Accelerated Master’s Program in Environment, Resources and Sustainability

The program information below is valid for the winter 2024 term (January 1, 2024 - April 30, 2024).

The Graduate Studies Academic Calendar is updated 3 times per year, at the start of each academic term (January 1, May 1, September 1). Graduate Studies Academic Calendars from previous terms can be found in the archives.

The Accelerated Master’s Program in Environment, Resources and Sustainability in the School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability (SERS) is intended to shorten the time to obtain a Master’s degree when compared to the usual route for graduate studies. The accelerated admission streamlines the process by allowing a student in a University of Waterloo Bachelor of Environmental Studies (BES) program to complete two graduate courses during their 4A/4B terms that will count towards the Master’s of Environmental Studies (MES), thesis or Master’s Research Paper (MRP), including the Water option for both degree types. This is particularly useful for those students who have taken extra courses during their first three years of study, either during their school or work terms, or who have already begun a senior undergraduate research project that can be continued at the master’s level.

Two groups of BES students are targeted for accelerated admission: exceptional students who have extra room in their fourth year of study for graduate courses and or exceptional students who already have a good idea or have begun a research project for a master’s degree. The first category includes students who have accumulated extra course credits during their program. The second category includes those students who have done some research already, either during their work terms or other research involvement at universities. 

Students in the Accelerated Master’s Program should be strong candidates for Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS) or Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) scholarships and would be encouraged to apply.

Admission Requirements

Eligibility for this program normally requires an average of 80% over the last 20 courses or 10 credits. Students are required to apply for the Accelerated Master’s Program no earlier than during their 3B academic term and no later than their 4A term. The student will need to submit a plan of study to the School’s Associate Director, Graduate Studies, that includes:  

  • A letter of support from the faculty member who has previously agreed to serve as the student’s advisor. 
  • The graduate courses to be taken during the undergraduate program (see suggested plan of study below); at least one SERS graduate course must be taken during the 4A or 4B term. 
  • An outline of the proposed research topic (1 page single spaced, 12 point font size). 
  • A clear statement that this application is for the Accelerated Master’s program (thesis or MRP).
  • A detailed list of the remaining requirements for MES completion, including a timetable for when these requirements are expected to be met.

Continuing to Graduate School

To continue into the MES program, students admitted to the Accelerated Master’s Program must meet the following requirements:

  • Complete an Honours BES in SERS.
  • Complete an application to graduate school for admission in the spring term.
  • Continue to the SERS MES program in the term following the completion of their undergraduate degree. With permission of the Associate Director, Graduate Studies, a student may defer the start of the Master’s program for one academic term.
  • Obtain credit according to graduate course requirements for one graduate level (6xx) elective course normally taken in term 4A, and ERS 669, normally taken in term 4B. Students who fail to complete these courses during their undergraduate degree may have their offer of admission to the relevant Master’s program revoked. Continuation in the Master’s program is subject to the conditions that apply to the relevant Master’s program in the School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability.
Term Accelerated Master’s: Thesis Option Accelerated Master’s: MRP Option Accelerated Master’s: Thesis and Water Option Accelerated Master’s: MRP and Water Option
Typical Plan of Study for the Accelerated Master’s Program
4A
  • Undergraduate courses
  • 1 elective at graduate level
  • Undergraduate courses
  • 1 elective at graduate level
  • Undergraduate courses
  • Undergraduate courses
  • 1 elective at graduate level
4B
  • Undergraduate courses
  • ERS 669
  • Undergraduate courses
  • ERS 669
  • Undergraduate courses
  • ERS 669
  • WATER 601
  • Undergraduate courses
  • ERS 669
  • WATER 601
Spring
  • Preparation for thesis research, including field work
  • Preparation for MRP
  • Preparation for thesis research, including field work
  • Preparation for MRP
Fall
  • ERS 680
  • ERS 680
  • 2 electives
  • ERS 680
  • WATER 602
  • ERS 680
  • WATER 602
Winter
  • ERS 681
  • Thesis research
  • ERS 681
  • Master’s Research Paper
  • ERS 681
  • Thesis research
  • ERS 681
  • Master’s Research Paper
Spring
  • Thesis research and defense
 
  • Thesis research and defense
 

Graduation from the Master’s Program

Students must meet all of the degree requirements for the relevant Master’s program.

School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability website