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Graduate Student works at Schwartz Mobile Lab

CEE To Offer State’s First Environmental Engineering Bachelor of Science

Last Friday, the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees approved a plan from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) to establish the first Bachelor of Science (BS) in Environmental Engineering in the state of Tennessee. Pending final approval of the degree by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, the new degree is expected to launch in the fall of 2024.

The CEE department has been focused on gaining approval for the new degree program since 2022. CEE already offers an undergraduate minor in environmental engineering, but the first professional degree in the subject that UT currently confers is a Master of Science.

“Historically, environmental engineering education has been focused at the graduate level,” said CEE Department Head and Robert M. Condra Professor Chris Cox. “However, the University of Tennessee is seeking to develop new degrees that leverage emerging trends to meet both societal needs and student interests, and enthusiasm for undergraduate-level environmental engineering education has been growing across the US.”

The major includes technical courses taught by nine different units outside of CEE. Four new courses have been added covering topics such as sustainability, environmental process fundamentals, and the fate, transport, and risk assessment of chemicals in the environment. The degree will also include a senior design project where students will apply their knowledge in real-world environmental engineering design.

Cox said that the new BS degree will give UT undergraduates the skills to address the diverse problems in modern environmental science, ranging from water management and treatment to controlling industrial pollution and reducing the environmental impacts of energy production.

“Like the field itself, the new environmental engineering major is extremely interdisciplinary,” said Cox. “It will prepare students to approach environmental problems from first principles, creating a broad fundamental foundation from which to solve the complex and challenging environmental problems facing our society. We’re all excited to be teaching students about this fascinating and rewarding field.”


Izzie Gall (865-974-7203,