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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    Student and Alumni Spotlights

    Yufang Gao in the mountains

    Redefining Human-Wildlife Conflict

    In the Tibetan Plateau, PhD candidate Yufang Gao ’14 MESc 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 that focuses on the quest for harmonious coexistence between people and large carnivores.

    What is needed for human-wildlife coexistence is a different perspective about conflict, says Gao. 

    “Conflict,” he has found, “is part of coexistence.”

    Eleanor Stokes speaking on a NASA stage

    Insights from the Night Sky

    Using data from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite aboard NASA’s Suomi NPP satellite spacecraft, Eleanor Stokes ’18 PhD is helping to map vulnerable communities.

    As co-leader of Black Marble, NASA’s first nighttime light dataset, Stokes has helped FEMA and other relief organizations direct their boots-on-the ground operations after natural disasters.

    “Humanity is facing major global risks from extreme weather and rising sea levels,” she 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.

    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.

    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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    Focus on Doctoral Research

    The coast of Palm Beach, Florida

    Addicott Awarded Marine Economics Fellowship to Study Coastal Erosion

    PhD candidate Ethan Addicott aims to create a tool to aid beach restoration efforts and maximize the value and utility of every bucket of sand.

    Peter Berrill

    YSE Class of ‘21 Peter Berrill’s Doctoral Research on Energy Hits the Right Notes

    Once a student at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Peter Berrill '21 PhD set aside the trumpet and forged a path to YSE, where he conducted doctoral research on residential energy systems in the U.S. and their effect on greenhouse gas emissions.

    Photograph of a forest

    Forest Fragmentation Research Earns 2021 Bormann Prize

    Meghna Krishnadas’ doctoral research into how forest fragmentation alters the underlying mechanisms shaping patterns of tropical tree regeneration and forest diversity was recognized for its novel insight into ecological processes.

    Contact the Doctoral Program

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

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