Admission and program requirements

Admission

Admission to Master's Programs

Admission requires a Bachelor's degree. The minimum GPA required for entry is 6.5 (B+ to A-) in the last two years of undergraduate study. In practice a higher GPA may be required to ensure entry. Some exceptions may be made, in extenuating circumstances, such as with mature applicants who have achieved significant work experience who have shown evidence of ability to complete major projects in a competent and timely manner, and who have demonstrated the knowledge, skills and abilities expected of highly accomplished undergraduate students.

Initial inquires should be made to individual faculty or the Graduate Adviser, School of Environmental Studies. Applications are made directly to the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

Applicants whose native language is not English must write the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) and submit the scores to the Graduate Admissions and Records Office together with their application forms. Even with passing TOEFL scores, students may be required to take English language courses as well as their other course work.

There are no pre-requisites required other than a Bachelors degree with a GPA of 6.5 (B+ / A-) or greater over the second half of courses. We do not require a GRE however, in addition to the materials required by the Faculty of Graduate Studies (official transcripts etc.), applicants to the School of Environmental Studies must also include in their application package:

  • statement of research interest (1-2 pages; identifying the faculty member(s) you wish to work with)
  • brief essay highlighting your past accomplishments, evidence of creativity and research potential (1-2 pages)
  • Curriculum Vitae / resume

Please consult the Faculty of Graduate Studies for more information regarding admissions requirements.

Admission to PhD Program

Admission requires a master’s degree, preferably in an area of study related to your proposed graduate program, with a minimum overall average of A-, 7.0 on the University of Victoria 9-point scale. In practice a higher GPA may be required for admission.

All applications will be reviewed by the School’s Graduate Program Committee and students will only be accepted into the program if there is at least one faculty member able, interested, and available to supervise the proposed topic of research.
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Application deadline

Graduate application deadline is January 15th for the following September entry.

Program requirements

The MA and MSc degree programs are similar in overall program requirements but will vary in the type of elective courses and thesis research.

The graduate program is primarily research based and the final outcome of the program is the presentation and defense of a thesis. All students are required to attend a 3-day field camp at the beginning of their program (late August-early September) as part of ES 500. An additional course fee will be charged for the field camp.

There is no formal residency requirement. However, in practice all students should be in residence in their first term of study, and residency during the first year is encouraged.

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Courses

ES 500 Perspectives on Environmental Theories, Methods and Skills I
ES 501 Perspectives on Environmental Theories, Methods and Skills II
ES 503 MA/MSc Research Colloquim
ES 570 Field Study
ES 580 Seminar in Political Ecology
ES 581 Seminar in Ethnoecology
ES 582 Seminar in Ecological Restoration
ES 590 Directed Studies
ES 593 Thesis Proposal Preparation
ES 599 MA, MSc Thesis
ES 600 Advanced Perspectives on Environmental Theories, Methods and Skills I
ES 601 Advanced Perspectives on Environmental Theories, Methods and Skills II
ES 603 PhD Research Colloquium
ES 670 Field Study
ES 680 Seminar in Political Ecology
ES 681 Seminar in Ethnoecology
ES 682 Seminar in Ecological Restoration
ES 690 Directed Studies
ES 693 PhD Candidacy Examination
ES 699 PhD Dissertation
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Course requirements

A MA/MSc student must successfully complete 18 units of course study. Of this 7.5 units are taken as course work and 7.5 units are taken as thesis.

Core Courses (required):

  • ES 500 (1.5) Perspectives on Environmental Theories, Methods and Skills I
  • ES 501 (1.5) Perspectives on Environmental Theories, Methods and Skills II
  • ES 503 (3.0) MA/MSc Research Colloquim
  • ES 593 (1.5) Thesis Proposal Preparation

And at least 3.0 elective units to be taken from within, or outside, the School with the permission of the student's supervisor. Up to 1.5 units may be taken at the 400 level. A student's advisory committee may stipulate additional courses to be taken.

Core and elective courses contribute 10.5 units toward the 18-unit minimum degree requirement.


The PhD degree program is primarily research based and the final outcome of the program is the presentation and defense of a dissertation.

All students are required to attend a 3-day field camp at the beginning of their program (early September) as part of ES 600.

Core courses (required):

  • ES 600 (1.5) Perspectives on Environmental Theories, Methods and Skills I
  • ES 601 (1.5) Perspectives on Environmental Theories, Methods and Skills II
  • ES 603 (3.0) PhD Research colloquium
  • ES 693 (3.0) Candidacy Examination

Elective courses may be taken at the discretion of the student and committee.

Core courses contribute 6.0–9.0 units toward the 30 unit minimum toward degree requirement.

The dissertation (ES 699) carries 21-30 units of credit.

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Committee requirements

Master’s Degrees With Theses in Regular Master’s Degrees Programs

All members of the Master’s supervisory committee must be on the Faculty of Graduate Studies membership list or be specifically approved by the Dean of Graduate Studies. The supervisory committee must have at least two members one of whom is the primary supervisor:

  • Member #1: The primary supervisor — must be from the home academic unit
  • Member #2: May be a co-supervisor

Doctoral Degrees in Regular Doctoral Degree Programs

All members of the Doctoral supervisory committee must be on the Faculty of Graduate Studies membership list or be specifically approved by the Dean of Graduate Studies. The supervisory committee must have at least three members, one of whom is the primary supervisor, one may be a co-supervisor. At least two of the members must be from the home academic unit. One of the members must be from outside the home academic unit:

  • Member #1: The primary supervisor must be from the home academic unit
  • Member #2: May be a co-supervisor or a committee member from inside or outside the home academic unit
  • Member #3: A committee member from inside or outside the home academic unit

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Final oral examinations

General Regulations

In all doctoral programs and all master’s degrees with thesis that require a final oral examination, students must be registered in dissertation (699) or thesis (599) at the time of the oral defense. For project-based master’s degrees, academic units may require a written comprehensive examination, or an oral examination, or both. Students must be registered in project (598) at the time of oral defense.

Students may proceed to an oral examination when the supervisory committee is satisfied that the dissertation, thesis or project represents an examinable document for the degree requirements. The supervisory committee for 599 and 699 confirms this by signing the Request for Oral Examination form. This form must be submitted to the Dean of Graduate Studies 30 working days for PhD students and 20 working days for thesis master’s students prior to the date of the oral examination. Instructions concerning the appropriate procedures to follow for oral examinations can be found on the web site of the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

Before proceeding to the oral examination, students should normally have a cumulative grade point average of not less than 5.0 on all courses taken for credit in the Faculty of Graduate Studies. Any language requirement must be met before the student proceeds to the oral examination.

The Dean of Graduate Studies will appoint a Chair from outside the academic unit for the 599 and 699 final oral examination. Regular and Emeritus members are eligible to serve. Oral examinations are open to the public. Notice of examination will be communicated to all faculty members involved and to each academic unit at least 5 working days prior to the date of the examination.

It is expected that all oral examinations will take place on the UVic campus. Any deviation from this policy requires permission from the Dean of Graduate Studies. The student and all supervisory committee members are normally expected to be present at the oral examination either in person, or virtually. The committee members’ signature on the “Request for Oral Examination” form or “Checklist for Non-Thesis Examinations” constitutes an agreement to attend the examination at the scheduled time. In the event that a faculty member is unable to attend in person or virtually, the member is expected to provide questions for the examination, and is responsible for finding a proxy to attend the examination and ask the questions of the candidate. The proxy must be a member of the Faculty of Graduate Studies. It is advisable that the proxy have some substantive knowledge of the area or be knowledgeable in the research methodology. The proxy is expected to assess the student’s responses; however, the proxy does not vote on the outcome of the examination. The proxy does not replace the absent member of the committee, but merely represents the absent member at the oral examination. Therefore, the faculty member on the committee is still expected to sign the Dissertation/Thesis Approval Form.

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Compostition of final oral examining committees

Master’s degrees with theses

The supervisory committee plus a Chair appointed by the Faculty of Graduate Studies plus an external examiner who has had no previous involvement with graduate supervision of the candidate. The external examiner may be from within the home academic unit, provided that there is at least one non-unit member on the supervisory committee.

Doctoral degrees

The supervisory committee plus a Chair and at least one other examiner from outside the University. Such external examiners are appointed by the Dean of Graduate Studies in consultation with the academic unit(s), and must be arm’s-length authorities in the field of research being examined.

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Results of oral examinations (Dissertations and Theses)

The decision of the examining committee shall be based on the content of the dissertation or thesis as well as the candidate’s ability to defend it. After the examination, the committee shall recommend one of the following results:

1.  That the dissertation or thesis is acceptable as presented and the oral defense is acceptable.

The Chair of the academic unit and the student’s primary supervisor shall sign the academic unit’s Letter of Recommendation. In addition, all members of the examining committee shall sign the Dissertation/Thesis Approval Form.

2.   That the dissertation or thesis is acceptable subject to minor revision and the oral defense is acceptable

In this case, all members of the examining committee except the primary supervisor shall sign the Letter of Recommendation and at the end of the examination work together to draw up a list of revisions. The primary supervisor will approve the dissertation or thesis when it has been amended in accordance with the committee's list of revisions. In addition, all members of the examining committee shall sign the Thesis/Dissertation Approval Form.

3.   That the dissertation or thesis is acceptable subject to major revision and the oral defense is acceptable

After consultation with the candidate, the maximum length of time permitted for the revision shall be set by majority vote of the committee, but shall not exceed one year from the date of the oral examination. A detailed and complete list of the necessary revisions shall be set by majority vote of the examining committee and given to the student at the conclusion of the examination. The primary supervisor shall oversee the revision of the dissertation or thesis. If the primary supervisor finds the revisions have met the requirements agreed at the examination, the primary supervisor shall distribute the thesis or dissertation to the remaining members of the examining committee. If it is acceptable to the committee, the primary supervisor shall ensure that each committee member signs the approval documents including the Dissertation/Thesis Approval Form.

4.   That the examination be “adjourned”

This result should not be confused with failure (see 5. Failure, below). Adjournment may be called for three different types of circumstances:

a)  A sudden illness or emergency that does not allow for the examination to be completed; an external environmental situation arises that forces the exam to be prematurely terminated (such as fire alarm, power failure or natural disaster); or when the technology being used breaks down and cannot be repaired in time to continue the examination.

When an examination is adjourned for these types of circumstances, the chair shall make a written report to the Dean of Graduate Studies within three (3) working days of the date of the oral examination. After reviewing these reports the Dean will set a date for reconvening the examination. The date for reconvening shall be no later than six months from the date of the first examination.

b)  Where the external examiner casts the lone dissenting vote.

When an examination is adjourned for this circumstance, each member of the examining committee shall make a written report to the Dean of Graduate Studies within 10 working days of the date of the oral examination. After reviewing these reports the Dean will set a date for reconvening the examination. The Dean shall also determine whether or not the composition of the original committee is appropriate for the reconvened examination. The date for reconvening shall be no later than six months from the date of the first examination.

c)  Where the thesis is acceptable but the student has failed the oral defense.

When an examination is adjourned for this circumstance, each member of the examining committee shall make a written report to the Dean of Graduate Studies within 10 working days of the date of the oral examination. After reviewing these reports the Dean will set a date for reconvening the examination. The Dean shall also determine whether or not the composition of the original committee is appropriate for the reconvened examination. The date for reconvening shall be no later than six months from the date of the first examination.

5.  Failure

If two or more members of the examining committee are opposed to passing the student, the student will not be recommended for the degree. In this case, the committee shall make a written report to the Dean of Graduate Studies within 14 calendar days of the date of the oral examination outlining the reasons for this decision. A student who fails the oral examination has the right to appeal and should consult with the Dean of Graduate Studies regarding the appropriate procedures.

A candidate who is not recommended for the degree by the examining committee is ineligible for readmission to a graduate program in the same academic unit.

Under exceptional circumstances, upon the advice of one or more committee members and of the chair of the academic unit, the Dean of Graduate Studies may sign the Thesis Approval Form and the academic unit's Letter of Recommendation on behalf of the supervisor.

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PhD programs in the School of Environmental Studies

Our PhD program is research-based. A faculty member, along with an advisory committee, supervises all students. A typical PhD program takes 4-5 years to complete.

Entry into the program can be flexible; however, typically, students begin their program in September. Current tuition for domestic and foreign students is also provided on the Faculty of Graduate Studies home page.

Specific details pertaining to Interdisciplinary PhD programs can be found by selecting this link.

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