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Information for 2012-2013

MES Handbook Table of Contents

1.   Admissions Requirements
2.   Admission Categories
3.   International Students
4.   Advising and Registration
5.   Drop/Add
6.   Course Withdrawal
7.   Incomplete Coursework
8.   Academic Advisor/Program of Study
9.   Program of Study
10. Thesis Option
11. Academic Internship Option
12. Independent Study
13. Student Progress/Evaluation
14. Leave of Absence
15. Withdrawal from the Program
16. Petitioning
17. Graduation
18. Time Limit for Degree Completion
19. Readmission
20. Notice of Change

For further information, also see:

MES Program Forms
MES Program Thesis Preparation Guidelines
MES Program Internship Preparation Guidelines
Graduate School Office Thesis Manual: A Guide for Graduate Students

Academic Policies and Procedures

Below are the academic policies and procedures for the Master of Environmental Studies program, as of June 30th, 2012. All MES students are responsible for familiarizing themselves with the policies and procedures presented in this handbook. Therefore, it is important to read these policies thoroughly and consult this handbook for reference purposes.

Any additional questions may be directed to the MES Program Coordinator at (843) 953-2000.

1. Admissions Requirements

Admission to the MES Program requires a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution. Students with any major are encouraged to apply. Minimum admissions requirements are listed below. Some applicants may not satisfy all requirements. Every effort will be made to accommodate such applicants through preparatory classes at the College of Charleston. Exceptions can be made on an individual basis, depending on a candidate's background or experience.

Undergraduate Record – Applicants to the program should have an overall GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.

Graduate Record Examination –The Graduate Record Examination General Test (GRE) is required for admissions. A combined score of at least 1100 on the quantitative and verbal sections, and of at least 4 (out of 6) on the writing assessment section, is required. GRE scores submitted must have been earned within the previous five years. Applicants with older GRE scores may be required to retake the exam.

Undergraduate Academic Training – Admitted students are expected to have completed significant coursework in the sciences. Students who do not meet the entrance requirements listed below but who otherwise seem well-suited for the program may be admitted, but they must be prepared to remedy their deficiencies as stipulated by the Admissions Committee.

Science: One academic year (two semesters with labs) of either Biology or Chemistry, and one academic year (two semesters with labs) of Biology or Chemistry (whichever one has not already been taken), or another physical or natural science.

Statistics: As a prerequisite to the core course EVSS 659: Environmental Statistics (offered in the Spring), each student must either have taken the undergraduate course MATH 250: Statistical Methods I (or an equivalent college level statistics course) OR have passed the MES entrance exam in Statistics.

Letters of Recommendation – Applicants must submit three (3) letters of recommendation from instructors or individuals who have had close contact with the applicant during their undergraduate training or professional career.

Transcripts – One official transcript is required from each college or institution attended. Information concerning transcript submission is included in the MES application.

Transfer Credit – Upon written request and with the approval of a student's Academic Advisor (see number 8 below), up to nine (9) semester hours of appropriate graduate level course work may be transferred into a student's Program of Study (see number 9 below), under the following conditions:

• The institution transferring the credit is accredited to offer graduate degree programs by the cognizant regional accrediting association
• The credit is fully acceptable to that institution in satisfaction of its advanced degree requirements
• The credit is applicable in terms of content to the student's program of study.

The student assumes responsibility for initiating the request for transfer graduate credit on his/her Program of Study (see number 9 below). An official transcript containing the requested transfer work must be on file in the Graduate School Office. If such work is shown on the transcripts provided in support of the student's admission to the MES program, a new record is not needed.

Courses considered for transfer credit must carry a minimum grade of “B”/3.0. Additionally, transfer credit that is accepted must have been in courses started six (6) years or less before the semester in which the degree work is completed.

2. Admission Categories

Regular Admission – A prospective candidate for a degree who meets all requirements for admission to the MES program will be classified as a regular degree-seeking student.

Provisional Admission – A prospective candidate for a degree who does not meet all the admission criteria but who, in the judgment of the Admissions Committee, has the potential to successfully complete graduate work will be classified as a provisional student. In the student's acceptance letter, the Admissions Committee will outline the deficiencies, as well as the requirements to compensate for them.

Non-degree Seeking Students – Non-degree seeking students are those who desire registration with credit in graduate courses but who are not candidates for a degree. Students wishing to take MES courses as non-degree students must have an overall undergraduate GPA of a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. Applicants seeking acceptance in non-degree status must contact the Graduate Office.

No more than a total of nine (9) credit hours of work taken in non-degree status may be applied toward the MES degree requirements if the student is later admitted to the program. In order to accomplish reclassification as a regular degree student, the candidate must complete a minimum of 9 credit hours as non-degree students before reapplying for admission as degree-seeking students. Non-degree students may enroll in Core Courses as well as electives.

Transient Students – Transient students are those students in good standing in any regionally accredited graduate school who wish to enroll in graduate courses for credit for the purpose of transferring this credit to his or her graduate school. Students interested in applying for transient student credit must contact the Graduate School Office.

3. International Students

Each international student applying for admission to the MES program must satisfy the following requirements:

1. Earn an appropriate undergraduate academic degree equivalent to an American bachelor's degree (B.A., B.S.) prior to enrolling for the MES program.

2. Make up any deficiencies in previous college/university academic work by successfully completing appropriate courses at the undergraduate level at the College of Charleston.

3. Meet all admission criteria for the MES program (see number 1, above).

4. Demonstrate proficiency in the English language (if English is not the student's primary language) as evidenced by the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) iBT (internet-based testing) exam. The minimum total score accepted for admission is 81. The recommended section scores are as follows: writing = 20, speaking = 23, listening = 17 and reading = 21. If an applicant's score falls below the recommended minimum in one area but still meets the total score requirement of 81, section scores will be assessed individually in terms of their language adequacy. TOEFL scores are acceptable for a two-year period after the test..

5. Provide proof of ability to meet all education-related expenses while engaged in graduate studies by completing a Certification of Finances form with official signature, prior to being admitted to the program.

Note: In some cases, a sworn affidavit of support or notarized bank officer's statement is sufficient. In certain countries, United States Consular officers require prior payment of the first year tuition and fees before a non-immigrant student visa will be issued. Applicants should inquire about local practices in advance in order to establish their graduate study plans.

4. Advising and Registration

All new MES students are assigned an advisor upon acceptance into the program. This faculty member will advise the student through the initial registration process, which occurs before their first semester of enrollment. It is expected, however, that within the first semester of enrollment in the program, the student will select an Academic Advisor (see number 8, below), who will supervise the completion of the Program of Study form, and the advising and registration processes. The Academic Advisor need not be the same initial advisor assigned to the student. Course schedules and descriptions are available from the MES Program Office.

5. Drop/Add

If a student registers for a course and later decides not to take the course, they must officially “drop” or “withdraw” from the course. Not attending class or not paying the bill will not automatically drop the student from the course. The drop/add period extends through the first week of class during the Fall and Spring Semesters. Courses dropped during this period do not appear on the student's academic record.

6. Course Withdrawal


After this date, students may appeal to withdraw from the course with a grade of “W.” Students must submit a Course Withdrawal form, available in the MES Program and Graduate School Offices, to the Graduate School Office. The withdrawal form must be accompanied by documentation of extenuating circumstances and must be signed by the course instructor to indicate that the student is passing the class at the time of the request to withdraw. The Dean of Graduate Studies will review the petition and grant or deny the withdrawal.

7. Incomplete Coursework

The grade “I” indicates that only a small part of the semester's work remains to be done, that the student is otherwise doing satisfactory work in the course, and that an extension of time is warranted to complete the work. If the student does not complete the work within the prescribed time period, the “I” is converted into an “F.”

8. Academic Advisor/Program of Study

MES students must select an Academic Advisor and complete a Program of Study form.

The role of the Academic Advisor is to guide the student through the MES program by helping the student create a Program of Study (see number 9, below) based on the student's academic needs and career goals. The Program of Study form (MES-2) must be turned into the MES Program Office by the end of the student's first semester of enrollment. Any subsequent changes to the Program of Study may be submitted using the Amendment to the Program of Study form (MES-3).

The student's Academic Advisor also will assist the student in selecting faculty members for the Internship or Thesis Committee. Any changes in a student's Academic Advisor, Internship Committee, or Research Advisory Committee must be made with the Change in Advisor form (MES-5) through the MES Program Office.

9. Program of Study

A student's Program of Study contains a list of courses and other requirements that the student must complete, as well as courses which are accepted for transfer credit.

All MES students must take a total of thirty-seven (37) hours of course work in order to graduate, including at least twenty-three (23) hours of core courses, outlined below:

Environmental Studies:

• EVSS 646     2 credit hours (Fall or Spring)   Core Seminar     


• EVSS 601     3 credit hours (Fall or Spring)   Economic Theory for Policy Analysis     

• EVSS 602     3 credit hours (Fall or Spring)   Public Policy

• EVSS 632     3 credit hours (Spring)   Social Science Methods

Science (one of the following):

• EVSS 610     3 credit hours (Fall)     Environmental Biology (Biology), or

• EVSS 631     3 credit hours (Spring)       Pollution in the Environment (Geology), or

• EVSS 640     3 credit hours (Fall)          Earth Systems Science (Geology), or

• EVSS 650     3 credit hours (Spring)          Energy Prod. & Resource Mgmt. (Physics)

NOTE: Students work with their Academic Advisor to choose the appropriate core science course.

Statistics (one of the following):

• EVSS 624     4 credit hours (Spring)     Biometry (with lab)

• EVSS 659     3 credit hours (Spring)     Environmental Statistics

NOTE: As a prerequisite to the core course EVSS 659: Environmental Statistics, each student must either take the undergraduate course MATH 250: Statistical Methods I (or an equivalent college level statistics course) OR pass the MES entrance exam in Statistics.

 Internship or Thesis (one of the following):

• EVSS 690     6 credit hours                Internship, or

• EVSS 691     6 credit hours                Thesis

TOTAL: 23 credit hours (24 credit hours if Biometry is chosen to fulfill the Statistics requirement)

10. Thesis Option

Students choosing this option are required to write a thesis that will demonstrate familiarity and competency with basic scientific methodology. The thesis should document the student's ability to conceive, implement, analyze, and report on his/her original individual or collaborative research.

Research Advisory Committee – As soon as the student has elected the thesis option and selected an area of research interest, he/she will select a Research Advisor. The Research Advisor may be, but is not required to be, the same person as the Academic Advisor. The Research Advisor, in consultation with the student, will select a Research Advisory Committee. The function of the Research Advisory Committee is to direct and monitor the student's research program and to assume responsibility for oversight of the student's progress toward the degree. Upon selection and approval of the Research Advisory Committee, the duties of the student's Academic Advisor are completed.

The Research Advisory Committee is composed of at least four (4) members, with the Research Advisor as the chair. The composition of the Committee is as follows: (1) three of the four members must be members of the Graduate Faculty, and (2) at least one member must be a roster member of the College of Charleston faculty, and (3) one member must be from outside the student's area of concentration in the MES program. For example, a student concentrating in Biology may comprise a committee of three Biology faculty members and one Political Science faculty member.

Prior to the first meeting of the Research Advisory Committee, the student must present Committee members with a Program of Study with grades received in courses already completed. The Research Advisory Committee, after review of the student's Program of Study, may suggest further coursework deemed beneficial for completion of the research project. Throughout his/her research, the student will meet regularly with the Research Advisory Committee to discuss progress, problems, and additional work necessary to complete the research.

Thesis Proposal – Prior to beginning thesis work, a student must prepare a written Thesis Proposal in consultation with his/her Research Advisor and Research Advisory Committee. Typically, this proposal will be written one year prior to the completion of the thesis. The student will be expected to ensure that all resources necessary for his/her research and permission to use them have been obtained.

The Proposal should include a Plan of Research, which identifies hypotheses to be tested and describes the research approach to the problem. This Plan should show evidence of sound research methodology, creative integration of course material, and an understanding of the pertinent literature.

The Plan shall normally follow the outline listed below:

     I. Project Title
     II. Thesis Advisor
     III. Abstract - Outline Specific Project Goals
     IV. Project Narrative
          A. Introduction
          B. Detailed Project Description Explaining Goals
          C. Significance
          D. Expected Results and Outcomes
          E. References / Works Cited
     V. Project Time Table
     VI. Broader Impacts of the Project
     VII. Resources Required to Complete the Project
     VIII. Approval Signatures

When the Research Advisor is satisfied with the student's preparation and the content of the Plan of Research, the student will present and defend the Thesis Proposal before the Research Committee. The student will be questioned on those methodologies and the background areas needed to complete successfully the proposed research. The Program Director must also review and approve the Proposal. Once the Research Advisory Committee and the Program Director have accepted the Proposal, the student must submit it, along with a signed Thesis Proposal Approval form (MES-6) to the MES Program Office. The Graduate Dean will then review the student’s Thesis Proposal for approval.

Upon completion of the thesis, the Research Advisory Committee will review the student's work and determine if it is acceptable or in need of further research or revisions. Once the Research Advisory Committee has approved the thesis for defense, the student must submit the Thesis Defense Notification form (MES-8) to the MES Program Office.

Oral Defense – Students electing the thesis option are required to pass a general oral examination directed primarily to the defense of the thesis. The defense begins with a formal presentation of approximately thirty (30) minutes in length, describing the research methods and results. The candidate's Research Advisory Committee and other attendees then conduct an oral examination to test the candidate's understanding of the area of research. Performance on this examination must receive the approval of the majority of the student's Research Advisory Committee before the student will be recommended for the MS degree. Upon completing the oral defense with the Committee's approval, the student must submit the signed Certification for Successful Thesis Defense form (MES-9) to the MES Program Office.

Thesis Format –The MES Program Thesis Preparation Guidelines have been designed to aid you in finishing one of the most important documents you will write in your academic career. Your thesis must meet all the guidelines set forth in the Thesis Manual: A Guide for Graduate Students published by the Graduate School Office at the College of Charleston. Use the most current edition of this Graduate School manual which is available through the Graduate School Office and the MES Program Office. You should find the most current information concerning the requirements, dates, thesis preparation guidelines, etc. at the Graduate School.

Every effort has been made to ensure that the MES Program Thesis Preparation Guidelines conform to the Graduate School Manual. Should you find any discrepancies between the two documents, follow the guidelines in the Graduate School Manual and inform the MES Program Office of the difference.

The site for you to use to submit your thesis is You should check with the Graduate School Office to make sure you understand how to submit your thesis prior to going online.

The submission of your master's thesis is the last step in the program leading to the award of your degree. Your manuscript is a scholarly statement of the results of a substantial period of research and preparation. It will be made available for public use in the MES Office and online through ProQuest.

For these reasons, the Environmental Studies Program has established guidelines in the physical format of the manuscript in order to obtain a uniformly high quality product, in a permanent and readily reproducible form of presentation, and with consistency in the arrangement of the contents. The thesis must be a professionally finished work in format, style, spelling and appearance. The finished document reflects on both you and on the College. The physical format of the manuscript should be perfect. We would not expect you to settle for less; nor will we. Failure to follow these instructions will necessitate revising the submission until it meets the expected standards. It is preferred that a thesis be prepared, to the extent possible, in the format of the intended journal of publication, with minimal necessary revision prior to submission. However, any deviation from MES presentation requirements must be approved by the your committee and the Director of the MES Program. In no case will any deviation from the format of the Graduate School Manual be permitted.

Registering for Thesis Hours – Students may register for thesis credit hours only in the semester in which the thesis is to be defended. A THESIS PROPOSAL APPROVAL FORM (MES-6) MUST BE ON FILE IN THE MES PROGRAM OFFICE BEFORE THE STUDENT IS ALLOWED TO REGISTER FOR THESIS CREDIT HOURS. If the student is unable to complete the thesis in the semester in which he/she is registered, no grade of will be issued until the requirements are fulfilled. All work for completion of the course requirements should be submitted by the end of exams in the next major term (Fall or Spring).

When appropriate, preparatory research work leading to a thesis may be credited under enrollment in Independent Study (EVSS 693). Decisions about such enrollment rest with the student's Research Advisory Committee and the Program Director. A student who is in the process of completing a research or thesis project or is using library and laboratory facilities and consulting with MES faculty must maintain continuous enrollment in the program. Continuous enrollment can be maintained by enrollment in a minimum of one hour of Continuous Enrollment (EVSS 900) per semester.

Deadlines for Final Copy Submission – All theses must be submitted online by the date established by the Graduate School Office for each semester. Students are encouraged to use this date as a guideline to determine an appropriate schedule that will give ample time for their thesis defense and thesis revision. Use the new thesis manual when submitting your thesis online. Please contact the Graduate School office if you encounter any problems or have any questions regarding submitting your thesis online.

11. Academic Internship Option

Students may also perform an Academic Internship as part of their program of study. As soon as the student has elected the internship option, he/she will select an Internship Advisor. The Internship Advisor may be, but is not required to be, the same person as the Academic Advisor.

The student, in consultation with the Internship Advisor, will select an Internship Advisory Committee. The Internship Committee should be comprised of the student's Internship Advisor and two additional faculty members, one of whom should be from outside the student's particular area of interest. For example, a student concentrating in Policy may comprise a committee of two Political Science faculty members and one Geology faculty member. At least one member of the Internship Committee must be a roster faculty member at the College of Charleston. Additionally, the student's supervisor from the sponsoring institution will serve on the Internship Committee. In some instances, revisions to the Program of Study will be made.

In consultation with his/her Internship Advisor and the MES Internship Coordinator, a student will ordinarily be expected to seek and arrange his/her own internship. Students are encouraged to use the Internship Resource List and the “Positions Available” posting board and discuss these options with their advisor. Internships must have the approval of the student's Internship Advisory Committee and the Program Director prior to beginning the Internship project.

Students completing an internship will work in an applied setting other than at the College of Charleston under the direction of a Project Supervisor. As part of his/her internship experience, the student will work six-hundred (600) hours or more in the internship setting and will be expected to complete an academic assignment to be approved by his/her Internship Advisory Committee. Completion of the academic assignment and six-hundred (600) work hours transfers to six (6) credit hours.

Students should write an Internship Proposal according to the guidelines listed on the Internship Proposal Approval form (MES-7) in consultation with their Internship Advisor. Internship proposals should be approved by the Internship Advisory Committee and the Program Director no later than two (2) weeks prior to the internship start date. The signed approval form and a copy of the Proposal must be submitted to the MES Program Office no later than two (2) weeks following the internship start date.

STUDENTS MAY REGISTER FOR INTERNSHIP CREDITS ONLY IN THE SEMESTER IN WHICH THE INTERNSHIP REPORT IS SUCCESSFULLY DEFENDED. Students will not be allowed to register for Internship credit unless an Internship Proposal Approval form (MES-7) is on file in the MES Program Office.

While the final format of the internship report is determined by the student's Advisor, some general formatting guidelines are included in the Internship Report Preparation Guide. Students are encouraged to review and discuss these with their Advisor.

Internships will be graded on a “Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory” basis. Grades will be awarded by the academic advisor in consultation with the approved mentor. Should a student receive an “Unsatisfactory” evaluation for his/her internship, no credit will be awarded towards the degree.

Upon completion of the internship and all academic requirements outlined by the Internship Advisory Committee, the Fulfillment of Internship Requirements form (MES-10) must be signed and submitted to the MES Program Office.

If a student is unable to complete the internship defense during the semester in which he/she is registered, a grade of IP (in progress) will be issued until the internship requirements are fulfilled. After a grade of IP has been assigned, the student has one semester to complete the requirements.

12. Independent Study

The MES program offers an Independent Study course category (EVSS 693-0XX) to allow students the opportunity to pursue a specialized course of study in a topic area not covered in the regular program curriculum. This individually- directed study of an environmental issue in the area of policy or science will be planned by the student in consultation with, and under the supervision of an MES graduate faculty member. The supervising faculty member, topic, and project outline must be approved by the student's Academic Advisor. The student must submit the approved proposal outline along with the Individual Enrollment Form (PDF FILE) to the MES Program Office. Multiple projects may be conducted for up to six (6) hours of the Independent Study category.

13. Student Progress/Evaluation

Each MES student must maintain a 3.0 GPA during his/her program of study. Should a student's GPA fall below a 3.0, he/she will be placed on academic probation and given one semester in which to raise the average to the minimum. Students must also achieve a minimum grade of “B” or better in all but one of their core courses. Students receiving three (3) grades below the grade of “B” or one grade of “F” in any of their courses will be dismissed from the program.

Students may, upon petition and acceptance by the Steering Committee, retake core courses in which they receive grades lower than “B.” Failure to achieve the required grade upon retaking the course will usually result in dismissal from the program, as will a grade of less than “C” in any course.

At the end of each semester, the student's record may be reviewed by the MES Progress Committee to determine whether he/she is making adequate progress towards the degree. Should a student fail to make adequate progress, the Steering Committee may recommend dismissal from the program. Student petitions citing extenuating circumstances will be considered by the Steering Committee. Students dismissed from the MES program will not be allowed to reapply for one calendar year.

14. Leave of Absence

Should a student decide to take a leave of absence from the program, he/she must submit a letter describing why he/she is taking the leave and listing the dates the leave is expected to span. The student must then submit the letter to the Graduate School Office.

15. Withdrawal from the Program

If at any time a student decides to withdraw from the MES program altogether, he/she must complete a Withdrawal form at the Graduate School Office. If, after withdrawing from the program, the student decides he/she would like to return, he/she must reapply to the program.

16. Petitioning

Any exceptions to the stated curriculum requirements or the policies and procedures outlined in this handbook that a student wishes applied to his/her course of study must be approved by the Steering Committee. The student must write a letter and provide any documentation pertinent to his/her request. This information should be submitted to the MES Program Office and will be considered by the Steering Committee at its first meeting following the submission of the petition.

Policies and procedures concerning grievances, sexual harassment, and honor code violations are available in the MES and Graduate School Offices.

17. Graduation

Students must fill out an application for graduation at the Graduate School Office during the semester in which they expect to graduate. This form will also serve as an order form for the student's diploma. Students are also expected to complete an Exit Interview prior to the end of their last semester. These interviews are conducted in an anonymous fashion, and graduating students will be informed when they are expected to complete an interview.

Students must be enrolled either in courses or in one hour of Continuous Enrollment (EVSS 900) in the semester in which they intend to graduate, including students who intend to graduate with a summer graduation date.

18. Time Limit for Degree Completion

All MES students must fulfill the program requirements within five (5) years of matriculating. Petitions for extensions will be considered by the Steering Committee in extenuating circumstances.

19. Readmission

A student who has been dismissed from the MES program because of a failure to resolve GPA or satisfactory progress issues may reapply to the program after one calendar year from the date of his/her dismissal. The student must meet all criteria for admissions currently in effect at the time of application for readmission.

20. Notice of Change

Rules, regulations, fees, course descriptions, and program requirements are subject to change without notice. When a change in program requirements is made while a student is enrolled in the MES program, the student may elect to complete the program under the requirements in effect at the time of his/her matriculation OR he/she may elect to shift entirely to the new requirements. As a result of ongoing reviews of the MES program, certain course offerings may be deleted or restructured between editions of the Student Handbook.