The MES Program

The MES program is organized around three progressive stages (for more details, see MES Handbook):

MES I (term 1)
Preparation of the initial plan of study in parallel with coursework or other structured learning activities supporting the exploration of the area of concentration.

MES II (terms 2-3)
Consolidation of essential knowledge within the area of concentration through coursework, field experiences, and other learning activities, culminating in preparation of the final plan of study and major research proposal.

MES III (terms 3-6)
Completion of the learning outlined in the plan of study and completion of the major research paper, project, portfolio, or thesis, demonstrating competence and mastery within the area of concentration.

Credits towards the MES Degree
The MES degree requires 72 credits. Students accumulate these credits through several means: taking courses (typically 3 credits each, or 6 credits for workshops); individual directed studies (typically between 3 to 12 credits) or field experience placements (no more than 24 credits in total); MES III major paper, project, portfolio or thesis work (typically 12 credits in terms 5 and 6). ‘Residual credits’ are granted if a student 2
completes all of his or her learning objectives with less than 72 credits. If applicable, a student may apply for residual credits prior to his or her MES II-III exam.

Timeline for Degree Completion

The MES degree is designed as a full-time, six-term, two-year program. Graduate students should be registered (i.e., accepting fees) and be enrolled in courses during Fall, Winter, and Summer terms until completion of their program.

MES Advisors and Supervisors

MES Advisor

Every incoming MES student is assigned a faculty advisor. This professor will help students develop their Plan of Study and progress through the program.

While matching students’ interests and faculty members’ areas of expertise is the goal, this is not always possible. Consequently, it is possible to change advisor, but only after the approval of the initial plan of study. To change advisor, students should secure the approval of the new faculty advisor and then complete a ‘Change of Advisor’ form (in the FES Graduate Dossier System, under "Add Forms").


As students prepare their final Plan of Study and Research Proposal for Major Research (Major Paper/Project/Portfolio) for their MES II-III examination, they identify and nominate a professor to be their Supervisor by completing a ‘Nomination of Supervisor’ form in the FES Graduate Dossier System under ‘”Add Forms.” Supervisors are normally FES faculty members, but can also exceptionally be a faculty member from another program at York, or even someone outside York (as long as they can be appointed to the Faculty of Graduate Studies by the Graduate Program Director). Please contact the Graduate Program Director if you are considering a Supervisor outside of FES. Please note that your Advisor can also become your Supervisor. If this is the case, a second FES faculty member will need to be present at your MES II-III Exam.

Students considering doing a Thesis must refer to the Faculty of Graduate Studies’ requirements for setting up their Master’s Thesis Supervisory Committee. See

MES Dossiers

MES Dossiers

A record of each student’s MES studies is kept in the FES Graduate Dossier System. The dossier includes students’ enrolment forms, plans of study and its periodic updates, and records of all examinations of the plan of study in formal meetings with the advisor. The dossier also contains the student’s enrolment history, grades and qualitative evaluations from each course and learning activity. Students are responsible to maintain the updating and accuracy of their dossiers. Prior to the MES II-III exam, the Graduate Student Program Advisor will meet with each student to review the dossier and check that the information is accurate and complete (grades, credits, etc.).


Given the interdisciplinary nature of the program, courses in the Faculty accommodate students from a wide range of backgrounds and with diverse learning objectives. Therefore, we encourage exploration, creativity and breadth of study by using a Pass/Unsatisfactory grading system in conjunction with qualitative feedback from the instructor.

Students do not receive letter grades for their work and official York transcripts show grades of Pass (P), Withdrawn (W), or Unsatisfactory (U) only. A Pass grade is equivalent to a ‘B’ letter grade or better; anything less is Unsatisfactory which is interpreted as a failure. A ‘U’ grade in a course normally triggers a Dean’s Exam. Two ‘U” grades lead to a withdrawal from the program for failure to maintain good academic standards.

Graduate students are expected to complete all course work by the last day of classes each term. In exceptional circumstances, if course work is unfinished at the end of the term, a student may request an extension from the course director and may receive a temporary grade of Incomplete” (I) for the course.  The student and course director need to agree on a new date of submission and outstanding work must be completed by the due date specified in the FES Graduate Academic Calendar for the next term.

Students are not permitted to carry more than 3 credits of Incomplete into the next academic term. Students cannot move to their MES II-III examination with Incomplete.

If applying for external funding or to a PhD program that requires a letter grade, MES students may request a letter grade evaluation of a course from the course director, or an overall Grade Assessment of their dossier by contacting OSAS. The Graduate Grade Assessment Committee will review the student’s dossier and assign an overall letter grade for their work throughout the program, based on all evaluation forms. Overall Grade Assessments are used by students to successfully apply for major scholarships and grants, and to other graduate programs.

Academic Honesty

All York students are subject to policies regarding academic honesty as set out by the Senate of York University and by the Faculty of Environmental Studies. Conduct that violates the ethical or legal standards of the University community may result in serious consequences. Students must complete the Academic Integrity Tutorial and are encouraged to read the Senate Policy on Academic Honesty in order to be very clear on the meanings of these rules.

Academic Regulations

For more information, refer to graduate program Academic Requirements.

For a list of Academic requirements for all graduate programs from previous years, please see the Program Requirements page.