Graduate Degree Programs
How to Apply
Each applicant to a Nelson Institute graduate degree program must submit:
- A completed Graduate School application form. The form is available in electronic format for on-line submission.
- a current resume or CV (this can be submitted via the supplemental application)
- Two official sets of transcripts for all previous undergraduate and graduate study (International academic records must be in the original language accompanied by an official English translation. Documents must be issued by the school with the official seal/stamp and an official signature.) A minimum undergraduate grade-point average of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) on the equivalent of the last 60 semester hours from the most recent bachelor's degree institution is required for regular admission. Under some circumstances, applicants with lower averages are admitted on probation.
- a statement of purpose which should describe the applicant's graduate program objectives and career focus. It should be as specific as possible, include a description of the problem or issue of primary interest to the applicant, and illustrate how the applicant expects to combine various courses or disciplines to achieve the stated objectives. This statement, a critical test for admission, must reflect a desire to pursue an interdisciplinary course of study and (if applying for a Ph.D. or M.S. thesis program) an individual research project to prepare for a career in management and use of natural resources.
- Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development (CBSD) - one to two pages
- Environment and Resources (ER) - one to two pages
- Water Resources Management (WRM) - one to two pages
- three letters of recommendation, preferably from people acquainted with the applicant's academic and/or professional qualifications; these letters may be submitted:
- online through the Graduate School's electronic format (see Electronic Letters of Recommendation Process for more information)
- Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores should be sent to UW-Madison (institution code R1846). No departmental code is needed.
- Every applicant whose native language is not English, or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English, must provide official scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or the Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB). An admitted applicant whose TOEFL (paper-based) test score is below 580; TOEFL computer-based test (CBT) score below 237; TOEFL internet based (iBT) test score below 92; IELTS score below 7; or MELAB below 82 must take an English assessment test upon arrival. You must then register for any recommended English as a Second Language (ESL) course(s) in the first semester you are enrolled.
- supplemental application (also known as area of interest and advisor questionnaire); the admissions committees like to see information regarding area of interest, potential advisors that you have contacted, and any faculty members who have agreed to serve as your advisors.
- Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development. The admissions committees like to see information regarding area of interest, potential advisors that you have contacted, and any faculty members who have agreed to serve as your advisors.
- Environment and Resources. The admissions committees like to see information regarding area of interest, potential advisors that you have contacted, and any faculty members who have agreed to serve as your advisors.
- Water Resources Management
Note: International student financial information will be requested by the Graduate School only if the department recommends admission. The Graduate School provides a list of international student expenses.
All applicants are encouraged to consult, in advance, faculty members with whom they share research interests. Clicking on topics in the tag clouds of this web site will help you find profiles of individual faculty members who have cited these topics as interests. You also can browse our comprehensive list of faculty profiles.
When you find a faculty member whose research overlaps your interests, send him or her a statement of your interests and goals and attach a curriculum vitae or resume. After you have made initial contact, follow up to determine whether the faculty member can accommodate you and whether any funding might be available. If you obtain the support of a faculty member before admission, include this information in your application materials. Each program has slightly different requirements when it comes to finding an advisor.
- Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development - A faculty advisor must be identified before an applicant is admitted to this program.
- Environment and Resources M.S. - A faculty advisor must be identified before an applicant is admitted to this program.
- Environment and Resources Ph.D. - A faculty advisor must be identified before an applicant is admitted to this program.
- Water Resources Management - The admissions committee does not require that applicants identify an advisor before their admission; however, applicants are encouraged to do so by reviewing the research interests of WRM affiliated faculty.
Tips on Contacting Professors
When you contact potential faculty advisors, we urge you to consider providing:
- a few sentences about your research or professional interests
- a brief explanation of how your interests overlap with theirs
- your undergraduate institution and grade-point average
- your GRE and TOEFL (if appropriate)
- your curriculum vitae or resume
Please note that faculty members receive numerous queries from prospective graduate students, so it helps to prepare your email carefully.
See the Nelson Institute student representatives' advice on finding and working with faculty advisors (PDF).
Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies
Attn: Graduate Program Admissions
550 N Park St, Rm 70 Science Hall
Madison WI 53706-1491
All application materials must be received by January 15 for admission to the following summer session or fall semester and by October 15 for admission to the following spring semester. Applicants who wish to be considered for university, minority, or CHANGE fellowships should provide all application materials by January 2. Applicants should check with the Academic Programs Office, 70 Science Hall, before these deadlines to verify that all materials have been received.