Frequently Asked Questions


Here you can find answers to some of our most frequently asked questions.
 

When is the application deadline?

The deadline for admission is February 1. Accepted students start the following Fall.

Do I need an Advisor before applying?

No, for admission into the Sustainability Science MS you do not need to contact a faculty member. All you need to do is apply to Sustainability Science through the UMass Grad School admissions process.  We'll assess your application package and if you are accepted, we help you identify an advisor once you enroll in the program.

What materials do I need to apply?

To apply to the Sustainability Science Masters program, you must complete our online application. In addition, prospective students need to submit two letters of recommendation, official transcripts, a personal statement, and resume. International students are required to submit TOEFL or IELTS scores. As of 2015, submitting GREs scores is optional. Applicants are encouraged to submit scores if they feel it will make a more compelling case for admission, but there is no requirement to submit GREs.

How long does the program take (can I do it part time)?

The Sustainability Science MS is designed as an accelerated 1-year, professional master's program. Most students choose to complete the program in 2 semesters and then do a 4-credit internship in the summer after their last semester of coursework. However, some students decide to space the program out over 3 or 4 semesters so that they can develop an additional expertise in a specific area or because outside commitments don’t allow them to complete it at an accelerated pace. Each year we have a few students who choose the 2-year time frame.

Do I need to take the GREs?

As of 2015, applicants are no longer required to submit GRE scores. If you feel your GRE scores help reflect your academic ability you are encouraged to submit them, but there is no requirement. Additionally, there is no magic GRE score that we are looking for. Generally, a high score might help an applicant whose previous academic record was not as strong, but a low score won't hurt an otherwise qualified applicant.

GPA requirement?

Generally students have at least a 3.0 GPA, and the average for admission to graduate programs across campus is 3.3. However we don't have a specific hard cutoff when we assess applications. We try to form a complete picture of applicants and the GPA is one component of that.

What does a successful applicant look like?

Sustainability is a broad field that attracts students from a variety of different undergraduate majors and backgrounds. We've had students enter our program from natural sciences, social science, engineering, communications, history, english, business, medicine, and economics programs. We find that student success is not strictly correlated with their previous training. As such, we do not have rigid prerequisite standards that we look for in applicants. We use the application materials to form a picture of each individual. We are looking for a demonstrated commitment to sustainability and evidence that students possess the academic rigor needed to succeed in grad school. In addition, we look for people that are motivated to go out and make a difference in this field once they graduate.

How much does the program cost?

For Massachusetts residents, tuition and fees are $7,025/semester for full time students. If you complete the program in one year, this would be $14,050. For students whose residence is outside of Massachusetts, but in New England, the cost is $11,614/semester ($23,228/year). For students outside these areas the cost is $14,273/semester ($28,546/year). In addition there is a one-time $357 enrollment fee, a $275/semester program fee, and a $30/semester Graduate Student Senate Tax. There is also a fee if you opt for the University’s health care plan, but if you already have health care you can waive this. The full tuition and fee table is available here.

Are there assistantship opportunities?

Unfortunately our program does not offer teaching or research assistantships at this time. This is because the Sustainability Science MS is an accelerated 1-year professional program. As a professional program there is no thesis/research component. Additionally the 1-year structure provides insufficient time to do outside teaching assistantships. The benefit of the accelerated program is that you earn a Master's degree in half the time of a traditional research-based program, which reduces educational costs and gets you earning a salary a year earlier. The tradeoff is that it is a very busy year with insufficient times for assistantships.

To help with funding we encourage you to apply for outside scholarships or fellowships and you can apply for financial assistance through the University's financial aid services.

Can I take courses in different concentrations?

Yes, our program is designed to allow students maximum flexibility in choosing courses that best fit their academic interests and career aspirations. Thus, we allow students wide discretion in assembling courses across different topic areas and there are in fact program requirements that students gain a breadth of understanding by taking coursework in other concentrations. You would therefore have no trouble taking courses in multiple concentrations.

What kind of internships do students do?

The capstone to the program is a 4-credit internship/project that allows students to apply what they have learned in the classroom to a real-world setting. Students can intern with a wide array of organizations such as non-profits, businesses, government, and higher education institutions. Our students come from a variety of academic disciplines (such as environmental science, economics, business, public policy, and communications) and thus the individual internships/projects they choose to pursue span a wide range. We've had students work on water issues in Alaska, clean energy in Massachusetts, anti-pollution breast cancer campaigns, and sustainable food in schools projects to name just a few.

What kind of careers does this prepare me for?

Sustainability is an evolving and growing field. As society continues to recognizes the need for sustainable solutions to environmental, social, and economic problems whole new categories of jobs (such as sustainability managers) are coming into existence. By training students to be interdisciplinary thinkers who can go out and start solving the world’s sustainability challenges we provide them with the foundations they need to succeed not only in the current job market but also in the emerging job market of tomorrow. Some of our recent grads are working for clean energy companies, consulting firms, academia, government, and non-profits.

Can credits be transferred?

Up 12 graduate-level credits, but no more than 6 credits from any one course, may be transferred to your graduate transcript, pending approval from both the MS3 Graduate Program Director (Craig Nicolson) and the Graduate School. You must have received a B grade or above for the credits to count. For more information, visit the Graduate School handbook.

Still have questions?

Please contact us for more information!