Feb 22, 2024  
2023-24 Western Washington University Catalog 
2023-24 Western Washington University Catalog

Environmental Science — Toxicology Emphasis, BS

Location(s): WWU - Bellingham

Department of Environmental Sciences, College of the Environment

109-110 credits


Environmental toxicology is a relatively new discipline that is rapidly evolving to include molecular sciences, advanced analytical techniques, large data, and consideration of linkages to societies. It is a multidisciplinary field focused on the impacts of chemicals in the environment on living organisms. In our emphasis, we also consider environmental and analytical chemistry, and environmental remediation.

With the frequent development and technologies of chemicals such as pesticides and nanotechnology; new discoveries such as the effects of microplastics and stormwater on marine and freshwater organisms; established relationships between chemical exposure and effects to animals; and ongoing interactions between toxicology and our changing environment, there is much to learn and help solve.

How is this emphasis different from the Environmental Science, BS major?

Toxicology emphasis students have the same preparatory courses, required credits and basic required course structure as all Environmental Science students. The Toxicology Emphasis provides additional structure that guides students towards courses that let them acquire the same scientific and problem-solving skills as all Environmental Science graduates, though more focused in chemistry and toxicology. The core courses are sequenced so that a stronger cohort is formed and so that greater depth of knowledge can be obtained, setting students up to enter professional careers with already recognized expertise. Graduates often go directly into an environmental science career that uses the toxicology and chemistry knowledge and skills such as working for consultant companies, federal and regional governments, laboratories, or on to graduate school to further their study. 

As with the general Environmental Science, BS degree, students wishing to complete an Environmental Science - Environmental Toxicology major in four years should complete the general chemistry series during their freshman year and the general biology series during their sophomore year. Prospective environmental science majors are strongly advised to take additional preparatory courses that provide a strong background in chemistry, biology, and mathematics. The preparatory courses are listed with the major; preparatory classes may also be used to fulfill GURs. All preparatory courses required for admission should be completed on a lettered or numeric grading scale, not P/NP, and must be completed with a grade of C- or better. 

Why Consider an Environmental Science Major with Toxicology Emphasis?

Students in the environmental toxicology emphasis are trained to assess and solve the environmental problems that affect people and animals in ways that change their health and well-being. Many different sciences are integrated in toxicology, including chemistry and biology; these sciences are used in an applied way in environmental toxicology. As an environmental toxicologist, you can consider how natural systems are impacted by rural and urban development. Expertise in environmental toxicology can also help to solve environmental problems by informing regulations and identifying where changes in human practices should be made. Environmental justice and the interaction with climate relationships are also ongoing considerations in environmental toxicology. If you want to gain quantitative, technical, and analytical skills, participate in problem-solving, and integrate many disciplines, then consider the environmental toxicology emphasis.

 Contact Information

Department Chair
Ruth Sofield
Environmental Studies 344

College of the Environment
Admissions Advisor

Kathryn Patrick
Environmental Studies 539

 Major/Career Resources


How to Declare (Admission and Declaration Process):

Admission to this Bachelor of Science program in Environmental Science is selective, based upon prior academic performance and a written application that addresses an applicant’s experience, motivation, and goals.

Students may apply for pre-major status at any time if they are in good academic standing (cumulative GPA ≥ 2.0). It is strongly advised that pre-majors meet with the College of the Environment Admissions Advisor as they begin their preparatory classes. Students can also declare as an Environmental Science pre-major during their first advising meeting to receive access to some 300-level courses, be assigned a faculty advisor and join the College of the Environment student listserv.

Students will remain at pre-major status until all the preparatory classes have been completed. Students may then apply to be considered for full-major status by completing the major application.

The admission application can be found on the CENV Undergraduate Application webpage. Priority for admission will be given to students who have a GPA of 3.0 or higher in the preparatory courses (averaged across the preparatory classes). Students with a GPA below 3.0 in the preparatory courses will be considered for admission on a case-by-case basis to the extent that space is available.

Applications are accepted by April 18 for fall, October 6 for winter and January 15 for spring.

Grade Requirements

A grade of C- or better is required for a student’s major or minor courses, and supporting courses for majors and minors.

Environmental Science prep and major requirements

Major (65 credits)


Under advisement (11-32 credits) to fulfill the total major requirements of 65 credits:

Toxicology Emphasis (34 credit minimum)

Complete the following courses to fulfill the Toxicology Emphasis. Courses used to fulfill requirements in the emphasis may also be used to fulfill above major requirements.