As little as a decade ago if someone offered you the opportunity to earn a green college degree you may have questioned the rationale of rewarding thousands of dollars in tuition and endless hours of study time with a moldy diploma.

Ten eco-consciously lived years later you undoubtedly can ascertain that a green college degree is one that is environmentally aware, a degree  that will likely lead to career opportunities in one of the numerous areas of the still expanding Green Industry.  (You have sure gotten smart in the past ten years, you should reward yourself with a crunchy taco ASAP!)

Tragedies such as the most recent oil spill in the Gulf, serve to highlight urgency of creating a more sustainable way of living worldwide.  This urgency is being met by colleges and universities across the country by a noticeable spike in the number and variety of green majors which are being offered  over the past few years. While many of these institutions have been offering eco-minded courses for decades, these new additions to the curriculum are of note because they broaden the scope of where this eco knowledge can be considered applicable.

If you thought that environmental careers were limited to Scientist or can collector, you have been sadly misinformed. Eco-friendly degrees and the career paths they inspire can be as varying and unique as your more run of the mill degrees. (Philosophy majors, I am looking at you. Sorry that they have not discovered a way to make droning on and on  more eco-friendly, for the time being you are certified ROTM- “Run of the mill” for you folks playing at home. I kid, you need to philosophize how to take a joke! Zing.)

Environmental Law Degrees: If you have always fantasized about objecting to a hostile witness or having a side bar with an intense no-nonsense judge, you do not have to flush your aspirations down the dream toilet just because of your  environmental ethics. Green Lawyers are in high demand due to increases in environmental policies and the arguments that these new policies can sometimes entail. “You want the green…you can’t handle the green!” You may want to practice yelling that, just in case.

Environmental Engineering Degrees
: If you plan on coasting through college on your beer pong skills and good looks alone this complex degree is not for you. The  intricate learning process  of becoming an Environmental Engineer includes fully understanding the intricacies of  numerous environmental factors, including :water and air pollution control, waste disposal, recycling public health concerns and comprehending the environmental impact of future construction projects. This focus of study is offered at prestigious schools such as MIT, which does not stand for “May I Take… that test later?” Serious candidates need only apply. Don’t worry, I am sure a degree in Environmental Beer Chugging will come about eventually.

Environmental Health Science Degree
: If you, like Whitney Houston, are a firm believer that the children are the future you may be interested in pursuing a degree that helps you understand the role the environment plays in the health of humans. Your work will not only ensure that these mystery children in question live to see the future, but you will assist in the wellness of general public by making sure that their environment is one they can healthily thrive in.

Sustainable Business Degrees
: If your first words as a baby were, “Buy low, sell high!” you don’t have to squash your aspirations of being a true wheeler and dealer of the business world to leave your pesky environmentally conscious side appeased. Now you can learn how to manage business affairs with a mind for the environment and a knowledge of key sustainable principles that will help you run an ethical company that will leave you saying, “Buy used, sell sustainable!”

Countless other Green Majors are currently available or in the process of being developed. In 2007 Arizona State University introduced its School of Sustainability, which offers both Bachelors and Graduate degrees of Science and Art in the area of sustainability. Green Education is not limited to four-year degrees, many schools offer certificate programs, such as  Kalamazoo Valley Community College of Michigan which has a twenty-four week program that trains people in having the skills to operate wind turbines.

No matter what focus is chosen, green degrees allow students to prepare for not only their futures, but the future of the world- one in which the environment is no longer ignored or seen as inconsequential but is treated with the respect it deserves.

-Meghan Hurley