Going to graduate school is a big decision. Each year we ask our students why they joined these programs. Here are just a few of their responses.
We believe deep learning and true leadership is best done with a group of peers. Our cohort-based learning approach allows you to:
- Take classes in-person to share ideas and experiences
- Work together so you can ask questions and problem solve when things are challenging and celebrate successes like completing a project or test
- Eat lunch in the student lounge to reflect on what happened in class or plan the weekend trip to the farmer’s market
- Background: BS biology and environmental science; four years of professional experience focused on project management
- Partner: IUCN-Rwanda
- Location: Kigali, Rwanda
- Implemented evaluation metrics to measure success and better understand what works in large-scale forest restoration
- Background: BS psychology; six years of professional experience focused on public education
- Partner: Aldo Leopold Foundation
- Location: Baraboo, Wisconsin
- Developed system to facilitate and maintain the growing long-distance network of Land Ethic Leaders training participants, establishing recommendations to engage their network more effectively
- Background: BA English language and literature; joined program directly from undergrad
- Partner: National Park Service Social Science Team
- Location: Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park
- Worked with social science team to document and monitor visitor use patterns at high profile, critically important tourist sites to better inform management practices
- Background: BA elementary education, three years of professional experience focused on teaching
- Partner: Timber Wolf Alliance
- Location: Wisconsin
- Developed toolkit website complete with educational resources aligned with state standards with overarching goal of reducing impacts of human-wildlife conflict
- Background: BS environmental science, joined directly from undergrad
- Partner: WWF-Cities
- Location: Lund, Sweden
- Researched and scripted content for massive online open course (MOOC) focused on sharing best practices of sustainable cities development
- Background: BS psychology/sociology, MEd counseling, eight years of professional experience focused on advising, counseling and outreach
- Partner: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
- Location: Portland, Oregon
- Fully designed new partner engagement strategy for the Cascades to Coast Landscape Collaborative, conducting complete re-branding process, developing a style guide, relevant infographics and new website
- Background: BS genetics, joined directly from undergrad
- Partner: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
- Location: Madison, Wisconsin
- Monitored ecologically and culturally important elk distribution throughout the state to better inform management decisions and communicate with the public, mapping ranges, positions, and associated habitat
- Background: BS biology, one year of professional experience in aquarium education
- Partner: IUCN-Asia
- Location: Kao Yao Yai, Thailand
- Designed evaluation for island waste management and conducted extensive community-use surveys, informing community engagement strategy for marine debris reduction
- Background: BS environmental studies, four years of professional experience focused on IT Administration
- Partner: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
- Location: Throughout Wisconsin
- Developed mitigation strategies in response to increased flooding events, furthering the development of a key tool in assessing flood resilience in rural communities
- Background: BFA dance, eight years of professional experience focused on development and operations
- Partner: Yellowstone to Yukon
- Location: Purcell-Cabinet Mountain Corridor (Missoula, Montana to Central Canadian Rockies)
- Evaluated the collaborative efforts in large landscape conservation, reassessing the metrics used to measure success with the goal of better demonstrating effectiveness
- Attend one of the dozens of Nelson Institute events each semester that span topics from clean energy to killer cats, in addition to an annual Earth Day conference to honor the movement Gaylord Nelson started 50 years ago.
- Join the graduate students for social events like outdoor BBQs and happy hours at the Memorial Union Terrace. These events are organized by graduate student reps, and you can be one too!
- Immerse yourself in the environmental issues of Wisconsin by attending the new graduate student multi-day field trip to learn about issues facing real communities across the state, and what they are doing to address them.
- Stay connected online with the Nelson institute community by joining the ESSA listserv, where you can find a sunny sublet apartment, learn about Madison events, or sell your used camping gear.
Conservation happens by working with people, and we start that process by having you learn and work with your peers. Our cohorts will never be more than 30 students because we believe in fostering strong relationships among students and with program staff, instructors, and faculty.
A Final Project That is Just for You
The MS program culminates with an applied conservation project with a leading organization. This is your program for your professional goals. Therefore, we don’t have a limited set of organizations or projects from you to choose from. Instead, we learn your background and understand your professional aspirations. Together, we identify relevant organizations and through conversations develop a unique and meaningful project that meets your goals and supports the organization’s ongoing work.
Watch this video to hear directly from students about their projects.
View these examples of how we work with every student to develop a leadership project that combines their background, interests, and professional goals.
Forest restoration in Rwanda
Strategies for engaging and maintaining long distance networks
Documenting visitor use in critical national park ecosystems
Reducing Human-Wildlife Conflict: Wolves in the Classroom
Scaling sustainable cities development
Partner engagement in landscape conservation collaboratives
Elk herd management and monitoring
Ocean debris reduction through island waste management
Flood resilience in the face of climate change
Evaluating large landscape conservation efforts and metrics for success
The Professional Master of Science Timeline
We offer our programs in an accelerated, 15-month blended curriculum with on-campus and remote experiences. Our goal isn’t to keep you in graduate school forever, it’s to efficiently give you the best training and the strongest network so you can get back out there and advance your career.
Learn more about the program timeline and what you will learn each semester on the Curriculum page.
The Nelson Institute community
When you are a student in the Environmental Observation and Informatics program, you are a part of the Nelson Institute community. This means you not only have a strong cohort of professional MS students, but also a network of 80 current graduate students across the other MS and PhD programs and certificates, and thousands of alumni that live in Madison and across the world. Here are just some of the experiences you can have when join our community:
The Campus Community
Below are just some of the resources and systems of support to ensure student success as a member of our larger community.