How to Apply
If you have decided you are interested in the Environmental & Life Sciences program, there are a few things you should know before you apply.
Both the M.Sc. and Ph.D. programs are thesis-based, which means that you will be conducting your own research under the guidance of a supervisor. You are responsible for selecting your research topic and seeking out a potential supervisor.
Finding a supervisor
Before you apply to the program, we strongly recommend that you contact one of our faculty members who can serve as your thesis supervisor. Indicating you have a potential supervisor who has agreed to work with you on your application will greatly increase your chances of admission into the program. You might have top grades at your school, but you cannot be admitted without the support of a faculty supervisor.
Current Environmental & Life Sciences faculty and adjuncts are listed on our website, along with their contact information and research interests.
How to find a supervisor
Finding the right supervisor is a very important decision. It is often more important than finding the right graduate program! You will be working closely with this person for years, so your supervisor should be someone you work well with.
1. Start by looking for faculty who have similar research interests
To begin your search, look at our current faculty and adjunct listings. You will find an overview of their research interests and contact information. Many faculty also have links to their respective laboratories, which can help you more in understanding the kind of research they do. Be sure to browse these as well.
2. Reach out to potential faculty and get a chance to talk with them
Once you have found a supervisor you are interested in working with, you should reach out to them. Briefly introduce yourself, your research interests, and your intentions (i.e. which program you are interested in). If they are receptive to this inquiry, you should meet with them to discuss further. Meeting in-person is ideal, but talking over the phone or by video-conferencing apps also works. You can also talk to multiple faculty to find the right fit.
Check that you have all the information you need to proceed with confidence by completing the following checklist, also available in PDF. Download the Supervisor Interview Checklist.
- What is your research environment like?
- What are your expectations around time spend on course work, thesis research and teaching assistantships?
- Here are my ideas for a potential thesis topic. Is this feasible? What will my potential research topic be?
- How many graduate students do you currently have?
- Do you anticipate that you will be reasonably available for the duration of my program?
- On average how long do your students take to complete the program?
- Will we be meeting regularly? Will these meetings be scheduled, or held informally?
- Will there be group meetings that involve other students and/or faculty, such as lab meetings?
- On average, how long does it take you to provide feedback on draft thesis chapters?
Funding and Professional Development
- What is your role in providing financial support? Do you have funding available for my potential research project?
- What are some other sources and duration of funding available to me, such as scholarships and bursaries?
- Will I have opportunities to attend seminars and workshops?
- What is the availability of teaching assistantships in this program?
- Will I be receiving office and/or desk space?
- What are the course requirements for my program?
- How often are supervisory committee meetings to be held?
- How does the candidacy exam work? (for Ph.D. students)
3. Talk to current graduate students the faculty is supervising
Once you have met with a potential supervisor and you both are interested in working with each other, you should also talk to two or three students that the faculty is currently supervising. Their experiences can help you to determine if you will work well with this potential supervisor. We also recommend that you contact recent graduates who can relate information about the whole experience, including the final steps involved in graduation. You can request the names and contact information of Program alumni from the Program Office. You should ask these students about their experiences in working with their supervisor, as well as being a graduate student in general. Here are is an example of a checklist to use when meeting with current graduate students, which is also available in PDF. Download the Current Graduate Student Interview Checklist.
- How has your research experience been so far?
- What has your experience been in balancing research, course work and teaching assistantship(s)?
- Are you on track to complete your degree on time? If you are in the writing stage, how long is it taking to receive feedback in writing your thesis?
- Are you part of a laboratory with other graduate students? Do you have a support system to help each other in your research?
- How has your experience been working with this supervisor? What is their supervising style?
- Why did you first decide to work with this supervisor? Have these expectations been met so far?
- Would you recommend this person as a supervisor?
Funding and cost of living
- What sources of funding are you currently using? Is this meeting your cost of living?
- How did you find your current housing? What is the cost of living like?
- What is it like living in Peterborough?
Ready to apply?
Once you have found a faculty member willing to support your research, you are now ready to apply to the program. Applications to all Trent University graduate programs are done the same way, and you can consult the Trent Graduate Studies website for more detailed information about each step. You must apply through the Ontario University Application Centre, which is outlined on the Graduate Studies website.