Why Online Degrees Can Make Studying for Your STEM Degree Greener

A lot of people go into science, engineering, technology or medicine because they are interested in making the world a better place – by helping people, the environment, or both.

Most people who work in energy conservation research and development related fields chose their study path knowing that this was an area they were passionate about, and were, therefore, already being people committed to saving energy in their own lives.

In other areas of STEM, such as medical research and IT, people also tend to be interested in innovations and developments that can lead to a better, more efficient way of doing what needs to be done while saving on resources.

So, what about actually qualifying for these roles? Is there a way that this, too, can be made greener? The simple answer for many STEM paths is, yes, by studying from home.

Why Is an Online Degree Greener?

It has been shown that the rise in home working has been a good thing for the environment, by reducing the amount of trips people need to make by car, and the amount of power large buildings like offices need to use when they are not fully occupied.

Studying from home allows for the exact same benefits. You won’t need to drive to your lectures or waste resources by running two homes if you live on campus during the semesters. Educational institutes can run their courses without needing to light up, heat or air condition and power computers in large halls with hundreds of people.

If you run your home in an energy efficient way (for instance using LED lighting and good insulation), being at home rather than at college isn’t likely to cost you much more, and you’ll be paying less for your degree anyway if you do it online, so this negates any rise in costs for you.

Studying from Home and Conservation

Have you ever seen the trash outside a restaurant or school cafeteria at day’s end? You will typically see hundreds of pounds of wasted food which wasn’t eaten and, consequently, thrown in the garbage. Students interested in a greener future are highly committed to conservation, of which a reduction in waste is high on the ladder.

By studying for an advanced STEM degree online, you can better control the amount of waste you are responsible for. Foods which aren’t eaten can be immediately placed in the refrigerator to be saved for another meal and scraps left over can be placed in a compost pile to be used growing your own vegetables.

Better Control of Energy Efficiency

Many universities simply haven’t kept up with technological advances. When it comes to such things as climate control and lighting, larger educational institutions are not as energy efficient as they can be.

Perhaps this is due to the high cost of LED lights initially. While they save money in the long run, can you imagine the outlay of capital it would take to replace all incandescent or CFL bulbs with LED lamps? At home you can do this much more affordably simply because you have fewer bulbs to change.

Also, the cost of cooling or heating huge classrooms with tall ceilings is enormous. Not only is it costly from a monetary perspective, but from an environmental perspective as well. How much fossil fuel do you think it takes to produce all that energy? At home you will be heating or cooling much smaller areas.

Even a comparative cost analysis taking size into consideration would show that climate control in the home is much less costly per student. Here again, costly refers to the cost to the environment as well as the cost in dollars. Looking for ways to reduce consumption of fossil fuels in climate control? Simply put, control smaller spaces!

Hidden Ways in Which Online Studies Are Greener

So far, you’ve looked at using less energy in terms of travel, lighting and climate control. But did you ever stop to think about how many natural resources are utilized when manufacturing the clothes on your back? One of the reasons why so many students opt to study online is to reduce the amount of money spent on clothing.

Greener living necessitates cutting energy consumption in any form. From the manufacturing of the clothes you would need to wear in classrooms to the amount of energy used to run the stores where you purchase the clothing, there are considerable savings when you can reduce your wardrobe to a bare minimum.

As silly as that sounds, many environmentalists are sincerely cognizant of the energy used in manufacturing and will make every effort to reduce consumption across the board! Not only is it more comfortable to study in your house clothes but it is more energy efficient as well.

Are Online STEM Courses as Good, Though?

Online courses have come on in leaps and bounds in the past decade or so, and now you can do things like stream lectures as if you were there (but at a time that suits you), and chat live with tutors. The quality of education and the people who will be responsible for teaching you will be as good as if you study on campus if you choose a good college with online courses like the University of Cincinnati.

You can also study a lot of things now that would probably have been much harder to do online in the past due to needing quite a lot of practical demonstration – something that would have been difficult before video streaming and interactive materials became widely used. As an example, you can do an online bachelor of science degree in medical laboratory science, and choose an NAACLS accredited medical laboratory scientist program, without spending all of your course in a lab.

If you want a greener way to qualify for a job in the sciences, then online degrees can be a great option. Remember, the positions you will be applying for in the fields of science, technology, engineering or mathematics will stress energy efficiency as well. Want that job? Demonstrate how you got there via a greener route and the job is almost assuredly yours.


Maggie Hammond is a retired nurse and freelance writer, exploring and writing in the U.S. in retirement. An advocate for public health and nursing qualifications, she feels passionate about raising awareness of the current strain on public health organizations.

Why Online Degrees Can Make Studying for Your STEM Degree Greener

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