Program structure and courses

The Master of Climate Change (MCC) program is a specialized, course-based (non-thesis) program that is normally completed over a period of three terms (12 months) of full-time studies.

The MCC program is designed to train highly qualified graduates, from a wide range of disciplines, with advanced knowledge and professional skills that relate directly to the three Working Groups of the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC):

  • climate change science,
  • vulnerability, impacts and adaptation, and
  • mitigation (greenhouse gas emission reduction and carbon sequestration).

The structure of the program requires the completion of a total of eight courses and one milestone:

  • three required core courses,
  • three climate change electives,
  • two open electives, and
  • one milestone (either a major research paper or a four-month professional internship*)

*It is the student’s responsibility, with advice from the MCC program director and staff, to seek out and confirm an organization with which they will undertake an internship.

A typical, full-time, MCC program schedule is as follows:

Term 1 (fall) Term 2 (winter) Term 3 (spring)
3 required core courses: 1 open elective (which could be from the climate change elective courses)

3 climate change elective courses

1 open elective (which could be from the climate change elective courses)

1 of either:
  • a major research paper, or
  • a four-month professional internship* (which includes an experiential learning report)

A typical course load is 4 courses (3 of which are required core courses) in the fall term, 4 courses in the winter term, and the major research paper or internship in the spring term. Students interested in courses that are offered in the spring term, can reduce their fall or winter course load accordingly (e.g., 4 courses in fall, 3 courses in winter, and 1 course in spring plus major research paper or internship).

Students are required to enroll and pay fees each term that they are active in the program. Terms in which students are working on major research papers and/or internships are considered active terms.

Core courses (all three required)

The three required core courses provide a broad foundation in the research and practice specific to each of the IPCC’s three Working Groups:

Climate change electives (three courses required)

Students are able to tailor their program of study based on their individual interests by completing three climate change elective courses from the list of designated climate change focused electives, including the sample below.

The availability of MCC designated electives varies year-to-year, including newly approved courses:

See all GEMCC course descriptions.

Open electives (two courses required)

Open electives can be selected from the climate change electives list, or courses from partnering graduate programs within the Faculty of Environment, or courses from other graduate programs within the University of Waterloo. Any graduate level course is eligible as an open elective as long as a student does not choose two one-to-one special topics / reading courses.

Students are able to further tailor their studies to specific areas of interest, including:

  • Climate change and international development
  • Climate change and water
  • Climate change and geomatics
  • Climate change governance
  • Climate change and sustainable tourism
  • Climate change and business
  • Climate change and Northern development
  • Climate change and biodiversity conservation
  • Climate change and planning

Milestone: Major Research Paper or Internship Practicum*

Finally, the program will culminate with the completion of either a major research paper OR a four-month internship* approved by the MCC program director.

Major Research Paper

The major research paper will examine a significant topic that relates to the climate change program curriculum. Over the first two terms, the student develops the topic of the Major Research Paper and identifies a suitable supervisor in consultation with the MCC program director. The research paper is normally completed during their third term (spring term). The student’s supervisor and one other faculty member designated by the MCC program director will grade the research paper.

Internship Practicum*

This milestone provides academic credit for a four-month (full-time equivalent) practical academic learning experience that is directly related to the climate change program curriculum. Students will prepare an internship proposal that outlines how the work of the organization relates to the program curriculum, the student’s professional interests, and the professional experience sought through the internship. Upon completion of the internship, the student will submit a written report to the MCC program director that summarizes the work experience gained and reflects on its links to the program curriculum and professional development goals.

*It is the student’s responsibility, with advice from the MCC program director and staff, to seek out and confirm an organization with which they will undertake an internship.

Learn more about MCC on the Graduate Studies Academic Calendar.