list of Environmental Science courses in the Academic Bulletin. Can I take it as part of my BSES degree?

Possibly. Start by speaking with an academic advisor. Topics courses change each semester and some of them are well suited for the BSES. The chair of the BSES Program Committee will determine which topics courses are suitable for the BSES. Note: any course can be taken as an elective, but only those approved by the Program chair can be used in the major (i.e., towards the required 27 credit hours of environmental science coursework).

What is the Accelerated Master of Science in Environmental Science (MSES)?

This program allows highly qualified undergraduate students in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs to complete both their undergraduate and graduate degrees in five years. To be considered for this program, a BSES student must have earned a minimum GPA of 3.0, completed 96 undergraduate credit hours, and satisfied all general-education and SPEA undergraduate core requirements. Because of the specialized nature of this program, potential applicants should contact the MSES program director for details.