Situated on the southern shores of Lake Superior, the world’s largest freshwater lake, Northern Michigan University is an ideal venue for studying environmental sciences. For students from Asia seeking an education in the West, this is a natural short-list candidate.

In all, a little less than 10,000 students are enrolled. Across the board, there are more than 180 undergraduate programs on offer at NMU. A few of these take an environmental focus. This is also a high-tech university. Wi-Fi broadcast across campus, and all students have access to either a MacBook or Lenovo ThinkPad included as part of their tuition.

Pic: Northern Michigan University

Outdoor Arena
For those honing in on the natural sciences, Northern Michigan’s setting is undeniably fascinating. Lake Superior is the foremost attraction. NMU is based in Marquette County, which features more than 130 kilometers’ worth of beaches. In the winter, cross-country skiing is popular in the countryside, and there are hundreds of kilometers of trails in the vicinity. Cycling, fishing and hiking are major pastimes.

The university also makes rental equipment training and guides available to students who want to explore the local wilderness. In the past, popular outings have included an 11-day expedition into the Sylvania Wilderness in Michigan. In settings like this, students simultaneously develop their survival skills and leadership abilities.

Academics
Northern Michigan University is an excellent place to study natural sciences, in part because students are based in the midst of a spectacular outdoor theater. Depending on your course of study, you’ll find yourself mapping out local counties, tracking weather patterns on the shores of Lake Superior or tracking eco-tourism trends in Costa Rica.

Class sizes are refreshingly small – usually in the range of 20-40 students. This allows plenty of personal attention with professors and ensures that you’ll have ample access to academic resources.

Health, Physical Education and Recreation Department
This is one of the longest-standing departments at NMU. Outdoor recreation leadership and management are important on the Upper Peninsula, where so many vacationers head every year for outdoor excursions. As such, this is an excellent environment in which to apply classroom theory to practical situations.

There are eight majors on offer in this department, some of which are slanted toward physical education and athletic training. However, the Outdoor Recreation Leadership and Management Program is particularly successful, and it is well-geared for those with an interest in environmental sciences. The program attracts students from a diverse range of backgrounds and encourages them to apply their preexisting specialties and professional skills to leisure and outdoor situations.

Earth, Environmental and Geographical Sciences Department
The EEGS department hosts most of the university’s environmental and natural sciences programs. The entire program is rooted in the study of the planet. Several Bachelor’s Degree programs are on offer, with some also appearing as minor programs. These are some of the most popular:

Earth Science: explores the physical environment of the Earth, including its climate, geology and astronomical relationships.

Environmental Science: takes an interdisciplinary approach to research, assessment, management and resolution of environmental problems. Students learn how biological, physical and social sciences interact.

Environmental Studies and Sustainability: establishes a foundation through which students can assess and analyze the affect the human race has on the planet.

Geomatics: provides the necessary skills for understanding geographic information systems and managing spatial data.

NMU’s highly respected Biology Department offers majors in Ecology, Zoology, and  Fisheries and Wildlife Management, among other specialties.

Pic: Northern Michigan University

Student Life
Roughly one out of three students at NMU live on campus, so there is there is plenty going on for full-time students to enjoy outside of class. Campus housing is organized into ‘houses’ of around 40 students who live together in a medium-sized community. Four students share a two-bedroom, one-bathroom suite. Northern was the first university in this part of the country to have a residence hall certified by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System.

In all, around 300 student organizations and clubs are available. There are clubs explicitly for international students who want to socialize and cooperate with others from overseas. One of the most popular clubs is the Superior Edge leadership program. Thousands of students are enrolled, learning to combine their life experience with a foundation of sound ethics, integrity, ambition and multicultural awareness to make a difference.

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