Graduate FAQ

Q: If I have missed the application deadline for the degree program, can I still take classes?
A: You can still take graduate level classes as part of Mason’s graduate non-degree program. Should you be admitted at a later date, you can ask to transfer those credits into your degree program.

Q: Do I have to have an advisor to gain admission?
 Yes. Prospective students should contact potential faculty advisors appropriate to their interests. The availability of an advisor in the student’s area of interest is an important criterion for admission.

Q: How do I look for an advisor?
A: Review the individual faculty pages of the department here for specific research areas and identify mutual interests by evaluating the ongoing study and published work of the faculty. Once you have identified several common interests, contact the faculty member directly to discuss your graduate application and the potential of them serving as your graduate advisor.

Q: Do I have to have a MS to apply for the PhD degree?
A: No. An M.S. is not mandatory to apply for the PhD, although it does strengthen your application.

Q: If I have a M.S., how many credits are awarded for the PhD?
 If the M.S. is in a similar area of study, you may be eligible for a reduction of credit of up to 30 hours.

Q: What if I have an M.S. and additional graduate credits from another institution?
A: In order to receive a PhD degree from GMU, you must complete a minimum of 39 residency credits in the degree program to which you are accepted.

Q: Can I pursue an M.S. or Ph.D. on a part-time basis?
A: Environmental Science and Policy encourages full-time and part-time students, in addition to professionally-oriented, academically-oriented, traditional, and returning students.

Q: I have a degree but have limited science background. Can I still apply for a graduate degree?
A: You can still be a candidate for admission, but will be asked to take prerequisite courses in chemistry and/or biology including ecology.

Q: How does evaluate my application?
The number of qualified applicants applying for admission into Environmental Science and Policy’s graduate programs has increased significantly in recent years. As such, admission has become more competitive. Stronger applicants demonstrate a solid academic foundation, typically have GRE scores (verbal/quantitative) of at least 1100, provide persuasive recommendation letters in support for their applications, and generally have prior work experience.

With the exception of the Masters in Environmental Management, ESP graduate degrees require either a master’s thesis or dissertation. The most successful graduate candidates therefore expresses their preparation to engage in research and to apply it to the outside world. These individuals have reviewed the research of ESP faculty, and identified particular areas of ongoing study that are of mutual interest. Prior to submitting their application, candidates should discuss their interests with ESP faculty, secure an academic advisor, and describe these connections in their personal statement.

Q: Can the GRE be waived?
A: The Executive Committee reserves the right to make exceptions only in unusual cases.

Q: Can I apply for a teaching assistantship?
While limited in number, ESP offers several teaching opportunities (in areas of biology, ecology, and geology disciplines) to qualified graduate students. The deadline for GTA applications is the March 1. Download the Teaching Assistantship Application Form.

Q: What other financial assistance opportunities exist in Environmental Science and Policy?
 For additional information about the numerous ways in which graduate students can fund their education, including fellowships and grants, please go to Financial Aid.