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Environmental Engineering Program

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Environmental Engineering UG Program

This major is no longer active. Check the Environmental Systems Engineering page for the current major.

Current Environmental Engineering majors should refer to the 2013-2014 (see below) degree requirements for the Environmental Engineering major. ABET accreditation for the Environmental Engineering degree will cease after June 2015. New major Environmental Systems Engineering requirements are now posted and available for view.

For undergraduates interested in Environmental Engineering, two options are available: 1) The undergraduate Civil Engineering major (which is ABET-accredited) offers an Environmental & Water Studies track, with a curriculum quite similar to the Environmental Engineering major. 2) A new major in Environmental Systems Engineering (which is not ABET-accredited) offers a choice of focusing on coastal environments, freshwater environments, or urban environments.


The environmental engineering profession works to protect and manage our air, water, and energy resources. Environmental engineers quantitatively analyze the environmental changes that inevitably result from human activities, designing strategies to remediate problems, minimize impacts, and measurably improve environmental quality.

The environmental engineering field is refreshingly multi-disciplinary in nature, combining fundamental principles drawn from physics, chemistry, geology and biology with analytical methods. Practitioners focus on developing devices, techniques and solutions that can effectively address a variety of real-world environmental problems.


ABET accreditation for the Environmental Engineering degree will cease after June 2015. Undergraduates seeking an ABET-accredited B.S. with an environmental engineering focus should choose the environmental and water studies track of the Civil Engineering major, unless they are certain they will graduate by June 2015.

Objectives and Outcomes For Environmental Engineering


  1. Graduates of the civil engineering program are expected within a few years of graduation to have the ability to:
  2. Establish themselves as practicing professionals in civil engineering or a related field
  3. Pursue graduate study in civil engineering or other fields
  4. Work effectively as responsible professionals alone or in teams handling increasingly complex professional and societal expectations


(a) A proficiency in and ability to apply knowledge of engineering, mathematics through differential equations, probability and statistics, and science including physics and chemistry
(b) An ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data
(c) An ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs
(d) An ability to function on multi-disciplinary teams
(e) An ability to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems
(f) An understanding of professional and ethical responsibility
(g) An ability to communicate effectively
(h) A broad education with understanding of the impact of engineering solutions in a global and societal context
(i) A recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in, life-long learning
(j) A knowledge of contemporary issues
(k) An ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice
(l) Background for admission to engineering or other professional graduate programs

The Curriculum

The undergraduate environmental engineering curriculum consists of a set of core classes considered essential for the major, along with additional classes students can select from a list of breadth electives.  Those undergraduates potentially interested in the Environmental Engineering major may want to examine the Environmental and Water Studies specialization of the Civil Engineering major as a possible alternative; a comparison of these two majors is presented below.

For more information on environmental engineering, please contact Jill Nomura in Room 316 of the Jerry Yang and Akiko Yamazaki Environment & Energy (Y2E2) building.

Research Experience For Undergraduates

The department of Civil and Environmental Engineering welcomes student participation in the VPUE undergraduate research programs. Interested students should check the VPUE website and the CEE website for announcements regarding the application procedures. Annual program announcements typically appear in January with application due dates in February.

A Comparison: Environmental Engineering vs. Civil Engineering

Those students interested in environmental studies should be aware of the differences between choosing the Environmental Engineering major and the Environmental and Water Studies specialization of the Civil Engineering major. Noteworthy considerations include:

  1. Curricular Differences: The Civil Engineering (CE) major requires ENGR 14 (Applied Mechanics), CEE101A (Mechanics of Materials), and CEE101C (Geotechnical Engineering), while the Environmental Engineering (EnvE) major does not. This is because these classes are essential background for the structures/construction area of Civil Engineering and in particular, the structures and construction fields within civil engineering. The EnvE major lists CEE 64 (Air Pollution) as a required class (while CE does not) and offers 10 of Depth electives (vs. 6 units for CE).
  2. Professional Considerations: Both the CE and EnvE degrees are currently ABET-accredited, which is a first step toward a professional engineering license. However, ABET accreditation of the EnvE degree will cease in June 2015, while ABET accreditation of the CE degree will continue.
  3. Philosophical Considerations: Some faculty and students feel that "Civil Engineering" implies a broader background, and may thus lead to a broader range of job opportunities. But others argue that "Environmental Engineering" is a more accurate description for a course of study that emphasizes the environment. And finally, there are others who feel that the name itself makes little or no difference.

Exploring Environmental Engineering as a Major

Freshmen and sophomores: Are you wondering whether an Environmental Engineering major might be right for you? If so, here is some advice on courses accessible early in your undergraduate career that will help you assess your interest in our major. If you end up joining our program, this early start on fulfilling requirements will pay off by giving you more flexibility in class scheduling for your junior and senior years.

1. For an introduction to Environmental Engineering, classes required for all of our declared majors which are readily accessible to you are:

Course Description Quarter
CEE 64 Air Pollution and Global Warming: History, Science, & Solutions W
ENGR 90/CEE 70 Environmental Science & Technology A
CEE100:  (WIM)(A) Managing Civil Engineering Projects A


2. For electives providing additional exposure to the major, try:

Course Description Quarter
CEE 63 Weather and Storms A
CEE 50N Multidisc. Perspectives on a Large Urban Estuary: San Francisco Bay S; Freshman seminar
CEE109 Creating a Green Student Workforce for Sustainability Not offered 2013-14
CEE166D Water Resources and Water Hazards Field Trips W
CEE 173A Energy Resources A


3. The following Science/Math classes are required for almost all majors within the School of Engineering:

Course Description Quarter
CHEM 31A or 31X or ENGR 31 Chemical Principles A
PHYSICS 41 Mechanics [co-requisite: MATH 41] or 4 units of AP Physics C W
MATH 51 or Linear Algebra & Differential Calculus A,W,S,Sum
CME 100 Vector Calculus prerequisite: MATH 41/42 or 10 units of AP Calculus] A

4. Finally, there are additional Science/Math classes required for students majoring in Environmental Engineering that can readily be taken early on:

Course Description Quarter
GES 1A or 1B or 1C* Introduction to Geology (S or A; one course required)
STATS 110 (or STATS 60 or EESS 160 or CME 106) Statistics A,W,S

-- *GES 1C not offered 2013-14

Requirements: 2013-14 Major in Environmental Engineering

Mathematics and Science (45 units minimum)

Course Description Units Quarter

MATH 41/42 (req'd)


Calculus (or 10 units AP Calculus)  10 A,W
CME 100/102 (or Math 51 & 53) (req'd) Math/Computational Methods for Engineers 10 A,S/A,W
PHYSICS 41 [or 4-5 units from AP Physics C] (req'd) Mechanics 4 W
CHEM 31A or X or ENGR 31 (req'd)  [or AP Chemistry if placement exam puts into CHEM 33] Chemical Principles 4 A
CHEM 33  Structure and Reactivity (organic chemistry -- see ^Note) 4 W,S,Sum

One additional Physics or Chemistry course from Figure 3-2 (see ^Note) 3-4 units

Course Description Units Quarter
GES 1A or B or C Intro to Earth Sciences (different topic each quarter; count only one)  4-5  A,W,S

Statistical Methods (or STATS 60 or EESS 160 or CME 106) 3-5 A,W,S

Note: Students taking CHEM 31B for the Chemical Principles requirement may use CHEM 31A to fulfill the "one additional Physics or Chemistry course" requirement. CHEM 35 or 135 is recommended as the additional course for those students planning to continue on to graduate school in environmental studies.

Engineering Fundamentals

Three courses minimum, including:

  • ENGR 30. Engineering Thermodynamics 3 units, A
  • ENGR 90/CEE 70. Environmental Science and Technology 3 units, A
  • Engineering Fundamental elective from SoE Approved Course List

Technology in Society (TiS)

One 3-5 unit course required: See Chapter 3, Figure 3-3 of this handbook for an approved list of courses that fulfill the TIS requirement for Environmental Engineering majors (in CEE Major column).

Environmental Engineering Depth

At least 68 units of Fundamental and depth courses are required by ABET and by the Department (Fundamentals + Depth = 68 Units Minimum)

Required Depth Core: (47 units)

Course Description Units Quarter
CEE 64* Air Pollution and Global Warming: History, Science, & Solutions 3 W
CEE 100 Managing Civil Engineering Projects (meets WIM requirement)  4 S
CEE 101B Mechanics of Fluids 4 S
CEE 101D*  Computations in CEE 3 A
CEE 146A  Engineering Economy [or ENGR 60, offered summer qtr only)  3 W
CEE 160  Mechanics of Fluids Laboratory  2 S
CEE 161A  Rivers, Streams and Canals 4 A
CEE 166A  Watersheds and Wetlands 3 A
CEE 166B  Floods and Droughts, Dams and Aqueducts 3 W
CEE 171   Environmental Planning Methods 3 W
CEE 172  Air Quality Management 3 W
CEE 177 Aquatic Chemistry and Biology  4 A
CEE 179A  Water Chemistry Laboratory 3 W
:CEE169 or CEE179B or CEE 179C Design Experience 5 S

*Can count either towards the Math or Science requirement, or as engineering units.

Depth Elective Courses: (at least 10 additional units from the following list)

Course Description Units Quarter
CEE 63*   Weather and Storms 3 A
CEE 101C  Geotechnical Engineering (includes lab) 4 A
CEE 109 Creating a Green Student Workforce for Sustainability 2 A
CEE 129   Climate Change Adaptation for Seaports 3 A,W,S

CEE 155 
 Introd to Sensing Networks 4 W
CEE 164  Introduction to Physical Oceanography  4 W
CEE 166D  Water Resources and Water Hazards Field Trips 2 W
CEE 172A  Indoor Air Quality (alternate years)  2-3 S
CEE 173A  Energy Resources 4-5  A
CEE 174A  Providing Safe Water for the Developing and Developed World 3 A
CEE 174B   Wastewater Treatment: from Disposal to Resource Recovery 3 W
CEE 176A  Energy Efficient Buildings 3-4  W
CEE 176B   Electric Power: Renewables and Efficiency 3-4 S

CEE 178

 Introduction to Human Exposure Analysis 3 S,Sum
CEE 199  Undergrad Research in Civil & Environmental Engineering 1-4 Any

 *Can count either towards the Math or Science requirement, or as engineering units.

Other Elective Courses

Students may choose additional courses from within the School of Engineering to reach a total of 68 units of Fundamental + Depth courses combined if necessary in order to satisfy ABET and departmental requirements to graduate. The following CEE courses do not satisfy the ABET requirements: CEE 44Q and CEE 133F. For other CEE courses not listed above and for courses outside of CEE you must obtain approval from the CEE Department Associate Chair to confirm satisfaction of ABET requirements

How to Declare Environmental Engineering

  1. Enter your major declaration as Environmental Engineering in Axess
  2. Print out your Stanford transcript (unofficial is fine) from Axess.
  3. Download and complete your major Program Sheet. Be sure to fill in all courses that you have taken and those which you plan to take. You will have the opportunity to revise this later, so please fill in as many courses as you can.
  4. Bring your transcript and completed program sheet to the CEE Student Services office in Room 316 of the Jerry Yang and Akiko Yamazaki Environment & Energy [Y2E2] Building and request to have a CEE advisor assigned to you. You may request a specific advisor if you wish. Office hours are 10 a.m. to noon and 2-4 p.m., Monday through Friday.
  5. Meet with your CEE undergraduate advisor and have him/her review and sign your program sheet.
  6. Return your signed program sheet to the CEE Student Services Specialist, who upon receiving your signed sheet will approve your major declaration in Axess.
  7. You are encouraged to meet with your CEE undergraduate adviser at least once a quarter to review your academic progress. Changes to your program sheet can be made by printing out a revised sheet, obtaining your undergraduate adviser’s signature, and returning the approved sheet to the CEE Student Services Office. NOTE – Confirm that your program sheet is up to date at least one quarter prior to graduation.
  8. Other information:
  • Procedures and forms for requesting transfer credits and program deviations are described in detail on the "Petitions" page of this site. If you are requesting transfer credits or program deviations, you should bring your completed petition form with your transcript to the CEE Student Services office. Attach your program sheet on file in CEE.
  • Check with the CEE Student Services Office to make sure that you are on the CEE UG student email list for important announcements about department events and activities.