Erb Institute FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
General Erb Questions
The Erb Institute believes that the pursuit of sustainability requires not only world-class management skills but also a clear understanding of the world’s most pressing environmental and social challenges. Effectively confronting these challenges requires building and managing strong partnerships across disciplines, sectors, and geographical borders. The Institute’s fully integrated dual-degree program develops leaders who are capable of working effectively across sectors, understanding complexity, and communicating effectively with multiple constituencies.
Erb students are not merely exposed to sustainability; they are immersed in it throughout their three years in the program. They benefit from a richer, deeper, and broader educational experience than what is available through an MBA with a concentration in the Environment or Sustainable Enterprise. Not only do they have more time to reflect on career options; they benefit from the unique opportunity to grow through additional coursework, the SNRE Master’s project, the second summer internship, and additional social and professional interaction.
The MS from SNRE is key to obtaining an in-depth understanding of science, technology, and policy issues related to sustainability. It also provides the credibility necessary to communicate with constituencies outside the business arena. As one student put it, “When looking at the global problems that our society is facing, I am not only equipped to create and manage organizations to solve those problems, but I understand why we have these problems in the first place.”
As a graduate of Ross, you will have the fundamental leadership skills necessary to enact change. The invaluable management, teamwork, and entrepreneurial skills you cultivate as a Ross MBA transcend business, and will allow you to be a more effective leader in any organizational setting.
As an MBA student at Ross, you will be exposed to a wide variety of viewpoints on the business world by interacting with peers and professors from a wide spectrum of backgrounds. You will gain high-level understanding of core management principles regarding such topics as finance, economics, strategy and marketing. You will have countless opportunities to develop your leadership and analytical skills through Ross’ emphasis on Action Based Learning. You will also benefit from the unique opportunity to grow through additional coursework, your MAP project, the second summer internship, case competitions, and Ross clubs.
Most importantly, you will become fluent in the language of business; as result, you will have the credibility necessary to communicate with people and organizations within the corporate world. This will be a useful tool regardless of where you decide to tackle sustainability issues – be it in a corporate, non-profit, start-up, or government setting.
Unlike peer graduate programs, the Erb Institute is a distinct administrative entity with resources devoted to serving the needs of dual degree MBA/MS students. Each of the two graduate programs is highly ranked in its respective field. Operationally, the Erb Institute’s managing director, staff, and faculty have the resources and experience necessary to ensure a positive, seamless experience for its students. Academically, it maintains unsurpassed leadership in the sustainability space, providing students with invaluable access to some of the newest ideas and research.
The Erb community is extremely supportive, fostering a dynamic environment in which students can concentrate on learning the fundamentals of sustainable business. Since its inception in 1996, the Institute has developed a tremendous amount of intellectual capital, including consulting projects, cases, internships, and academic research. This community and knowledge base are vital to helping new members grow to become the sustainability leaders of tomorrow.
Erb students are required to take a certain number of credits at Ross and at SNRE. They follow the standard curriculum at each school, choosing the electives that best fit their interests. Both schools offer cross-listed, sustainability-related courses that Erb students find particularly interesting. In addition, they have the flexibility to take electives in any other department at the University of Michigan, such as law, engineering, public policy, or public health.
For a list of popular Erb courses, please visit the Courses page
For more information on credits and requirements, please visit the Academics page
Erb students participate in summer internships with corporate, non-profit, and governmental organizations. As part of an active and established network of sustainability experts, they are exposed to a wide variety of internship opportunities through the Erb Institute External Advisory Board, Ross and/or SNRE, and their classmates. Erb students enter into a community that contains over 100 current students and over 200 alumni, a network substantially larger than any other comparable program. Many students develop their own internship opportunities, based on their specific interests, with the help of the expansive Erb community network.
For more information, please visit the Careers page.
There is no typical Erb job. Alumni work in a wide variety of leadership positions in corporate, non-profit, and governmental organizations. They work in various industries including Energy & Cleantech, Real Estate & Green Building, Venture Capital, Banking, and Consulting. Their job functions span from general management and strategy to business development and operations. Many more are social entrepreneurs or work in international development. The Erb network also contains Peace Corps and AmeriCorps alumni.
For more information, please visit the Careers page.
Erb students have a vast amount of career resources available to them through Ross, SNRE, the Erb Institute, and the University of Michigan. These include job databases, opportunities through clubs/organizations, case competitions, alumni databases, etc. Students have countless opportunities to improve their marketability through resume reviews, interview prep, peer coaching, and career assessments.
In addition, the Erb Institute provides exclusive internship and full-time job postings to Erb students. Most importantly, they have access to an invaluable network of students, alumni, faculty, and staff on the cutting edge of developments in sustainability.
The Rackham Graduate School (often referred to as simply “Rackham”) administers 181 graduate programs at the University of Michigan, including the School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE) (link to www.snre.umich.edu). Students applying to SNRE do so through the Rackham system and then work with Rackham to manage SNRE coursework, funding, and degree requirements during their studies. Note that Ross is administered separately.
For more information, please visit the Rackham web site.
Ann Arbor is located in the southeastern corner of Michigan. It is within driving distance of several major cities: Detroit (1 hour); Chicago (4 hours); Toronto, Canada (5 hours). It is a 30 minute drive from the Detroit Metropolitan International Airport (DTW).
For more information on Ann Arbor, please visit Ann Arbor’s Wikipedia web site, Visitors web site, or Chamber of Commerce web site.
The Erb institute is named after Frederick A. and Barbara M. Erb, who founded it in 1996 and have provided vital support and contributions in the ensuing years.
For more information regarding the founders, please visit the Founders page.
If you have additional questions, please visit our Contact page
Applying to Erb
Candidates interested in the program must file separate applications to and be admitted by both the Ross School of Business AND the School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE). Applicants must indicate on both applications that they are applying for the Erb MBA/MS (please make sure the correct box is checked on the MBA application). An application fee must be paid to Rackham; indicate who the school fee was paid to by completing the appropriate box on the Business Administration yellow fee envelope.
The applications are available online on the Ross and SNRE websites. The Ross application becomes available in August, while the SNRE application is typically available by October.
Applicants must submit either GMAT or GRE scores as part of the application to both Ross and SNRE. Essays for each school’s application should focus on that particular school. However, in your essays to both schools you should explain why you are interested in pursuing a dual MBA/MS degree through the Erb Institute.
Note that Ross applications are reviewed only by Ross admissions officers, while SNRE applications are reviewed only by SNRE faculty committees. Erb-affiliated faculty members are often members of the committees.
For more detailed information and a timeline of the dual application processes, please visit the Erb admissions page.
We strongly recommend that you apply to both schools at the same time. Our experience over the last 15 years has proven that the most successful and involved students are those who enroll in both programs prior to matriculating. However, it is possible to join the Erb Institute during your first year if you are initially admitted to one of the two schools. Each year, a few Ross and SNRE students apply to the dual MBA/MS degree by submitting an application to the other graduate school during their first semester on campus. Nearly all of these mid-year applicants report wishing that they had not waited until they arrived on campus to apply to the other program.
By applying and being accepted to both Ross and SNRE in the same year, new students immediately begin to take advantage of the offerings provided by the Erb Institute. They are able pursue an interdisciplinary course of study from the moment they arrive on campus. They get increased exposure and access to numerous exclusive Erb community events, Erb-specific internship announcements, Erb career counseling opportunities, Erb peer coaching, and access to the Erb intranet and External Advisory Board. Furthermore, they are eligible for Erb third year scholarship funding. In addition, first-year Erb students take the required Erb Seminar fall semester course, in which career and industry issues are analyzed, with their graduating cohort.
Both Ross and SNRE require letters of recommendation from previous supervisors and/or academic professors. Ross strongly encourages applicants to obtain recommendations from an employer or supervisor, while SNRE recommends that the three required recommendations come from previous professors (although recommendations from previous supervisors are also accepted).
Applicants can use the same recommenders for both applications (email firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com to have a letter forwarded from Ross to SNRE), but may choose to have separate letters tailored for each school’s application. In our experience, it is important to communicate to recommenders that they are responsible for writing two different letters that respond to each school’s required questions.
For more information, please visit the Ross and SNRE application pages.
Neither Ross nor SNRE require applicants to have a business or science undergraduate degree, although several SNRE basic science concentrations do have prior coursework requirements. The Erb Institute draws prospective students from a variety of educational and professional backgrounds.
For additional insight into the previous majors/careers and current interests of Erb students and alumni, please visit the Current Erb Students page.
International students should complete the standard applications for both Ross and SNRE. Be sure to take the TOEFL exam as well as the GMAT or GRE. There are several Erb alumni working, living, or originally from abroad; if interested, you may contact the Erb Institute or the admissions offices for either Ross or SNRE to obtain their contact information. Current international students are excellent resources for tips, insights, and details on how to position your application from abroad.
For additional information, please visit the Ross International Students page and the Erb International Students page.
There is no minimum number of years of work experience required for acceptance to Ross or SNRE, but most admitted students have at least two years of work experience prior to applying. Experience is evaluated not in terms of quantity but based on the quality of the applicant’s work, impact on his/her organization, and natural leadership qualities. If you plan on applying soon after graduating from an undergraduate program, you will need to demonstrate what you can add to the Ross and SNRE communities while highlighting superb academic credentials and the maturity and self-confidence to handle the intensity of the program. Additionally, if you have not successfully completed a college-level calculus course, you will need to do so before being accepted to Ross.
If you are flying to Ann Arbor, you should book your tickets to Detroit International Airport (DTW). The airport is a 30 minute drive from the University of Michigan campus. You can arrive to Ann Arbor either by taxi ($50-$60), airport shuttle, or private shuttle service. For example, the Michigan Flyer shuttle
provides service to and from Ann Arbor at the Four Points Sheraton and costs $15 one way.
Once in town, you can get to campus either by foot, bus, taxi, or driving yourself. For more information on buses in Ann Arbor, please visit the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority web site. If you decide to drive, note that only limited visitor parking is available on campus. You can park in the South Forest Parking Lot, a 5-7 minute walk from campus; on the street in one of the neighborhoods to the south of the Ross building; or in the metered spots in front of or near Ross. These spots cost about $1.50 per hour for a maximum of 4 hours. Be sure to bring your own change for the meters – change machines are not available at Ross. Dana Hall, which houses SNRE, is a 5-minute walk north of Ross.
Food and drink prices are slightly cheaper in Ann Arbor than most metropolitan areas in the U.S. You can expect to pay $10-15 for a decent lunch or dinner close to the University of Michigan campus. Please visit the University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor page for information regarding the surrounding Ann Arbor area. Hotels begin at approximately $100/per night per room, but you should always contact Ross or SNRE beforehand to inquire about special rates for visiting applicants.
Before you arrive, be sure to send an email to the Erb program coordinator (firstname.lastname@example.org). They can connect you with current students, provide you with campus tours, etc.
After You’ve Been Accepted to Ross and SNRE
The Erb Institute strongly encourages students to start at SNRE in order to take full advantage of the interdisciplinary educational approach to sustainability. Students who are considering starting in Ross are expected to discuss this choice in advance with the Erb Program Coordinator.
Starting in SNRE facilitates an interdisciplinary course of study from the very beginning of the program. SNRE allows dual-degree students to distribute their core requirements throughout the three-year program. This allows for Erb students to take core MBA courses in their first year of study. We recommend Accounting followed by Finance to provide the key skills for a management-focused summer internship. In contrast, the Ross School does not allow first-year MBA students to take courses outside the MBA core other than the Erb Seminar, thus severely limiting the opportunity to pursue interdisciplinary studies until the second year.
Experience has also shown that students who start in SNRE are more likely to complete a Master’s Project, a major interdisciplinary undertaking and an important source of professional credibility for MBA/MS students.
However the Institute encourages creativity in the ways students pursue interdisciplinary studies and advance their own academic and professional objectives. For example, MBA/MS students who are also in the Tauber Institute’s overlay program between the Ross School and the College of Engineering are required to start their studies in the Ross MBA core to prepare for the required Tauber summer project, yet are clearly taking an interdisciplinary approach to their studies consistent with Erb educational goals.
Yes. It is a good idea to fulfill one or two Ross core class requirements while enrolled at SNRE in your first year; most incoming students do this. This will give you increased scheduling flexibility in your second year. However, this is not required and some students choose to focus solely on SNRE in their first year. Finally, Erb students have access to all Ross resources (including career services, student groups, networking activities, conferences, etc.) during all three years in the program.
Erb students fund their three years of graduate education in various ways. Most take out federal and/or private educational loans. In addition, there are several scholarship opportunities available through Ross and SNRE, and the Erb Institute also provides scholarships to students during their third year in the program. Note that third-year scholarships must be applied for before initial graduate enrollment at the University of Michigan. A small number of Erb students pursue teaching assistant and research assistant positions through SNRE/Rackham. We strongly encourage admitted students to invest time in finding scholarship money (EPA STAR Fellowships are a popular option). Once you have been accepted to the program, the Financial Aid offices at SNRE and Ross can help guide you to other funding resources.
For more information regarding Ross financial aid, please visit the Ross Financial Aid web site.
For more information regarding teaching/research assistant positions, please visit the SNRE GSI/GSRA Information page.
Erb students are required to have a laptop; Ross recommends Windows-based computers, although Macs will work too. Once you have been accepted to the program, we recommend you look into the Ross guidelines for laptop purchases/configuration.
For more information, please visit the Ross DiscoverIT web site.