Guide to Competitive Applications

Our MES program gets hundreds of applications each year, and most of the students who apply have high grades. With so much competition, you need to make your application as strong as possible to give yourself the best chance for receiving an offer of admission. Below are some hints that can help you improve the quality of your application.

NOTE: This information is provided to assist prospective students in putting together the information required to apply to our MES program. There is, however, no guarantee that you will be offered admission to our program, regardless of whether you follow these suggestions. Our graduate programs are very competitive; this competition differs from year to year since different groups of students are applying. It is our policy not to evaluate or comment on student applications in advance – everyone must go through the formal applications/admissions procedure.

Your supplemental materials are important

Remember that you are competing with many other students who have high grades. Our Admissions Committee will consider all of the different pieces of your application, so be sure you take the time to make every piece as good as possible. Read the Admission requirements and How to apply page carefully, and make be sure to address all of the details in the application instructions. Sometimes students with comparatively lower averages get offers of admission because they put together outstanding overall applications, while others don’t get offers because they rely too much on their high grades and don’t pay enough attention to the other required materials.

Your Statement of Academic Interests

While most of the other items you are required to submit are fairly standardized, this is the opportunity for you to convince our Admissions Committee that you and your research interests are a great fit with our Master in Environmental Studies program. The Committee pays close attention to your Statement.

Your Statement should convey the Committee what you plan to study. The more concrete you can be, and the more you can connect your ideas with existing academic discourse, the more likely you are to convince the Committee you are well prepared to enter a highly individualized research-based program. Feel free to use the personal voice and the word “I” – a passion for your subject matter will likely be appreciated.

One note of caution: while a detailed plan is great, you need to remain open to gaining new knowledge in the program.

It is a great idea to get the people writing your reference letters to look at your Statement. This will allow them to refer to your statement in their reference. They might also have some useful feedback for you.

Your reference letters

You need to ensure that your reference letters are strong. Academic reference letters are always the best, since what the Admissions Committee is looking for is information about your academic ability. For example, the Committee needs to know about your critical thinking skills, how adept you are at dealing with theoretical concepts and whether you succeed well at self-directed work. It is possible to use professional referees if necessary, as long as they address these issues in their letter.

Generally speaking, when asking for a reference letter, it is advisable to directly ask the person whether they are willing to give you a strong reference. If the person isn't willing to give you a strong reference you are better off asking someone else – rather having a weak or even negative letter included as part of your application package.

Get your supplemental materials in as soon as possible

We cannot consider your application until it is complete – and so, to ensure your application is reviewed as early as possible, get us all your materials as soon as possible.