Is the Nicholas School committed to diversity?
Diversity, equity, and inclusion are important to the Nicholas School, and are one of six driving principles addressed in our 2017-22 strategic plan, “Working Together to Advance Environmental Education and Research.” These values are informed by the realities of our changing world and that the environment is critically important to everyone.
We also have a committee, called the Actionators, that is comprised of faculty and staff, that delves deeply into diversity and inclusion as they relate to the student, faculty and staff experiences here. The student-led equivalent is the Diverse & Inclusive Community for the Environment (DICE). Built upon the truths in "a rising tide lifts all boats," there is also Rising TIDE: Training for Inclusion & Diversity in the Environment. Other student groups with a focus on diversity and inclusion exist as a home for building relationships with others who are like you (and those who are not) to promote synergies and overall comfort at the Nicholas School. All of these groups work to examine how we can better create a community that demonstrates dignity.
How do I schedule a visit?
We ask that individual visits be scheduled at least 10 business days in advance, especially if you wish to observe a class or speak with a faculty member. Organized visits are offered on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays by appointment. Contact the admissions team to schedule a visit.
Do you offer part-time or evening classes?
MEM/MF: We do not offer part-time or evening classes.
DEL-MEM: While the DEL-MEM program is not part-time, it is a flexible, innovative format that allows you to update your education while maintaining a commitment to your job and family.
Are the Master's degrees STEM compliant?
Both the Master of Environmental Management and the Master of Forestry programs are STEM compliant.
We have had several international students take the one year OPT extension. There is a separate application and approval process for OPT. Additionally, students wanting to use the STEM designation for the 24-month extension to work in the United States will need to complete a third application and approval process. Please note that the full extension cannot be applied for or granted in advance.
The Duke Visa Services Office website provides the most current and applicable information.
What is the difference between an MEM and an MS?
Please check out this infographic for more information. One major difference is Duke MEM, MF, and DEL-MEM students complete a master's project (MP) rather than a master's thesis. What distinguishes master's projects from master's theses is that, although they may include original laboratory or field research, they may also take the form of management plans, handbooks, educational curricula, or other such products.
I'm not certain which program area I want to choose yet. What should I select? (on-campus MEM/MF only)
Consider your passion, interests, and career aspirations when determining which program area to pursue. We encourage you to reach out to the admissions team and/or faculty within a respective concentration to discuss.
On the application, you may select any program area and will then be assigned an academic advisor based on the program area in which you are admitted.
You will officially select your program area during the registration process. We strongly encourage you to look closely at the prerequisites and program descriptions to ensure they have the appropriate foundational knowledge and/or experience for your selection. Should you decide you'd like to consider pursuing a different program area once you have matriculated, program chairs approve post-application program area changes.
Why do you require prerequisite courses?
Having a basic understanding of the concepts covered in the prerequisite courses prepares our students so they can jump right in and engage with their professors and fellow classmates in an intellectually meaningful way.
What prerequisites do I need to fulfill?
A college Calculus and college Statistics class are required for any concentration in our MEM or MF program. Application and acceptance to the MEM and MF degrees is possible with prerequisite deficiencies. Although we admit applicants with missing prerequisites, we only matriculate students who are missing no more than one required prerequisite. Some concentrations have additional prerequisites and/or recommended coursework.
What should I do if I am missing a prerequisite course?
Prerequisite courses must be completed at an accredited college or university. The class must be taken for college credit and you will need to submit the official transcript. You can take classes at a local community college wherever you live, or you can take classes from a list of pre-approved, online classes.
We are not able to accept non-credit courses including those offered through Coursera and Opencourseware. Prerequisite classes must have been taken for a grade, and the grade must be a B- or better. If your undergraduate transcript demonstrates that you received AP credit for classes taken earlier, that will also suffice.
If you have not fulfilled your prerequisites when you apply to our program, it will not hurt your chances of admission. You will be expected to fulfill the prerequisites requirements before you start the program. You may matriculate with only one prerequisite deficiency.
Do I need to be a certain age or have a certain amount of work experience?
MEM/MF: No, there is no specific age requirement. For those joining the MEM/MF program directly following the completion of an undergraduate degree, competitive applicants have often incorporated internships and experiential hands-on work to help distinguish them.
DEL-MEM: Applicants need not be a certain age, but five years of relevant professional environmental experience is required. Evidence of leadership potential and an established background in fields directly related to the environment is also required.
Do I need to have a certain major to apply?
We have applicants from a wide variety of majors. Since files are reviewed holistically, applicants from many disciplines are evaluated based on their coursework and varied experiences; however, it's important to keep in mind that if your educational background lacks training in the natural or social sciences related to your area of interest, you should build in some experiences prior to applying. Every concentration also requires at least one semester of college calculus and a college statistics course.
Additional coursework may be required or recommended depending on your specific choice of concentration. Application and acceptance to the MEM and MF degrees is possible with prerequisite deficiencies, but it is important to note that we only matriculate students who are missing no more than one required prerequisite. Courses taken after matriculation to satisfy prerequisites will not count towards the credits required for the degree.
How do I start an application
The application for the MEM, MF and DEL Professional Master's Programs will be available beginning on September 16. To start an application, the first step is to establish a Duke OneLink account, if you do not have one already.
If you applied for another program at Duke University, including the undergraduate program, chances are you already have a OneLink account that just needs to be reactivated. OneLink will be your entry point throughout the application process. If you have trouble creating a OneLink account or accessing your application, please visit the OneLink Help Page.
How does the application process work?
You may begin your application once you have your OneLink ID. You will answer some general identification and education questions first, and then attach the required supplemental documents. Please be thoughtful when entering your application as changes cannot be made once it is submitted.
After you pay the $80 application fee, or have your application fee waived, you may submit your application. Your application is not considered complete until all letters of recommendation are received.
When all letters are received, the review process begins. You may check the status of your application by logging into the Slate applicant portal.
I'm applying for a concurrent degree. Do I have to fill out two applications, get two sets of recommendations, write two essays, etc.?
While we do require separate applications for concurrent degree programs outside of the Nicholas School, you do not need separate recommenders and you can submit the same essays. You only need to submit your test scores once. Separate applications are not required for the Duke MEM/MF concurrent degree program.
Can I get an application fee waiver?
We are able to offer application fee waivers for the following individuals:
- Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, City Year or Teach for America alumni
- Active duty military and veterans
- GRE Fee Reduction Voucher recipients
If you meet any of these qualifiers, please complete the Application Fee Waiver Request Form before submitting your application. Please note we cannot reimburse a processed application fee. Upon completing the request form, the admissions office will review your documentation within 5 business days and waive the application fee for you, if you qualify. This is an internal process. You will not receive an application fee waiver code.
Can I apply with a three-year bachelor's degree?
We require that students who apply for admission to our master's degree programs have a four-year bachelor's degree or its equivalent. For some students (e.g., applicants coming from India where a three-year degree is the norm), that means a three-year bachelor's degree from an accredited institution as well as at least one additional year of master's degree level study to equal the four-year degree requirements.
Do you conduct interviews?
MEM/MF: 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.
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.
DEL-MEM: All applicants are required to participate in an extensive admissions interview as part of the application process.
How do I make myself a strong applicant?
- Practice taking the GRE test so that you feel prepared. We recommend that you take the GRE at least a few months before applying (e.g. in June), so that you have time to take it again if you feel it’s necessary.
- Review our programs and program areas to ensure you have a solid understanding of our curriculum.
- Think through whom you will approach for recommendations, and assess if they have enough information about you, your capabilities and your chosen program so that they can speak to your strengths.
- Help us get to know you by including a comprehensive resume that highlights your accomplishments and gives us insights and highlights your relevant experience. Take advantage of the "15 Random Things" application item by describing yourself in a creative way. We encourage you to share your passion for the environment and your career aspirations.
- Diversity is not about checking boxes and can be defined in many ways. We are interested in you as an individual, what you have accomplished, what adversity you have overcome, and the ways those experiences have shaped your unique perspective. Consider sharing your diversity story if you have served in a service program (such as the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, or Teach for America), the military (active duty or veteran), or are a first-generation applicant. If you have a story to tell, we'd love to hear how your background and experiences add diversity to our cohort.
- Submit all of your materials on time and follow application guidelines.
- Write a concise, clear essay that allows us to see that you have a compelling interest in environmental leadership, a solid idea of how the degree aligns with your career goals, and the qualities and accomplishments that add value to your cohort. Convey your plan to manage your academic, professional and personal priorities over the next two years.
- Think through who you will ask for recommendations, and be sure that they know your strengths, leadership skills and experience and why you are applying to this particular program. We suggest that you consider recommenders from your professional circle, such as your supervisor, a client, co-worker, etc.
- Help us to know you by including a comprehensive resume that highlights your accomplishments and gives us insights into what makes you a unique candidate.
Is the application the same for Master's and PhD programs?
No. PhD admissions are handled through Duke’s Graduate School. You can contact them through this web inquiry form.
I'm interested in both the MEM and MF degree programs? Do I apply to both?
No. If you are planning to pursue only one degree, please select the program in which you are most interested and apply to it. If you change your mind, please contact the enrollment services office at email@example.com so that your application can be evaluated in light of the admissions criteria (e.g. prerequisites) for your new program preference. If you were to change your mind post-admission, you would follow the same protocol as someone changing concentrations within the degree.
Do I need to send official transcripts with my application?
We do not require official transcripts for the application process, so you are permitted to scan and upload an unofficial version as part of your application. If accepted, your offer of admission will require the official transcript before you can enroll.
When can I expect to hear about admittance after completing my application?
We have an adapted rolling admissions process, meaning we begin reviewing applications in December as they are received, and release decisions as they are available. The first wave of decisions after the December 16th Priority Deadline are typically released in early February. Decisions for applications completed after December 16th and submitted by the January 17th deadline are typically made by early March. Regardless of when your application is completed, please know we are giving your application the full consideration it deserves, and are diligently working to get your decision out as soon as possible. We know you're as anxious as we are for you to join us!
I'm having trouble with the application. Who can help me?
Contact our application technical support team (firstname.lastname@example.org). In times of high volume, it may take a few business days before they can respond to your question.
GRE & Testing
Do I have to take the GRE?
All applicants to the MEM or MF program must submit a GRE score from the most recent five years unless applying for a concurrent degree with the Fuqua School of Business, in which case GMAT scores can be submitted to Fuqua and we can use those scores. DEL-MEM applicants do not have to take the GRE.
When should I take the GRE?
We accept a GRE score that is no more than five years old. To guarantee receipt of your scores in time, we strongly suggest you take the GRE prior to December 1 in the application cycle. A decision to admit will not be made without receipt of your official GRE (or GMAT) scores.
What is the minimum percentile score I need on the GRE to be admitted?
We do not have a set minimum percentile score as we read each application thoroughly to gain an understanding of the whole student. We are looking for indications that you will be successful and challenged here and a complement to the student body as a whole.
Our holistic review takes into account that while an applicant may not be stellar in one particular area, they may still be a competitive candidate for the incoming class. The most important thing is to do your best and make sure that the “true you” is described fully in your application.
I’ve been out of school a while and don’t have any academic recommenders. Who should I ask?
Any recommenders should be able to write about your leadership potential, problem-solving skills, maturity, personal integrity, etc.
MEM/MF: It is not required that you have an academic recommendation, though at least one academic recommendation is suggested. If you are unable to find an academic recommender that can speak to these characteristics, think about someone that knows you well enough to rate your strengths. We like to hear from employers and/or supervisors from a work/professional setting.
I have my letters of recommendation. How can I submit them?
We prefer that recommenders enter their letters directly because recommenders are also asked to rate you on a number of criteria. We ask that you include the email addresses of your recommenders as they will be emailed directly from the Duke system with a personalized, secure link to your application.
How do I know if my letter of recommendation has been received?
You may check the status of your recommendations within the Slate application portal.
My recommender is out of town and the deadline is approaching – what can I do?
We know you can't control when your recommender submits the letter of recommendation and applicant rating so we expect some letters to be received after the deadline. Do your best to communicate early and often with each recommender, ensuring they understand the application deadline.
My recommender is having trouble submitting the recommendation letter. Can the letter just be emailed to you directly?
It would be better for the recommender to seek assistance with submitting the letter. The personalized, secure link sent directly from the Duke system to the recommenders is the most efficient method of linking the recommendation to the applicant’s electronic file, making it immediately available to the review committee and allowing the applicant to see what items are outstanding. Additionally, there are specific questions as well as the free text entry. The recommendation is not complete without both components completed.
Should my letters of recommendation be formatted a certain way?
Letters of recommendation should be no longer than one page in length. In our experience, the shorter recommendation leads to more unique and focused interpretation of the applicant’s character and talents. With longer recommendations, we typically find comments duplicate information that is found elsewhere in our application or in another letter. There are no specific formatting requirements for line spacing and margin width.
The application asks if I want to see what my recommender wrote. Why wouldn't I want to do this?
If you waive the right to view your recommendation, theoretically this would encourage your recommender to be more open and honest in assessing you. For this reason, this type of recommendation tends to carry more weight.
Admission & Transfers
Do you offer early decision?
No, we do not have an early decision option. Once applications are completed, they are collected for review. We review and alert applicants of our decision as quickly as possible.
Do you offer spring admission?
We do not offer spring admission. Applicants are admitted to the program in the fall each year.
Can I transfer into the Duke MEM/MF programs?
We do not accept transfers from other programs into the MEM/MF. It is possible, however, to add a degree once enrolled, such as the MF, MBA, etc., through our concurrent degree program.
Can I defer my enrollment?
Deferrals will be granted for Teach for America, Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, City Year, and military service. Additional deferral requests are considered on a case-by-case basis. Deferrals are granted for one year (next fall admission cycle).
Approved deferral requests require receipt of your tuition deposit; should you choose not to matriculate, you will forfeit your deposit and be required to reapply for future admission consideration.
Any financial aid award(s) will be re-evaluated alongside the next admitted student class and a new FAFSA will be required. Deferral requests should be sent to email@example.com.
Tuition & Cost
What is flat-fee tuition?
The Nicholas School uses a “flat-fee” tuition structure, which means all master’s degree students pay the same tuition regardless of their specific program, number of credits registered for, or whether the work is done online or in residence. You can take courses in one of our other graduate/professional schools (e.g. Fuqua, Pratt, Duke Law, etc.) at no additional cost.
How much is tuition and fees? What about the total cost of attendance budget?
Our master’s degree programs span two years, whether you’re pursuing an on-campus or online degree. These two years constitute time you’re investing in your future and a fulfilling career in which you can affect positive change.
Tuition costs are determined annually, ensuring expenses are reflective of existing marketplace dynamics. Information for the next year is typically available in early spring.
How do I finance my education?
At Duke Environment, we are committed to supporting our students in pursuing their passions. Many of our students receive merit (MEM and MF) and/or need-based (MEM, MF and DEL-MEM) scholarships and grants annually.
What kind of aid is available?
The Nicholas School considers all admitted applicants for two forms of financial aid: merit-based aid, in the form of scholarships and/or modest assistantships (for on-campus MEM/MF only, valued at $3,000), and need-based grants. Consideration for merit-based aid comes from the admissions application; there is not a separate application for merit-based aid.
Need-based aid is also available for applicants who demonstrate the greatest financial need, including non-US citizens or permanent residents. The need-based grant program is also open to F-1 and J-1 visa holders provided they can supply the necessary documentation to support their application. Need-based requires completion of the CSS profile.
Students who are US citizens or permanent residents are eligible for the federal loan programs. These programs require completing and submitting the FAFSA.
All students are expected to contribute towards their degree. The Nicholas School does not offer any scholarship or aid amounts equivalent to the full cost of the program.
Does the Nicholas School provide Yellow Ribbon support?
The Nicholas School provides up to seven Yellow Ribbons awards of up to $10,000 per student, per year. Students must be certified by the Duke Veterans Education Office. The Veteran's page on the Student Records/University Registrar website is a good resource for our student veterans.
What aid is available for international students?
The Nicholas School considers all admitted applicants for school-supported aid. That aid comes in two forms: merit-based aid in the form of scholarships and/or modest assistantships (for MEM/MF only, valued at $3,000) and need-based grants.
International students are not eligible for any of the federally supported loans such as the Stafford or GradPlus. Students who are US citizens or permanent residents are eligible for federal loan programs. International applicants are also eligible to apply for need-based grants.
In partnership with Fundación Mexicana para la Educación, la Tecnología y la Ciencia (FUNED), the Nicholas School provides tuition scholarships for eligible admitted MEM or MF students with Mexican citizenship.
In partnership with The Fundación para el Futuro de Colombia (COLFUTURO), the Nicholas School provides tuition scholarships for eligible admitted MEM or MF students with Colombian citizenship.
You can learn more about FUNED, COLFUTURO, and all the forms of financial aid at our website. It contains merit-based aid information, need-based grant information and outside scholarships information.
Does Duke submit my name for the World Bank Scholarships Program?
The World Bank Preferred Program Scholarship requires applicants to apply for admissions to the University and to apply for the scholarship separately. Applicants should only submit one scholarship application. The online scholarship application will give the opportunity to list up to 5 preferred master's degree programs for possible funding. At the time of submitting the scholarship application, the scholarship applicant is not required to have been admitted into one of the preferred programs.
What is the Nicholas Scholars program?
Established with funding from five endowments and the Annual Fund, the program enables us to award up to 15 Nicholas Scholarships each year to incoming students from diverse backgrounds and experiences who demonstrate exceptional leadership potential and academic excellence. Those selected for this highly competitive program receive scholarships that cover approximately two-thirds of their tuition.
Students are selected to be Nicholas Scholars; no application is necessary, and the Nicholas Scholars cohort is limited to on-campus MEM & MF students.
Can I apply for financial aid after the admission deadlines?
Federal student aid is not tied to our admission deadlines. All applications received by the final application deadline will receive consideration for our merit-based scholarships. Your application for admission also serves as your merit-based scholarship application.
You will be considered for Nicholas School need-based grants, regardless of the deadline by which your application is submitted, as long as you complete your CSS profile and submit the proper documentation by its deadline. Whereas the federally supported loan programs are not available to non-US citizens or permanent residents, the Nicholas School’s need-based grant program is open to F-1 and J-1 visa holders provided they can supply the necessary documentation to support their application.
Whom should I contact with specific financial aid questions?
Cynthia Peters is our Financial Aid Counselor.
Please contact her at
Career & Professional Development
What kind of benefits does the CPDC offer?
From the very beginning, students are presented with a Career-Readiness Curriculum, which outlines essential skills and experiences that students should pursue as they search for internships and their first job. While not an exhaustive list, below you'll see the kinds of things you can expect from the CPDC. Keep in mind on-campus students typically have 10+ distinctive interactions with the CPDC every year.
- One-on-one consultations for career advice and job search strategies
- Current job and internship postings
- Recruiting events
- Professional development workshops
- Weekly newsletters
- Access to our active alumni network
- Active promotion of your resume to relevant employers
- Access to a landline phone for job and internship interviews
- Help finding internship funding and project fellowships and grants
Where can I expect to work when I graduate?
The strength of your professional network, the quality of your professional experience, and the breadth of your academic background will help determine where you will work. Nicholas School graduates work in consulting firms, business/industry, non-profit and non-governmental organizations, federal/state/local governments, etc around the world. A variety of employers include WWF in DC, National Grid in Boston, FedEx in Tennessee, Amazon, Coca-Cola Company, and federal and state resource agencies such as NOAA, USFS, USFWS and USEPA.
How many students have internships?
The CPDC surveyed rising second-year MEM and MF students regarding their 2018 summer internships. Of those who responded, 100% reported securing an internship, with 97% paid directly by the employer or partially paid using internal and external grants. Nine percent of respondents completed their internships internationally, working in Canada, China, Gabon, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico and Switzerland. These internships cross industry sectors: consulting, business and industry, government agencies, and conservation agencies.
Stanback fellowship program
The Stanback Fellowship Program offers 11-week, paid summer fellowship for Duke students, undergraduate or graduate, US citizen or international. There are over 50 environmental organizations offering 150 fellowships each summer. Examples include the Environmental Defense Fund, Rocky Mountain Institute, Earth Justice, NC Nature Conservancy, and many land trusts, policy, legislative, or community-based organizations. When available, incoming students have the opportunity to apply for a Stanback fellowship the summer prior to matriculating to the Nicholas School.
Once I graduate, can I still use the Career and Professional Development Center (CPDC)?
The CPDC offers assistance for a lifetime, from recent graduates to those who are already established.