grad-environmentresources

Environment and Resources is a research program offering master’s and Ph.D. degrees based on the premise that solutions to environmental challenges require interdisciplinary approaches. Faculty and students are oriented to environmental problems rather than to disciplines. Students are encouraged to explore the specific area that interests them by drawing on the insights and methods of multiple disciplines. The focus is on gaining the knowledge needed to understand the intellectual context of their work and the skills necessary to conduct original research. The program fosters experimentation and innovation, not the mastering of a narrowly defined set of prepackaged competencies. The objective is to produce graduates who are prepared to function comfortably in the complex professional and social communities within which solutions to environmental problems must be found.

The program mandates interdisciplinarity through curriculum requirements, the structure of the student’s faculty advisory committee, and the research endeavor. Students are required to take some courses in diverse disciplinary topics and other courses that are intended to strengthen problem-solving skills. A thesis (M.S.) or a dissertation (Ph.D.) is required of all students. Each student’s faculty advisory committee must consist of persons who collectively ensure interdisciplinary support and evaluation. Students can pursue interests over the full range of environmental studies from more of a physical or biological science research project to those emphasizing more of the social sciences or humanities including policy, environmental history, community action, or social justice. Students who feel a need to follow a more structured course of study may also pursue certificates in Culture, History, and Environment or Energy Analysis and Policy. Any bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution may be acceptable.

Fall Deadline December 1
Spring Deadline October 15
Summer Deadline December 1
GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) Not required but may be considered if available.*
English Proficiency Test Every applicant whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English must provide an English proficiency test score and meet the Graduate School minimum requirements (https://grad.wisc.edu/apply/requirements/#english-proficiency).
Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT) n/a
Letters of Recommendation Required 3

* Recommended for those seeking University Fellowship consideration.

Deadlines

Application materials for Environment and Resources must be received by December 1 for admission to the following summer session or fall semester and by October 15 for admission to the following spring semester.

Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and restrictions related to funding.

Program Resources

In most cases Environment and Resources is unable to guarantee any funding to students. However, many of our students obtain funding through other departments on campus, and we recommend that students contact faculty or departments directly if they have teaching or research skills in specific areas. Individual faculty members occasionally have their own sources of support for research or project assistants, though we strongly urge students not to depend on these as guaranteed sources of funding.

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Major Requirements

MODE OF INSTRUCTION

Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes No No No No

Mode of Instruction Definitions

CURRICULAR REQUIREMENTS

Minimum Credit Requirement 30 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 16 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement Half of degree coursework (15 credits out of 30 total credits) must be completed graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide (https://registrar.wisc.edu/course-guide/).
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required.
Other Grade Requirements Grades of BC or C may be counted toward program requirements if they are offset by equivalent AB or A grades in other courses. A 3.00 average must be maintained in the student’s breadth categories as well as their individual program focus category. With the exception of research credits, a maximum of 2 credits graded S may be counted toward program requirements if approved by the student’s thesis committee and the program chair. Courses that are audited or graded pass/fail or credit/no credit will not count toward program requirements.
Assessments and Examinations All students must complete a program certification and a thesis. Students must pass a final thesis defense which constitutes the final examination.
Language Requirements No language requirements.

Required COURSES

Breadth Requirements
Category 1: Natural Science 16
Category 2: Social Science & Humanities 26
Category 3: Measurement & Analysis 36
Individual Program Focus & Research 412
Total Credits30

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

Major-Specific Policies

Prior Coursework

Graduate Work from Other Institutions

With thesis committee and program chair approval, students are allowed to count graduate coursework from other institutions. The number of such credits is determined on a case-by-case basis. Coursework completed five or more years prior to admission to the master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy graduate degree or graduate coursework requirements.

UW–Madison Undergraduate

No credits from a UW–Madison undergraduate degree are allowed to count toward the program.

UW–Madison University Special

With thesis committee and program chair approval, students are allowed to count up to 15 credits of coursework taken as a UW–Madison Special student. Such credits from courses numbered 300 and higher can count toward graduate residency and graduate degree requirements. Such credits from courses numbered 700 and higher can count toward the graduate coursework (50%) requirement. Coursework completed five or more years prior to admission to the program is not allowed to satisfy graduate residency, graduate degree, or graduate coursework requirements.

Probation

The Graduate School regularly reviews the record of any student who earned grades of BC, C, D, F, or Incomplete in a graduate course (300 or above), or grade of U in research credits. This review could result in academic probation with a hold on future enrollment or in being suspended from the Graduate School.

  1. Good standing (progressing according to standards; any funding guarantee remains in place).
  2. Probation (not progressing according to standards but permitted to enroll; loss of funding guarantee; specific plan with dates and deadlines in place in regard to removal of probationary status).
  3. Unsatisfactory progress (not progressing according to standards; not permitted to enroll, dismissal, leave of absence or change of advisor or program).

ADVISOR / COMMITTEE

All students must assemble a three-member thesis committee that represents a minimum of two departments, preferably no later than their third semester in the program. To meet the interdisciplinary requirement the committee must include members tenured in one of the natural sciences divisions (Biological Sciences, Physical Sciences) and one of the social sciences divisions (Social Studies, Arts & Humanities). Two of the three committee members must be members of the Graduate Faculty. The third, subject to approval of the program chair, may be any qualified person, on or off campus, who holds at least a master’s degree.

CREDITS PER TERM ALLOWED

15 credits

Time Constraints

Master’s degree students who have been absent for five or more consecutive years lose all credits that they have earned before their absence. Individual programs may count the coursework students completed prior to their absence for meeting program requirements; that coursework may not count toward Graduate School credit requirements.

Grievances and Appeals

These resources may be helpful in addressing your concerns:

This document was reviewed by the Graduate Student working group and approved by vote of Nelson Institute Governance with subsequent review by campus HR; please note that this was prior to the revision of GAPP by campus in 2019-20, as well as present and expected changes in 2020 after to Title IX, Office of the Dean of Students, etc.

Preamble:

Any student who feels that they have been treated unfairly by a faculty or staff member has the right to seek redress and to receive a hearing of the grievance following these procedures. It applies only to grievances about those persons who are employees of the Nelson Institute, who teach for the Nelson Institute or otherwise are subject to administrative oversight by the Institute. The complaint may concern course grades, program admission, classroom treatment, hostile or intimidating behavior, or any other issue. Note that these procedures are for students bringing grievances to the Nelson Institute, they do not cover issues relating to the classroom behavior of students which must be referred to the Dean of Students.

The procedures outlined below are used in the Nelson Institute to ensure a prompt and fair hearing of complaints, and to protect the rights of both the student and the person at whom the complaint is directed. These policies describe formal procedures. A student is free to bypass these procedures if they do not wish for an Institute sanctioned resolution. 

A complaint covered here may involve issues that either require or that would benefit from being directed to one of the campus programs or offices addressing complaints and grievances. See https://compliance.wisc.edu/ and https://compliance.wisc.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/102/2018/09/Safe-Learning-and-Work-Guide.Fall_.FY19-Accessible.pdf (Accessed Oct. 2020). Please review the most recent information on Title IX on campus, as guidelines and contacts may change. Graduate students should review information at https://grad.wisc.edu/documents/grievances-and-appeals/ (Accessed Feb. 2019) Undergraduate students may wish to review information available in the undergraduate course catalog. There they will find this option presented: “For assistance in determining options, students can contact the on-call dean in the Dean of Students Office, 608-263-5700, Room 70 Bascom Hall, Monday– Friday, 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.”

Also, students should know that academic administrators may be required to report instances of sexual harassment or violence in accordance with university policy and the Clery act. (See: http://uwpd.wisc.edu/crime-data/clery-act/ Accessed Oct. 2018). 

State law contains additional provisions regarding discrimination and harassment. Wisconsin Statutes 36.12 reads, in part: "No student may be denied admission to, participation in or the benefits of, or be discriminated against in any service, program, course or facility of the system or its institutions or center because of the student's race, color, creed, religion, sex, national origin, disability, ancestry, age, sexual orientation, pregnancy, marital status or parental status." In addition, UW–System prohibits discrimination based on gender identity or gender expression. Students have the right to file discrimination and harassment complaints with the Office for Equity and Diversity.

Questions about Nelson Institute procedures can be directed to the Associate Dean for Research and Education.

Procedures:

  1. If possible, the student (complainant) should first talk with the person against whom the grievance is directed to advise them of their complaint and to determine if resolution is possible.
  2. If the student is not satisfied, or if they do not feel comfortable addressing the person to whom the grievance is directed, they should ask to speak to the immediate supervisor of the person involved. If the complaint is directed against a teaching assistant, the student should talk to the TA's supervisor, who is usually the course professor. If the student grievance concerns a faculty or staff member in Nelson, the next formal step is for the student to meet with the Associate Dean for Research and Education. If the complaint is not resolved at this level, the student may continue to the next step (4).
  3. It is recognized that a student may be reluctant to bring their grievance to the person against whom the complaint is directed, or to their supervisor, or to anyone else in the administrative hierarchy. In that case, the student should seek out a person who can guarantee confidentiality to the extent allowed by the law and university policy and provide non-judgmental advice as to appropriate next steps. Note that if criminal activity is involved confidentiality cannot be guaranteed. If a student does not know of any suitable person, they may approach any member of the Nelson Institute Academic Programs staff who will be able either to serve as a confidential discussant or who will be able to direct the student to someone who can assure confidentiality. Their role is to be that of Ombuds, meaning that they are not to take a position with respect to the validity of the grievance. Their role is to advise the student as to appropriate next steps.
  4. To start a formal grievance process, the student must submit the grievance in writing to the Nelson Institute Associate Dean for Research and Education (hereafter Associate Dean) as soon as possible. An email for which receipt is acknowledged will be considered a written submission.
  5. On receipt of the written complaint, the Associate Dean will acquaint themselves with the issues. This may involve face to face meetings or other means of establishing the facts in dispute. The Associate Dean will have the option of proposing a resolution. If the proposed resolution is accepted by parties directly involved, the matter will be considered settled at this level. Relevant documents will be archived by the Office of the Assistant Dean for Administration. At any point in the proceedings after the receipt and acknowledgement of the grievance by the Associate Dean, the complainant or the compliance will have the option of requesting that the matter be referred to an ad hoc committee. This request must be submitted in writing and acknowledged by the Associate Dean.
  6. If the matter cannot be settled through the mediation of the Associate Dean, or if the Associate Dean has concluded that the case merits further attention, or if the complainant has requested that the matter be referred to an ad hoc committee an ad hoc committee will be appointed by the Dean of the Nelson Institute or their designee. The committee will consist of at least three members. Within 10 working days, the student will be allowed to revise the complaint or to add material to the complaint document to be provided to the committee. The complainant may request a change in committee membership, but the final decision on the committee will remain with the Dean. The committee may request a written response from the person toward whom the complaint is directed. This response shall be shared with the person filing the grievance. The ad hoc committee will meet to discuss the case. They are authorized to seek additional information if they feel it is necessary. They will convey their written decision regarding the case including any recommendations for remediation or mediation to the Associate Dean within 30 working days from the charge to the committee. The Associate Dean will provide a copy of the committee’s written decision to the student regarding the case within 10 working days of receiving the committee’s report; the Associate Dean will also confirm that the past record on file of any grievances regarding the parties involved has been investigated; and, the Associate Dean will provide the student a statement outlining the formal plan of steps that will be taken officially on the part of the Nelson Institute.
  7. The complainant then has the option of taking their grievance to the university level. There are several options available. Consult websites referenced above.  
  8. The written documents relevant to the grievance will be archived in hard copy and electronic form as appropriate in a “Grievance Record” by the office of the Assistant Dean of Administration and will be maintained for a minimum of five years.
  9. The cumulative record involving any of the parties to a grievance will be reviewed each time a formal grievance is presented as in Step 4, above, in order to determine whether the pattern of grievance, such as past filings, indicates any actions are warranted.

Other

n/a

Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 

Program Resources

summer writing retreat

A four-day weekend summer (early June typically) writing retreat led by emeritus faculty member Sharon Dunwoody is available to any student in the program who is in the process of undertaking a serious writing commitment like a thesis, dissertation, grant proposal, or class paper. There is a peer review component to this retreat, so all participants will share at least some parts of their work for feedback from the instructor and their peers.

  1. Demonstrate master's level knowledge of interdisciplinary environmental studies.
  2. Demonstrate master’s level knowledge of a substantive area of environmental studies, adequate to undertake their M.S. thesis.
  3. Demonstrate master’s level knowledge of research methodology appropriate to their substantive area of focus and appropriate for preparing their M.S. thesis.
  4. Demonstrate skill in synthesizing the above goals (1-3) through preparation of a master’s thesis.

faculty executive program committee

Sara Hotchkiss (Program Chair), Robert Beattie, Anna Gade, Holly Gibbs, Asligul Gocmen, Leah Horowitz, Marty Kanarek, Christopher Kucharik, Mutlu Ozdogan, Warren Porter, Stephanie Tai, Stephen Ventura, Paul Zedler