Reflections from Recruiting Season

Reflections from Recruiting Season

I can’t believe that it is already the end of recruiting season and I am back in my office here in New Haven. I have had a great few months on the road and was able to meet with amazing prospective students around the country and even abroad. In 15 campus visits, 6 information sessions and 14 graduate school fairs, I was able to talk about the school, our master’s programs and what makes F&ES unique. Throughout this process, I was asked some great questions and want to share some of these with everyone who could not make it out to meet with us. If you have additional questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at Rebecca.melnick@yale.edu

About the program:

I am not sure if the MESc/MFS or MEM/MF is better for me, which should I apply to?

The largest difference between the two is research. In the MEM/MF students take 48 credits of coursework, complete an internship and do a capstone course or project and the overall goal of the program is to help students learn professional skills. In the MESc/MFS, students do 12 credits of research, 3 credits of research methods courses and 33 credits of coursework. MESc/MFS students do their data collection over the summer instead of an internship and they write a thesis at the end of the program. While this is not the only outcome for MESc/MFS students, many do move from these programs into PhD programs or into further research work. Overall, students still have access to the same courses across all four programs, they are just taking less coursework in the research programs. Additionally, students in the MEM/MF programs are able to do research work on campus either for the capstone project or with a faculty member or research center and program.

What does diversity look like and mean at F&ES?

Addressing topics of diversity, equity and inclusion is one of the highest priorities for Yale F&ES and is a large topic area in the school’s strategic plan. As it states, one of our goals is to “diversify our faculty, students, staff and our partnerships more broadly so that we can think, act, and engage most effectively with the wide breadth of environmental challenges.” To start this process, we have recently created a new position of Assistant Dean of Community and Inclusion and will be welcoming Dr. Thomas Easley to lead these efforts in January. Currently on campus, we have an active EQUID (Equity, Inclusion and Diversity) committee comprised of students, faculty and staff and the committee aims to provide support and education to the F&ES community. Just this semester, they have hosted a social impact incubator, a bias intervention training and a panel discussion looking at diversity in the US environmental movement. To us at F&ES, diversity means cultivating an atmosphere of inclusion, growing the cultural competency of the community, challenging systems of oppression and fostering a space where a diversity of ideas, values and perspectives are welcomed and respected.

What were some of the biggest or most popular campus events? 

F&ES is a great place for learning outside of the classroom and for community engagement. We have over 30 student interest groups on campus that help connect students with similar interests and these help to compliment the activities that are put on by Student Services, the Career Development Office and the 15 different research centers and programs. Annual events at F&ES include a job trek to Washington, DC, the F&ES Halloween Party and MODs. While MODs (summer training modules) are a required component of all F&ES master’s programs, many students comment that they are a highlight of the F&ES program. Beyond these larger scale events, F&ES hosts an endless number of speakers and conferences on campus and students have the ability to design programming that is of interest to them.

Do I have to specialize in the MEM program? When do I declare a specialization?

The MEM program at F&ES is known for its flexibility and we want students to be able to get the most out of their time on campus. The specializations in the program exist to give some guidance so that students are able to gain a meaningful set of skills and become experts in a functional area. Specializations are required and students can select from one of seven options or they can create their own specialization with the approval of the Senior Associate Dean of Academic Affairs. The final details of the specializations and how they work are currently being finalized and presented to the F&ES community and we expect to have more details to share in the coming weeks. Overall, the new curricular structure will allow students to hone in on a specific area while still having the ability to craft their curriculum and electives based on personal interests and goals. While we ask about general area of interest on the application, this is not a formal declaration of a specialization and students will officially declare their specialization by the end of their first year on campus.

About the Application Process:

What does a typical incoming student look like?

At F&ES, there is no typical student. Because we have four different programs with a variety of areas of focus, we see students with a wide array of interests and backgrounds. Overall, the application process is very holistic and we are looking for students who have a clear area of focus and a demonstrated commitment to working in the field. Academic preparedness is also important and ideally students have some experience across different sciences (biological, physical, social and quantitative). Our students range from those just out of undergrad to those with over 30 years of professional work experience. We value the different life experiences that students can bring into the classroom and we look for students who want to contribute to the F&ES community.

I am looking to make a career change; how do I address that in my application?

While having a demonstrated commitment to working in the environmental field is important, we do have many prospective students who are looking to use this program to make a change in their career path. In this case, in an application we look for your path and thought process. Why are you looking to make this change and how do you know this is right for you? We want to see that you have some idea of what the field you are looking to move into actually looks like and a demonstrated ability to succeed in that area.

What does the timeline look like once I submit my application?

The priority application deadline is December 15 and we encourage you to have your materials submitted by this date. We will accept applications into mid-January however review of these applications will be on a capacity basis. The application for Financial Aid is due February 15 and this is a hard deadline. We then aim to release admissions decisions the first Friday in March and admitted students will hear about financial aid awards about a week later. We will be hosting an admitted student open house in April and our response deadline in April 15. For students who are not admitted, we are happy to speak with you about your application and ways to strengthen it for the future after May 1.