Master of Environmental Management (MEM)

Curriculum Overview

The Master of Environmental Management curriculum draws from coursework in the natural and social sciences and focuses on the complex relationships among science, management, and policy. The purpose of the program is to provide students with an in-depth understanding of natural and social systems that can be applied to environmental and natural resource problem solving in a policy or management context. In addition to course work, students are expected to hone their capacities as leaders and managers through summer internships, professional skills courses, and other opportunities.

The MEM curriculum requires students to focus on an area of specialization, while still offering the flexibility to tailor their course programming in a way that exposes them to other disciplines and subject areas. This structure assures that students develop both depth and breadth in their course of study. Students can choose from more than 100 courses offered by YSE faculty and have access to an even larger number of courses from across Yale University.

MEM Curriculum Goals

  • Provide the broad knowledge necessary to engage in 21st environmental challenges while gaining the depth required to offer expertise
  • Expose students to diverse perspectives and approaches to environmental problem-solving
  • Offer clear pathways for subject immersion through required specializations while encouraging exploration
  • Foster interdisciplinary teamwork focused on developing and validating solutions to environmental challenges
  • Equip students with practical, professional skills needed to be effective organizational leaders
  • Support student learning, training, and engagement through robust learning communities

MEM Specializations

All MEM students are required to choose one specialization.
Specialization are designed to ensure that students obtain sufficient depth in their chosen area of study. Specialization requirements account for 18 of the 48 total credits required for the MEM degree, and it is possible to add a second specialization. Students have until the end of their second semester of study to choose their specialization, which will be listed on their transcript, upon completion. Note: YSE also offers a five-year dual degree for Yale College students (MEM-5).

MEM Degree Requirements

Theme Course Type # of Courses Credits
Exposure Perspectives 1 Course
for all first-year MEMs
Interdisciplinary Conversancy Foundational Knowledge 4 Half-semester
(Waiver options)
Core 2 Courses 6
Specialization Electives 4 Courses ≈12
Breadth General Electives 6 Courses 18
Integration & Application Capstone or Independent Project 1 Course 3
Experience & Career Exploration Internship or Research Project 10-12
Summer Weeks
Professional Skills Modules 4 of 8 Required
Total: 48 (Minimum)


Requirement: the Fall “Perspectives” course for all first-year MEMs.
This course promotes a common experience, providing exposure to the variety of perspectives represented by YSE faculty and others on the challenges and opportunities of environmental management. It also creates a forum for open discussion about the different perspectives on complex environmental issues and fosters a shared understanding of the critical nature of interdisciplinary approaches.

Interdisciplinary Conversancy

Requirement: four, half-semester courses, focused on interdisciplinary foundational knowledge.
Students are introduced to a common foundation of concepts, principles, and tools required of all professional environmental managers, providing a level of understanding necessary to succeed in the initial MEM courses and to be conversant in foundational topics relevant to environmental management more broadly. The four, half-semester courses (1.5 credits each), which students take in their first semester are:
For incoming students with substantial academic or professional experience in any of the four areas, waiver exams will be made available each spring and summer preceding enrollment at YSE. More information about Foundational Knowledge can be found here.

Specialization Depth

Requirement: students must choose at least one specialization before the end of their first year.
All MEM students must choose at least one specialization and satisfy its requirements. All specializations consist of two core courses and four electives. Student may choose one or two specializations, but one must be declared before the end of their first year of study. The specific requirements for each specialization are outlined at the links above.


Requirement: a minimum of 18 credits in general electives courses.
Students are offered tremendous flexibility in their electives, enabling them to explore courses on relevant or aligned topics across YSE and Yale more broadly. There is also the option to complete a second specialization.

Integration and Application

Requirement: one capstone course or independent project during the second year of study.
A designated capstone course or independent project with a faculty advisor provides a culminating opportunity to focus on applied problem solving. It relies on the application of knowledge, methodological approaches, and interpretive techniques gained throughout the earlier stages of the MEM. This opportunity allows for the integration of different experiences into a single representation of a student’s work.

Experience and Career Exploration

Requirement: between ten and twelve weeks of summer internship or research.
During the summer between the first and second academic years, students must complete an internship or research project that gives them a chance to apply knowledge and skills acquired in the classroom, gain professional experience, build networks, and investigate potential career paths. Students design their own summer internships or research experience, closely aligned with individual academic and career goals in collaboration with the Office of Career and Professional Development.

Professional Skills

Requirement: complete at least four of the eight (short, non-credit) modules offered over two years of study.
The professional skills requirement is designed to strengthen student competency in core areas considered essential to all professionals: verbal communications; visual communications; negotiation; cultural competence; fundraising; project management; stakeholder engagement; and meeting facilitation. Students are able to choose among different alternatives depending on interest and prior experience. Although completion of at least four is required, students are encouraged to take as many as they like. Further details are available on the Professional Skills Modules page.

Learning Communities

Created to offer robust, interdisciplinary experiences and networks to deepen understanding and advance impact.
The new M.E.M. curriculum also introduces “learning communities” associated with each specialization. These include active student interest groups (SIGs), centers and programs, alumni, research and projects, and career development opportunities. By integrating groups at YSE and across Yale, these communities extend education and training beyond the classroom.