I love Yale F&ES, but how do I choose a degree?

“The Professional Degrees”

The Master of Environmental Management
The “MEM” is by far the most common degree in F&ES. About twice as many students do the MEM than the other degrees. It has 10 specializations, which you may or may not choose to participate in; business and the environment; climate science, adaptation and mitigation; ecosystem conservation and management; energy and the environment; environmental policy analysis; human dimensions of environmental management; sustainable land management; sustainable urban and industrial systems; urban ecology; water resources management. Specializations can be helpful to carve a path through a master’s degree, especially at Yale where the opportunities, events, and groups can be incredibly overwhelming. Employers see a specialization and have a clearer picture of your skills and knowledge areas. MEM students have some recommended coursework, including the “foundations” and take a Capstone class or complete a Capstone project during their 2nd year in addition to a summer internship. Or, some MEM students chose to do a small research project as a Capstone that occasionally stems from their summer internship.

The Master of Forestry
The 2-year MF is a Forestry degree accredited by the Society of American Foresters. Of all the Master’s programs in F&ES, the MF is the most structured and the oldest degree. : It’s a smaller, tight-knit cohort with many of the students working together at the Yale Forests during their time here, taking advantage of a living-laboratory of more than 10,000 acres to learn about water protection, forest management, or large-scale landscape conservation. Although they share a strong common curriculum, MF students can specialize in various areas such as urban forestry, environmental finance, or forest policy. The standardization of the MF allows for many clear job paths into domestic and international forestry, conservation, and natural resources management.

“The Research Degrees”

The Master of Environmental Science
The MESc is the most common research degree. Of course, “research” is broadly defined and can encompass basic or applied sciences or projects. Some research projects at F&ES have included building businesses or gardens, whereas some have been lab of field based research.. Like the MEM, this degree is incredibly varied – students take it so many directions depending on their interest. The MESc is also very flexible, it requires a research methods course and statistical analysis, but the other curriculum is discussed and created along with the student’s adviser. Keep in mind that to apply to the MESc and the MFS requires an additional step of selecting an adviser and describing why the student would like to work with her or him. The MESc is also referred to as a “mini PhD”, because students go through a similar process of a dissertation in a shorter period of time.

The Master of Forestry Sciences
The MFS degree is very similar to the MESc, but for students who wish to work in forestry-related fields and complete related research. Keep in mind that forestry research can be broad; including work on water protection in forested ecosystems, carbon storage in tropical forests, climate change mitigation, or forest regeneration. This degree also includes a summer for research and culminates in a Master’s Thesis. The main difference between the MFS and the MF is the curriculum; the MFS allows more flexibility and the MF comes with SAF accreditation.

Ultimately, the degrees are flexible and you’re not locked in after your application. People switch degrees and switch specializations every year! The most important differences are the letters you want to have after your name when you graduate – and the experience you want to have while you’re in school. Think about what skills and experience you lack and how you’re going to fill those gaps at F&ES.

For more information on the degrees, visit the F&ES degrees webpage. And feel free to contact me at vanessa.lamers@yale.edu with any questions!