Special Programme with Yale School of the Environment

This Special Programme offered by Yale-NUS and the Yale School of the Environment is designed for students who want to pursue careers in an environmental field. Students will undergo five years of academic studies and a one-year to two-year internship or job placement. The programme is designed to provide well-prepared Yale-NUS students with accelerated graduate training in environmental science, management, and policy.

Yale-NUS students must:

  1. complete the Environmental Studies major requirements
  2. choose either a Master of Environmental Management (MEM) or Master of Environmental Science (MESc) degree

This programme accelerates the master’s degree programme through careful integration of undergraduate curriculum with graduate requirements.

Timelines to Consider

Year 3, Semester 1Students declare interest in the Special Programme by 30 August and apply for semester abroad at Yale by 10 September.
Year 3, Semester 2Students study at Yale College taking courses in the areas of environmental economics, environmental history, environmental politics, ecology, climate science, environmental anthropology, and additional biophysical science courses.
Year 4, Semester 1Students submit applications in December to Yale School of the Environment Admissions Office.
Year 4, Semester 2Students receive updates on applications and acceptance letters.
Year 5Accepted students take on one-year to two-year full-time internship or work placement before matriculating at Yale School of the Environment (students, in particular those on the Tuition Grant Scheme, may wish to also consider doing a two-year work placement before finishing their final full academic year at Yale).
Year 6Students complete graduate courses at Yale School of the Environment.


Admission to the Special Programme will require careful long-range curriculum planning by undergraduates to be able to meet all undergraduate and graduate degree requirements in only five years. Successful applicants will demonstrate academic excellence, outstanding written and verbal skills in English, maturity of academic focus, successful completion of a term of study at Yale University, strong faculty recommendations, capacity to conduct independent research, excellent progress in senior essay development, intent to spend a year of internship in an environmental field prior to graduate programme matriculation, and clarity of professional aspiration.

Advice for a Strong Application

There is no magic formula to ensure your admission to Yale School of the Environment. There is no prescribed course selection or capstone project idea that will guarantee acceptance. As you are questioning how to be the “best fit” for this Special Programme, you should also consider whether the programme is the best fit for you. This line of thought, perhaps more than anything, will help you to prepare a compelling application.

Students should put together a compelling course of study in your undergraduate career, one that complements your Area of Specialization (AoS) with a strong capstone project.  If you complete courses at Yale-NUS, NUS, and Yale that build a cogent AoS and provide a foundation for a compelling capstone course, your scholastic and professional goals will be much clearer to you and to the application committee, as well as to potential employers.

Although your course selection and grades are important, your personal essay is arguably the most crucial aspect of your application. It is with your essay that you can distinguish yourself from the crowded applicant field and give the most complete picture of who you are and what path you intend to follow. Make sure to use your personal essay to create a coherent narrative about your studies and your experiences. Consider why have you focused on certain topics or issues, what you would study at Yale School of the Environment if accepted, and how your education will contribute to your professional ambitions.

Another very important factor for bolstering your application to the Special Programme is a strong letter of recommendation. During your time abroad at Yale you should try to immerse yourself in the Yale School of the Environment community, getting to know fellow students and instructors as well as the leaders of research groups and labs.  There is no better signal of your scholastic abilities than if a current Yale School of the Environment instructor vouches for you and tells the Admissions Committee that you will excel in courses at Yale.

Application Requirements

Application requirements are provided on the Yale School of the Environment website.  The application review and selection process is managed entirely by Yale School of the Environment, without input from Yale-NUS.

Financing the Final Year of Study

Yale-NUS awards two scholarships open to students admitted to the Yale School of the Environment Special Programme. Both scholarships have March deadlines and early April notifications. Admitted Special Programme students apply for these scholarships in the year that they are planning to matriculate in their final year of study at Yale. To apply or to learn more, contact jenika.kaul@yale-nus.edu.sg.

The H. L. Kwee Scholarship is a need-based scholarship open to Singaporean citizens which aims to cover the cost of tuition charged by the Yale professional school (unless revised downward based on other aid received; see below).  The Scholarship may be awarded to students enrolled in either Yale partner programme, either with the Yale School of Public Health or the Yale School of the Environment. Applicants must have demonstrated financial need as determined by the Yale-NUS College Office of Financial Aid.

The Bataua Scholarship is a merit-based scholarship open to students of all nationalities which aims to cover the tuition fees charged by the Yale professional school (unless revised downward based on other aid received; see below). The Bataua Scholarship is awarded first to students enrolled in the Special Programme with the Yale School of the Environment, but if there are no suitable recipients in a particular year, the scholarship may be awarded to a student enrolled in the Concurrent Degree Programme with the Yale School of Public Health.

Financial aid may be available from the Yale professional school; students are encouraged to read the Yale School of the Environment Financial Aid page to learn more.

Note that if a student receives both need-based aid from the Yale professional school (either through internal funding or through FAFSA), and also a Yale-NUS award (H. L. Kwee or Bataua), the Yale-NUS award will be revised downward by the amount of the Yale financial aid award. Aid received from other organizations does not affect the amounts of the Yale-NUS awards.

Details of the Degree Awarding Process

General Degree Requirements

Once admitted to the Yale School of the Environment Special Programme, graduate students in Environmental Management and Environmental Science degree programs will have the following requirements in common, regardless of their undergraduate school:

  • Successful completion of the summer Training Modules in Technical Skills prior to the fall term in residence at Yale.
  • Successful completion of 24 credits for graduate courses during one full academic year in residence (normally 3 credits are offered for each course successfully completed).

Successful completion of course requirements specific to either the MEM or MESc degree program.

Differences Between the MEM And the MESc Degree

The MEM degree is designed for students interested in pursuing careers in environmental policy and analysis, stewardship, education, consulting, or management dealing with natural resource, pollution control, and other environmental issues. The programme requires coursework in both the natural and social sciences, with a particular focus on the complex relationship between science, management, and policy. The ultimate purpose of the degree programme is to provide students with a scientific understanding of ecological and social systems, which then can be applied in a policy or management context.

The MESc degree is designed for students interested in conducting scientific research that contributes toward basic and applied knowledge. This degree is intended to provide students with a deeper disciplinary focus than the MEM, while reflecting the core value of the school that students should be allowed flexibility in course selection in order to meet their educational goals. The course of study includes formalised training in the philosophy, ethics, and practice of science. If a student intends to apply for the MESc degree programme, then a Yale faculty member must agree to be the student’s master’s degree advisor before the student applys to the Special Programme. Additionally, the Yale School of the Environment faculty advisor must provide a letter of this agreement to become part of the student’s application. This degree programme is often selected by students who will pursue the Ph.D. degree


Proposed Course of Study

A course of study for a student who does not elect the IS track may look like the below schedule:
 Semester 1Semester 2
Year One· Common Curriculum Courses· Common Curriculum Courses
· Introduction to Environmental Studies
Year Two· 2000-level required ES course (Conservation Biology or Ecology and Ecosystems) OR course related to a student’s Area of Specialization (AoS)· 2000-level required ES course OR major course related to a student’s Area of Specialization (AoS)
· Courses related to AoS
Year Three· Courses related to AoS
· Additional Quantitative or Science course
· Study abroad at Yale College
· Additional Quantitative or Science course
Year Four· Advanced courses related to a students’ AoS
· Senior capstone
· Advanced courses related to a students’ AoS
· Senior capstone

Housing and Finances During the Semester Abroad

  • Housing:
    • Students will be considered Y-VISP students during Year 3 Semester 2 at Yale, and they will be living in similar undergraduate housing as their Yale-NUS peers also studying at Yale during that semester.
  • Bill from Yale-NUS:
    • Students will receive a bill from Yale-NUS to pay for tuition but will be responsible for the payment of their own room and board.

Tuition Grant Scheme Obligations

  • Yale School of the Enviroment Special Programme students receive their BA/BA after their 4th year and their MEM or MESc after completion of their final year of study at Yale.
  • For students on the Tuition Grant Scheme (TGS), their TGS obligations commence after completion of their undergraduate degree.  Therefore, students must consider the feasibility and financial implications of bond deferral before accepting their offer of admission to Yale School of the Environment.

Internship/Work Placement Approvals Between Year 4 And Year 6

Internships and/or research projects are a crucial component of the Special Programme. An applicant must complete an approved internship/research project during the summer between graduating from Yale College and matriculating full-time at Yale School of the Enviroment.

Yale-NUS Status During Year 5 And Year 6

  • Students will have alumni status rather than student status during Year 5 and Year 6 of their time in the Special Programme.
  • Students shall continue to have access to CIPE resources, opportunities, and advising during the remainder of the Special Programme.
  • Undergraduate financial aid ends after the fourth year of study at Yale-NUS and will not carry over to the final year of study at Yale.

Housing and Finances During Year 6 At Yale

  • Housing:
    • Students are in full-time residence at Yale School of the Environment during their final year in the program.
    • Students may opt to apply to live in graduate housing or may choose to identify their own off-campus housing in New Haven during their final year of study.  Yale graduate housing is not guaranteed for students in their final year of study.
  • Billing and Payment:
    • Students will pay bills directly to Yale during their final year of study.
    • Yale-NUS undergraduate financial aid does not carry over to the final year of study and students will not receive a bill payment from Yale-NUS during their final year of the CDP.

Withdrawal from the CDP During Year 6 Study

As the student receives their undergraduate degree at the completion of the fourth year of study, a student’s decision to not complete the final year of study at Yale School of the Enviroment does not impact their completed undergraduate status.
Have Questions?
Jenika Kaul
Senior Programme Manager, Leadership & Global Citizenship

Contact with questions about external fellowships, Yale CDPs in public health and environmental studies, and the journalism pathway.

Faculty Advisor

Professor Marvin Montefrio
Assistant Professor, Social Sciences (Environmental Policy)