Frequently Asked Questions
Why a Bachelor of Science?
Evidence exists showing that possessing a BSc degree provides increased flexibility in terms of career choices and subsequent career shifts.
Why the University of Lethbridge?
The University of Lethbridge is one of Canada's finest post-secondary institutions, consistently ranking near the top in many categories for equivalent-sized Universities. Although our focus is on the liberal arts, our professional programs, including the multidisciplinary major in Environmental Science, provide outstanding educational opportunities. Our smaller classes, co-op placements, and the involvement of students in faculty research provide a further 'Lethbridge advantage'.
One key strength is our faculty. Courses associated with the Environmental Science Multidisciplinary Major are taught primarily by faculty from the Departments of Biological Sciences, Geography, and Chemistry. In addition to a firm commitment to teaching excellence, each professor maintains an active research program. A clear indication of the success of our science faculty lies in the fact that they receive a combined level of funding from Alberta and federal sources that is higher than any equivalent-sized University in Canada. Just recently, 3 faculty members that teach courses within the Environmental Science Major were awarded prestigious Board of Governor's Research Chairs. Two recently appointed faculty in the Department of Biological Sciences hold Canadian Research Chair appointments. Thus, students in the Environmental Science Major not only receive high-quality, state-of-the-art instruction but also have the opportunity to work in research labs. For example, during the summer of 2001, 8 faculty members that are associated with the Environmental Science program hired a total of approximately 25 undergraduates to work in their labs.
A second strength is the design of our program. Central to this design is our close association with faculty and students at Lethbridge Community College, where most of our students spend either 2 full years (as part of a diploma program), or one full academic term (as part of a regular 4-yr degree program). We believe that it is our unique three-tiered approach of conceptual training in the core sciences, hands-on technical training, and exposure to the liberal arts that provides the background necessary for success in a career in Environmental Sciences.
And finally, a further strength is our geographical location. This is important from a number of perspectives. Aesthetically, the City of Lethbridge is a small enough (population about 75,000) to maintain a small-town, prairie appeal, yet large enough to attract big-city amenities such as theatre, cinema and sporting events. Rent prices are low (rental in shared houses range from 200-300 $ per person), transportation costs are low, and entertainment costs are low. Another important feature is the sheer number of scientists that work in the Lethbridge area, many of whom specialize in environmentally-related disciplines (particularly agricultural). In addition to scientists at the University of Lethbridge, the city is also home to the largest Agricultural Research Station in Canada and also the Animal Disease Research Institute. Just recently, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and also the Nature Conservancy Council of Canada opened offices in the city. Many of these researchers that are external to the University teach courses that are highly relevant to Environmental Science students, and many hire our students during and after their degree programs.
What are the requirements to apply to the Env. Sci. Program?
40-course multidiscplinary major
This BSc degree requires 40-semester courses, including 20 from the major plus a Technical Studies semester at Lethbridge Community College. The major is offered primarily by the Departments of Biological Sciences and Geography. It provides a mixture of science-based training, complemented by one semester of hands-on technical training at LCC (see below for description of this program). Further details regarding individual courses and a model sequencing plan can be downloaded from this website.
Post-diploma multidisciplinary major
This program is directed primarily towards students that have graduated with a diploma in Renewable Resource Management or Environmental Assessment and Restoration from Lethbridge Community College. Graduates from other colleges that offer appropriate diplomas are also encouraged to apply (e.g. Selkirk College, N.A.I.T., ). The requirements for admission into our post-diploma program include completion of a recognized diploma, and a minimum cumulative G.P.A. of 2.75. Students that have obtained at least 3 years of directly relevant work experience are eligible to apply with a minimum G.P.A. of 2.00. Application procedures follow those outlined for all students (http://www.uleth.ca/ross/admissions/index.html). Further details regarding individual courses and a model sequencing plan can be downloaded from this website.
Are Env. Sci. graduates from Uni of Lethbridge successful in the job market?
Our combination of classroom based study with hands-on technical experience is an attractive mix for employers. Past graduates have been hired by a wide range of employers, spanning the private sector (e.g. Environmental Consulting companies, Forestry, and Oil & Gas, Ducks Unlimited), governmental organizations (e.g. Alberta Conservation Association, Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans) and non-governmental organizations (e.g. Nature Conservancy Council). The 'alumni stories' button on this website provides a sample of this diversity. We are currently compiling summary statistics of past employment for our alumni, the results of which will be available shortly.
What are G.L.E.R. courses and why do I have to take them?
These are the General Liberal Education Requirements. The University maintains a liberal arts philosophy, and requires all undergraduates to complete a minimum number of courses drawn from 1) the fine arts and humanities, 2) the social sciences, and 2) the sciences. For regular BSc Env. Sci. students, the minimum GLER requirement is 12. Post-diploma Env. Sci. students must meet a modified GLER requirement consisting of 5 courses. A list of appropriate courses is available in the calendar. Note that there are several courses that can be taken as part of your GLER requirement that are relevant to the Environmental Sciences. Courses available in the Departments of Economics, Indigenous Studies, Philosophy, and History are especially appropriate in this regard.
As a post-diploma student, I noticed that some required courses have specific prerequisites. How do I get into these courses without the prerequisites?
For these courses, we assume that your Diploma training has provided you with the necessary background. For example, the listed pre-requisites for Biol 3300 (Evolution) are Biol 2000 (Principles of Genetics) and Biol 2200 (Principles of Ecology). In this case, Biol 2000 is a mandatory pre-requisite, but Biol 2200 is not (it is assumed that you have an appropriate background in Ecology from your Diploma).
Can I transfer courses I completed at other institutions for credit into the Env. Sci. Multidisciplinary Major?
Previous post-secondary courses are eligible for transfer credit toward an Environmental Sciences major. This serves to reduce the number of courses you will be required to take to complete the program. The procedure is straightforward and is accomplished through our Admissions Office. It is your responsibility to provide supportive documents (course titles and descriptions) for evaluation of transfer credit. For students transferring from post-secondary institutions within the Province of Alberta, procedures outlined in the Alberta Transfer Guide are followed. In general, courses that were completed at another Canadian University are transferable for credit at the University of Lethbridge, subject to other university policies regarding program requirements and minimum residency requirements. For post-diploma students, a maximum of 5 courses, in addition to your diploma, may be eligible for transfer credit. The maximum is 20 for 4-yr BSc Env. Science students.
Can I substitute classes that are required within the major (Direct Entry or Post-Diploma) for other classes?
Under certain circumstances, substitutions can be arranged in consultation with the Coordinator of Environmental Science Program. For instance, post-diploma students with extensive GIS experience can often substitute Geog 3740 for another upper-level science course. Likewise, students with experience in Planning (e.g. students from Selkirk College) can usually substitute Geog 2535 for another appropriate course.
What is the 'Technical Studies' Semester?
This feature is only relevant to students in the 40-course multidisciplinary major (i.e. not for students in the Post-diploma major). The aim is for students to compliment their classroom-based knowledge with technology training that is appropriate to the Environmental Sciences. Students generally enroll in this program in the fall or winter of their 3rd year, after at least 20 university courses have been completed and prior to registration for the final 10 courses of their degree. Students select 5 courses from within the College's Environmental Science program. In the past, these generally include courses such as Soil Science, Water Resources, Conservation Biology, and Principles of Wildlife Management. The college is located on the south side of the City of Lethbridge, across the Oldman River from the University.
What is an Independent Study and how does it differ from an Applied Study?
Students in the Environmental Sciences are strongly encouraged to incorporate at least one Independent or Applied Study into their programs. Applied Studies and Independent Studies are courses that are completed through individual study under the guidance of a faculty member. Either option can be taken as early as the second year, and as late as the last. Students can take both options, so long as they are deemed sufficiently different. Applied Studies provide students an opportunity to gain University credit for volunteer or employment experiences. Previous Environmental Science students have taken the opportunity to complete Applied Studies with employers such as Ducks Unlimited, Nature Conservancy Council, Alberta Conservation Association and numerous consulting companies. The initial step is to see the Coordinator of Applied Studies, or to consult a Faculty member whose interests most closely match your own.
Independent studies are usually research intensive, and do not require collaboration with a specific employer. Instead, they are completed through consultation with a faculty member, or in some instances, with more than one. For instance, Independent Studies are often an excellent way to bridge the research programs of two distinct labs. They provide a superb opportunity to focus on a specific research question and to become part of a top-notch research lab. The initial step towards an Independent Study is to informally consult with a faculty member whose interests most closely match your own. It is best to put some prior thought into this initial consult. Visit appropriate websites first, then perhaps consult a publication from the research group, or arrange a prior visit to one of the faculty members' current graduate students. It is fruitful to be as specific as possible. Statements such as 'I am interested in Grizzly bears' or 'I find Environmental Science fascinating' usually do not suffice. In a nutshell, these Independent and Applied Studies should provide one of your most memorable and valuable undergraduate experiences. Thus, time spent on prior legwork is worth the effort. You can take up to 5 Independent Study courses as part of your degree.
What is the link between the Env. Sci. Program and the University's Co-op Program?
Co-op opportunities are available for direct-entry, and for post-diploma Environmental Science Students. The intent is to provide opportunities for students to integrate classroom-based learning with work experience in industry, business, or government. Information on admission criteria and requirements are available at on the co-op website. Several of our alumni that have taken this opportunity are featured in 'alumni stories' on the homepage.
Off-campus Field Courses
Environmental Science students are encouraged to take off-campus summer field courses, some of which are taught or co-taught by U of L faculty. Superb opportunities exist for intensive (usually 3-6 wk) summer field courses at various neighboring field stations. Environmental Science alumni have taken summer courses at Kananaskis Field Station, Delta Marsh Biological Research Station (Manitoba), Flathead Lake Research Station (Montana), and Bamfield Marine Research Station (Vancouver Island). For an extraordinary experience, consider a course in Tropical Field Biology, offered annually out of Belize by Malaspina University College in Nanaimo. An updated list of potential course offerings is posted on the Environmental Sciences noticeboard beside D-874 in University Hall.
I am an outdoor person, could I tolerate 2 or more years living on the prairie?
This question comes from someone who has not visited Head-Smashed-in Buffalo Jump, Devil's Coulee, Waterton Lakes National Park, or Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park. Two of these are World Heritage sites, located within one hour's drive from the University. A third, the Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology is a 2 hour drive. The University itself is located on the banks of the Oldman River, a magnificent Great Plains river that runs through some of the largest native tracts of short- and mixed-grass prairie anywhere. In short, there is nowhere better for the outdoor enthusiast, with ample opportunities for skiing, hiking, mountain biking, hunting, and fishing.