Coastal Environmental Studies

Resources, Strengths, Career Paths, Skills

As we have become more aware of the critical role of Earth’s natural ecosystems and the vulnerability of our fragile environment, a renewed focus on the preservation of coastal cities and climate change has emerged. Human development of coastal zones around the world has created an array of environmental resource issues that are further complicated by sea-level rise and global climate change. A background in Coastal Environmental Studies will prepare you to take advantage of the many new “green” job opportunities opening annually. Minimizing the use of resources while lowering costs is an important incentive for businesses, government, and individuals to innovate and operate more sustainably. To achieve this, there is a need for skilled analysts, consultants, educators, advocates, planners, and policy makers. Many of these jobs did not exist several years ago and this “green” sector of the economy is expected to continue to grow.

Coastal Environmental Studies majors are in a unique position to take advantage of the many new job opportunities every year in industries which, according to the federal government, are expected to grow 52% between 2000 and 2016.

Transferable Skills: Students of the Coastal Environmental Studies major complete their education with a unique blend of scientific skills and an understanding of the human impact on the Earth, especially our use of natural resources and plans for future development. Students progress through a multidisciplinary curriculum that teaches them the following skills:

  • Thinking critically and analytically
  • Using Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
  • Solving problems and making detailed observations
  • Understanding of demography and statistics
  • Employing systems thinking and simulation modeling
  • Conducting research and presenting findings
  • Operating scientific equipment
  • Detailed knowledge of lab techniques
  • Data collection and analysis
  • Public Speaking and presenting
  • Technical writing and communication

Career Paths: The major in Coastal Environmental Studies provides students with an optimal platform for entering a wide variety of fields. Here are some careers students may choose to pursue:

  • Environmental advocacy/Lobbying
  • Research of biodiversity and species conservation
  • Geographic Information Systems and mapping
  • Coastal and environmental consulting
  • Environmental engineering
  • Ecosystem-based management
  • Ecosystem restoration
  • Government and nonprofit work
  • Environmental education
  • Resource management and eco-tourism

Resources & Professional Associations: There are many excellent professional organizations and other resources from which a student of Coastal Environmental Studies will benefit. Below is a list of websites to help your start your research:

Consider joining on-campus clubs related to environmental conservation and advocacy. On-campus student organizations are a great way to meet people with similar interests who may be able to connect you with professionals in your intended field. Visit the Stony Brook University Student Activities site for more information.

Sample Job Titles: The following are some jobs that graduates of the Coastal Environmental Studies program at Stony Brook could expect to secure:

  • Project environmental scientist
  • Researcher for major university or company
  • Geographic Information Systems specialist
  • Public Health and Policy administrators
  • Government administrators and planners at the federal, state or local level
  • Environmental consultant

Note: some of these jobs may require an advanced degree.

Additional Information: For more information on Stony Brook’s Sustainability Studies Program with five majors, and six minors, please visit their website at: