Prerequisites for Placing out of Basic Knowledge Courses

All MEM students are expected to be conversant in four Basic Knowledge areas in order to excel in their program of study and their careers in environmental management. While students are encouraged to take all four Basic Knowledge courses, students can waive out of each Basic Knowledge requirement by fulfilling one of two possible pathways:

  1. Transcript Review: Below is a list of courses in each subject area that can be used to qualify for a waiver. An academic committee will make waiver determinations based on transcript review. If a student is concerned that a course might have been missed, they can email

    Students must have earned a grade of “B” or higher for a course to count toward a Basic Knowledge waiver. AP exams do not count, nor do courses taken from unaccredited institutions. Students must have received a transcript with a letter grade for a course to be considered for a waiver; certificates of completion will not be accepted.
  2. Basic Knowledge Waiver Exam: During the summer before beginning at YSE, students have the option to take online waiver exams for each of the four Basic Knowledge subject areas. For each exam a student passes, they will be waived out of that Basic Knowledge requirement. Incoming students will be provided more information about these exams during the summer before their first semester.

Students will be auto-enrolled by the Registrar to complete their required Basic Knowledge course(s) should they not receive a waiver from either of the two options above. All Basic Knowledge courses must be completed during a student’s first fall semester. More information about the courses can be found by clicking on the following links:

Below is the list of the requirements for each subject area to receive a waiver in the transcript review pathway:

Social Sciences

Two upper-level courses in any of the following areas:
  • Environmental Governance
  • Environmental Anthropology
  • Environmental History
  • Environmental Justice
  • Environmental Sociology
  • Human Geography
  • Political Ecology
  • Religion and Ecology

Physical Science Foundations for Environmental Managers

A course that satisfies one of the following:
  • Earth science course covering geosphere, atmosphere, and hydrosphere
  • 2 out of 4 of the following: hydrology, soil science, environmental chemistry, and climate science

Ecological Patterns and Processes

A course in at least one of the following areas:
  • General Ecology
  • Biodiversity Science
  • Population or Community Ecology
  • Ecosystem Science or Ecosystems Ecology 


Either of the following:

  • A course in Principles of Microeconomics within the last 5 years
  • An undergraduate major in an Economics field (regardless of when coursework was completed)


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