Environmental Science / Environmental Studies

Welcome to Master of Environmental Science and
Master of Environmental Studies

Environmental challenges in the 21st century are complex: we believe solutions will be found by bridging what divides us. Nipissing’s Graduate Program in Environmental Science/Studies offers students the chance to study contemporary environmental issues while considering multiple perspectives.

Nipissing’s Master of Environmental Science (MESc)/Master of Environmental Studies (MES) programs take an interdisciplinary approach to explore and address environmental issues by considering and integrating ideas and methodologies from the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences.

Flexible graduate programming means students can choose a 1-year (major paper) or 2-year (research thesis) option to earn a Master of Environmental Science or Master of Environmental Studies degree.

The programs consist of course work plus a Major Research Paper (one-year program) or coursework plus a Thesis (two-year program), and are offered on a full-time or flex-time basis.

Click here to learn more about the research being done by our current and past students!

Master of Environmental Science/Studies (MESc/MES)

All students require 24 credits to complete the Master of Environmental Science or Master of Environmental Studies degree; however, they can choose the program structure that works best for them, depending on their career goals:

Thesis Route (four three-credit courses + thesis)

The thesis route provides students with the opportunity to pursue original research questions by conceiving, designing and executing a study in their area of interest. Course work provides exposure to interdisciplinary thinking and development of technical expertise in a specific area of interest.

  • Four, three-credit courses
  • Thesis (12 credits)
  • Two years to complete
  • This offers appropriate preparation for further graduate studies at the doctoral level or for a career in research, consulting, or government

Major Research Paper Route (six three-credit courses + MRP)

The Major Research Paper (MRP) route offers students a less extensive research experience that involves analysis and interpretation of ideas and information, while emphasizing a broad exposure to environmental systems and problem solving through additional graduate-level course work.

  • Six, three-credit courses
  • Major Research Paper (six credits)
  • One year to complete
  • This route is appropriate for providing additional training for working professionals or recent graduates who wish to expand upon their disciplinary training while further developing their research skills.
UArctic logo

University of the Arctic (UArctic)

Nipissing University is a member institution of the University of the Arctic (UArctic), a global higher education and research network with more than 200 institutions and organizations.

UArctic activities are organized by thematic network. Nipissing MES/MESc students interested in Northern Tourism can apply to take courses offered by this thematic network, either as electives in their MES/MESc plan of study or as separate complimentary skills and knowledge development. Courses are offered in English by three host institutions (University of Lapland, University of Oulu and the University of Iceland). With supervisory approval, students can take up to two courses to count towards their MES/MESc degree. Taking all three courses provides students with a certificate of completion, a value added ‘addition’ to their Master’s degree at Nipissing University. 

Courses offered by the Northern Tourism program include:

  • Sustainable tourism development in northern environment (online)
  • Northern tourism:  performances and experiences (online)
  • Graduate Field course: northern tourism in practice (in person)

For more information on UArtic’s thematic network on Northern Tourism, please see the link below or contact Dr. Pat Maher, Dean of Teaching, Nipissing University.

For additional information on UArctics’ Study Catalogue, check out

Prior to submitting application

Before applying to the Master of Environmental Science/Studies graduate program, it is important to familiarize yourself with the requirements of this specific program.

Applicants must hold a four-year undergraduate degree in any discipline from an accredited University and at least a 75% average on the last ten full (20 semester) courses completed at the time of application, or equivalent qualifications to be considered for admission. Applicants are also required to submit a Statement of Academic Intent which explains how the MES/MESc program relates to previous academic studies.

Students are highly encouraged to contact faculty to discuss potential supervision/research interests prior to submitting their applications to the program. All students must have an approved supervisor to be admitted to the program.

Language requirements


Tuition and Fees

Funding and Financial Aid - Scholarships, Bursaries and Awards

​Funding is available to graduate students from both internal and external sources. Internal funding includes teaching/research assistantships, faculty research grants, and Nipissing Graduate Scholarships. The value of these scholarships varies. Students are also encouraged to compete for scholarships from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Ontario Graduate Scholarships (OGS), the Canada Graduate Scholarship, and the Mackenzie King Memorial Scholarship.

It is also possible for students to be funded by external research grants to faculty. This is not guaranteed, but it is possible. Please contact potential supervisor to explore additional funding opportunities.

team getting buoys ready

Nipissing University offers physical spaces and research equipment that facilitate productive research. Faculty research spaces are dedicated to a variety of approaches and methods of environmental inquiry, and include groups focused on aquatic behavioural ecology, forest resources, environmental history, near earth observation, environmental chemistry, water resource management and watershed hydrology.

Our graduate students study and teach in well-equipped classrooms, seminar rooms, and research labs. Our graduate student lounge and interdisciplinary office provide dedicated space where students can meet and collaborate. Graduate students also have access to specialized research facilities at Nipissing, including the central analytical facility (CAF) which includes a Transmission Electron Microscope, the plant growth facility and greenhouse complex, the Integrative Watershed Research Centre, the herbarium, and the Nipissing University-Alcan Environmental Research Preserve, a field station on the shores of Lake Talon.

The Harris Learning Library was completed in 2011 and provides 56,000 square feet of study space with natural light and modern design. The new library features outstanding access to electronic journal resources, federal and provincial maps, government documents and databases, expanded print collections, a learning commons, an adaptive technology area, and collaborative work spaces.

Greenhouse Complex

The Nipissing Greenhouse Complex is a state-of-the-art greenhouse that features three large growth zones. Each zone features independent computer controlled temperature, humidity and lighting that can be custom programmed for each plant and growing condition.

Plant Growth Facility

The Plant Growth Facility is located on the roof of Nipissing University's H-Wing. This facility houses two controlled growth chambers capable of regulating humidity, temperature and light over a 24-hour period.

Animal Research Facility

A state-of-the-art high security Animal Research Facility where animals can be humanely studied by means of research projects that have been scrutinized and approved by the Animal Care Committee.

Central Analytical Facility

The Central Analytical Facility was created through a Canadian Foundation for Innovation initiative which brought together various stakeholders including Nipissing University, the Governments of Canada and Ontario, Varian Canada, Perkin Elmer and Fisher Scientific.

Forest Resources Laboratory

Research in the Forest Resources Laboratory (FRL) focuses on aspects of biology at the community, ecosystem and landscape levels of organization. Using the forests of the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence and Northeastern Boreal regions of Ontario as our natural laboratory.

Environment Monitoring Network

wind sensor

In partnership with the Northeastern Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (NEOSCIA), three weather stations have been set up in north eastern Ontario to monitor weather conditions for local farmers and students.

Alcan Field Station

The Nipissing University-Alcan Environmental Research Preserve (NUAERP) consists of over 3 km² of wilderness land located approximately 45 km east of North Bay.

North Bay Rotary Club Wet Lab

This lab is equipped with two large fume hoods, two convection ovens, a pH station, an oscillating shaker, a centrifuge, and three weighing stations, including top-loading pan balances and precision balances. Workstations include, sinks, electrical and gas outlets, soil sample storage space, and appropriate glassware and smaller equipment for conducting a number of basic soil analyses. A microvideo system with polarizing and binocular microscopes allows for close-up work with soil minerals and soil biology in soil science, and with rocks and minerals in geology. The wet lab also doubles as a geology lab and contains built-in cabinets for storing display samples and class-sets of rock, mineral and fossil samples appropriate for introductory geology.

Earth Observation Laboratory

This laboratory is used primarily for the analysis of digital remotely sensed imagery acquired from various satellite platforms including Landsat, SPOT, Radarsat-1 & 2, RapidEye, ENVISAT ASAR, ALOS PALSAR/AVNIR-2, Quickbird WorldView-2 and IKONOS. There are two main PCs which support the most updated versions of PCI Geomatica, ENVI, SAR Polarimetry Workstation and Definiens Developer. An ASD FieldSpec HandHeld Portable Spectroradiometer is available for field data collection.

Watershed Hydrology Laboratory

deploying buoys from boat

This laboratory supports catchment hydrology, lake and weather monitoring, and computer modelling. Field and lab equipment supports use of a range of environmental tracers of water movement and sources within the landscape.

Water Policy Analysis Lab

In the Water Policy Lab at Nipissing University we focus on comparing the principles of integrated watershed management and good governance with water resources decision processes in the province. Current research efforts focus on First Nations drinking water and wastewater issues.

Geomatics Laboratory

The Geomatics Lab is equipped with industry leading software, e.g. ArcGIS, PCI Geomatica, and PASW. Students working in the Geomatics Lab have the opportunity to gain hands on experience to work on various types of digital spatial datasets, satellite image, and radar images.

Campus Trail System​

Come visit our 20 km trail network conveniently located behind Nipissing University and Canadore College in North Bay, Ontario. Each of the 16 trails is unique for its beautiful scenes, trees, wildlife, and flora. Enjoy Lake Nipissing’s remarkable beauty on top of the look out tower, or walk beside the soothing Duchesnay falls. There are different difficulty levels for each trail to suit every enthusiastic outdoors person. Trails are suited for kids to seniors and skiers to hikers. Click here to learn more about our Campus Trail System.

Graduate Student Centre - R229

Nipissing University graduate students have access to an interdisciplinary office facility designed to be a central place for graduate students to study and interact with each other. The Graduate Student Centre totals 833 square feet and is able to accommodate more than 60 students. In addition, the Graduate Student Centre is equipped with a telephone, wireless and hardwired internet, and access to shared printing.

All graduate students are eligible for access to the Graduate Student Centre. Keys are assigned by the Vice-President Operations office, B215. Students are required to pay a $25.00 deposit for a key in the Finance office prior to receiving their key.

There are 30 individual study carrels along the perimeter of the room that are assigned to individual students, or two who request to share. Assignments of designated spaces will be on a first come first serve basis.

Graduate Program Coordinator

Graduate Program Faculty

Adjunct Faculty

Adjunct Faculty

Dr. Jiangui Liu, Physical Scientist
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Dr. Bao-Luo Ma, Senior Research Scientist
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Dr. Merrin Macrae, Assistant Professor
University of Waterloo 

Dr. Heather McNairn, Research Scientist
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Dr. Frank Tough, Professor
University of Alberta

Dr. Elizabeth Webb, Associate Professor
Western University

Dr. Huaxia Yao, Hydrologist and Meteorology Scientist
Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, Dorset Environmental Science Centre

Post-Graduation Opportunities and Careers

Graduates of the program may go on to doctoral programs, or enter careers in government and industry. As professionals they may work in areas such as environmental policy, planning, impact assessment, natural resource management, scientific research and education. Additional information on Environmental Careers and professional accreditations may be found through a range of organizations such as Eco Canada (www.eco.ca), Professional Geoscientists Ontario (www.pgo.ca), Ontario Professional Foresters Association (www.opfa.ca), among others.

Research Groups

Information on specific research groups and graduate student opportunities can be found by linking to individual MES/MESc faculty webpages under the ‘Contact Us’ tab.