MEM Curriculum Details

Learn more about the requirements, structure, and components of the MEM curriculum.

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    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. (MEM-5 students need to complete two PSMs, and MEM students in a joint degree program need to complete three PSMs.) Further details are available on the Professional Skills Modules page.