May 26, 2018  
2014-2015 General Catalog (Spring, Summer 2015) 
2014-2015 General Catalog (Spring, Summer 2015) [ARCHIVED CATALOG Please see current catalog]

Environmental Soil/Water Science - BS

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College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences

Department of Plants, Soils and Climate

Students must complete the General Education requirements  

  •  ,  ,  ,   or   will fulfill the Physical Sciences requirement for students in the Environmental Soil/Water Science major
  • Since several BPS courses are included in this major, one of these courses will fulfill the Physical Sciences requirement, while another will fulfill the Exploration requirement

Students must also complete the University Studies requirements  

  •   will partially fulfill the Communications Intensive (CI) requirement
  •   or STAT 2000  will fulfill the Quantitative Intensive (QI) requirement
  • Complete at least 2 credits in approved 3000-level or above courses from each of the following two categories: Humanities and Creative Arts (DHA) and Social Sciences (DSS)

Bachelor of Science Degree

The department offers the Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts Degree in: Environmental Soil/Water Science, which deals with soil and water in relation to plant growth and environmental quality; a Bachelor of Science in three areas: (1) Plant Science with a horticulture and cropping systems emphasis, which deals with tree fruits, berries, vine fruits, vegetables and ornamental plants or field crops such as forages, grains, corn pasture, etc. (2) Plant Science with a research emphasis, which is designed for students who wish to participate in the development of plant-oriented technologies at any level of employment, and for those who intend to pursue a career in private or public research with requiring graduate degrees, and (3) Residential Landscape Design and Construction, which deals with design, construction, and maintenance of residential and small-scale, commercial landscapes. Each of the emphases within this major has been designed to allow students the flexibility to add courses or a minor to meet their own goals. All courses used to fill major requirements must be taken on an A-B-C-D-F basis. A minimum 2.5 GPA is required for courses used for the major. Transfer students are required to take at least 18 credits of major subject courses in residence at USU. A minor may be earned in Agronomy, Crop Biotechnology, Horticulture, Ornamental Horticulture, Climate Change and Energy, and Soil Science. A minimum of 16 approved credits are required (see lists below). All courses must be taken on an A-B-C-D-F basis and passed with a grade of C- or better. For information about receiving a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree, consult the departmental undergraduate advisor.

The Environmental Soil/Water Science Major is intended to provide each student with a fundamental understanding of the basic sciences and mathematics, as well as a strong background in both soil and water sciences. Preparatory requirements include chemistry, physics, mathematics, biology, geology, and statistics. The core courses for Environmental Soil/Water Science emphasize the interactive soil/water processes in the soil's plant-rooting zone—from the microscopic to the landscape perspective. From this base, each student can design his or her own program of specialization in one of the many aspects of soil science, water science, or the integration of both soil and water sciences. Students may choose complementary classes in the Soil Emphasis, Water Emphasis, or Plant Emphasis in preparation for a variety of career opportunities. The Environmental Soil/Water Science Major is complementary to existing undergraduate programs at Utah State University in Geology, Environmental Studies, Watershed and Earth Systems, and Environmental Engineering.

The Plant Science Major with the horticulture and cropping systems emphasis is designed for students interested in learning more about applied aspects of crop production in the field, nursery, orchard or greenhouse. It also applies to management of plants in the golf course, botanical garden, campus, or other amenity landscapes. Some courses emphasize techniques and systems in plant production/management, while others provide students with an understanding of the underlying principles. Course topics include biology, chemistry, and control of insects, diseases and weeds. 

The Plant Science Major with the research emphasis primarily prepares students for advanced study in graduate school. The department has an outstanding record of placing students in excellent graduate programs.  The research emphasis provides students with a strong scientific base including mathematics, chemistry, physics, soil science, and biology. These are coupled with plant science courses that teach not only the "how" of plant culture, but the underlying "why".

The Residential Landscape Design and Construction (RLDC) Major prepares students for careers in the design, construction, and maintenance of small-scale, residential landscapes. Within these career areas, students will foster sustainable water-conserving landscape development by consumers. The overall curriculum strives to balance both landscape horticulture and landscape design.  The core curriculum includes preparatory courses in chemistry, mathematics, biology, design, and graphics. Required program courses emphasize the plant sciences (i.e., plant materials, landscape management, weed control, and turfgrass management), soil sciences (fundamentals of soil science, soil reclamation, and remote sensing), and design/construction (i.e., residential landscape design, irrigation design, bidding and estimating, landscape construction, computer-based design, and water conservation). The RLDC Major is complementary to the existing undergraduate major in Landscape Architecture.

The Land, Plant and Climate Systems Major offers students an integrative approach to understanding the living skin of the earth. Through foundational courses in plants, soils and climate students gain understanding of the physical, chemical, and biological processes that occur at the earth's surface. Students then choose from among the three emphases, Sustainable Food Production, Environmental Soil Science or Applied Climatology, in order to gain further focus. Students in the Sustainable Food Production emphasis develop an individualized path inclusive of animal and crop production as well as the economic and sociological implications of agricultural systems. Students will gain a firm foundation for a variety of career options such as owning their own farming enterprise or working as a farm manager for a larger conventional or organic operation. Students in the Environmental Soil Science emphasis study geology, soil chemistry, physics and ecology. Students graduating from this program will be well qualified for careers in the improvement of soil and water management to ensure high-quality soil and clean water for current and future generations. Students in the Applied Climatology emphasis study climate, environmental biophysics, earth sciences, atmospheric sciences and mathematics. Graduates are prepared for a careers in the public and private sectors involving climate interactions with land and water resources. Integrative capstone and internship opportunities bring the students together to approach real world problems in the framework of sustainability. Graduates from the LPCS major are prepared to pursue graduate education in a range of environmental, agricultural and physical sciences.  

Environmental Soil/Water Science Major

Preparatory Core Courses (39-43 credits)

Chemistry Courses (9 or 10 credits)

Complete one of the two following blocks of Chemistry courses:

Mathematics Courses (10 or 8 credits)

Complete one of the two following blocks of Mathematics courses:

Physics Courses (8 credits)

Complete one of the two following blocks of Physics courses:


Students must select 12 credits from one or a combination of the following three emphases.


1 Students in the Water Emphasis should take the Block 2 courses in Chemistry, Mathematics, and Physics.


Minimum University Requirements

Total Credits


Grade Point Average (most majors require higher GPA)

2.00 GPA

Credits of C- or better


Credits of upper-division courses (#3000 or above)


USU Credits (30 USU credits, 20 of which must be upper-division courses, 10 of which must be courses required for student's major)

30 USU credits

Completion of approved major program of study

See college advisor

Credits in minor (if required)


Credits in American Institutions (ECN 1500 ;HIST 1700 , HIST 2700  or HIST 2710 ; HONR 1300 POLS 1100 ; or USU 1300 )


General Education Requirements  and University Studies Depth Requirements 




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