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Queen's University

Frequently Asked Questions

The MES has piqued my interest and I wish to know more about the program and how to apply online for the next academic year.

The Master of Environmental Studies is offered as either a research-based (4 courses and a thesis plus oral defense) or course-based (6 courses and a report) interdisciplinary degree, i.e., we require each student to work in two or more fields. We accept students with research interests in virtually all disciplines with the limitation that research degree students must find a supervisor who agrees to take them on as a student in their lab, supported by their research grant. For the course-based students, the project report must be supported by an advisor with an expertise in the subject area of the report. Both research- and course-based students usually line up a commitment with a professor in advance of acceptance.

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Application Details

The  online application for 2013-14 will open mid September 2012.

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Some facts about our program

Minimum Cumulative average accepted is 75% = B+ = GPA 3.3/4.3. Exceptions can be made on a case-by-case basis.

English test score minimums - TOEFL 600 paper or 250 computer based, IELTS is Band 7.0.

We do not use GRE scores.

Ours is a very competitive program.

We accept 1 new International Student per year if funding permits.

We do not accept students without a named supervisor or advisor. Please study the faculty area of interests to see who you might contact as a potential supervisor.

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I am interested in the Master of Environmental Studies program. However, I am unsure that the courses offered are relevant to what I wish to study. The core courses sound excellent, but I am wondering about the selection of electives. On the website I see a number of courses listed, and my question is whether or not these are the only options I would have to choose from.

The MES program has two required courses (ENSC 801*, 802*). Optional School of Environmental Studies courses are offered.  Check offerings yearly.  As for electives from other departments, please review the course list. It is not exhaustive, but lists a very large number of courses of potential interest to students. However, courses offered vary from year to year based on the interests of students within other departments, the numbers available to take a course, and the availability of professors (some may be on sabbatical). Hence, there is uncertainty about what is available until about August and September of each year - this is a much more casual system than you would encounter at the undergrad level, and is typical of most universities.

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Are there any courses that focus more on human geography issues?

For social geography courses, you should check with the Department of Geography to see what they are offering this year (no guarantee for next year). In the past, there have been courses related to GIS and planning of transportation systems (e.g., geographic-based systems for directing emergency services to specific addresses by the shortest routes). There are also a significant number of relevant courses in the School of Urban and Regional Planning, and many of these courses are open to our students. Finally, you are allowed to include one fourth-year course (upgraded by agreement with the instructor) as a graduate course, so you should check out the Faculty of Arts & Science Calendar or go to the course list under the "Graduate" tab on our website. 

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What is an interdisciplinary program?

An interdisciplinary program is one that requires students to work in more than one traditional discipline (e.g., someone interested in conservation policy might focus on ecology and policy). The purpose is to ensure that students will be able to work on environmental issues where it is necessary to interact with experts from other fields. The School’s courses examine issues from a variety of disciplinary perspectives to expose students to the concerns, research tools, and language used by different disciplines.

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Does the program have a particular emphasis on either social science or applied science? (I noticed that many of the professors have scientific backgrounds)

The program's commitment is to foster a cross-disciplinary exchange, i.e. an interdisciplinary approach to understanding and investigating environmental issues. One of the objectives is to teach students to be comfortable with the "language" of other disciplines, and to be familiar with their specific concerns. The concept of interdisciplinarity is reflected in the courses the School of Environmental Studies offers as well as in the course choices, projects, and theses of our past and present graduate students.

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Within the program, are students able to take courses in both the social science and natural sciences?

Yes. In fact, we encourage students to do just that. Graduate courses in all departments include both intro and in-depth courses. Your access to specific courses will depend on your particular background, the type of course you are interested in, whether there are prerequisites, and ultimately the approval of a course instructor.

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Do you think the program effectively integrates the social and natural sciences?

The program was conceptualized to fulfill this very goal, and we strongly believe that it does. Past and present projects and theses are testimony to the fact that we are achieving this teaching objective. Graduate Student Profiles.

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Could my thesis supervisor be a person from outside environmental studies if their research interests match my own?

Yes, and we encourage that. However, you will have to have on your committee a faculty member from the School of Environmental Studies as a co-supervisor.

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How many students typically receive any kind of financial aid?

All students are guaranteed a stipend of $16,000 CDN per year, pro-rated to the number of months in residence at Queen’s. The stipend is a combination of external or internal scholarships, a Queen’s Graduate Award plus a salary associated with Teaching Assistantships (TAs).  Typically all students are expected to take on a TA-ship each semester. Please check this website for information on funding opportunities.

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Can I get any kind of extra assistance as an international student?

Upon acceptance to the program, the University makes available bursaries to help offset the difference between domestic and international student fees. Please check the Queen's University School of Graduate Studies website for additional information. Funding opportunities.

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Is there a cut-off average used to filter incoming applications?

The minimum requirement is a cumulative average 75% (B+), with the last two years given the most importance.  Our minimum is 75/100 or B+ standing. This would correspond to a GPA of 3.3. For English as a foreign language tests, our minimum TOEFL score is 600 paper or 250 computer based. The minimum IELTS accepted by Queen’s is Band 7.0. Canada will introduce the new TOEFL iBT in 2006. Minimum scores will be Writing (24/30), Speaking (22/30), Reading (22/30), Listening (20/30) for a total of 88/120. We do not use GRE scores. In practice, we start acceptances with the top students and work down. This means that with each year the cut-off average varies.

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What is the typical background of the student entering the program?

The backgrounds of our students vary greatly. Students have come to us with backgrounds in environmental studies, history, biology, life sciences, engineering, law, and philosophy, for example.

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Why should someone come to Queen's for the MES program?

That is the question for you to answer as much as for us. Queen's University has a very strong reputation for teaching and research. The range of departments, expertise, and opportunities is typical of a mid-size university, and it is really up to the individual student to identify what opportunities they wish to pursue. The MES is as much an 'enabling mechanism' as it is a structured program. We enable students to explore environmental issues from an interdisciplinary perspective and to develop the associated knowledge and skills to function in the environmental field's demanding job market, or in preparation for further education. 

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How can I make myself a better candidate for the MES degree?

Sort through the departmental and individual web sites to see what interests you. If you wish to pursue a research-based degree, make personal contact with the appropriate professors and see what they have to offer. If you can visit Queen's School of Environmental Studies between now and the deadline for applications you can meet faculty members and existing students, and learn more about the facilities and options. There are some limited travel funds available.

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Can I apply for the MES program if my undergraduate major is not environmental?

Yes. You should contact members of our faculty whose area of research interests you. That is the best way to know if you are suited for our program.

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When are decisions on admission made?

We encourage applicants to submit their applications for the following academic year by the preceding fall to early spring. All applications are reviewed, and decisions about offers are made beginning in late March. Some early offers may be sent out to highly qualified applicants. To be considered for internal fellowships and bursaries, the application deadline is March 1 (for the academic term starting in September). Only your email address can be seen by the Graduate Assistant until you have completed and paid for your application.  It is in your best interest to complete your application and contact faculty members about your interest in the MES program. The Graduate Assistant may contact you be email to find our your interests and assist in finding a suitable faculty member for you. 

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Can I defer my acceptance?

The School of Graduate Studies has no mechanism for deferral, however you may request that your documents be held and reapply in the next academic year.  You will be required to pay the application fee and complete a new application.  You will not have to contact referees or send in new transcripts or other documents required for admission.  Your place will be held in the program as long as your supervisor or advisor is willing to accept you in the next session.

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What are the employment opportunities with the MES degree

Follow this link for details on what our students do after their MES degree.

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