Environmental Studies Program

Applied Learning Experience

Majors and minors must participate in an applied learning experience (formerly known as the capstone) related to environmental issues.

This requirement for the major and minor can be fulfilled through any of the following options. Be sure to consult the full eligibility requirements linked below for each option.

  1. A preapproved study abroad program. The link will bring you to the Office of Study Abroad's website for Environmental Studies
  2. An environmental internship, approved in advance by the environmental studies program.
  3. An adviser-supported senior essay (ENVS 97a), senior research (ENVS 99a) or thesis (ENVS 99b).


Environmental studies majors are eligible to submit an internship or study abroad for approval through the environmental studies program once they have completed ENVS 2a (Fundamentals of Environmental Challenges) as well as five additional courses that count toward the environmental studies major.

Minors are eligible once they have completed ENVS 2a along with three additional courses that count toward the environmental studies minor. You may complete an internship to fulfill a graduation requirement in more than one major/minor as long as the internship has been preapproved and the other program will also accept it.

Study Abroad

See and learn how countries around the world — from Iceland and Greece to Costa Rica and New Zealand — think about and confront environmental issues. Studying abroad is enthusiastically supported by the faculty in environmental studies as a way to broaden perspectives on environmental issues and provide understanding in an ecological context.

Students wishing to complete the applied learning experience by going abroad can do so by participating in one of the preapproved study abroad programs. Programs with a strong environmental focus, tight integration, fieldwork and major study projects will typically fill the requirement, e.g., most SFS (School for Field Studies) and many SIT (School for International Training) programs.

In general, programs that consist of several unrelated classroom-based courses will not be approved. Students should be a declared major or minor and have completed ENVS 2a prior to studying abroad.


The environmental studies program maintains relationships with many local and national organizations that provide students with rich opportunities to experience environmental topics in government, industry, public-interest organizations and scientific research institutions. Past internship hosts include the Boston Harbor Islands (National Park Service), Charles River Watershed Association, Mass Audubon and the New England Aquarium.

Eligible students for this program must:

  • Have their internship approved in advance.
  • Have completed ENVS 2a.
  • Have completed the minimum required number of courses in their degree (five additional for majors and three additional courses for minor).

Students are encouraged to begin researching internships on their own by accessing university resources and exploring contacts that they may have.

Internships are not typically completed for course credit. Students interested in earning course credits may consider INT 89a Academic Year Internship or INT 92g Summer Internship

For students interested in environmental justice, the WATCH Housing Advocacy Clinic assists clients with fair and safe housing issues, particularly in addressing lead, asbestos and other environmental exposure risks present in low-income housing, and preventing evictions and homelessness.

Micro-internships for Minors

Students completing the ENVS minor — not the ENVS major — may fulfill their applied learning experience with an approved micro-internship plus 4 professional development workshops.

Micro-internships are short-term, project-based positions with partner organizations that would consist of 25-40 hours of work. Students would pair micro-internships with professional development workshops offered by the Brandeis Library.

Securing a micro-internship:

Students may identify projects with partners on their own or work with the ENVS Applied Learning Experience Director in identifying a micro-internship. Micro-internships need to be approved in advance, using a procedure similar to the regular internship approval process.

Completing professional development workshops:

Brandeis Library regularly offers professional development workshops on topics like Excel, Python, R, website building, etc. Students are required to complete a minimum of four workshops. Once students get approval for their micro-internship, they will receive a list of eligible workshops. Workshops generally require 1 hour advance preparation and 1 hour synchronous participation.

Write a reflection:

Students completing a micro-internship will complete a reflection paper similar to the current internship requirement.

Senior Essay, Research and Thesis

Environmental studies students have the opportunity to gain real-life research experience by working alongside their professors in the field or lab through our Community and Citizen Science program. Students wishing to build upon these or other research experiences to fulfill the applied learning experience requirement may do so by participating in a senior essay (ENVS 97a), senior research (ENVS 99a) or thesis (ENVS 99b). Students should identify an environmental studies faculty adviser for these options during their junior year. Note: A senior thesis must be completed over a minimum of two semesters.