e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry
e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry

Information for Prospective StudentsGPES

Choosing a Major Professor

Choosing a Major Professor (MP) is the most important part of your graduate experience. Before you apply to GPES, you should review the web sites and professional products of the professors in your Area of Study. You will identify three potential MPs in your application, and these three individuals will review and comment on your application. You should make contact with potential MPs if you have questions about their work, possible thesis topics, opportunities for research funding, and arranging for a campus visit.

If you fail to indicate preferences for MPs, your application is likely to languish. We hope that you seriously consider the opportunities available to you at ESF and spend some time researching prospective MPs before you make your application.

Choosing a Program or Department and an Area of Study

Note that your prospective MP belongs to an ESF Department, as well as to GPES, which is interdepartmental. Consult with your MP as to whether you should apply to ESF through GPES or through the MP’s department. You can also research the relevant curricula for GPES and the Departmental alternative.

Within GPES, there are multiple Areas of Study (see drop down menu above.) If your prospective MP participates in more than one of these, you will need to apply to the most appropriate Area of Study in consultation with your MP.

Choosing a Degree Program

Some departments admit students to a PhD program without a masters degree. This is discouraged in GPES.

The MPS is a professional, non-research degree. It is based on coursework and often includes an internship. It should not be taken as a precursor to a PhD.


GPES Handbooks describe the curriculum requirements for the degrees offered in each GPES Area of Study. Courses used to meet curriculum requirements are described only with a course number and title. See the College Catalog for more detailed course descriptions and the Time Schedule of Classes for current and recent offerings.

Courses Offered

The college catalog is available here. The Time Schedule of Classes shows which courses are being offered in the current Fall and Spring semesters. Not every course in the catalog is offered every semester, so it’s wise to plan ahead.

Relationship of GPES to Departments

GPES is an inter-departmental program. Each student admitted to GPES also has an affiliation with a department, determined by the affiliation of the major professor. The department will likely provide you with office space and other services that they provide to their own students.

Minimal scores

There is a GPA (2.7) and GRE (10%) below which your application will not be reviewed unless a program or professor requests it. You should apply even with low scores if a prospective major professor is interested in your case in spite of your low scores. This happens most often with non-traditional students who had poor undergraduate backgrounds but impressive professional accomplishments.

For applicants admitted to GPES in the last five years the average undergraduate GPA was 3.4, and the average graduate GPA was 3.7. For GRE scores, the average verbal score was 153.3 and the average analytical score was 153.5.

TOEFL: We cannot admit a student with a TOEFL below 80. Some students can be admitted with a lower TOEFL but they cannot matriculate until they achieve the minimum required score.


It takes a long time to process the applications that come in just before January 15. If you can get your application in earlier, it will be reviewed up to a month sooner than the ones that just make the January 15 deadline. Applications that come in later than January 15 will be processed as they come in. The applications that come in late may miss opportunities to compete for graduate assistantships. Applicants can be admitted at any time of year. Students requiring visas need more lead time than those who do not.

You can apply for January admission but you will not likely be considered for a teaching assistantship, because these are awarded in the spring for the following academic year.

Selecting a Program to Apply To

Prospective students often fail to apply to the most suitable program, probably because they haven’t researched the interests of the available MPs. If they choose the right MP, they’ll be in the right department.

Transfering your Application to a Different Program

The student has to request this, but often the transfer is made on recommendation of a program. Send your request to esfgrad@esf.edu