PhD — satellite image of U.S. at night showing illuminated cities

Doctoral Admissions

Our doctoral program offers scholars from diverse backgrounds the opportunity to pursue a highly individualized area of inquiry under the mentorship of a YSE faculty member. The research conducted by YSE PhD candidates spans global and disciplinary boundaries — and what’s more, it is fully funded. Learn more about how to join this vibrant and dynamic intellectual community.

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    Professor Mark Bradford teaching at Yale-Myers Forest

    Faculty Who May Take on Doctoral Students

    All applicants must identify and contact one or two faculty members who they think could serve as their major advisor.

    Faculty Profiles
    Student sitting outside of Kroon Hall

    How to Apply

    The application deadline for admission to the fall class in a given year is typically the preceding January 2 of that year. Applications are submitted through the Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) website.

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    Why YSE Doctoral Programs?

    A PhD researcher in the field

    Research Independence and Funding

    Doctoral students at YSE receive five years of guaranteed funding, independent of any faculty research grants, allowing doctoral students the intellectual freedom to explore the environmental issues that most inspire them.

    A cohort of 9 PhD graduates celebrating commencement

    Acclaimed Faculty

    Working closely with some of the top experts in their fields is one of the advantages of a YSE doctoral degree. Our faculty are committed to mentoring the next generation of environmental leaders to tackle the world’s most urgent problems.

    Student and Alumni Spotlights

    Reid Lewis on a snowy day near a frozen lake

    Stewarding Forests in the Face of Climate Change 

    Forests help mitigate climate change because of their ability to remove and store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, but they become carbon emitters during wildfires. PhD student Reid Lewis '20 MF is researching how satellite data and machine learning models can help fire-prone forests become more resilient.

    “When we make these forests more fire resilient, we can not only store more carbon, we can also help protect human communities, foster wildlife habitat, safeguard watersheds, and can use the process of restoration to partner with and empower Indigenous nations,” says Lewis.

    Siria Gamez in a climbing harness placing a camera in the tree tops

    Tracking Big Cats in the Sierra Madres Mountains

    Siria Gámez tracks big cats — all the way up 80-foot trees.  A doctoral student in YSE's Applied Wildlife Ecology lab, Gámez had special training to set up camera traps in the tree canopy of the El Triunfo Biosphere to examine how jaguars, pumas, and other carnivores use vertical spaces in the Sierra Madre de Chiapas mountains in Mexico.

    “This particular region of Mexico is quite understudied,” says Gámez. “We’re exploring how these animals survive in this three-dimensional forest structure.”

    Danica Doroski

    Investing in Urban Forests

    As the state of Connecticut’s urban forester, Danica Doroski ’21 PhD is working with municipalities, nonprofits, and residents to grow and maintain urban forests. 

    “Investments in urban tree cover is a vital environmental justice issue,” Doroski says. “Urban areas with fewer trees can be as much as 20 degrees hotter than surrounding rural areas. By increasing tree cover, we can keep our cities cooler, which translates to both health and energy benefits.”

    Yufang Gao in the mountains

    Redefining Human-Wildlife Conflict

    In the Tibetan Plateau, Yufang Gao ’14 MESc, ’23 PhD interviews, observes, and travels with Tibetan herders and Buddhist monks. He sets up camera traps and collects scat to analyze the diet of snow leopards. And he has hiked a mountainside 15,000 feet above sea level — all in pursuit of data for his dissertation focused on the quest for harmonious coexistence between people and large carnivores. What is needed for human-wildlife coexistence is a different perspective about conflict, Gao says. “Conflict,” he has found, “is part of coexistence.”

    Eleanor Stokes speaking on a NASA stage

    Tracking Environmental and Infrastructure Damage in Ukraine

    As co-leader of Black Marble, NASA’s light dataset, Eleanor Stokes '18 PhD is currently tracking the effects of Russian military strikes on Ukraine’s infrastructure and climate-induced natural disasters across the world. NASA’s Black Marble science team, which uses data from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite aboard NASA’s Suomi NPP satellite spacecraft  to map disaster impacts in vulnerable communities, was awarded the 2020 NASA Group Achievement Award for helping realize the vision of the NASA-ESA-JAXA COVID dashboard and enabling international partnership in a time of need.  “Humanity is facing major global risks from extreme weather and rising sea levels,” Stokes says. “It’s very important to have a satellite record that can speak to the human piece of the puzzle.

    Rich Guldin leaning against a tree in the forest

    Tracking Forest Inventory

    Richard Guldin ’76 MFS, ’79 PhD has helped reinvent the U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program by integrating new sampling designs, field procedures, and innovative software to create an annual inventory that has become a global model. His work earned him the Society of American Foresters’ Sir William Schlich Award.

    In the News

    Contact the Doctoral Program

    Elisabeth Barsa is the contact for students interested in the YSE doctoral program.