Environmental Soil Science Certificate

Overview

The Environmental Soil Science Certificate is a gateway to understanding the dynamics of Earth’s thin living skin. Soil is where the atmosphere, lithosphere, and hydrosphere connect and is pivotal in shaping ecosystems’ biodiversity, health, and resilience. Mastery of soil properties, processes, and distribution is necessary for addressing pressing environmental challenges, including food and energy security, water quality protection, climate change, and ecosystem health.

This certificate equips students with a holistic understanding of soil and its intersection with environmental issues. Rooted in a foundational soil science course, students delve into thematic areas, forming connections between soils and various environmental domains.

Designed as a launchpad, this certificate empowers students to pursue careers and certification in the field of soil science, opening doors for employment in the public and private sectors. Our dedicated advisors will guide students in selecting courses tailored to prepare them for their journey toward expertise in soil science and environmental stewardship.

To learn more about this certificate, contact Zach Wyman at zwyman@wisc.edu.

How to Get Inexpand_more

The Certificate in Environmental Soil Science is open to all undergraduate students. Students pursuing the program are encouraged to declare as early as possible so that they can best align the coursework with their interests and plan their field experience.

Preparatory Coursework

No courses are required to declare the certificate; however, general chemistry is a prerequisite to complete required courses in the certificate.

Code and Title

CHEM 103: General Chemistry I

CHEM 109: Advanced General Chemistry

CHEM 115: Chemical Principles I

Credits

4

5

5

Requirementsexpand_more

Soil Science Foundation

Soil Science Themes

Allied Sciences

Total Credits

4

9

3

16

Soil Science Foundation

Complete the following courses:

Code and Title

SOIL SCI 301: General Soil Science

or SOIL SCI/ENVIR ST/GEOG 230: Soil: Ecosystem and Resource

SOIL SCI 302: Meet Your Soil: Soil Analysis and Interpretation Laboratory I

Credits

3

3

1

Soil Science Themes

Complete at least one course from three of the four thematic areas for a total of 9 credits. Completed courses may only count towards one thematic area.

Soil Fertility & Chemistry

Code and Title

SOIL SCI 321: Soils and Environmental Chemistry

SOIL SCI/AGRONOMY/HORT 326: Plant Nutrition Management

SOIL SCI/BSE/CIV ENGR 372: On-Site Waste Water Treatment and Dispersal

SOIL SCI 430: Environmental Soil Contamination

SOIL SCI/F&W ECOL 451: Environmental Biogeochemistry

SOIL SCI 621: Soil Chemistry

SOIL SCI/CIV ENGR/M&ENVTOX 631: Toxicants in the Environment: Sources, Distribution, Fate, & Effects

Credits

3

3

2

3

3

3

3

Soil Physics & Development

Code and Title

SOIL SCI 327: Environmental Monitoring and Soil Characterization for Earth’s Critical Zone

SOIL SCI/GEOG 525: Soil Geomorphology

SOIL SCI/GEOG 526: Human Transformations of Earth Surface Processes

SOIL SCI/AGRONOMY/ATM OCN 532: Environmental Biophysics

SOIL SCI 622: Soil Physics

Credits

4

3

3

3

3

Soil Biology & Ecology

Code and Title

SOIL SCI/PL PATH 323: Soil Biology

SOIL SCI/AGRONOMY/BOTANY 370: Grassland Ecology

SOIL SCI/MICROBIO 425: Environmental Microbiology

SOIL SCI/F&W ECOL 451: Environmental Biogeochemistry

SOIL SCI/CIV ENGR 623: Microbiology of Waterborne Pathogens and Indicator Organisms

Credits

3

3

3

3

3

Soils and the Environment

Code and Title

SOIL SCI 211: Soils and Climate Change

SOIL SCI 250: Introduction to Environmental Science

SOIL SCI/ENVIR ST 324: Soils and Environmental Quality

SOIL SCI 327: Environmental Monitoring and Soil Characterization for Earth’s Critical Zone

SOIL SCI 430: Environmental Soil Contamination

SOIL SCI 499: Soil Management

SOIL SCI/F&W ECOL/HORT 524: Urban Soil and Environment

SOIL SCI/ENVIR ST 575: Assessment of Environmental Impact

SOIL SCI 585: Using R for Soil and Environmental Sciences

Credits

2

3

3

4

3

3

3

3

3

Allied Sciences

Complete one course from the following:

Course List

Code and Title

A A E 101: Introduction to Agricultural and Applied Economics

A A E/ENVIR ST 244: The Environment and the Global Economy

A A E 352: Global Health: Economics, Natural Systems, and Policy

AGRONOMY 100: Principles and Practices in Crop Production

AGROECOL/AGRONOMY/C&E SOC/ENTOM/ENVIR ST 103: Agroecology: An Introduction to the Ecology of Food and Agriculture

AGRONOMY/BOTANY/SOIL SCI 370: Grassland Ecology

AGRONOMY 377: Global Food Production and Health

BSE 301: Land Information Management

BSE/CIV ENGR/SOIL SCI 372: On-Site Waste Water Treatment and Dispersal

BSE 473: Water Management Systems

C&E SOC/SOC 140: Introduction to Community and Environmental Sociology

C&E SOC/SOC 222: Food, Culture, and Society

C&E SOC/F&W ECOL/SOC 248: Environment, Natural Resources, and Society

C&E SOC/A A E/SOC 340: Issues in Food Systems

ENTOM/AGRONOMY/NUTRI SCI 203: Introduction to Global Health

ENTOM 570: Systems Thinking in Global Health

HORT 120: Survey of Horticulture

HORT 227: Propagation of Horticultural Plants

HORT/PL PATH 261: Sustainable Turfgrass Use and Management

HORT 370: World Vegetable Crops

LSC 212: Introduction to Scientific Communication

LSC 251: Science, Media and Society

LSC 430: Communicating Science with Narrative

PL PATH 311: Global Food Security

Credits

4

4

4

4

3

3

3

3

2

3

4

3

3

3-4

3

3

3

3

2

3

3

3

3

3

Additional Requirements

  • A minimum grade of C is required in all certificate coursework.
  • Courses taken on a pass/fail (satisfactory/unsatisfactory) basis will not count toward the certificate.
  • All certificate coursework must be completed in residence at the UW-Madison.

Certificate Completion Requirement

  • This undergraduate certificate must be completed concurrently with the student’s undergraduate degree. Students cannot delay degree completion to complete the certificate.

Program Learning Outcomesexpand_more

  1. Discuss, debate, and communicate those aspects of soil science pertinent to their primary major, specialization, and career goals.
  2. Describe how soil integrates into larger environmental issues using its properties, processes, and distribution from local to global scales and natural to anthropogenic environments.
  3. Identify potential solutions to issues related to soil that promote the ecosystem services soil provides.
  4. Communicate, in written or oral form, potential environmental impacts of land-use practices involving soil.

Advising and Careersexpand_more

Advising

Each certificate student is assigned an advisor who works to understand student goals and help students shape their path through the certificate. Advisors also provide support for post-graduation plans such as jobs, fellowships, or graduate school.

There may be additional requirements for students seeking a Professional Soil Scientist certification beyond the Certificate requirements. The certificate advisor can help you identify courses that will meet requirements for the Professional Soil Scientist Certification through The Soil Science Society of America.

Career Opportunities

The Certificate in Environmental Soil Science provides an attractive addition to a science, engineering, or allied science major for students interested in careers in environmental sciences, agricultural science, natural resources, and other related industries. Students in majors across campus can also use the certificate to diversify their skills and knowledge to be better informed citizens.

Peopleexpand_more

Professors

  • Francisco Arriaga
  • Nick Balster
  • Phil Barak
  • Zac Freedman
  • Alfred Hartemink
  • Jingyi Huang
  • Inna Popova
  • Natasha Rayne
  • Matt Ruark
  • Doug Soldat (Chair)
  • Thea Whitman
  • Xia Zhu-Barker

Instructional Faculty

  • Noor, Nadia

Academic Advisor

  • Zach Wyman

Scholarshipsexpand_more

Financial support in the form of scholarships, part-time employment, paid internships, and work-study programs is available to qualified undergraduate students. Students with a primary major in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences receive more than $1.25 million in scholarships annually. Additionally, the Department of Soil Science is proud to offer numerous scholarships annually to students pursuing the Certificate in Environmental Soil Science.

Wisconsin Experienceexpand_more

Students in the Certificate in Environmental Soil Science are involved in an array of opportunities across campus. Students are highly encouraged to complement their coursework with out-of-classroom experiences such as research, volunteering, internships, and study abroad.

Students in the certificate can participate in the UW-Madison Soil Judging Team.