MES Welcome Package

Welcome to the School of Environmental Sciences Graduate Program (MES)

Here are a few notes that will help you with getting started in the MES program at Guelph.

When you first arrive on campus

  • Pick up your ID card at the Student ID Card Centre, University Centre Level 3. 
  • First week after Labour Day, attend graduate student orientation sessions offered by Office of Graduate Studies (Tuesday) and SES (Wednesday)– this is a great opportunity to meet your fellow students as well as SES faculty. 

Where do I go if I have questions?

  • Check out the current graduate students section of the SES website
  • Technical/administrative questions
  • Academic questions: 
  • The Graduate Academic Calendar (accessible through the U of Guelph website under ‘Academics’) is a great source of information about everything ranging from university policies to course descriptions and more.

Course Registration

  • You will register for courses through Webadvisor (on the University's front webpage).  
  • All students need to add UNIV 7510 (Full Time) or UNIV 7520 (Part Time) through WebAdvisor or using a Course Waiver. This just activates your registration.  
  • Few courses have a posted schedule-you will be contacted by the instructor within the first two weeks of class via email to schedule a class time that works for all.  
  • Students should add any other course they are taking before the end of the add period usually at the end of first full week of classes (check  schedule of dates in the graduate calendar)
  • While it is often advised to register for courses before the semester begins (some courses can fill up), it is also possible to register during the first two weeks of the semester when it will be easier to connect with faculty for signatures, detailed course information, etc.  
  • Registering for independent project courses (Special Topics courses- Section 01) requires a course waiver form with signatures from the professor who will supervise the independent study and the graduate coordinator and submission of a learning contract.  
    • ENVS*6242*01 Atmospheric Science 
    • ENVS*6452*01 Ecosystem Science and Biodiversity 
    • ENVS*6582*01 Soil Science 
    • ENVS*6730*01 Environmental Earth Science 
    • ENVS*6882*01 Plant and Environmental Health 
  • If you are a provisional student, you must add all courses using a  course waiver form.  
  • If your chosen course does require instructor consent, you will need to fill out a ‘Course Add/Drop/Waiver Request’ form available a  here.   It is usually possible to get a signature electronically by saving the form as a pdf and emailing it to the faculty member for an electronic signature, then sending it to the Graduate Coordinator for signature.  

How do I decide which courses to take?

  • There are two required courses - ENVS*6501 (Fall) and ENVS*6502 (Winter)
  • Beyond these, there are lecture or seminar-style courses, field courses, and Special Topics courses to choose from.
  • It is up to you to select a combination of courses, beyond the two required ones, that best suits your interests and needs (subject to final approval from the SES Graduate Coordinator).
  • Special Topics’ courses (section 01) are designed to be directed independent studies with a particular faculty member (this is not the same as the research project; most often, an independent study involves literature research and writing a paper on a topic of interest). You can scope out faculty research interests and narrow down a topic of mutual interest. This provides you with a lot of flexibility to create a program that is best suited for you.
  • Special Topics courses (section 02, 03….) are offered as seminar-style courses that examine a particular topic in depth, and these may change from year to year. You will be kept informed of the courses that will be available in any given semester before that semester starts.
  • You must take 4.0 credits worth of courses to complete the program; this normally equates to 8 courses (coursework-only option) or 6 courses plus a research project (coursework+project option). The research project (ENVS 6500) is worth 1.0 credit.
  • Contact the MES program advisor if you have questions or want to discuss your options.

How do I know which courses are available?

  • Consult the following page for available courses in SES and in other departments on campus.
  • Be sure to check the page regularly as courses offered change every year and some are added weeks before the semester starts
  • You have the option of taking a maximum of 1.0 credit worth (usually equivalent to two courses) of senior undergraduate courses, subject to approval from the SES Graduate Coordinator.

Coursework only, or Coursework + Research Project…which option do I choose?MES students can choose to follow a coursework only or a research project plus coursework option. If you are unsure, not to worry! You have time to decide.  Spend some time in your first semester learning about the research done by SES faculty and contact the ones you might want to work with on a project of mutual interest. If you choose to do the research project option, you can start working on this at any point but you will register for ENVS*6500 (the research project course) in the semester you think you will complete your project.  For many of you, this will be in the summer semester. The first step in doing the research project is to identify your faculty supervisor and to fill out a learning contract (available on the Courselink site, or contact the MES Program advisor for more information) in consultation with your supervisor.  

Advisory Committee & Graduate Degree Program Form:

  • All students will need to fill out the Graduate Degree Program forms in consultation with the MES Program Advisor and submit to SES Graduate Program Assistant (Jen LaPorte) by the 20thclass day of your second semester as a record of your planned program.
  • For coursework+ major research project students, your will also need to fill out an advisory committee appointment form. You advisory committee will consist of the Faculty Advisor on your project plus a second reader.
  • Your registration for semester 3 will be blocked if you fail to submit these form before course selection starts.
  • Any members of the Advisory Committee who are not regular graduate faculty at the University of Guelph must hold Special Graduate Faculty status. Co-advisors must hold Associated Graduate Faculty status. If they do not currently hold Graduate Faculty status, they must be nominated and approved by the Departmental Graduate Studies Committee and the University Board of Graduate Studies (there are forms to fill out-pls contact the graduate coordinator as soon as possible so we can get this process started).

 Courseload and tuition:

  • The number of courses you take or the duration of courses does not affect the amount of tuition you pay as a full-time student, and taking only one or two courses in a given semester does not automatically qualify you for part-time status.
  • To transfer to part-time status requires support from the graduate coordinator and supporting documentation to show that you are unable to commit to your studies full-time due to employment or other responsibilities.
  • Part-time status affects the minimum duration of your program and may also impact any financial help you are getting through scholarships, OSAP or bursaries.

 How long does the program take to complete? While it is possible to complete the program in 8 months (2 semesters), many full-time MES students take 3 semesters (one year). Taking four courses per semester for two semesters is challenging at the graduate level; two or 3 courses per semester spread over 3 semesters is more manageable, especially when opting for the research project option. The minimum program duration for the MES, as with most other Master’s programs at U of Guelph, is 2 full-time semesters (or 4 part-time semesters). The maximum program duration is 6 full-time semesters (or 11 part-time semesters).

Can I apply for Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) positions and scholarships? Yes.

  • Available GTA positions and instructions on how to apply can be found here.
  • Graduate scholarships can be found using the Graduate Awards Search Tool from Student Financial Services (here).
  • GTA and scholarship opportunities are also communicated to you throughout the year via email.

 Grad student life in SES: Please check the ‘Graduate’ drop-down menu on the SES website for links to information for current graduate students, including a link to the SES Graduate Student Council website.

 Lab Safety Training: You must take the following safety courses: