Master of Environmental Management (MEM)

The MEM Curriculum has been redesigned.

For current information, as it applies to the Fall 2018 incoming class, please see the revised MEM curriculum details.

The information on this page only applies to MEM Students enrolled prior to Fall 2017 and earlier.



MEM Curriculum

The Master of Environmental Management curriculum draws from coursework in the natural and social sciences and focuses on the complex relationships among science, management, and policy. The purpose of the program is to provide students with a scientific understanding of ecological and social systems that can be applied in a policy or management context. Students are also expected to hone their capacities as leaders and managers through summer internships, professional skills courses, and other opportunities.

The MEM curriculum is flexible enough to allow students to tailor their course of study in a way that builds on their interests and experiences and that meets their specific career goals. MEM students can choose from more than one hundred courses offered by F&ES faculty and have access to a similarly large number of courses from other schools and programs at Yale.

MEM students have the option to enroll in any of eight Specializations. The Specializations represent key areas of student interest, as well as emerging or enduring career fields within environmental management.  The Specializations are

  1. Business and the Environment
  2. Ecosystem Conservation and Management
  3. Energy and the Environment
  4. Environmental Policy Analysis
  5. Human Dimensions of Environmental Management
  6. Sustainable Land Management, Use and Policy
  7. Industrial Ecology and Green Design
  8. Water Resources Science and Management

The majority of the Specializations require between 18 and 24 credits and share a similar overall structure, consisting of Specialization-specific core courses, electives, and a capstone.  To admit flexibility into the Specializations, alternative courses can generally be applied towards fulfillment of the requirements.  Yale courses not included within a Specialization may be used to satisfy Specialization requirements in cases of successful petition. Petitions for required course substitution are reviewed by a faculty sub-committee of the Specialization and approved when the proposed substitution approximates the content and/or spirit of the requirement. 
Formal acknowledgement for successful completion of the prescribed coursework of a Specialization is given on a student’s official transcript.  Students are not, however, required to specialize.  Those students seeking maximum flexibility in their course of study probably should not pursue a Specialization. 

Curriculum Components
All MEM students – whether or not they choose to specialize – take courses in three major areas: Foundations, Electives, and the Capstone, for a total of 48 credits over four semesters.  The School’s body of elective courses is supplemented by credit-earning Professional Skills courses that are intended to build expertise in management and leadership.   Each Specialization has specific requirements, which may include particular Capstone courses.

These courses provide a common foundation of concepts, principles, and tools that all MEM students should learn to excel as professional environmental managers.  The Foundations courses are not general requirements, but they do serve as pre-requisites for advanced elective offerings and as required courses of some Specializations.  Students should therefore ensure that they put in place quickly the foundational work needed for success in their future course of study. 

The general recommendation of the faculty is for students to complete three Foundations courses in the fall-semester of their first year, leaving those two Foundations courses that are more peripheral to their focus to the third semester.  This year’s Foundations courses are

  1. F&ES 505a Economics of the Environment
  2. F&ES 510a/F&ES 510Ea Introduction to Statistics in Environmental Sciences
  3. F&ES 515a Physical Sciences for Environmental Management *
  4. F&ES 530a Ecosystems and Landscapes
  5. F&ES 520a Society and the Environment
    or F&ES 525a The Politics and Practice of Environmental and Resource Policy
    or F&ES 535a Social Science of Development and Conservation

Students may be proficient in the subject areas of one or more of the Foundations courses and may request proficiency exemption. This proficiency should be determined through discussion with the student’s academic advisor and through consultation with the School’s Foundations Advisory Committee (FAC). This faculty committee considers a student’s prior coursework in relationship to the content of a Foundations course (specified by the student) to determine proficiency and the appropriateness of proficiency-based exemption from that course. A student seeking FAC counsel on proficiency exemption should submit a completed Foundations Course Exemption form to Assistant Dean Joanne DeBernardo.  A proficiency exemption can be used to satisfy a pre-requisite of an advanced course.

*For F&ES 515a, proficiency exemption is assessed through an hour-long exam.

MEM students will take several Elective courses in their two years at F&ES.  Electives can also be taken from schools or programs outside of F&ES, although non-F&ES courses should constitute no more than 24 credits in total. Students should consider choosing their Electives following consultation with their advisor, the Career Development Office, and other faculty and professional mentors.  Electives offered within F&ES are organized by subject of instruction, faculty instructor, and by area of specialization.

Professional Skills Offerings
Environmental leaders require more than academic mastery to solve environmental problems; they must become superb managers and leaders of organizations. Recognizing this need, F&ES has developed a Professional Skills Curriculum to supplement the regular academic offerings. Professional Skills offerings in 2017–2018 consist of four, half-semester courses, each worth one credit. These courses are

  1. F&ES 575a Foundations of Environmental Leadership and Management
  2. F&ES 576b Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Skills for Environmental Professionals
  3. F&ES 577b Environmental Communication
  4. F&ES 578b Financial Concepts for Environmental Management

MEM students are required to participate in a Capstone course or project. The Capstone experience focuses on applied problem solving and relies on the application of knowledge, methodological approaches, and interpretive techniques gained from courses taken during the earlier stages of the MEM. 
The following Capstone courses will be offered in 2017–2018:

  1. F&ES 950b Life Cycle Assessment Practicum
  2. F&ES 953a,b Business and the Environment Clinic
  3. F&ES 954a Management Plans for Protected Areas
  4. F&ES 955a,b Research Analysis, and Communication in Forest Ecology
  5. F&ES 965b Advanced Readings: Social Science of Development and Conservation
  6. F&ES 970a,b Environmental Protection Clinic
  7. F&ES 971b Land Use Clinic
  8. F&ES 972a,b Advanced Environmental Protection Clinic
  9. F&ES 961a,b Entrepreneurial Venture Creation
  10. F&ES 966a The Entrepreneurial Approach to Environmental Problem Solving
  11. F&ES 978b Building Science Networks for Climate Solutions

As the Capstone relies on integration of a body of knowledge, most Capstone courses have prerequisites. Students may enroll in more than one Capstone course, but only a Capstone course taken in the second year of the program fulfills the Capstone requirement.

Students may work alone on a Capstone project. The Capstone project originates with the student, with input and advice from relevant faculty. Each Capstone project requires an official faculty advisor, who works closely with the student, but need not be the same as the student’s academic advisor. A Capstone project may involve providing a service to a client (e.g., a government agency, company, not-for-profit, or individual); applied, non-academic approaches to exploring environmental problems, such as film-making, journalism, or community-based projects; or a research project that culminates with a paper suitable for publication in a scientific or trade journal. In some cases, a Capstone project may involve group work with five or fewer F&ES students. Capstone projects, like Capstone courses, provide students with an opportunity to integrate academic study and research with real-world, hands-on problem solving.

F&ES course numbers for Capstone projects are listed by faculty supervisor and are published here.

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