Application and acceptance to the MEM and MF degrees is possible with prerequisite deficiencies. However, although we may admit applicants with missing prerequisites, we only matriculate students who are missing no more than one required prerequisite.

Students lacking prerequisites may be unable to complete the recommended sequence of courses and may find it difficult to graduate on time. For this reason, we strongly urge students to complete all required prerequisites successfully prior to matriculating. Courses taken after matriculation to satisfy prerequisites do not count towards the credits required for the degree. Students who fail to meet the required prerequisites by the end of the first year of study may be dismissed from the program.

See complete list of prerequisite requirements by degree below.

Admissions Prerequisites

Prerequisites for admission to the Nicholas School’s MEM and MF degrees are:

  1. Some previous training in the natural sciences or the social sciences related to the student’s area of interest. One (1) or more years of post-baccalaureate experience is a plus. This includes military service and paid work experiences including internships, AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, Teach for America and other service work assignments. The Nicholas School values work experience as part of preparation for graduate study and often provides students with valuable teamwork experience, and a clearer idea of their goals for graduate study.
    • For those interested in pursuing the Business & Environment (BE) concentration, competitive applicants will have a minimum of one (1) year post-baccalaureate experience for admissions consideration. BE applicants without at least one (1) year post-baccalaureate experience must have significant undergraduate coursework in business, finance, accounting, and/or economics.
  2. At least one semester of college calculus that includes: algebra (graphing linear equations, solving systems of linear equations); functions (characteristics of functions in one variable, logarithmic functions, exponential functions); calculus of one variable (derivatives, definite and indefinite integrals); calculus of more than one variable (partial derivatives, total derivatives); and first-order differential equations (discrete and continuous time, rates of decay, initial conditions).
  3. A college statistics course that includes descriptive statistics, probability distributions, hypothesis testing, confidence intervals, correlation, simple linear regression, and simple ANOVAs.

Master of Environmental Management (MEM) Degree

In addition to the school-wide prerequisites in calculus and statistics, which are required for all Concentrations, the following Concentrations within the MEM degree require (and/or recommend) additional prerequisite coursework.

  • Environmental Economics and Policy Concentration: One semester of Microeconomics is required – either a full semester microeconomics course or an introductory economics course that is more than half microeconomics rather than macroeconomics.
  • Terrestrial and Freshwater Environments Concentration: It is strongly recommended that students pursuing the Terrestrial and Freshwater Environments Concentration have a solid foundation in environmental science prior to enrolling. Depending on student interests and goals, such preparation might include coursework in ecology, environmental engineering, or geosciences. It is strongly recommended that students have one semester of Principles of Ecology or similar (200- or 300-level) course in environmental science and one advanced undergraduate course in ecology, earth systems science or related environmental science.
  • Ecotoxicology and Environmental Health Concentration: One semester of college Chemistry is required; Organic Chemistry and Principles of Ecology are both recommended.


Master of Forestry (MF) Degree

In additional to the school-wide prerequisites in calculus and statistics, the Master of Forestry degree requires prerequisite courses in:

  • Principles of Ecology
  • Microeconomics (either a full semester microeconomics course or an introductory economics course that is more than half microeconomics rather than macroeconomics)

Although students without the level of preparation described above may be accepted for admission to the MF program, it is expected that all prerequisite deficiencies will be completed prior to matriculating by means of formal for-credit coursework to assist in the successful and timely progression through the MF degree.


Choosing a Prerequisite Course

All courses to satisfy required prerequisite(s) must be taken for college credit to fulfill prerequisite requirements. Students may fulfill prerequisite requirements by demonstrating successful completion of at least one of the following options for each required prerequisite.

Traditional / standard college-level course

Complete a college level course at any accredited college or university (including community, technical or junior college); for graded credit and a minimum grade of B- earned (a Passing (P) or Satisfactory (S) grade) is also acceptable; and submit an official transcript to demonstrate successful completion. Although other options to demonstrate prerequisite coursework are included below, the preferred method is by taking a course at an accredited college or university including community, technical or junior college.

Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB)

We will accept advanced placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses if the student earns college credit for the course(s) from their undergraduate institution. College credit must be clearly documented on the official undergraduate transcript. In the absence of the appropriate documentation on the official undergraduate transcript, we will accept an official letter from the institution’s Registrar’s Office (sent directly to, which clearly confirms the student earned college credit for the advanced placement course(s); the letter may not be sent by the applicant or student.

Distance Learning Courses

Students wishing to enroll in a distance learning course (i.e., online), to fulfill a prerequisite, are encouraged to seek prior approval to make sure the course is appropriate to fulfill the prerequisite requirement. Send an email to with the name of the institution, course title, course number, credit value, dates of the course and the link to the online course details. Required prerequisites completed via traditional distance learning courses (i.e., regularly scheduled class meetings) or self-paced distance learning courses are not preferred but are accepted if taken for college credit. Courses completed via correspondence, independent study, Coursera, MOOC, or Opencourseware are not accepted. The Nicholas School maintains a short list of Pre-Approved distance learning courses (for required prerequisites only). To request a list of Pre-Approved Distance Learning Courses, send an email to


If desired, students may send a copy of the syllabus or detailed course description for review and approval before they enroll and pay for prerequisite courses. While this step is not required, we encourage students to be sure that the course covers the required topics. Students are welcomed and encouraged to send the course syllabus to Allow up to 1-3 business days for the review process to be completed and to receive a response via email.


Diagnostic Exams

The Nicholas School administers diagnostic exams in calculus and statistics. All students are expected to take and pass the diagnostic exams. Students must complete the calculus and statistics prerequisites prior to taking the diagnostic exams. We encourage students to spend time reviewing the core topics in calculus and statistics prior to the exams. Although we want students to do well on the diagnostic exams, please do not stress about these tests in advance. The exams are intended to assess where students are in these subjects prior to matriculating and to ensure that students are prepared for graduate level courses requiring calculus and statistics as prerequisites. Students cannot take the diagnostic exams to waive a prerequisite requirement.


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