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
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.
Connecting wildlife populations through conservation corridors
- Background: Interested in data visualization to tell conservation stories, particularly of wildlife
- Goal: Get experience working with large data sets and connections to conservation leaders
- Assessed automated wildlife alerts using satellite data
Smart city development
- Background: Geographic information systems (GIS)
- Goal: Gain experience with state-of-the-art software and connections to organizations in the geospatial sector
- Created a geospatial network of pedestrian access routes
Win-win-win solutions for Wisconsin agriculture
- Background: International development and public relations
- Goal: Connect geospatial technology to sustainable business management
- Mapped cover crop adoption from satellite data and farmer surveys
Wildfire and air quality management and threat assessment
- Background: Software development and data science
- Goal: Learn about earth observation data and application to environmental issues
- Created software for mapping air quality impacts from wildfire
Potential of low-impact solar power generation
- Background: Chemistry and environmental studies
- Goal: Advance GIS knowledge and gain experience applying data and skills to environmental issues
- Created land cover map to quantify potential areas suitable for solar panel installation
New tech to map urban environment
- Background: Geographic information systems (GIS)
- Goal: Gain more experience with remote sensing data to map and model urban development
- Developed methods of automated urban area mapping using open-access data and software
Forest drought stress and wildfire risk
- Background: Environmental science and botany
- Goal: Get hands-on experience applying geospatial data to answer ecological questions
- Mapped probability of tree mortality using machine learning algorithms
Loss of critical wildlife habitat in protected areas
- Background: Electrical engineering and software development
- Goal: Connect passion for environmental conservation with technical training
- Quantified habitat loss from road development using satellite data and field surveys
Water quality monitoring and citizen engagement
- Background: Environmental informatics
- Goal: Career advancement in the environmental sector
- Created cloud-based analysis of satellite imagery and water quality data
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:
- 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.