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Master of Professional Studies (M.P.S.) in Environmental Science

The Master of Professional Studies (MPS) degree is a 30 credit hour experience aimed at professional applications of environmental knowledge.

Core Requirements

Required course work:  A total of 9 credit hours that includes one 3-hour social science course, one 3-hour natural or physical science course, and one 3-hour methods or tools course emphasizing applications of technical knowledge.

Area of Study Requirements

A minimum of 12-15 credit hours of course works in the chosen area of study, as determined by the major professor and study area faculty.  Students in the Water and Wetland Resources program are required to take either (i) a minimum of 18** credit hours of area of study coursework and 3 hours of synthesis OR (ii) 15 credit hours of coursework in the area of study combined with 6 hours of synthesis. Students select a study area at the time of application for admission into the program.

A minimum of 12 credit hours of coursework is required in the chosen area of study, as determined by the major professor and study area faculty. Students select a study area at the time of application for admission to the program.

Six study areas are available to M.P.S. students (see menu to the right—ECPP and ENRP do not accept Masters students).

Synthesis Requirements

Students select either an Internship (minimum of 3 credit hours) or prepare a synthesis paper (3 credit hours). Some internships may extend to 6 credit hours, reducing electives to 0. All students must present a capstone seminar in their final semester and submit a written Capstone report documenting their research or internship experience. The length, depth, and format of the report is at the discretion of the student's supervisory committee. See Appendix B for internship guidance.

Advanced Standing
  1. Course transfers. A maximum of six graduate credit hours with a grade of B or above that have not been applied to another degree may be transferred via Petition. The Petition must include an attached syllabus, and a justification of how the courses are to be included on the student's Plan Sheet. Petitions for course transfers are submitted following matriculation.
  2. Credit for prior experience. Applicants with a minimum of three (3) years of post-baccalaureate full-time professional experience directly related to the intended area of study may apply for 6 credit hours of advanced standing in the program. Partial credit for experience cannot be awarded. When awarded for prior work experience, the 6 credit hours are applied toward the Synthesis requirement.
Concurrent Degree

Concurrent degree students may "double-count" 8 credit hours toward their MPS degree.

Environmental Science Seminar

All students are required to take two (2) semesters of ENS 797 Environmental Science Seminar OR, in consultation with the Major Professor, appropriate seminars in other ESF departments or Syracuse University (the latter for credit only). ENS 797 is normally completed as an Audit, but at times may be taken for credit if offered.

Summary of Program Requirements

The minimum MPS degree credit hour requirements are:

Course Credit Hours
2 Environmental Science Seminars 0
(Requirement can be fulfilled with an audit. May be taken for credit if desired.)
Applied Social Science 3
Biophysical Science 3
Methods 3
Area of Study (AOS) 12-15**
Synthesis 3 - 6
Electives (including seminars taken for credit, core courses, AOS courses) 0 - 3


Appendix A
The Student Program Checklist (A1) is useful to track overall progress in the program. Combined with the Program Administration form (A2), progress towards degree completion can be assessed.  Tracking progress on individual courses and credits completed is facilitated by the Student Course Plan Sheet (A3), which can be used to help complete the College's Form 3B. 

Apendix B

The Graduate School Forms

Timeline of Important Actions

The Steering Committee, which is comprised of the major professor and at least one faculty member or other qualified persons as detailed in the Graduate School policies,  should be appointed (using Form 2A) in the first or second semester of graduate study.

The Steering Committee approves the Course Requirements (Form 3B) before the end of the second semester of graduate study.


The Graduate Program in Environmental Science has limited staff, facility, and financial resources. Over the past few years we have developed management approaches for their effective and equitable utilization.

Graduate Program in Environmental Science (GPES) Office
202 Baker Laboratory

The office has two primary segments: Production Staff, Records and Communications.  The Office maintains files (unofficial) of student records, folders of job and research announcements, course syllabi, and internship requests.  It maintains a collection of GPES Thesis, Dissertations, Research Proposals, and Internship Reports, which are available for reference.

Most students at some time during their studies encounter problems of a personal or academic nature for which they require assistance. An early full discussion of the situation and options is often the key to their resolution. Major Professors and the GPES Director are all available to facilitate this process.

Office Space

It has been the general practice of the College that graduate students are provided with a desk space as available. Students working as graduate assistants or as research assistants have priority for desk space. Because of limited facilities and the flux of students in residence, the assignment of such space usually takes a few weeks each fall. Students should first ask for space available from their major professor. Office space for GPES students is allocated by the major professor's home department and is not guaranteed.


There are two basic forms of assistantships, Graduate (GA), and Research (RA). As a graduate-research College ESF is involved in numerous externally funded projects most of which involve RA's which are awarded to M.S. and Ph.D. students involved in those projects. Each project is managed by a Principal Investigator who has the responsibility of selecting staff. GPES has no direct involvement in this process. Students interested in RA's should discuss opportunities with their Major Professor. 

The Edna Bailey Sussman Fund provides stipends to support graduate student summer internship experiences. The Fund has supported approximately 12 ESF students per year, about one-quarter of whom have been GPES students. Sussman supports a broad range of interest areas, from environmental policy, regulation and communication to various environmental sciences. Sussman applications are treated competitively; awards are usually in the range of $4,800 for full-time internship employment. Applications must be filed by the annual application deadline, usually in early March. Awards are announced in early May.  Proposal guidelines are available in February from the Office of Instruction and Graduate Studies located in 227 Bray Hall.