Focus of Study

Marine Science and Conservation (MSC) encompasses the interdisciplinary study of marine systems, their conservation, and governance. Students pursuing an A.B. or B.S. with an MSC concentration gain a broad understanding of the natural and social sciences, and new technologies, critical to finding solutions to the challenges facing our marine species and ecosystems today.  

Within this interdisciplinary framework, students acquire in-depth knowledge on a specialized topic by pursuing a three-course area of focused study. This culminates in a Research Independent Study project that can be used toward Graduation with Distinction honors.

Most courses are taught in Durham, the student experience includes at least one semester – or four courses – of immersive learning at the Duke University Marine Lab in Beaufort, N.C. 

Program Hallmarks

In addition to spending a semester at the Marine Lab, our B.S. and A.B. majors with MSC concentrations can take advantage of travel courses to Mexico, Singapore and other international locations, as well as shorter field trips to sites of environmental interest around the Southeast.   

The Stanback Fellowship Program affords further opportunities for students to gain vital experience through summer internships.

In both Durham and Beaufort, small class sizes, lots of interaction with professors, and a tight-knit community that shares your passion for the environment are program hallmarks. 

About 40% of our students are double majors.

Study at the Marine Lab – Open to All Majors

All Duke undergraduates, regardless of major, can spend a semester studying at the Duke Marine Lab, our year-round coastal campus. Qualified non-Duke students can, too.    

Located on an island at the southern tip of the Outer Banks, the Marine Lab offers an undergrad experience unlike any other, emphasizing small classes, intensive research experiences, immersion in field work and the opportunity to sample other maritime environments through travel classes. 

Expect lots of interaction with your professors, who view teaching as a natural extension of their research. The campus setting is pretty awesome, too: your classes, labs, dining hall, gym and library are just steps from your dorm and a seashell’s throw from the water’s edge. 

Your Future

While many undergraduates who pursue an A.B. or B.S. with an MSC concentration go on to careers in marine science, policy or conservation, many others pursue careers in medicine, law, finance, engineering, public service, education or management. What they learn through our curriculum prepares them for success wherever their talent leads. 

B.S. in Environmental Sciences with an MSC concentration 

The B.S. in Environmental Sciences with an MSC concentration is well suited to students planning careers or advanced studies in the natural sciences, environmental health and ecotoxicology, medicine, global health, conservation science or other scientific or technological fields.

Course Requirements

  • Chemistry (CHEM 101L plus CHEM 201 or 210)
  • Calculus (MATH 111 and 112 OR MATH 122)
  • Biology (BIO 201L or 202L)
  • Statistics (STAT 101, or 102, or 111, or 130, or 199, or BIO 304)
  • Environmental Sciences (ENV 102 (Intro to Environmental Sciences and Policy))
  • Physics (PHYS 141L or 161L)

One Gateway Course 

  • ENV 201 (Integrating Environmental Sciences and Policy)

Core Courses 

6 courses, at least one from each category

Marine Ecology

  • ENV 273LA (Marine Ecology)

  • ENV 383LA (Marine Molecular Microbiology)

  • ENV 571A (Urban Tropical Ecology w/Travel to Singapore)

Conservation

  • ENV 205 (Marine Megafauna)

  • ENV 270 (Conservation Biology and Policy)

  • ENV 286A (Marine Policy)

  • ENV 305A (Social Impact Analysis)

  • ENV 375(L)A (Biology and Conservation of Sea Turtles)

  • ENV 376(L)A (Marine Mammals)

  • ENV 528SA (Community-based Marine Conservation)

  • ENV 533A (Fisheries Policy)

  • ENV 551DA (International Conservation and Development)

Organismal: structure/function

  • ENV 278LA (Comparative Physiology of Marine Animals)

  • ENV 360 (Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology)

  • ENV 373LA (Sensory Physiology of Marine Animals)

  • ENV 377LA (Marine Invertebrate Zoology)

  • ENV 501 (Environmental Toxicology)

  • BIO 275A (Biology for Engineers)

Marine Processes

  • ENV 321A (Coastal Watershed Science and Policy)

  • ENV 370A (Introduction to Physical Oceanography)

  • ENV 445A (Marine Climate Change)

  • ENV 369LA (Biological Oceanography)

  • EOS 202 (Atmosphere and Ocean Dynamics)

  • EOS 316A (Beach and Island Geological Processes)

  • ENV 362S (Changing Oceans)

  • EOS 404S (Geology of the Tropical Marine Environment)

Marine Tools/Skills

  • ENV 280LA (Bioacoustics)

  • ENV 226S or 226SK (Field Methods)

  • ENV 359 (Fundamentals of GIS)

  • ENV 559 (Advanced GIS)

Focus Area

Students must choose a focus area. At least 3 (2 with NS/EGR codes) courses must contribute to this focus, with 1 being a Research Independent Study. Core courses, but not co-reqs, can be used to fulfill this requirement. MSC faculty will prepare several focus area options that take advantage of the strengths of the Nicholas School and Duke University.

Students can choose an alternative focus area, in consultation with their advisor and Director of Undergraduate Studies. In the Spring of the Junior year, students will submit an essay that ties together these courses, along with any relevant experiences, and argues for a coherent focus area.

Capstone Experience (1 of the following):

  • ENV 490: new course to be developed by core faculty to meet needs of BS and AB students

  • GWD: one semester of Independent Research required, 2 recommended

Field Experience 

All MSC concentration students will be required to spend a minimum of 1 semester at the Marine Lab.

*Approval of substitute courses taken at other universities must be obtained from the Director of Undergraduate Studies in the department offering the course. Please note that some of these courses are prerequisite to some upper-level courses in this major.

 

A.B. in Environmental Science & Policy with an MSC concentration

The A.B. in Environmental Sciences and Policy with an MSC concentration prepares students to be science-literate decision makers. Students seeking a strong foundation for careers in policy, business, law, health, education or the nonprofit or public service sector are well served by this curriculum. 

Course Requirements 

  • Chemistry (CHEM 101DL or 110DL)
  • Calculus (MATH (105L and 106L), or MATH 111L or MATH 122L)
  • Biology (BIO 201L or 202L or 206L)
  • Statistics (STATS 101, or 102, or 111, or 130, or 199, or BIO 304 or SOC 333)
  • Environmental Science (ENV 102)
  • Economics (ECON 101 or POLICSCI 145)

One Gateway Course 

  • ENV 201 (Integrating Environmental Sciences and Policy)

Topical Areas 

3 courses, one from each category

Environmental Humanities

  • ENV 209S (Food, Farming and Feminism)
  • ENV214S (Ethical Challenges in Environmental Conservation)
  • ENV 364S (Science and the Media)
  • ENV 315s: (Environmental Issues and Documentary Arts)
  • CULANTH 419s (Global Environmentalism and the Politics of Nature)
  • HISTORY 345 (North American Environmental History)
  • PHIL 215 (Applied and Environmental Ethics)

Marine Conservation

  • ENV 205 (Marine Megafauna)
  • ENV 270 (Conservation Biology and Policy)
  • ENV 286A (Marine Policy)
  • ENV 375(L)A (Biology and Conservation of Sea Turtles)
  • ENV 376(L)A (Marine Mammals)
  • ENV 528SA (Community-based Conservation)
  • ENV 533A (Fisheries Policy)
  • ENV 551DA (Conservation and Development)

Marine Sciences

  • ENV 273LA (Marine Ecology)
  • ENV 278LA (Comparative Physiology of Marine Animals)
  • ENV 280LA (Introduction to Marine Bioacoustics)
  • ENV 362s (Changing Oceans)
  • ENV 370A (Introduction to Physical Oceanography)
  • ENV 373LA (Sensory Physiology of Marine Animals)
  • ENV 377LA (Marine Invertebrate Zoology)
  • ENV 383LA (Marine Molecular Microbiology)
  • ENV 445A (Marine Climate Change)
  • ENV 571A (Urban Tropical Ecology)
  • ENV 369LA (Biological Oceanography)
  • EOS 202 (Atmospheric and Ocean Dynamics)

Area of Specialization

Students will choose an Area of Specialization in consultation with their advisor. Three courses fulfill this requirement, with at least one being an Independent Study or Research Independent Study. Students will choose between Marine Conservation and Marine Science to develop depth in a chosen discipline. MSC faculty will prepare several focus area options that take advantage of the strengths of the Marine Lab, the Nicholas School and Duke University. Students can choose an alternative focus area, in consultation with their advisor and Director of Undergraduate Studies. In the Spring of the Junior year, students will submit an essay that ties together these courses, along with any relevant experiences, and argues for a coherent area of specialization.

Capstone Experience (1 of the following):

  • ENV 490: new course to be developed by core faculty to meet needs of BS and AB students

  • GWD: one semester of Independent Research required, 2 recommended

Field Experience

Students must spend at least 1 semester at the Marine Lab

*Approval of substitute courses taken at other universities must be obtained from the Director of Undergraduate Studies in the department offering the course. Please note that some of these courses are prerequisite to some upper-level courses in this major.

 

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