Frequently Asked Questions

About ESE

The Ecological Sciences and Engineering graduate program is an interdisciplinary experience with unique professional development opportunities for M.S. and PhD students approved by the Graduate School at Purdue University, and administered through the Office of Interdisciplinary Graduate Programs with more than 140 affiliated faculty members. Your degree is granted by the graduate school through your home academic department (usually that of your faculty advisor) with the Ecological Sciences and Engineering IGP listed as your area of concentration.
Although ESE works closely with students' home academic departments, ESE provides the formal structure necessary for graduate students to obtain the breadth and critical thinking skills needed across disciplines to facilitate an interdisciplinary/interdepartmental educational experience that seamlessly integrates science and engineering concepts to explore and address short-term and long-term impacts of industrial, agricultural, and urban systems on natural and managed ecosystems across multiple spatial scales. Many real world environmental problems require serious interdisciplinary approaches.
The primary educational objective of the Ecological Science and Engineering program is to empower students who have an undergraduate education in the sciences and/or engineering with the methods and ability to design and manage ecologically sustainable systems. The overall goal of the program is to produce students that are capable of reducing the "ecological footprint" of human society on earth.
An ESE graduate degree and experience will enhance your capacity for interdisciplinary problem solving, and thus make you a more attractive employee whether you continue in academia, go into industry, government, or join a non-profit organization. The short answer to this question is that ESE students study in many different areas, and you should research positions that graduates attain from your potential "affiliated or home" department.

Admissions

Once your electronic application is completed online, you can check the status of your application at the Graduate School Admissions website. On this site, click "Application for Admission." Note that you will be required to provide your user pin and password.
No, the ESE Program accepts students from a variety of undergraduate majors, including the natural sciences and engineering as well as the humanities, social sciences, and economics. We encourage true cross-disciplinary learning and engagement.
You should identify potential faculty you want to work with early on in the process of applying to ESE. Make direct contact with these faculty through email and phone calls, as well as listing them on your graduate application. Students primarily receive assistantships through their major advisor (faculty). You can use the faculty website to locate potential faculty. The ESE program is campus wide at Purdue and can potentially work with many different faculty and departments. Co-major advisors from two departments are encouraged.
If a student's GPA or GRE scores fall slightly below our requirements, we do take into consideration that student's previous research and/or work experience in admission decisions.
We encourage diverse student backgrounds to apply to ESE. For instance, if you are a social science or policy oriented student, you may not have completed calculus. On the other hand, if you are an engineering student, you may not have had a college level economics course. If a pre-requisite course is your only deficiency, you will be allowed to take the course(s) your first semester at Purdue. If you have the opportunity to take the pre-requisite course(s) at your current institution before you apply, this will enhance your admission competitiveness.
Yes, you will have a major advisor when you start your program. By your second semester you should choose a co-major professor from a different department than your major professor to serve on your graduate committee, along with one to two additional committee members.

Funding

The ESE program currently has access to a limited number of fellowships each year to highly qualifed PhD applicants. These students are nominated for these fellowships by ESE faculty.

If you graduated from a U.S. High School, you are strongly encouraged to complete the diversity essay during the application process with the graduate school. This essay will increase the number and types of fellowships for which you can be nominated. Diversity in this case refers to experience, background, and factors other than just ethnicity or gender.

For students accepted into the program that are pursuing M.S. or PhD early communication with faculty who can provide funding support through their nominations as well as from their own funded research projects and departmental-specific teaching assistantship opportunities. Professional Masters students pursuing the non-thesis M.S. usually pay their own tuition and fees, but can pursue other funding and assistantship opportunities on their own.

Master's non-thesis students normally pay their own tuition and fees. We do our best to point students toward on-campus opportunities that arise for part-time positions, and assistantships. For thesis students, we strongly encourage applicants to converse with potential faculty advisors early in the process to discover available teaching and research assistantships. In the event that you are admitted, accept enrollment, but do not receive an assistantship 1) you can later decline enrollment, or 2) register for courses and pay your first semester tuition and fees - and once on campus begin looking for an assistantship for the second semester. Again, we will assist as much as is feasible, but cannot guarantee an assistantship.

Our priority application deadline for fall entry is November 15th. Completing your application by this date gives applicants priority consideration for fellowships and assistantships.  Applications submitted after this priority deadline will still be reviewed and considered for admission and remaining funding opportunities for the following fall semester.

The deadline for fellowship nominations is typically February 1st. Please refer to Financial Opportunities for details.

Curriculum

The ESE program is flexible in terms of making sure students meet basic requirements for breadth across disciplines, yet allowing room for selecting courses that best meet the student's needs. Courses are selected from several core course areas. A current list of courses can be found on our Core Course Areas webpage. Course selection is determined primarily by the student in concert with their major professor and graduate committee.

The ESE course requirements are provided online.

The Theme Areas provide a broad conceptual context for the ESE program, and allow faculty from diverse programs at Purdue to participate, whereas the Core Course areas contain many focus areas enabling flexibility in plan of study for the student while ensuring breadth of interdisciplinary training for both MS and PhD degrees.

Deadlines

Our priority application deadline for fall entry is November 15th. Completing your application by this date gives applicants priority consideration for fellowships and assistantships.  Applications submitted after this priority deadline will still be reviewed and considered for admission and remaining funding opportunities for the following fall semester.

The deadline for fellowship nominations is typically February 1st. Please refer to Financial Opportunities for details.
  • Ecological Sciences & Engineering