Why a Coastal Environmental Science Degree is a Smart Career Move

 At LSU’s College of the Coast & Environment, or CC&E, students are discovering careers where they can use their love of the environment to make a difference. Here’s how a coastal environmental science, or CES, degree is helping students to gain the knowledge and experience that opens doors to a multitude of inspiring careers.  

A key attraction is our in-depth, multi-disciplinary curricula that includes chemistry, biology, math, and physics. Hands-on research is a major part of the CES program, giving undergraduates opportunities to add real-world experience to their educational repertoire as early as their freshman year.  

According to Sibel Bargu Ates, professor and associate dean of academics for the college, “From day one, as freshmen, we can find them a laboratory to work in, either in a faculty lab or in our undergraduate research lab, so they can get involved in in-depth research. We are committed to continuous mentoring and hands-on research early on in their undergraduate experience as opposed to only doing research in their junior and senior year.” 

Through this education and research, students grow photo of student pictured with sibelto understand the complex relationship between humans, plants and animals—which is integral to a number of careers. Coastal Environmental Sciences applies not only to careers in oceanography or environmental science but also to careers in medicine, law, veterinary medicine, public health, public policy, and more.  

Not only do CES students have a wealth of options for career paths, but they also have opportunities to specialize in the strengths and skills needed to differentiate themselves from other applicants in their chosen field via the program’s concentration options and fast-track programs. Undergraduates can earn a concentration in the following subjects: 

  • Environmental Science and Research 
  • Applied Coastal Environmental Science  
  • Environmental Health 
  • Environmental Law
  • Coastal Meteorology 

And, CES majors have a great occupational outlook. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, future environmental scientists and specialists can expect a job growth rate of 11 percent between 2016 and 2026, higher than the average occupational growth rate of seven percent. Likewise, employment of geoscientists, including oceanographers, is projected to grow 14 percent in that same time period. 

To date, 100 percent of CES graduates have gained employment or pursued additional degrees within two months of graduation. In particular, Bargu attributes the high employment rates to the “unique origins” of the program. For many years before the undergraduate program was developed, the coastal environmental unit at LSU was a school focused on research programs offering degrees at the graduate level. As a result, the faculty remain extremely research-oriented and teach small classes on specialized topics in addition to critical core courses.  

Bargu believes all these experiences add to students’ resumes and give CES students an edge in the job market, especially due to the college’s unique location near the Mississippi River Delta. Louisiana is home to 40 percent of the coastal wetlands and 80 percent of coastal wetland loss, in the continental U.S. It is often referred to as “ground zero” for coastal and environmental challenges. As such, CES students have ample opportunities to build real-world job experience and apply what tphoto of professor speaking with students at an open househey have learned in these coastal communities during their college years. 

According to Aaron Bass, owner of Chenier Environmental Consulting, LLC, “As a business owner, I want employees who have direct and relevant experience so that they will hit the ground running. Their education should enable them to work independently, think critically, and solve problems from multiple angles. CC&E delivers a high-caliber education and employees who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty.”  

For more information about the CES program, view the prospective students’ website:  https://www.lsu.edu/cce/undergraduate/recruitment/applyindex.php or email ttreloar@lsu.edu.  




photo of recent grads 

Take the Fast-Track to a Successful Career!

The College of the Coast & Environment’s Coastal Environmental Science, or CES, degree offers two fast-track programs in which students can earn two degrees in a shorter period of time. The 3+2 Environmental Public Health Program allows eligible students to receive a bachelor's degree in Coastal Environmental Science with a concentration in Environmental Health and a master's degree in Public Health in five years instead of six. Secondly, the 3+3 Environmental Law Program allows eligible students to receive a bachelor's degree in Coastal Environmental Science and a juris doctorate in a total of six years.  

Sibel Bargu Ates, professor and associate dean of academics for the college, offered insight in to how these fast-track programs benefit students.  

“It’s a good way to go because instead of four years, if you're able to stay five years and graduate with both a bachelor's and a master's degree, you’re saving money, you’re saving time, and you can go ahead and start a PhD earlier or stop there and go into the workforce,” Bargu said.  

These fast-track programs serve as a practical pathway for students to gain the experience they need for a successful career with the least amount of time and expense. 

More about our fast-track programs:  

3+2 Environmental Public Health Program-https://www.lsu.edu/majors/fast-tracks/env-pub-health.php   

3+3 Environmental Law Program-https://www.law.lsu.edu/academics/curriculum/3-3-program/