Environmental Engineering Major

Work across disciplines to solve complex environmental problems

Learn to solve complex environmental problems through the integration of the physical, chemical and biological sciences with tools in mathematics, planning, analysis and design. Environmental Engineering is a joint program between the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Engineering at Cornell.

The collaborative program is supported by excellent teaching and research facilities including: laboratories for the analysis of water chemistry, physical/chemical/biological processes, biochemistry and microbiology.

Major in Environmental Engineering

Bachelor of Science (B.S.)

In this major, students address important environmental and development issues, such as the water treatment processes, the transport of contaminants in natural aquatic systems, the design and management of environmental and water resource systems, environmental fluid mechanics and hydraulics and hydrology.

The EnvE program is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET. Students may seek engineering professional licensing after graduation.

The Environmental Engineering major is structured to provide students with appropriate background in the physical, chemical and biological sciences together with the mathematical, planning, analysis and design tools necessary to address complex environmental engineering problems. The goal of the program is to prepare you to:

  • Demonstrate strong technical abilities and advance in careers in Environmental Engineering and related disciplines
  • Complete advanced degrees in engineering and related professional fields
  • Assume leadership positions and contribute to understanding environmental problems and the design, construction and operation of solutions of societal problems involving environmental systems

The Program Educational Objectives (PEOs) of the Environmental Engineering Major are to:

  • Produce graduates who demonstrate in their professional practice strong technical abilities and advance in careers in Environmental Engineering and related disciplines
  • Produce graduates who will complete advanced degrees in engineering and related professional fields
  • Produce graduates who assume leadership positions and contribute to understanding environmental problems and the design, construction and operation of solutions of societal problems involving environmental systems

CALS seeks students who maintain a rigorous high school curriculum and demonstrate an outstanding record of academic achievement. Freshman admissions requirements include:

  • 4 Units of English

  • 4 Units of Mathematics (including calculus)

  • 3 Units of Science (biology, chemistry and physics recommended)

  • Also recommended: an additional unit of science

Major requirements for the Environmental Engineering major can be found on their website in the Environmental Engineering Major Handbook.

BEE 3299 Sustainable Development

Sustainable development is the dominant economic, environmental and social issue of the 21st century. This course develops the concepts of sustainable development as an evolutionary process, demanding the integration of the physical sciences and engineering with the biological and social sciences for design of systems. Topics include the nature of ecosystems, global processes, sustainable communities, and industrial ecology, renewable energy and life cycle analysis.

BEE 3710 Physical Hydrology for Ecosystems

This is an introduction to physical hydrology with an emphasis on roles and interactions between hydrological processes and ecological, biogeochemical and human systems.

BEE 4730 Watershed Engineering

This course teaches basic design and analysis as practiced for water control and nonpoint source pollution prevention. While there are discussions of the origins of design approaches including their theoretical bases, this is not a theory course. Most of the course is dedicated to practicing applied design. Assignments are generally representative of real-life engineering problems and will involve as much hands-on experience as possible. Some example topics include risk analysis, water conveyance, nonpoint source pollution control, stream restoration, storm water management and erosion control.

The collaborative undergraduate program in Environmental Engineering is supported by excellent teaching and research facilities including: laboratories for the analysis of water chemistry, physical/chemical/biological processes, biochemistry and microbiology.

Cornell University is also the home of Cornell’s Super Computer Technology Center for Advanced Computing, the New York State Center for Advanced Technology in Biotechnology Institute for Biotechnology and Life Science Technologies, and the Center for a Sustainable Future which oversees and supports many interdisciplinary environmental research programs. The wide variety of teaching and research activities, the world-class research facilities and the interdisciplinary centers at Cornell University provide students with excellent opportunities for study and research in Environmental Engineering.

Minor in Environmental Engineering

Students affiliated with all majors except Environmental Engineering are eligible to participate in this minor.

This minor encourages engineering students to learn about the scientific, engineering, and economic foundations of environmental engineering so that they are better able to address environmental management and sustainability issues. 

Learn more about the Environmental Engineering minor

Prepare for careers in the technical management of natural resources, including work in water, soil, and air quality, in a program that incorporates engineering and the study of the natural environment.

Environmental Engineering transfer applicants are required to submit course descriptions for all courses completed or in progress when applying to Brenda Marchewka at bls19 [at] cornell.edu (bls19)bls19 [at] cornell.edu (@cornell.edu). Math courses need to be submitted directly to the math department: http://www.math.cornell.edu/m/Courses/FSM/transcred.html to determine credit and math placement.

If you are applying for Spring admission, submit your course descriptions and syllabi for review by October 1, and if you are applying for Fall admission, submit these materials for review by March 15.

Transfer students are encouraged to apply to enter as sophomores because some of the second year requirements do not have equivalents at most other institutions.

Academic Record

  • Strong academic record at the college level. In general, competitive applicants have at least a 3.0 (B) average.
  • CALS Required Coursework should be completed or in-progress with a “B” or better before applying.
  • The most competitive applicants are full-time students who have met the GPA and course requirements.

Transfer students are encouraged to apply to enter as sophomores because some of the second year requirements do not have equivalents at most other institutions.

For transfers entering as sophomores or transfers with two full-time college semesters of study (post-high school) completed or in progress at time of application.

Required:

  • One semester of Introductory Biology with labs or a score of 4 or 5 on the Biology AP exam or General (Inorganic) Chemistry I with lab or Organic Chemistry I
  • Two College Writing/English Composition courses.
  • Calculus equivalent to Cornell MATH 1910 (integral calculus for engineers) and 1920 (multivariable calculus including Green’s Theorem, Stokes’ Theorem and divergence)
  • Computer Programming at the level of CS 1110 (Python) or CS 1112  (MATLAB, preferred). Programming courses must use a modern scientific computing language (e.g. Java, R, C++) and must cover loops, I/O to and from files, and creation of graphs.

If you are missing a math or programming course, your acceptance may be contingent on taking a suitable course during the summer preceding your enrollment at Cornell.

For transfers entering as juniors or transfers with four full-time college semesters of study (post-high school) completed or in progress at time of application.

Required:

  • One semester of Introductory Biology with labs or a 4 or 5 on the Biology AP exam or General (Inorganic) Chemistry I with lab or Organic Chemistry I

  • Two College Writing/English Composition courses
  • Calculus equivalent to Cornell MATH 1910 (integral calculus for engineers) and 1920 (multivariable calculus including Green’s Theorem, Stokes’ Theorem, and divergence)
  • Physics I & II with lab (calculus-based), at the content level of PHYS 1112 (Mechanics) and PHYS 2213 (Electromagnetism)
  • Computer Programming at the level of CS 1110 or CS 1112
  • Differential Equations, equivalent to MATH 2930
  • Linear Algebra, equivalent to MATH 2940
  • Engineering Mechanics, equivalent to ENGRD 2020
  • Engineering for a Sustainable Society; equivalent to ENGRD 2510
  • Thermodynamics or engineering physical chemistry
  • An introduction to engineering course
  • Engineering Statistics (calculus-based)
  • Other engineering course work at the second-year level or higher (e.g., circuits)

If one or two required courses are missing (typically differential equations and statics, because Cornell’s courses go beyond material typically covered in such courses) they can possibly be made up during the summer prior to enrollment at Cornell, or the student may be admitted as a second-semester sophomore with the understanding that five semesters at Cornell, or four semesters plus summer work, may be needed to fulfill graduation requirements.

Careers in Environmental Engineering

Engineer working on a piece of equipment.

Analysis/Consulting

  • Business technology analyst
  • Investment banking analyst
  • Environmental government policy analyst

Engineering

  • Civil engineer
  • Water source engineer
  • Staff engineer
  • Biological engineer
  • Electrical wireline engineer
  • Software engineer

Environmental

  • Environmental engineer
  • Environmental project engineer
  • Sustainability project engineer

Explore your opportunities

A CALS education goes beyond the classroom and gives students frequent opportunities to apply what they learn in real-world settings.