Application Materials & Requirements (On-Campus Program)

The following information is for applicants wishing to pursue a Master’s degree (MEM or MF) at our North Carolina campus.


  • Priority Application Deadline: December 16, 2019
  • Regular Application Deadline: January 17, 2020; If space is available in the program, we may accept applications after the deadline. Please contact us at or (919) 613-8070 to inquire about this possibility.


To be considered for admission to the Nicholas School requires that the applicant has a four-year bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university prior to matriculation at the Nicholas School. Applicants who have three-year undergraduate degrees must complete a fourth year of study to be considered for admission.

We also expect that applicants will have:

  • Some previous training in the natural or social sciences related to your area of interest;
  • At least one semester of college calculus; and
  • A college statistics course that includes descriptive statistics, probability distributions, hypothesis testing, confidence intervals, correlation, simple linear regression, and simple ANOVAs.
  • Additional coursework may be required or recommended.

Applicants wishing to pursue a concurrent degree should apply to the other program separately; this includes applicants from other Duke programs. Applicants wishing to pursue the Nicholas School's concurrent MEM/MF should apply with one application. Current Nicholas School students wishing to either add the MEM or MF degree should contact the Nicholas School Registrar.


You should plan to provide the following materials. Please contact us with any questions.

  1. Online Application
  2. Application Fee
  3. Letters of Recommendation
  4. Transcripts
  5. Statement of Purpose
  6. Resume
  7. Required Essay: 15 Random Things About You
  8. Standardized Exams
  9. Prerequisites
  1. Online Application

    1. To begin your application, you will need to register a Duke OneLink account. If you have ever applied to another Duke University program, including the undergraduate program, chances are you already have a OneLink account, it may just need to be reactivated.
    2. If you choose to link your OneLink account to your social media, you must first log out of any existing social media accounts before attempting to link the two. If you need assistance creating a OneLink account or accessing your application, visit the OneLink Help Page.
    3. Start the application by answering some general identification and education questions.
    4. Attach the required supplemental documents.
    5. Pay the application fee and submit your application.
    6. Your application is not considered complete until all letters of recommendation are received. When all letters of recommendation are received, the review process will begin.
    7. You may track the status of your application within the Slate application portal.
  2. Application Fee
    A non-refundable application fee of $80 is required of all applicants. You may pay via credit card when submitting your online application. Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, City Year, or Teach for America alumni, as well as active duty military and veterans, may request an application fee waiver before submitting their application (we cannot reimburse fee payments).
  3. Letters of Recommendation
    Applicants are required to identify three individuals who can articulately write about their suitability for the program. Recommendation letters will not be accepted outside of the online portal. Applicants should notify their recommenders that letters are limited to one page in length.
  4. Transcripts
    Applicants must submit transcripts for all colleges and universities attended. If your school does not post fall grades until after January, please submit your most current transcripts, including all courses in progress. All transcripts submitted through the online application are considered unofficial. Official transcripts are not required, nor requested, until the applicant is admitted.  
  5. Statement of Purpose
    Describe your educational goals and post-degree professional goals, and how Duke can prepare you to achieve those objectives. What experiences make you a good match for Duke, and how will you contribute to the Nicholas School of the Environment community? Your personal statement may not exceed 500 words.
  6. Resume
    Your resume should highlight your strengths, skills, and accomplishments as accounted for in your personal, academic, and professional experiences.
  7. Required Essay: 15 Random Things About You
    The Nicholas School of the Environment wants to get to know you beyond just the professional and academic achievements we can find elsewhere in your application. This is your opportunity to tell us anything that helps us to understand what makes you who you are. Share with us your list of "15 Random Things" about YOU. Present your response in list form from 1-15. The complete list should not exceed two pages and should not contain pictures.
  8. Standardized Exams
    Depending on your background and your intended program, you must provide results from the following standardized exams. The admissions committee will review your application with self-reported scores, which are entered within the application, but offers of admission and scholarship will not be made until official test scores are reported to Duke University through the associated testing service. It is highly recommended that applicants request official test score reports be sent prior to submitting an application.

    Because we match scores by an applicant's name, it is important your name on the application and your name on your test score reports be the same. If it is not, you must update the "Other Last Names Used" field in the Personal Background section of the application to facilitate the manual matching process. Please note: until you submit your application, the application status page will indicate that your test score reports (GRE, GMAT, and/or TOEFL) have not been received, even if they have been. There is an automated score retrieval process which runs several times per week, and once the process runs your score report status(es) will be updated. Allow up to 5 business days for the update to be reflected on your application status page. If after 5 business days your score report status hasn't been updated, first verify you submitted your scores to the correct institution code (GRE/TOEFL: 5156; GMAT: Q13-N532) and, if so, please alert us by email as we may have to manually find and match your scores to your application. IELTS scores are verified manually and thus may take longer. We will contact you if we have trouble accessing your IELTS scores.

    With few exceptions, all applicants must provide an official Graduate Record Exam (GRE) score that includes the verbal, quantitative, and analytical/writing assessment components. Subject tests are not required. Scores should be reported to Duke University’s institution code 5156; there is no department code. You must have taken the GRE within five years of the date of the application. Application decisions will not be made until official scores are received by ETS. As a result, we urge you to take the GRE by December 1, 2019.  

    Applicants to the joint MEM/MBA or MF/MBA program are permitted to submit a Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) score instead of a GRE score. Official GMAT scores should be reported to Duke University’s institution code Q13-N532.

    LSAT Applicants intending to pursue a MEM or MF degree concurrently with a JD (Juris Doctorate) must submit an official Law School Admission Test (LSAT) score to the Duke School of Law AND an official GRE score to the Nicholas School.

    English as a Second Language
    If your native language is not English, you must submit an official score on either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam. This requirement is waived if you earned your undergraduate degree in the United States, earned an undergraduate or master's degree from an English-only speaking institution, or have been working in the United States for two years or more. Official TOEFL scores should be reported to Duke University’s institution code 5156; there is no department code. IELTS score reports should be uploaded in the "Supplemental Uploads" section of the application so that the enrollment services team may verify your scores through the testing service.

    Any student whose first language is not English may be required to participate in a Skype interview to evaluate spoken English language ability. The interview results will be included in the application reviewed by the Admissions and Awards Committee.

    If your TOEFL or IELTS score is low, you may be accepted on the provision that you complete an intensive English language program in the United States prior to enrollment. Non-native English speakers will be required to take proficiency exams in written and spoken English during orientation week; depending on your scores, you may be required to enroll in additional English language instruction. You should be prepared to assume all costs for any required English tutoring and may need to reduce your course or research work while being tutored. Find more information for international applicants here.  

  9. Prerequisites
    Applicants are encouraged to review the prerequisite requirements before applying. Students may apply for admission with prerequisite deficiences, though they may only enroll with one required prerequisite deficiency, which must be completed in the first year of enrollment, preferably in the fall. In general, we strongly urge all students to complete all prerequisite coursework prior to matriculation. A grade of B- or better is required for each prerequisite course; pass/fail courses do not typically qualify.

Admissions Interview - If requested, you may be required to participate in a brief admissions interview as part of the application process. All interviews will be conducted in a virtual (online) setting. Details will be communicated to participants.


Duke is dedicated to providing a community where everyone feels secure and welcome. We strictly prohibit discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, sex, genetic information, or age. Duke does not tolerate harassment of any kind, including sexual harassment and sexual violence.

We uphold all federal laws prohibiting discrimination, including Title IX of the Education Amendment Act of 1972, a federal law that requires all entities receiving federal government funds and financial assistance to prohibit sex discrimination in their programs and activities. This comprehensive law prohibits sexual harassment and sexual violence; wage discrimination; termination, discrimination, or failure to promote or admit based on pregnancy; and discrimination in athletic opportunities.

Questions or comments about harassment or discrimination can be directed to the Office for Institutional Equity, (919) 684‐8222. Additional information, including the complete text of the harassment policy and appropriate complaint procedures, may be found by contacting the Office for Institutional Equity or visiting their website here. For further information on notice of nondiscrimination, you can contact the appropriate federal office by visiting their website, click here for the address and phone number of the office that serves your area, or call 1 (800) 421-3481.