We strive to give students:

  • A solid foundation in the principles underlying pollutant fate and transport, environmental exposures, and impacts on human and ecological health
  • The knowledge and skills to understand the concepts and methodologies used in the fields of toxicology, environmental chemistry, risk assessment and ecology
  • Training in state-of-the-art approaches for evaluating specific cases of environmental contamination, and for making management decisions using quantitative tools and approaches
  • Oral and written skills to communicate scientific studies and management outcomes to a wide audience, especially at the interface of science, policy and the public


Our program provides students with a strong scientific basis to understand the complex linkages among environmental processes, chemical stressors, and ecological and human health. Students enjoy a small class size and low student-faculty ratio as they gain the knowledge and skills to apply risk assessment frameworks and address pollution-related ecological and human health problems.


Our curriculum is structured to give students a solid foundation in environmental exposures, contaminant chemistry, toxicology, and the effects of contaminants on ecosystems and human health. Core courses introduce students to state-of-the-art molecular and analytical tools used in environmental toxicology, chemistry and epidemiology to help the students understand the mechanisms of toxicity and contaminant fate, which are the foundation of environmental risk assessments.

You can choose from courses across Duke and at our partner institutions.

Your faculty advisor will help you select a curriculum track and area of specialization based on your interests, experience, and goals.

Transferable Skills

Ecotoxicology & Environmental Health students receive in-depth training in:

  • Ecological and human risk assessment
  • Environmental exposure assessment
  • Predicting pollutant fate and transport
  • Understanding toxic modes of action
  • Environmental epidemiology & health
  • Molecular and analytical tools for environmental health research

Your Future

The Nicholas School’s dedicated Career Center helps our graduates find positions in environmental consulting and risk assessment, and at government agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, public health departments, and nonprofit organizations such as the Environmental Defense Fund.

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See Master of Environmental Management program prerequisites.

ADDITional prerequisiteS for EEH Students

  1. 1 semester of college-level chemistry. In addition, a semester of organic chemistry is strongly recommended but not required.
  2. 1 semester of a college-level fundamental ecology course or similar course with approval of program chair is required. Students who have not taken it prior to enrolling will be required to take it as part of the EEH curriculum.

 Courses & Requirements


In addition to the MEM degree requirements, a typical EEH curriculum consists of the following components:

  • 4 courses/tutorials required for all MEM students (6-8 credit hours)
  • 4 core courses (12 credit hours minimum)
  • 2 courses within a chosen area of specialization (6 credit hours minimum)
  • 1 statistics course (3 credit hours minimum)
  • 1 social science course (3 credit hours minimum)
  • 1 tools course in a quantitative focal area (3 credit hours minimum)
  • Master’s Project (4-6 credit hours)
  • Additional electives to meet the 48-credit hour minimum for degree completion

Requirements for All MEM Students

All MEM students must take the following courses:


The EEH curriculum consists of four core courses, two courses within a chosen area of specialization, one statistics class, one social science course and one course in a quantitative focal area. In addition, students will be expected to take one course in ecology if they have not previously taken a college level ecology class. 

The majority of the faculty members and course offerings in the EEH program are located at our Durham campus. With careful planning it is possible for a student to spend one or two semesters in their second year at the Duke University Marine Laboratory in Beaufort, NC. Marine Laboratory faculty members are also available to serve as advisors and to direct Master’s Projects.

Courses supporting the EEH program are taught within the Nicholas School, at several other departments at Duke, and at UNC-Chapel Hill and NCSU. This list of example courses is not exhaustive; see our Advising page for an up-do-date list of available courses.


Students choose at least four Core Courses for a total of 12 credit hours minimum.

  • ENVIRON 501 Environmental Toxicology (3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 537 Environmental Health (3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 539 Human Health & Ecol (Envir) Risk Assess (3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 540 Chemical Fate of Organic Compounds (3 credit hours)
  • OR ENVIRON 542 Aquatic Chemistry (3 credit hours)


Students select two courses from their chosen area of specialization for a total of 6 credit hours minimum.

Environmental Toxicology

Recommended courses include graduate level toxicology, physiology, biochemistry, and molecular biology field. Suggested additional courses are listed below; other alternative courses may be substituted with approval by the EEH Chair.

  • ENVIRON 819 Mechanisms in Toxicology (3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 871 Integ./Comp. Pathobiology for Toxicologists (3 credit hours)
  • PHARM 533 Essentials of Pharmacology & Toxicology (3 credit hours)
  • TOXC 707 Advanced Toxicology (UNC) (3 credit hours)
  • BIOCHEM 301 Introductory Biochemistry I (3 credit hours - note that undergraduate courses are tallied in “units” and 1 unit=3 credits.)
  • ENVIRON 753LA Sensory Phys Mar Animals (offered at the Marine Laboratory in Beaufort, 4 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 772LA Biochem. Marine Animals (offered during summer at the Marine Laboratory in Beaufort, 4 credit hours)

Environmental Chemistry

ENVIRON 540 and ENVIRON 542 are required courses for students specializing in environmental chemistry. Suggested additional courses are listed below; other alternative courses may be substituted with approval by the EEH Chair.

  • ENVIRON 739 Intro to Atmospheric Chemistry (3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 598.99 Chemical Transformation Env Contaminants (3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 566 Environmental Analytical Chemistry (3 credit hours)
  • EOS 525 Water Pollution (3 credit hours)
  • EOS 571 Stable & Radioactive Isotopes in Env Sci (3 credit hours)
  • EOS 573S Analytical Techniques (3 credit hours)
  • CEE 560 Environmental Transport (3 credit hours)
  • CEE 571 Hazardous/Toxic Waste (3 credit hours)
  • CEE 666 Aquatic Geochemistry (3 credit hours)

Environmental Health

Two additional courses (not including the one required core environmental health class) in a graduate level field are required. Suggested additional classes are listed below, but not all classes are offered on a regular basis.  Other classes not listed here may be substituted with approval by the EEH Chair.

  • CEE 690 Air Pollution (3 credits)
  • ENVIRON 538 Env Health: Econ/Policy (Global Env Health) (3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 636 Spatial Epidemiology (3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 637S Population-Environment Dynamics & Health
  • GLHLTH 510 Global Health & Genomics
  • GLHLTH 571 Intro to Global Maternal and Child Health
  • GLHLTH 595 Connections in Global Health: Inter. Team Projects
  • GLHLTH 671 African Health Systems, NGOs, and Global Health


Students must take one statistics course. The recommended course is ENVIRON 710 Applied Data Analysis for Envir. Science (3 credit hours).


Students must take one social science course. Recommended courses include the following. Other alternative courses may be substituted with approval by the EEH Chair.

  • ENVIRON 520 Resource and Environmental Economics I (3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 531 Econ Analysis of Resource & Envir. Policies (3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 533A Marine Fisheries Policy (Beaufort, 3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 550 Land Use Principles and Policy (3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 557 Social Science Surveys for Envir. Mgmt (3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 577 Environmental Politics (3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 786A Marine Policy (Beaufort, 3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 822A Coastal Watershed Sci & Policy (Beaufort, 3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 709A Conservation Bio & Policy (Beaufort, summer, 3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 828A Governance of Social-Ecol Sys. (Beaufort, 3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 860SA Political Ecology (Beaufort, 3 credit hours)
  • LAW 235 Environmental Law (3 credit hours)


Students are required to take one tools course but we highly recommend taking two. Recommended courses include the following. Other alternative courses may be substituted with approval by the EEH Chair.

  • ENVIRON 535 Air Quality Management (3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 536 Water Quality Management (3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 559 Fundamental of Geospatial Analysis (3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 701 Forest Measurements (4 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 750 Genomics of Microbial Diversity (3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 780 Environmental Exposure Analysis (3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 816 Wetlands Field Skills (3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 832 Environmental Decision Analysis (3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 887A Theory & Methods - Policy Analysis (Beaufort, 3 credit hours)


Students are required to take one ecology course if they have not done so before entering the program. Recommended courses include the following. Other alternative courses may be substituted with approval by the EEH Chair.

  • BIO 206 Organismal Diversity (3 credit hours)
  • BIOLOGY 560 Ecology/Global Change (3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 361 Field Ecology (3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 503 Forest Ecosystems (3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 561 Tropical Ecology (3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 585A Fisheries Ecology (Beaufort, 3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 714 Landscape Ecology (3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 773LA Marine Ecology (Beaufort, 4 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 776A Marine Mammals (Beaufort, 4 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 812 Wetlands Ecology (3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 817 Urban Tropical Ecology (Beaufort, 3 credit hours)


Students may take additional core, specialization, tools, or other courses as electives to fulfill the minimum of 48 credit hours required to complete the MEM program. Additional recommended electives include the following:

  • ENVIRON 547 Environmental Health and Safety (3 credit hours – taught occasionally)
  • ENVIRON 549    California Water Crisis (3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 762 Environmental Mega-Trends (3 credit hours)
  • EOS 527 International Water Resources (3 credit hours)
  • EOS 551S Global Environmental Change (3 credit hours)



Students typically must take several additional elective courses to fulfill the minimum 48-credit hour requirement for degree completion. We suggest taking additional courses in your chosen area of specialization, although alternative plans (for example, foreign languages) are acceptable.


The purpose of specialized elective courses is to support your Master’s Project and advance your career goals. Each student must take at least two courses within their chosen area of specialization. Three areas of specialization are offered:

  • Environmental Toxicology
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Environmental Health

Educational Network

EEH students benefit from a strong and diverse network of educational resources.
At Duke, the Nicholas School shares research and programmatic overlap with Duke’s Trinity College of Arts & Science, the Duke University Medical Center, Duke’s Global Health Institute, and the Pratt School of Engineering. Students also have access to resources at our sister universities, including the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University.
The program is also enhanced by connections with institutions within the Research Triangle Park, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), Research Triangle Institute (RTI), and the Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences.

Choosing a Track

The EEH program allows students to choose from two curriculum tracks. We can help you determine which track best aligns with your interests and career goals.

Integrated Science and Management Track

This is the default track for students admitted to the EEH program. Students in this track focus on completing the required coursework and their Master’s Project. This track also allows for several elective courses in the student’s areas of interest.

Research Track

This track provides in-depth research training. Students in this track conduct research in the laboratory of a faculty sponsor. Because each faculty member typically sponsors only one research-track MEM student each year, the track has limited openings and is highly competitive.

To participate in this track, you must:

  1. Identify and contact potential faculty sponsors to discuss research topics and opportunities. (Do this as early as possible, preferably before the end of your first semester.)
  2. Obtain written approval from a faculty sponsor. Faculty members make decisions about a student’s suitability for the research track based on the student’s educational background and experience, overall academic performance, and identification of a research topic of mutual interest to both the student and the faculty sponsor.
  3. Register for 12 to 18 credit hours of an independent research project under ENVIRON 899. This research project replaces the requirement for the Master’s Project. Note that students enrolling in the research track will enroll in fewer elective courses to allow time to focus on their research project.
  4. Commit to working in your faculty sponsor’s laboratory during the summer between your first and second year. Students frequently need to devote some time to research and laboratory work in the faculty sponsor’s laboratory during the second year, as well.

For Current & Admitted Students

Master's Projects

A Master’s Project combines the academic rigor of a thesis with the practical experience of an internship. Working singly or in groups, students apply skills and knowledge they’ve acquired in the classroom to tackle real-world environmental challenges for real clients through a well-formulated and defensible analysis. The MP typically culminates in a paper and presentation in the program’s final semester. It fulfills 4-6 credit hours. The EE program requires a business-sponsored MP with specific consulting components detailed to you when you start your second year.