The program is structured to maximize the opportunities for experienced practitioners from diverse areas of environmental expertise to learn together in their core classes and to cooperate on projects, team planning, and group discussions. A core focus of the MEM program is to reach a better understanding of the language, expertise, and concerns of the widest possible range of environmental professionals.

The Master of Arts/ Master of Science in Environment and Management program (MEM) is a 26-month degree program of interdisciplinary study in which students in both programs typically complete ten courses and a thesis for 42 credits total. Based on academic history and work experience, students will pursue either the Master of Arts (MA) stream or the Master of Science (MSc) stream. The difference is in the student's choice of thesis topic (see the thesis curriculum description) and one of the online courses.

The MEM program is mainly online, with a three-week residency at the beginning, in the middle and at the end of the program. During the three-week residencies, students are engaged in class time predominantly from Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.. Students can expect to spend a considerable amount of out-of-class time for individual assignments, team assignments, and field trips. During the distance courses, students spend an average of 10 - 20 hours per week on course work.

Year One

In their first year, students focus on dynamics and processes that impact ecological systems, and will study concepts of sustainable development theory and practice. They will also demonstrate competencies in communication and computer skills, prepare for the thesis project, and acquire the skills necessary to develop a greater understanding of the quantitative scientific and technical components of environmental issues. Students accepted into the program are expected to complete instructor-selected readings and assignments prior to first residency. Information about assigned readings, texts and pre-residency assignments will be distributed to students as soon as possible before the residency. It is strongly recommended that students set aside time during Dec. and Jan. for completion of these readings and assignments.

Year Two

In their second year, students will study sustainability, governance and the political economy of environmental public policy, as well as systems methods for environmental management. The major focus over much of the second year of the program will be on the development and completion of the thesis project.

In the third residency, students will focus on sustainable development, and management and leadership concepts. Methods, skills and environmental management tools are developed in the context of sustainability. In addition to building on the environmental skills and knowledge base acquired in the first and second years, students will explore their integration of this learning and consider action plans to implement their personal research work. It is expected that students will submit their completed thesis for Divisional Review before the start of the third residency.

Choosing the MA or the Msc

In the MEM Program you can either be on the MA or the MSc stream. In order to complete this requirements for these degrees you need to complete the appropriate course work but also complete an eligible thesis. It is also dependent on your background and experience.

The content of the MEM program DOES NOT enable those with a humanities or social science background to become a scientist as you will lack the basic training provided by undergraduate training or equivalent, similarly those with a science background will not receive the basic training to become a social scientist or master of the humanities.

We assess people on a case by case basis, but for the majority if you have a BA you will be expected to complete the MA program, if you have a BSc you will be expected to complete the MSc program. For the most part those without a Bachelor’s degree will be limited to the MA stream.

  • In order to qualify for the MA the thesis must be AT LEAST 60% social science or humanities in content.
  • In order to qualify for the MSc the thesis must be AT LEAST 60% natural sciences or engineering in content.

The interdisciplinary nature of the MEM program means that many theses undertaken in this program included aspects of science, social science and the humanities. It also means that some thesis will fall very close to the wire with respect to being an MA or MSc. The Thesis coordinators will assess each proposal and work with students and thesis supervisors to ensure that thesis meet the appropriate criteria if there is doubt.

Examples of MA Thesis titles:

  • An exploration of strategic responses to climate change in the Canadian oil and gas sector.
  • Assessing sustainability on Canadian university campuses.
  • City of Colwood: how can this community, with no functional ALR or other agricultural land, move towards greater food security?
  • Creating an adaptive management framework for the pre-tenure plans in the Muskwa-Kechika Management Area.

Examples of MSc Thesis titles:

  • Beaver (Castor canadensis Kuhl) colonization, wetland community change and resilience.
  • Aluminum residual management in drinking water using selection criteria of aluminum based primary coagulants.
  • Assessment of fish habitat impacts associated with small stream simulated culverts in British Columbia Ministry of Transportation roads.
  • Drilling waste management: option evaluation for the SAGD oil sands industry.

What makes a thesis natural (i.e. environmental) science/engineering or social/humanities science? The differences we consider are mostly in terms of subjects covered and data collected and methods used. Both MAs and MScs can include analytical tools such as statistics, GIS, etc.

An MA thesis generally includes an evaluation of the ecological, social, political, economic, or legal implications of particular sustainable development policies, regulations, and practices; and/or a detailed case study and analysis of the ecological, social, political, economic, legal, scientific dimensions (or some combination of these) of a specific environmental issue or crisis.

An MSc thesis is a scientific study if the natural sciences and/or engineering, i.e. one that involves the collection, processing, and analysis of data (or synthesis of existing information) in pursuit of testing a hypothesis relating to a particular sustainable development issue or procedures that impact the physical and/or natural world; or a scientifically-based case study and analysis of the environmental issues central to a particular area or resource industry or a particular issue in, for example, toxicology, ecological sustainability, or technology.