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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the EE&S Graduate Program

What is the address of the Graduate School?
Office of Graduate Admissions
E-209 Martin Hall
Clemson University
Clemson, SC 29634

Can I enter the PhD program with a BS?
Generally we advise students with a BS to enter as a masters (MS) student rather than directly into the PhD program. We will admit students with a BS to the PhD program only if they have an exceptional record of achievement and have extensive research experience during undergraduate study. Publications and presentations to regional, national, and international meetings are evidence of your experience. Letters of recommendation from your undergraduate research mentor that explains your role in the research is also considered.

What are the requirements for admission?
We require applicants to have the equivalent of four semesters of calculus including ordinary differential equations, two semesters of chemistry, and two semesters of calculus-based physics. We also ask our applicants to complete a personal statement about why they want to study environmental engineering and science. As most programs do, we require scores for the GRE (of all applicants) and TOEFL (of non-native English speakers). The 25th and 75th percentiles for the GRE scores of accepted and matriculated students for the past two years are available on the EEES web site. We use a score of 90 on the TOEFL exam as a threshold for admission. Recommendation letters are also important. The letter writers should be familiar with your academic performance and any research experience that you have. We require two letters for the MS degree and three letters for the PhD degree.

What does conditional acceptance mean?
For full acceptance by the Graduate School, some condition must be met such as the final transcript for the undergraduate or masters degree must be sent to the Graduate School. Sometimes the student must meet a English language proficiency standard before they will be fully admitted. The department may also have conditions such as completion of a co-requisite or retake of the GRE exam.

Can I apply for the Spring semester?
It is best to apply for the Fall semester, which begins around the middle of August, because the sequence of classes is designed for students who begin in the Fall. We do accept a few applicants each year for the Spring semester, which begins in January. However, there are usually no assistantships available for Spring applicants. Nearly all of our assistantships are awarded to applicants for the Fall.

When is the deadline for application?
We do not have a deadline for our applications. We accept applications throughout the year. However, if you wish to be automatically considered for a research or teaching assistantship, you must apply before January 15th for the following Fall semester or before October 1st for the following Spring semester. All materials (e.g., GRE and TOEFL scores, letters of recommendation, transcripts) must be received before the deadline. Typically most assistantships are available for students who begin their studies in the Fall semester; there are usually no assistantships available for the Spring semester.

What is the composition of the student body?
The Department of Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences currently has more than 100 graduate students in the its three graduate programs: Environmental Engineering and Science, Hydrogeology, and Biosystems Engineering. In the Environmental Engineering and Science program there are about 50 studying for their MS degree and about 25 working on their PhD degree. The students come from a variety of academic backgrounds and some with industrial or government experience. Students have background in chemistry, geology, physics, environmental engineering, civil engineering, chemical engineering, and mechanical engineering. Students hail from all over the United States as well as Mexico, Thailand, Vietnam, China, India, Poland, Ghana, Nigeria, and Turkey.

Where do graduates find jobs?
The majority of our masters graduates work in consulting firms. Some of the firms specialize in environmental remediation or water and wastewater treatment plant design while others are general engineering firms. We generally have several students who also receive job offers from industry to work as environmental engineers at plant sites. The job might involve supervision of an industrial wastewater treatment system or compliance monitoring and dealing with environmental permits for air, water, or other emissions. We also have graduates who work for state environmental agencies or municipal utilities. We have had a few graduates who found opportunities at federal agencies. Occasionally a graduate will find a job with a non-profit advocacy group or other non-governmental organization. Some of our graduates also pursue a PhD with us or at another school. Our students find jobs throughout the US with many remaining in the southeast. Our alumni often come back to interview current students for job openings in their companies.

Our doctoral students also find opportunities in consulting companies and utilities as well as in universities and research laboratories such as the Department of Energy national labs. Those who chose an academic career often take a post-doctoral position first.

What are the sources of financial aid for graduate students?
Financial aid for our program comes in several forms. One is through assistantships, which the department or individual faculty member offers to qualified applicants. The department offers teaching assistantships (TAs), which typically provides tuition and a stipend for one to two years. Individual faculty members offer research assistantships (RAs) which also provide tuition and a stipend for one to three years. Applicants should contact faculty members who are conducting research that is of interest. Other forms of financial aid are fellowships that the applicant or admitted student obtains from sources outside the university such as the National Science Foundation or the US Environmental Protection Agency. These usually cover tuition and a stipend for one to five years.

Competition for financial aid is high and it is important to apply early (before January 15th) to be considered.

What is required for the PhD?
The PhD program typically requires three to five years to complete. Matriculating students are required to take qualifying exams that cover the knowledge that would be expected for a MS graduate from our program. The PhD coursework is custom designed for the student to supplement previous coursework or deficiencies revealed in the qualifying exams and to support the research area and interests of the student and advisor. The coursework and research hours must total 30 or more credit hours beyond the MS degree. PhD applicants must have a faculty member who is willing to serve as a research advisor before they can be admitted to the program. Please visit our web page to learn about faculty research interests. Then contact faculty who share similar interests to you to determine if the professor is willing to serve as your research advisor. You may copy the graduate coordinator on any emails to faculty.

How recent must the test scores be?
The Graduate School requires that the TOEFL exam must have been taken in the last 2 years and the GRE exam within the last 5 years.

What are the codes?
The University code is 5111. Select Other for the major code requested when taking the GRE exam.

One of my teachers does not like online-recommendations and having him to write recommendation forms from different universities is a difficult task. So can I send a recommendation letter from the teacher instead of the standard form of recommendation to your university?
Letters may be sent with any materials that you send to the Graduate School supporting your application. The letters should be on letterhead of the university, research institute, or company with which your reference is affiliated and in a sealed envelope with the signature of the reference across the seal.

In my transcript my university insisted on putting family name first (it is my nation’s custom). However, in other documents (eg. Recommendation letters) teachers may put my family name last. I am worried that this may cause misunderstanding. So how do I solve this problem?
Clemson University’s graduate admissions staff is familiar with this issue and has a good record of matching the documents with the proper application.

Can you tell me the number you will enroll this year? Typically, how many students can gain full assistantship each year?
The number of students that we enroll varies from year to year, but generally we enroll 10-15 MS students and 5 or fewer PhD students. We award assistantships to about 80% of the MS students and nearly 100% of the PhD students who enroll.

My university will not provide service that sending transcripts directly, so can I have them in sealed envelops and send to you in my package?
The transcript can be sent in a sealed envelope with your signature across the seal and mailed with your other materials. It is best to send all materials at the same time because there are fewer opportunities for the documents to be lost once they arrive at the Graduate School.

Statement of Purpose: You require a one-page SOP, however, in order to demonstrate my interest, background, experience, I wrote a nearly two-page SOP, would that be a problem?
A longer statement of purpose or essay is not a problem. It is especially helpful for you to discuss your research experience and your research interests. This information helps to match you with faculty who can serve as potential advisors.

Financial Certification: Do I need to send the Financial Certification with all the other support documents to you at the same time, or later?
Although it is not required that the financial certification arrives at the same time as the other support documents, it is recommended. The financial certification is critical to obtaining a visa in a timely manner should you be admitted to the program. Also, although the admissions office does not often misplace documents, it is best to have all your documents in one package.

TA/RA Position Application: In order to apply for a TA/RA position, do I need to fill some extra forms? Or I will be considered as a financial support candidate automatically?
In the on-line application there is a form that requests financial assistance, which you should complete. You must apply before January 15th (all materials such as your GRE and TOEFL scores, recommendation letters and transcripts must be received by the Graduate School) for us to automatically consider you for an assistantship.