Frequently asked questions

I have a strong interest in sustainability, corporate social responsibility, climate change etc. but have absolutely no work experience in any of these fields. I note the selection criteria alludes to "relevant practice experience". Will my application be less competitive because I have no experience?

No. We do not expect candidates to have relevant practical experience in sustainability and related fields. You can be admitted to MSEE direct from a BA in English Literature, just as you can by possessing an MSc in Chemical Engineering and having had 15+ years working in industry on sustainability issues. What we do expect however, is that you have an informed interest in these fields, and demonstrate a genuine passion and/or curiosity toward sustainability issues throughout your application (e.g. in the personal statement). If you do already possess relevant experience this of course is a very welcome addition to your application. However it won't necessarily improve (but neither reduce) your chances of gaining acceptance into the programme.

How strict are the academic requirements? I've heard that you want a 3.7/4 GPA in the U.S grading system. I have a 3.68. Will I still be considered?

The MSc programmes across the School of Geography and the Environment, including the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment (i.e. the forthcoming MSc in Sustainability, Enterprise and the Environment) all make use of the same criteria pertaining to academic achievement as the key entry requirement: Proven and potential academic excellence.

In the vast majority of instances, this typically means that the applicant should have achieved or be predicted to achieve the equivalent of a U.K. first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with Honours. In U.S terms this typically means a 3.7/4 GPA.

However, when assessing applicants on this criterion we do look at the big picture. Reference letters, CV, personal statements, writing samples, and so on allow us to make a more holistic, complete and accurate assessment as to the applicant's academic ability. For this reason, the 1st or strong upper 2.1, or 3.7 U.S. GPA, is not a hard and fast rule in and of itself but rather a very good and accurate indication as to the level of academic achievement that is expected.

Should I do the GRE/GMAT? Will it increase my chances of getting in?

GRE General Test Scores or GMAT Scores are not a required or recommended part of the application process for this course (for a short period in early September GRE was listed on the SSEE website as encouraged, but this is no longer the case). You are not expected, nor encouraged, to submit scores from either of these examinations. If you wish you mention GRE/GMAT results in your CV/personal statement then you are of course free to do so - just as you are free to mention any other academic achievement. However, it will not increase (nor diminish) your chances of gaining acceptance.

I've been working for the last 10 years and lost touch with my lecturers/professors from my university days. How should I go about getting two academic references? Can I just have three work references instead?

Universities are usually very happy to write letters of reference. It is an unspoken expectation of the academic institution that faculty write these letters - even many years later and even for students they cannot personally remember (they may ask your help to jog their memory). However, we understand that in a few select cases this may be difficult, and in some cases impossible. In these rare instances we sometimes accept one of the two academic letters from a non-academic reference, so long as they can speak somewhat to your intellectual ability, academic achievement and motivation. Please contact the Course Director MSEE laurence.wainwright@smithschool.ox.ac.uk to discuss this option before proceeding with it.