Climate Science & Solutions FAQ
If you have questions, you’ll likely find the answers below. Search some of our most frequently asked questions below.
General questions and answers
How long will it take me to complete the program? Accordion Closed
- The program is intended to take 18 months to complete: 3 academic semesters (fall/spring/fall) and a summer internship. Students enter the program in the August/September (fall semester) and typically graduate in December of the following year.
How many students are in the program? Accordion Closed
- Each new cohort typically contains about 8-12 new students. When you enter the program in the fall, you will share some classes with the exiting cohort. Therefore, we have our largest student numbers in the fall (about 20-25 students).
How many credits do I need to graduate? Accordion Closed
- To complete the program, you need 36 total credit hours (download Program of Study).
- 18 credit hours of core courses;
- 12 credit hours from elective courses; and
- 6 credit hours of professional development (including a summer internship).
How many core courses are required as part of the degree and what do they cover? Accordion Closed
- As part of your 36-credit hours, you will be required to complete the program core (18-credit hours). The core consists of four, 3-credit courses ranging from the fundamental science of climate change and greenhouse gases to economics and systems thinking. The core also includes a 3-semester, 6-credit series focused on improving environmental discourse around climate change issues, including energy, ethical considerations of climate change, and climate change mitigation and adaptation choices.
What kind of electives can I take? Accordion Closed
- You will need to take up to 12 credit hours of electives. You will choose these elective courses in consultation with the CSS graduate coordinator. The electives you chose allow you to personalize your degree.
Is a thesis required to complete this degree? Accordion Closed
- No, this is a course-work based masters program. A thesis is not a component of this program. If you are interested in completing a thesis-based master’s degree, we suggest you look into our other graduate programs within the School of Earth and Sustainability.
If I have more questions about the program of study and degree requirements for the CSS program, whom can I talk to? Accordion Closed
Admission requirements and potential success in the program
When are applications due? Accordion Closed
- The graduate committee typically reviews applications to the program annually at the end of January and makes decisions on admission by early March. Therefore, to be considered for fall admission into the CSS program, we highly recommend that you submit your complete application, including the on-line application and letters of reference, by January 15th. We encourage students who are interested in applying after January 15th to contact us by email for information about potential options and space availability in the program.
Is completion of the Graduate Records Exam (GRE) required for admission into the program? Accordion Closed
- No, the GRE is not required for admission. If you have taken the GRE and would like to share you scores with us on your application, we encourage you to do so.
How many letters of recommendation do I need to include with my application? Accordion Closed
- In order to have a complete application, you should include 3 letters of recommendation. Please seek out referees that can speak to the quality of your work (e.g., past employers, professors, and/or mentors), as well as your potential success in graduate school (e.g., past/current professors). Avoid personal references from friends and relatives. Direct your references to submit their letters directly to the CSS program.
Is a specific undergraduate degree required for admission into the program? Accordion Closed
- No, we do not require that you hold an undergraduate degree in a particular field for admission into the program. Students from a wide variety of backgrounds (e.g., environmental science, geology, engineering, biology, psychology, environmental studies, political science, environmental policy, business, education, and many more) have excelled in this program. While a science-based undergraduate degree is not required for admission into the program, we do recommend that students have some basic coursework in math (e.g., college-level algebra, quantitative reasoning) and the sciences (e.g., physics, chemistry, biology) before entering the program. There are also resources available on campus to provide tutoring assistance in areas that they feel deficient in.
After I apply, when will I hear back if I am accepted to the program? Accordion Closed
- You should hear back on whether you are admitted to the program by the end of March. For more information please contact Amy Wolkowinsky, SES Graduate Coordinator.
Do I need Arizona or in-state residency to be admitted into the program? Accordion Closed
- No. All applicants are classified at the time of admission as either a resident or non-resident based on the information provided in the application. In addition, the CSS program is part of the Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP), which allows some out-of-state students (non-residents) to qualify for in-state tuition rates. For more information, see the link above and the information below under the FAQs for “financing your degree”.
Do I need to be a U.S. citizen to be admitted into the program? Accordion Closed
- No. International students applying for admissions into NAU graduate programs, however, have additional admission requirements, including financial guarantee statements, submission of official transcripts, and submission of TOEFL test scores or the equivalent. Visit the Graduate College or contact the Graduate College by email or call 928-523-4348 for more information.
English is not my first language; will I be able to do well in this program? Accordion Closed
- Non-native English learners have succeeded in this program. The small class size of many of NAU’s graduate classes offered, along with the opportunity for many group and team learning activities, can assist international students in their learning. The University requires a minimum TOEFL score of 80 on the internet-based test, or 550 on the paper-based test. The minimum IELTS score is 7.0. Refer to the Graduate College for more information.
I haven’t had much work experience; will this impact my ability to do well in this program? Accordion Closed
- Many students go on to get their master’s degree directly following their undergraduate studies. The program itself will give you some professional experience (e.g., performing a greenhouse gas inventory for a real-world client). As part of the program, you will also complete a professional internship that will provide additional professional experience.
If I have more questions about my application/admission into the program, whom may I talk to? Accordion Closed
- For questions about the on-line application or about general admission requirements for NAU, please contact the Graduate College.
- For information on how to submit letters of reference or whether we have received your application materials, please contact Amy Wolkowinsky.
- If you have additional questions about the specific admission requirements for the CSS program, please contact Robert Sanford, PhD., CSS Graduate Advisor.
Financing your degree
How much will my degree cost me? Accordion Closed
- The cost of attending graduate school includes tuition and fees, as well as books, room and board, transportation expenses, etc. In addition to tuition and fees, students enrolled in the CSS program must pay a $4,500 program fee ($1,500 a semester). This program fee pays for the professional development aspects of the program.
Do I qualify for in-state tuition rates? Accordion Closed
- To qualify for in-state tuition rates, students must be a resident of Arizona. Proof of residency is required. In addition, the CSS program is part of the Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP), which allows some out-of-state students to qualify for in-state tuition rates. Students classified as non-residents by the Admission Office may petition to change their residency status. However, it generally takes at least 12 months of physical presence in Arizona to establish residency.
What does the CSS program fee pay for? Accordion Closed
- The CSS program has a program fee of $4,500. Payment of the program fee is spread over three semesters (i.e., $1,500 a semester) and goes to support the professional development and career development services provided to you during and after the completion of your degree.
Is there financial support available? Accordion Closed
- Limited tuition assistance (e.g., tuition waivers) may be available to CSS students. The availability of tuition waivers varies and will be awarded on an as-needed basis. In addition, we encourage our students to apply for competitive scholarships within and outside of the school. Refer to the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid website for more information. Additional scholarship and assistantship opportunities may be available through NAU, please refer to the Graduate College website for more information.
Am I eligible for student loans? Accordion Closed
- The CSS program is one of the most cost-effective professional science masters programs available. However, if you are concerned about financing your degree, we encourage you to contact the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid to learn more about current loan rates and scholarship opportunities.
May I work while I am enrolled in the program? Accordion Closed
- The CSS program is an 18-month intensive program and is not conducive to part-time study. Therefore, full-time employment while enrolled in the program is not advised. However, some students choose to seek part-time employment to help cover tuition and living expenses.
What if I need to take time off from the program? Accordion Closed
- Life happens. Students may apply for a leave of absence from the program. The conditions of leave of absence petitions are negotiated on a case-by-case basis.
If I have more questions about financing my education, whom may I talk to? Accordion Closed
Living and finding housing in Flagstaff
What is Flagstaff like? Accordion Closed
- Flagstaff is located in northern Arizona at 7,000 feet and is situated within the world’s largest Ponderosa pine forest. Only 80 miles from the Grand Canyon, Flagstaff is a four season, mountain community of 68,000 people. There is plenty to do outdoors including hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, and camping. Flagstaff has consistently been rated one of the best places to live in the western U.S.
What is the cost of living in Flagstaff? Accordion Closed
What does this degree prepare me for?
I’m not sure what I want to do for my career other than that I want to work on climate issues. Will this program help me decide what to do with my degree? Accordion Closed
- The Professional Development Coordinator works with every student in the CSS program to provide you with resources to secure both a summer internship (required) and a job upon graduation. Our Professional Development Coordinator also continues to serve as a resource for you after you graduate. While enrolled in the program, we encourage each student to meet with the Professional Development Coordinator for one-on-one coaching at least once a month. This coaching, along with the professional development courses, help you to identify career options and determine a career path that plays to your strengths and interests. The professional development courses also provide you with the chance for individual reflection on what you bring to a professional environment to ensure you have the best fit with a potential employer.
What are my job prospects if I get my degree in Climate Science and Solutions? Accordion Closed
- Many organizations are looking for people that can understand, explain, and implement programs to mitigate and adapt to climate change. CSS graduates hold positions in the private sector in the areas of greenhouse gas accounting and verification, sustainability planning, renewable energy, and energy policy. In addition, we have many graduates that work with local governments (e.g., sustainability directors, climate scientists and analysts, energy policy analysts, land managers) and non-profits helping organizations and communities mitigate the impacts of climate change and implement adaptation strategies for their region. Some of our graduates even go on to earn their PhD in climate-related fields. In general, the climate-related industry is growing, and there are many job opportunities for individuals graduating from programs like ours. Refer to our alumni page for more information about where our graduates are working now.
What if I decide I want to go on to pursue my PhD? Does this program work like other master’s programs to prepare me for PhD-level work? Accordion Closed
- Yes, several graduates have gone on to pursue a PhD.
If I have more questions about what this degree prepares me for, with whom may I speak? Accordion Closed
What is different about the CSS program compared to other degrees?
What makes the Climate Science & Solutions (CSS) program different from other masters’ of science programs? Accordion Closed
- The CSS Program is an 18-month Professional Science Master’s (PSM) program. PSMs are graduate degrees designed to provide students with advanced training in the sciences, while also helping them develop the workplace skills desired by employers. In the area of climate science, employers are looking for science-trained professionals that have business, project management, and communication skills. In order to provide students with the skills to compete in today’s competitive job market, our CSS PSM degree is more professionally oriented than other more traditional masters’ of science degrees. Therefore, we require students to complete a professional internship rather than a master’s thesis. Our program is also unique in that all students and graduates have access to a career coordinator that works with each student to help them apply their scientific knowledge, experience, and unique skills in a professional setting.
Does the CSS program have any guidance from industry? Accordion Closed
- Yes. An Advisory Board of industry leaders helps to guide and advise our program. CSS students have a chance to interact annually with our advisory board members.
If I have more questions about the unique aspects of our program, with whom may I speak? Accordion Closed
- For more information about the CSS program curriculum and coursework, contact: Robert Sanford, CSS Graduate Coordinator.