Master's Project Information for Host Organizations (Clients)

What is a master's project?

Master's projects are interdisciplinary problem-solving experiences conducted by teams of 3-7 master's degree students as the capstone of their academic programs at the U-M School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE).

Projects provide students with a team experience that approximate a future work environment while also providing client organizations with solutions to complex environmental issues and useful products. These projects focus the substantial capabilities of our students and faculty on problems faced by real-world clients. Project ideas are developed by faculty, students, or clients.

Master's Project FAQ

What's expected of client organizations?

  • Attend (or participate remotely in) key planning meetings with the master's project team or representatives.
  • Provide at least one primary contact who can represent the organization for the duration of the project.
  • Attend the client fair (in January) to talk with students about your idea, attend the final project presentation (April 2017 - International clients are not expected to attend).
  • Review draft documents and offer feedback to the team in a timely fashion.
  • Help the team with access and/or referrals to important contacts and stakeholders.
  • Help the students in conceptualizing the project and interpreting its findings.
  • Desirable: Help with funding connections and with other resources, such as office space, tools, in-kind support, local lodging facilities, etc.

Client Expectations

Approximate project timeline:

December 1, 2016: Final deadline to Submit a Master's Project Idea.

January 2017: Winter term starts and students begin to formally review project proposals.  Project team members are enrolled in an SNRE master's project planning course which facilitates the project selection process and culminates in the development of research work plans by April 2017.

mid-January 2017: Master's Project Client Fair (clients are invited to meet with students to respond to questions about their proposed project and to get student input).  This event is held as a part of the SNRE Master's Project planning course.  Clients are invited to participate either in-person or remotely.

February 2017: Master's Project student teams finalized

Mid-April 2017:  Students submit workplans and project budgets.  

Summer 2017: Classes end, and students turn their focus to project work.  Teams may travel to begin research on-site between the months of May - August 2017.

Fall and Winter 2017-18: Student teams analyzing data and begin writing reports/generating requested deliverables. 

April 2018: Student teams finish their project work and present their final results at the Capstone Conference: A Celebration of Graduate Student Research. 

Master's Project Client Fair: January 2017

  • Clients will be invited to participate in the client fair mid-January at SNRE.  This event gives organizations the opportunity to meet with small groups of interested students and respond to questions about their project proposal.  A limited number of spots will also be available for clients to participate via Skype. 
  • The client fair is designed to provide students with more information from project representatives to help them determine which project team they will join.  Clients can benefit from participating by learning more about the skills and expertise of potential team members. 

How to submit a master's project idea

  • Click here to learn how to submit an SNRE master's project idea.

What client organizations are saying about SNRE's master's projects:

 "This project ("Corn Ethanol and Wildlife") helped to shed light on a very important conservation issue, through an unbiased, scientific assessment.  By getting the results out broadly, it is now helping to inform public policy on corn ethanol expansion. The National Wildlife Federation is thankful to the SNRE Masters Project members for helping to inform our policy positioning on this issue."  

- Julie Sibbing, National Wildlife Federation

"My colleagues and I were very impressed with the work of the SNRE team. The team went to great lengths to ensure that their product would be useful to us. We are incorporating the products of their work into our own conservation strategies for the Grayling Outwash Plain."

- Douglas Pearsall, The Nature Conservancy in Michigan

"This was an extremely ambitious project. I was very pleased with the students' ability to stay focused. I have a great deal of confidence in the quality of the results." 

- Ellen Brody, NOAA's National Marine Sanctuary Program

"The final product was great and has been widely distributed among wildlife agencies and partner organizations. Many wildlife agency directors expressed personal praise for the final product. The work of the group is already playing an instrumental part in the development of wildlife funding campaigns in several states."

- Dave Chadwick, The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies