What is the length of the program?

The MA takes 2 years of full-time work (full-time is 9 units/semester), which is 36 units of coursework. A final Integrative Seminar is taken during the student's final spring semester in lieu of a thesis.

The Phd takes, on average, between 4 and 6 years. After 2 years of full-time coursework (totalling 36 units) the student completes two comprehensive exams (1 year total), a dissertation proposal (1 semester), and writing the dissertation, followed by a dissertation defense (1 semester to 2 years).

How many students are admitted to the program annually?

The program does not have a limit to the number of students we enroll each semester. On average we admit between 3 to 6 students each semester.

How competitive is the selection process?

Selection is dependent on demonstrated commitment to and experience with the topics and issues addressed in the ESR program, along with a good academic record and writing skills.  Generally, we admit students who do not necessarily have an undergraduate degree in environmental studies, religious studies, philosophy, or the humanities, but one's success in the program and ability to grasp content might be strengthened if this is the case.

For PhD students, it is essential that the applicant's proposed dissertation research be in an area that is congruent with the expertise of the faculty in the program.

Is a GRE (or similar) required?

No GRE is required for admission to the ESR MA or PhD program.

What kinds of students are attracted to this program?

The program attracts students who are interested in the intersection of ecology and spirituality, as well as those interest in the emerging field of religion and ecology. Those students who wish to engage in cutting edge research on some of the most important issues humans and the Earth community currently face (climate change, species extinction, water scarcity, biodiversity loss, ocean acidification, ethnic and cultural apartheid, etc.) using interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary methods will find ESR to be a supportive learning environment. In addition, our program attracts students who wish to engage in holistic learning, creative and transformative inquiry, balanced with academic rigor and integrated with spirituality.

CIIS students are generally interested in the intersection of academics and activism, social justice and diversity, as well as transformative inquiry.

Can I connect with an alum or current student?

Yes. Please contact ESR Admissions Counselor Richard Wormstall at rwormstall@ciis.edu, or ESR program coordinator (and current ESR doctoral student) Kim Carfore at kcarfore@ciis.edu, and they will connect you with someone.

Can you provide alumni career profiles for existing graduates of the program?

The program has been in existence for four years. We have graduated two MA students: one transfer student from another program at CIIS and one ESR student. The first student is now working with the Canadian government developing water policies. The other student is working with Interfaith Power & Light and is assisting with the No Coal in Oakland campaign.

Both students report their studies have helped them advance professionally.

Can I study from a distance? Are there any plans to offer this course of study online?

It is a longer-term goal to offer online courses of study. However, currently the Ecology, Spirituality, and Religion program only offers courses on-campus.

Can I work full-time while enrolled in the program?

Yes, it is possible. However, this situation is rare.

If you do choose to work full-time (40 hrs/week) we recommend that you enroll part-time as a student (3 credits/semester). Working full-time drastically increases the length of time it will take to complete the degree.

Most students work part-time (around 20 hrs/week) or fund their entire degree through loans and scholarships.

Can I study part-time?

Yes, this is possible. Part-time student status is taking between 1 and 8 units per semester.

When are the classes?

Classes are normally held on the weekdays (Monday -Friday). Each course meets one day per week in 3-hour blocks. There are three available time-slots for courses: 11:45am-2:45pm, 3:00-6:00pm, and 6:15-9:15pm.

This makes it more convenient for students who choose to live outside of San Francisco to block their schedules and only travel into the city on average 2 days per week instead of 5 days per week.

Occasional weekend intensive courses are offered. A weekend intensive course is one which meets on the weekends over the course of several weekends. These are typically 1-2 units but some offer 3 units of credit if they run for longer.

How large are the classes?

Classes tend to be small, ranging from 5 to 30 students per class. Many courses are a combination of lecture, question and answer, and dialogue. CIIS prides itself in integral learning and works towards offering an inclusive learning environment to students.

How much time will I need to plan in each week for coursework?

Generally, each hour spent in class generates three hours of homework. Therefore, if one is taking 9 units per semester she or he can expect to spend 36 hours on home reading and writing assignments.

The Ph.D takes 2 years of full-time coursework (36 units) in addition to 1 year of comprehensive exams, and 2-4 years of dissertation work (dissertation proposal, committee formation, research and writing, and an oral defense).

The M.A. takes 2 years of full-time coursework (36 units).

How much does the program cost?

The ESR MA program is 36 units and the ESR PhD program is a minimum of 36 units. Current tuition costs are $1,056 at the MA level and $1,220 per unit at the PhD level. In addition, there is a registration fee of $85 per semester and tech fee of $75 a semester.

For an estimated total cost of attendance, please check out this document.

For the most comprehensive information on costs of attendance please contact our Financial Aid office at 415-575-6122, or email finaid@ciis.edu.Visit the Financial Aid website for more information.

Do you offer fellowships?

We do not currently offer fellowships. However, please browse the financial aid website for information on how to secure fellowships from external sources (outside of CIIS).

What kind of funding avenues exist for this program?

You can review other scholarships available to CIIS on our Scholarships Page. There are also external scholarships available through websites like the following: www.finaid.org and www.fastweb.com.

Check out the Funding Your Education link to discover more avenues for funding. Please note that this scholarship guide was created by the Women's Spirituality department and is tailored towards her students.

International applicants should check out the International Student website, or contact our International Student Advisor, Jody O'Connor, at 415-575-6157, or email joconnor@ciis.edu for funding related information.

What is the skill set that will emerge through this program?

Students will develop their critical thinking, public speaking, communication, research, teaching, writing, and creativity. CIIS offers a supportive learning environment and strives towards diversity and inclusion

For a list of ESR job prospects, check out our Job Prospects Page.

How can I learn more about the program?

Browse our website to learn more about the Ecology, Spirituality, and Religion program including curriculum, ESR news and events, and videos.

Attend an information session! check out the events tab on the website for the most up-to-date information on when they are held.

Check out our ESR Youtube channel!

Make sure to like us on Facebook!We share relevant articles, news stories, events, and new book publications in the field.

If you would like to be connected to a current student or alumni, please browse the biographies of our current ESR students and alumni. Email students directly (if their emaill address is included in their bios) or contact ESR program coordinator Kim Carfore at kcarfore@ciis.edu to connect you to students.

Can I sit in on classes?

Yes. We recommend this. Please contact ESR Admissions Counselor Richard Wormstall at rwormstall@ciis.edu if you are interested in scheduling a visit.

When can I apply?

We begin accepting applications for the spring semester in September and for the fall semester in November. It is highly recommended that you submit all application materials at least two weeks before the February 1, 2016 priority deadline for the Fall semester & at least two weeks before the October 15, 2016 priority deadline for the Spring semester in order to avoid delays in having your application reviewed. The final deadline for applications for the Fall semester is August 1, 2016.

Applicants who apply by the fall priority deadline will be notified of the admissions decision by April 1, with enrollment deposits required by May 1. If you are mailing your application from outside the United States, mail it at least thirty days before the department deadline. Applications are accepted after the posted deadline on a space-available basis.

What do I need to do in order to apply?

For information on application requirements, procedures for admissions, and program-specific application deadlines, or to complete an application online, please visit the Admissions Website for more information. To contact the ESR Admissions counselor please call 415-575-6152, or email Richard Wormstall at rwormstall@ciis.edu. The ESR Admissions Counselor will be pleased to answer your questions.

Do you have rolling admissions? Or must I wait for the application to be released in Nov?

We have rolling admissions.

When can I start in the program?

Fall semester begins at the end of August. The spring semester begins at the end of January.

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