Environmentally-Related Programs in BC

British Columbia has a number of environmental and sustainability programs offered by universities for international and domestic students. The University of Victoria and Kwantlen Polytechnic University offer a number of environmental programs that international students may be considering or may want to consider. These programs from environmental programs more focused on physics and math, biology, chemistry as well as varying social sciences in relation to environmental issues.

University of Victoria

Marine Biology

Program Overview

Have you ever wondered how we can study and protect all of our marine organisms? In the Marine Biology focus under the Biology major, you can learn everything to do with marine organisms and their conservation. For example, some of the courses included in this major are Biological Oceanography, Marine Ecology, and Marine Population and Ecology Dynamics.

Students in this program are actually eligible to attend a field school at the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre, a non-profit focused on marine sciences and on the cutting edge of research here in British Columbia.

Careers at a Glance

If you plan on getting a marine biologist job in Canada, the outlook for available positions is strong! Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nunavut, Quebec, and Saskatchewan identify the outlook as good, while the outlook remains fair in Ontario, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador according to the Government of Canada. This job is expected to see a balance in the coming years; labour supply will meet labour demand for biologists.

Further, marine biologists in Canada earn a median hourly wage of $36.00 an hour according to the Government of Canada.

Physics & Ocean Sciences

Program Overview

For students with an interest in ocean sciences and math, the Physics and Ocean Sciences major is a great option for you! Here, you will learn all about how you can utilize physics to investigate physical processes associated with the atmosphere, ocean and climate. You may also consider some of the impacts humans have on our natural environment in addition. Some sample courses include Atmospheric Sciences, Phy

sical Oceanography, Fluid Mechanics, and Oceans and Atmosphere.

Careers at a Glance

While many career types can arise from this major, one of the common ones is climatologists. This is an emerging career; climatologists study weather patterns over a long period of time to distinguish large scale shifts in the climate. In Canada, the outlook for climatologists remains slightly ambiguous, with a fair outlook reported for Ontario and the remaining provinces having an undetermined outlook as reported by the Government of Canada. The reports in their detailed analysis that the unemployment rate for this career however remains historically low, and lower than the national average.

Climatologists working in Canada can expect a median wage of $46.15 per hour, according to the Government of Canada.

Kwantlen Polytechnic University

Sustainable Agriculture

Program Overview

Kwantlen Polytechnic University is well-known for its programs in horticulture, plant science, and sustainable agriculture. The University offers a Bachelor of Applied Science with a major in Sustainable Agriculture. In this particular major, you will learn about creating a sustainable food system that is placed-based, community-driven and focused, sustainable and diverse, and empowers everyone. Some sample programs in this major include Environmental Ethics, Soil Stewardship and Management, and Food System Field Analysis.

If you choose this program, you will have the opportunity to learn in the living agricultural research laboratory – this will be one of the designed organic, research and teaching farms operated by Kwantlen Polyte

chnic University. On these farms, you’ll participate in crop and animal production, agroecosystem management as well as seed training.

Careers at a Glance

A variety of careers can arise for students who pursue this major; options are available in agricultural policy development, district agricultural representative and organic farming, as a few examples. In Canada, the District Representative for Government and Agricultural Services is a position that will see good growth in Alberta, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan, fair growth in Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec, and growth in the remaining provinces is still undetermined according to the Government of Canada. For those seeking work in this role, noteworthy is that it is expected labour supply will meet labour demand over the upcoming period – there will be no increase or decrease in job vacancies according to the Government of Canada Job Bank.

The median hourly wage for employees in these roles is $31.25 an hour according to the Government of Canada.

Green Business Management & Sustainability

Program Overview

If you are a student looking into graduate studies at the intersection of business and sustainability, Kwantlen offers a graduate diploma in Green Business Management and Sustainability. This diploma will allow students to enter into a company that is beginning to embrace sustainability as part of their values; you as a graduate will be able to direct companies towards practices that are both environmentally and economically sustainable. In this diploma, some of the courses you’ll take include Ecological Economics for Organizations, Green Marketing Management, as well as Sustainability and Business Administration.

Careers at a Glance

The career options that could come out of this particular focus are endless and include options in economic analysis, business development, marketing research and much much more! A common career option for a graduate of this program might be a chief sustainability officer – these executive officers are the highest-level employee who oversees the corporate strategies in place to achieve sustainability objectives. The Government of Canada does not report on this specific position, but positions are available at a variety of workplaces according to EcoCanada; this is including local, regional and national governments, corporations, utility companies, and natural resource extraction companies. Often CSO employees work both in the office and in the field, monitoring initiatives in practice at work sites or leading public relations interviews, and preparing for both in the office as mentioned by EcoCanada.

For chief sustainability officers in Canada, the average hourly wage is $48.78 per hour according to Neuvoo.

Zhen Li (image source: https://www.uvic.ca/international/home/news/stories/2019+convo-sci-zhen-li-oceans+news)
Zhen Li (image source: https://www.uvic.ca/international/home/news/stories/2019+convo-sci-zhen-li-oceans+news)

International Student Spotlight – Deciphering the Ocean’s History

A UVIC international and PhD student is now studying the history of the ocean’s at UVIC in the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences. Zhen Li, a Chinese native, hopes to uncover information about the ocean’s previous physical, chemical and biological makeup. This information will help her understand more about the way humans influence our oceans; this is research that guides future policy decisions in relation to ocean management.

Zhen’s experience as a PhD student in Canada has been transformative in many ways. The cultural differences, especially in relations to her studies is notable; she has come to understand the relationship between humans and the environment as one not of hierarchy but of equality. The ocean is not just a resource, but something to be taken care of as well.

Understanding culture differences was a challenge for me when I first arrived in Canada,” says Zhen. “In order to be successful, I needed to understand the different ways Canadians think about nature and how this affects the ways in which they conducted their research.”

Zhen is now on her way to a post-doctoral program at the University of British Columbia, continuing her palaeoceanographic research into the waters surrounding Vancouver Island. 

Environmentally-related programs are becoming increasingly common and especially in BC! Both the University of Victoria and Kwantlen Polytechnic University offer a number of programs that are environmentally-related; this includes programs focused on the oceans, agriculture, biology, and even green business management and sustainability. The programs above are also just a few examples – there are many more environmentally-related programs at both these schools and at schools beyond these two.


  • https://www.uvic.ca/
  • https://www.kpu.ca/
  • https://www.uvic.ca/science/biology/undergraduate/programs/concentrations/index.php
  • http://www.bamfieldmsc.com/about/university/university-of-victoria
  • https://www.jobbank.gc.ca/marketreport/outlook-occupation/2618/ca
  • https://www.jobbank.gc.ca/marketreport/wages-occupation/2618/ca
  • https://www.uvic.ca/undergraduate/programs/undergraduate-programs/pages/physics-and-ocean-sciences-ocean-atmosphere-dynamics.php
  • https://www.jobbank.gc.ca/marketreport/outlook-occupation/2586/ca
  • https://www.jobbank.gc.ca/marketreport/wages-occupation/2586/ca
  • https://www.kpu.ca/agriculture
  • https://www.kpu.ca/agriculture/farms
  • https://www.jobbank.gc.ca/marketreport/outlook-occupation/15320/ca
  • https://www.jobbank.gc.ca/marketreport/outlook-occupation/15320/ca
  • https://www.kpu.ca/business/gdba/green-business
  • https://www.eco.ca/training/career-profiles/chief-sustainability-officer-cso/
  • https://www.eco.ca/
  • https://neuvoo.ca/salary/?job=Sustainability
  • https://www.uvic.ca/international/home/news/stories/2019+convo-sci-zhen-li-oceans+news
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