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Environmental Studies (MES)

Join an interdisciplinary master’s program that challenges you to look at natural, social and built environmental differently. In this self-directed program, centred on an individual Plan of Study, you will learn how to redefine the boundaries of environmental research to create positive social and sustainable change.

Students pursuing a Master in Environmental Studies (MES) may study these critical issues:

  • Urban planning
  • Environmental management
  • Global inequalities
  • Energy and climate change
  • Sustainable food systems
  • Indigenous justice

In place of a fixed set of curriculum offerings, the MES approach to learning supports students’ ownership of and responsibility for their education through a Plan of Study. You will develop your own Plan of Study with the support of a faculty advisor, who will provide personalized guidance as you transition through your studies, including internship opportunities. The program also offers the flexibility to complete your MES research work as a thesis, major paper, project or portfolio.

The MES Program

2 years

Full time

Fall entry

Master in Environmental Studies (MES)

Applying to Environmental Studies (MES)

  • Honours (four-year) bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
    • B+ GPA over the past two years (or full-time equivalent) of academic study

If you are a domestic student and do not meet the above admission requirements, you may be considered for admission based on your professional and volunteer experience.

  • Fall 2021 Online Application: February 15, 2021
  • Fall 2021 Submission of Supporting Documents: February 28, 2021

Application Process

  1. Complete the York University Graduate Application Form.
    • No documents will be reviewed prior to the submission of an online application.
  2. Pay the application fee.
  3. Submit supporting documents through the York University online portal, MyFile.
    • Within four business days of application, you will receive a confirmation email with your nine-digit student reference number, which will allow you to access your MyFile account and upload your documents.
    • It is important to check your MyFile regularly for any documents you are required to submit and updates to the status of your application.


Academic transcripts or degree certificates (if degree conferral is not indicated on transcripts) are required from every post-secondary institution you attended. This includes:

  • Undergraduate and graduate studies
  • Exchange programs
  • Studies for which you did not complete a degree

Transcripts are not required for studies completed at York University.

If you are currently completing your studies, submit your in-progress transcript.

More information about transcript submission is available on the York University Graduate Admissions page.

Statement of Academic Interest

Your statement must follow the format below:

Part A: A title summarizing your research interests (20 words or less)

Part B: Five keywords that best describe your research interests

Part C: A description of your intended research (approximately 500 words):

  • Include key theories, concepts and practices central to your area of interest.
  • Outline why the MES is best suited to meet your academic and professional goals.
  • Describe how your interests relate to our full-time faculty members’ research.
    • Note: You do not need to secure a supervisor prior to applying. If you are accepted into the program, a supervisor will be assigned to you.

Resumé or Curriculum Vitae

You may also wish to include the following information (if applicable) in your resumé or curriculum vitae:

  • Academic honours (scholarships, fellowships, awards, etc.)
  • Academic and professional qualifications and memberships
  • Publications and reports (if any are joint-authored, please provide a separate note describing your contribution)

Two forms ­– Referee and Supplementary Information –  must be completed. These can be found under the “Supplementary Information Forms” link in your MyFile account. It is best to prepare your answers in advance and then copy and paste them into the form.

Referee Information Form

  • You will be required to submit three references or referees.
  • Please provide us with the names, email addresses and mailing addresses of your referees. A link will be emailed, on your behalf, to your referees to complete a Letter of Recommendation form. 
  • Your referees will have two weeks to complete the form.

Academic references are strongly preferred. It is possible to use professional references if necessary, provided that they address your critical thinking skills and how adept you are at dealing with theoretical concepts.

Supplementary Information Form

This is a standard graduate form, so some questions will not apply.

  • Question 1: Awards information – Please list any external awards you have applied for (such as the SHHRC and OGS).
  • Question 2: Language skill – Does not apply to the Master in Environmental Studies. Please leave this section blank.
  • Question 3: Program options –  If you are interested in one of our program options, please indicate it here. We strongly encourage you to browse the program pages for requirements and application procedures. 
    • Graduate Diploma in Environmental/Sustainability Education
    • Graduate Diploma in Business and the Environment
    • MES/JD program
    • If you are not interested in any additional program options, you will leave this section blank.
  • Question 4: Professors you hope to work with – Please identify three faculty members, as mentioned in your Statement of Academic Interest, who could be a potential supervisor. 
  • Question 5: Other information – You may include any additional information that you feel is relevant to your application that has not been previously mentioned.

Professional Experience Form

(if applicable)

We value professional and volunteer experience and appreciate that there may have been barriers that previously hindered your academic studies. Any domestic student that does not meet the minimum academic requirements may still apply to the MES program. You will be required to complete the Professional Experience Application Form in order to complete your application.

Completing this form will provide you with the opportunity to explain to the MES Admissions Committee why you have not meet to minimum academic requirements and how your work and/or life experiences have prepared you to be successful in our Master’s program.

Experiences may include:

• Work experience – paid or unpaid

• Academic experience – such as research projects

• Community or activist organizing or involvement

• Creative artistic practice (including work in popular cultural forms outside of formal arts institutions)

After you have applied and submitted your previous post-secondary transcripts, an admissions assessor will review your documents. If the assessor determines you do not meet our academic requirements, we will contact you and send you the Professional Experience Form in order to complete your application.

Please note: If you are asked to submit this form, it will become part of your application checklist and required to complete your application for a decision. Your application will not be reviewed by the Admissions Committee without this form. Pre-application GPA assessments are not available. All application documents are assessed by our Admissions team.

(if applicable)

If your first language is not English, you must demonstrate you have an acceptable level of English by completing a language proficiency test:

  • TOEFL – paper-based: 600; computer-based: 250; iBT: 100 (York code: 0894)
  • IELTS (Academic) – overall band score: 7.5

Note: You must meet the required minimum score for your application to be considered.

For more details, see York University’s English language proficiency information.