Frequently Asked Questions

What are the program's standards and policies on admission? What can I do to help my chances?

What are the program's standards and policies on admission? What can I do to help my chances?

We view the application as a whole and do not place more importance on any one piece. The student must first be academically admissible, which is determined by a careful review of the application, the transcripts, the letters of recommendation, and the GRE scores.

Additionally, and most importantly, a member of the NRSM faculty must agree to advise the prospective student ahead of time. This is important, as it helps to ensure that the student has a better, more personalized experience while earning the degree. We do not operate like many other graduate programs, where a student is admitted without an advisor and left to find one on his or her own. This means that even if the applicant has a strong application package, if there is no one from amongst the faculty who is willing and able to advise a new graduate student, we have to deny admission. A faculty member's decision whether or not to advise a given student usually depends on the following factors: admissibility, mutual research interests, level of need for a new student, and ability to fund that student (usually, but not always, through an externally funded research grant). We always recommend that applicants carefully review faculty profiles on our website to determine with whom they might like to work should they be admissible. It is very helpful if you make an effort to contact these individuals and to include their names in the application's statement of purpose. We will then make sure that those faculty members have an opportunity to view the application. If the faculty member reviewing an application has had some prior contact with the applicant, they are usually more likely to consider advising.

How are students in this program funded?

How are students in this program funded?

The bulk of our students are funded as research assistants through research grants secured by the faculty advisor. This is why it is important to have some idea of what your research interests are when you apply and to make sure they're clearly stated in the application. Some of our students are funded on teaching assistantships, and some have both teaching assistantships and research assistantships. Both appointments offer the same benefits: a modest stipend, a tuition waiver, and health and dental coverage. The levels of these benefits vary depending upon the level of the appointment. For example, a student on a 50% assistantship (considered a "full" assistantship) works 20 hours a week and earns a full tuition waiver. A student on a 25% assistantship works 10 hours per week and earns a half tuition waiver.

(For more about assistantships, visit the Graduate Assistant Employment website.) A few of our students are self-funded, either through loans or other sources of personal funds. Most of our faculty will not agree to advise a student unless they can provide funding, but there are exceptions.

How many students are in the program?

How many students are in the program?

The number varies a bit throughout the year as students matriculate and graduate, but we usually have between 100-130 students in the program.  

What courses are required for the MS? The PhD?

What courses are required for the MS? The PhD?

The program requires a one-credit seminar course in which the student must give one presentation. Beyond that, the program is highly flexible and customizable. The courses that each student takes to satisfy his or her degree requirements will depend upon what is being studied and researched. The student and the student’s advisor and/or committee should decide together what courses should be included on the official degree program.  You can view lists of sample coursework for each of our various tracks by viewing each track's page linked from our Areas of Study page.  

I have a BA in dance (or some other field unrelated to natural resources science and management). Am I eligible for admission?

I have a BA in dance (or some other field unrelated to natural resources science and management). Am I eligible for admission?

The program does not have any prerequisite degrees or courses, but typically students who are admitted have undergraduate degrees that are related to the field they’d like to study (e.g.., forestry, environmental studies, geography, biology, etc.). However, we have admitted students from other educational backgrounds, particularly if there is relevant experience. We are not able to recommend any “general” courses that students may take to better their chances of admission, as any course of action would vary greatly depending upon the specific field of study the applicant wishes to embark on.

How long does my statement of purpose need to be?

How long does my statement of purpose need to be?

Some applicants get their point across in a paragraph or two, while others use a page or two. There is no single best practice. Good statements of purpose are specific about the applicant’s goals and are able to directly state how the degree objective will help the applicant meet those goals. If you are interested in working with specific faculty members, mention their names (most applicants list 3 to 5 unless they've already been offered a position by a single individual). 

Can I substitute the GMAT or LSAT for the GRE? Can I waive it altogether?

Can I substitute the GMAT or LSAT for the GRE? Can I waive it altogether?

In a word, no. Applicants should plan on taking the GRE even if they’ve already taken the GMAT or LSAT. We understand that there are some logistical difficulties associated with taking the GRE in some foreign countries. If you are interested in applying to our program, please try to plan as far ahead in advance as possible to allow time to study for and sign up to take the GRE. 

Can I submit old GRE scores?

Can I submit old GRE scores?

We will typically accept scores that are ten years old or newer. If they are older than that, we sometimes accept them on a case by case basis.

What are the minimum scores I must receive on the GRE in order to be considered for your program?

What are the minimum scores I must receive on the GRE in order to be considered for your program?

The program has not set any official GRE requirements. Because it is a broad, interdisciplinary program, “unofficial” expectations may vary considerably from one track to another. Plan to give each section of the test equal importance when you are studying for it.

I know that the Graduate School requires a GPA of 3.0, but my GPA is lower. Can I still apply?

I know that the Graduate School requires a GPA of 3.0, but my GPA is lower. Can I still apply?

You may apply, but you will want to keep in mind that competition is such that the program frequently denies applicants who have GPAs well above the 3.0 mark. The few applicants that the program has admitted with a GPA under 3.0 have GPAs that are close to the cut-off and are exceptional in other ways (e.g., they may have outstanding GRE scores, a considerable amount of relevant professional experience, persuasive and effective letters of recommendation, or a combination of these factors).

Can my letters of recommendation be submitted in the mail, instead of online?

Can my letters of recommendation be submitted in the mail, instead of online?

The program will accept letters written on official letterhead via US Mail, but they must be submitted in a sealed envelope and must bear the recommender’s original signature.

Does the program need an official transcript?

Does the program need an official transcript?

It is not necessary to send an official transcript to the program office. Applicants upload unofficial transcripts in ApplyYourself when they apply.  If an applicant is admitted, our Graduate School will then request official transcripts before the applicant is permitted to register.