How to apply

Program overview and deadlines


Thesis or major research project.


The program begins in September and you must enroll full time.

  • Thesis: 24 months
  • Capstone with research project: 12 months

CO-OP: You can apply for CO-OP at the end of your first month in the program. This extends the program for either option by two terms.

The compulsory courses for the program are currently offered in English. They will be offered in French in the future. In accordance with the regulations of the University of Ottawa, examinations, assignments, and the research paper or thesis may be written in the official language of the student’s choice (either English or French).

Application deadlines

  • Canadian citizens and permanent residents: February 1 (to begin in September of the same year)
  • International students: December 1 (to begin in September of the following year)
Admission Criteria

Admission is limited. Applications are evaluated both independently and in relation to each other.

Prior studies

You must have an honour’s bachelor with a minimum average of B (or 70%), preferably in one of the following disciplines:

  • Environmental studies
  • Geography
  • Economics
  • Environmental science
  • Political science
  • International development
  • Environmental engineering
  • Law

We may also consider applicants from other disciplines as well as applicants with a non-honours bachelor’s degree. 

Please note that you must submit an official transcript from each establishment of higher education that you have attended, including for educational exchanges.

Language requirements

Compulsory courses are offered in English. If your mother tongue is not English, you might have to submit proof of language proficiency.

See our language requirements.

Applying online

Apply online through the Ontario Universities Admission Centre (OUAC). Learn more about the steps to apply.

Required documents

You must submit these documents to complete your application:

Letter of intention
Provide an overview of your academic interests and career goals, and explain why you want to pursue this master’s. Describe your relevant studies or experience, and explain anything unusual in your academic history.

If your undergraduate degree is in something unrelated to environmental sustainability, indicate what background, experience or motivation you will bring to our program.

Supervisor Commitment: You must have a confirmed supervisor at the time of application. Please upload an email confirmation of supervision from your potential supervisor via uoDoc. 

Recommendation letters

We require two (2) academic letters of recommendation. They must come from qualified academic scholars who can attest to and demonstrate your potential for graduate-level study or research.

The information about the individuals providing letters of recommendation is entered in your uoZone account, the student portal. You will receive an e-mail, with instructions, after your submit your OUAC application.

  • Let the individuals know that the University of Ottawa’s letter of recommendation process is done online and is entirely confidential. They will receive a link by email to the secure online system.
  • It is helpful to provide the individuals with a deadline in order to ensure they submit their letters of recommendation before the application deadline. Your application will not be considered complete (and thus not evaluated) until all your letters of recommendation are received.
  • Letters of recommendation must be in English or French.
  • We do not accept letters of recommendation from family members, friends, students, former or current classmates, employees or teaching assistants.
  • It’s best to provide academic or work email addresses for those providing letters of recommendation. Email address from Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo, etc. are discouraged.

Statement of Research Interests
The Statement of Research Interests shows your understanding of environmental sustainability issues, and your ability to describe the research you expect to conduct. It also helps to match you with a suitable supervisor, or to confirm that a supervisor you have contacted is right for you.

We understand that if you are admitted, your research area may change due to further research and guidance from your supervisor.

Your Statement of Research Interests should be no more than 1,000 words. It should identify an area of research in environmental sustainability that spans more than one discipline/knowledge area and has potential policy relevance.

Ensure that your statement is well written and structured. It should address the following, using sub-headings for each section (the word counts for each section are offered as guidelines only).

  • Research area:  The area of research that interests you, including the problem you wish to address. (300 words) 
  • Research question/hypothesis: One or more research questions you wish to examine. Narrow your scope enough that your project can be completed. A research question like “What is the impact of climate change on Africa?” is too broad, whereas a question like “How does over-exploitation of groundwater in Africa affect girls’ attendance at school?” is clearly defined and possible to answer well. (100 words)
  • Research methodology: How you propose to go about answering your research question, with a focus on the methodological approach. (250 words)
  • Relevant experience: How your previous studies and/or your professional or community experience will help you address your proposed area of research. (150 words)
  • Relevance: How your research will improve the current state of knowledge in the proposed area, and its potential policy relevance. (200 words)

You may want to consult some of the many texts about choosing research and research methods. Two examples for introductory empirical economics and public policy are:

  • Wooldridge, J.M. Introductory Econometrics. 4th ed. South-Western, 2009. (chapter 19)
  • Weimer, D. and Vining, A. Policy Analysis: Concepts and Practice. 5th ed. Longman, 2010.   (chapters 1, 9, 14, 15)

Writing sample
A sample (or an extract) of an article or essay that you have written in French or English, between 10 and 20 pages in length. We will use it to assess your research and writing abilities, so select a piece that best exemplifies them. Do not submit something that was jointly written or professionally edited.

An updated CV with your academic, professional and volunteer experience in environmental sustainability.

Submission of documents 

Once you have submitted your application and it has been transferred to uOttawa’s servers, you will receive an email with instructions on how to access uoZone, where you will be able to upload your documents.

You must upload a full set of documents for each program you are applying to through uoZone, the student portal.

If you prefer, you may submit the above mentioned documents via e-mail at [email protected] instead.

  • We highly recommend that you convert your documents to PDF formats.
Finding a supervisor

Your choice of supervisor will have a large impact on your work and overall experience. Find a faculty member who shares your passion and area of interest, and is available to take on a student.

You must identify a potential supervisor at admission and clearly indicate the name of the uOttawa professor who has agreed to supervise your research in your letter of intent. 

If you cannot obtain a supervisor commitment by the admission deadline, we will still review your application but you may receive a conditional offer of admission. In this case, you will need to formalize a supervisor commitment prior to starting the program in September.

See the list of our program’s faculty. To find professors with these research interests elsewhere at uOttawa, see uOttawa Experts.  Enter keywords such as “environment” or “climate change” to find professors with these interests.

You can contact potential supervisors yourself.

If you are communicating with a potential supervisor via e-mail, please include this subject line: Potential Master’s of Environmental Sustainability program Research Supervisor. Make sure that you’ve done your research on the professor’s interests and include relevant information such as your resume/CV and to describe your own research interests.

International students

This section contains specific information for international students. See the other sections for general information.

Deadline to apply: December 1 (to begin in September of the following year)

If you completed your postsecondary education outside of Canada, see the admission equivalencies for international students. You will see the minimum degree and grade you require.

The grade average required for this program is 7.0. Admission is limited. Applicants are evaluated both independently and in relation to each other.

Compulsory courses in the program are currently offered in English. If your mother tongue is not English, you must submit evidence of proficiency in English (scroll down to “Language requirements”).  Schedule your language proficiency test as soon as possible.

We accept supporting documents (such as TOEFL scores) after December 1. However, we cannot process your application until we have received all your documents. 

Please note that you will need to submit an official transcript from each establishment of higher education that you have attended, including for educational exchanges.

Contact us

For questions about your application or the application process, contact Institute of the Environment:

  • 613-562-5689


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