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.
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 post-degree environmentally-related experience is required (professional OR a significant commitment to the personal/volunteer work in related fields). Evidence of leadership potential and an established background in fields directly related to the environment is also required.
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.
Both the Masters of Environmental Management and the Masters 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. For more information, visit Duke Visa Services:
- F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT)
- F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT) 24-Month STEM Extension
Can I defer my enrollment?
Deferrals will be granted for Teach for America, Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, City Year and military service. 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 canceled and re-evaluated alongside the next admitted student class and a new FAFSA will be required. We are no longer accepting defer requests for students who applied in the 2020-2021 application year.
Separate applications are required for concurrent degree programs with the only exception being the Master of Environmental Management/Master of Forestry concurrent degree. We will accept the recommendations and essays submitted to the complementary program, and you only need to submit your test scores once.
Tuition for concurrent degrees will be based on a blended rate. Financial aid from the Nicholas School, if awarded, will then be adjusted accordingly.
Career & Professional Development
Where can I expect to work when I graduate?
While there are many factors that determine where you will work, a few of the bigger factors are the strength of your professional network, the quality of your professional experience and the breadth of your academic background. Nicholas School graduates can be found around the world in consulting firms, business/industry, non-profit and non-governmental organizations, federal/state/local governments, etc. Employers range from start-up ventures to boutique consulting firms to multi-national corporations and conservation organizations.
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.
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
GRE & Testing
Is the GRE required?
In past years, applicants were required, with few exceptions, to take the following standardized exams:
- The Graduate Records Examination (GRE, general exam) to apply to the MEM or MF program
- The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) to apply to the MEM/MBA or MF/MBA program, or
- The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) to apply to the MEM/JD or MF/JD program
However, the Nicholas School of the Environment recognizes that completing the GRE may be challenging due to the complications arising from COVID-19. Therefore, the GRE requirement for fall 2021 admission consideration has been suspended. Applications will continue to be reviewed holistically. During this time, the Nicholas School will also assess the continued need and value of requiring the GRE in future application cycles.
Prerequisites for admission to the Nicholas School are outlined in the Statement of Prerequisite Coursework. In additional to the school-wide prerequisites in calculus and statistics, additional courses might be required or recommended depending on the student’s program area of study within the MEM or MF degree.
What should I do if I am missing a prerequisite course?
MEM, MF: We recommend that you take prerequisite courses 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. A minimum grade of C- or better is required.
Coursera and Opencourseware courses are also accepted, and a certificate of completion is required at the end.
If your undergraduate transcript demonstrates that you received AP credit for classes taken earlier, that would suffice as well.
You will be expected to fulfill the prerequisites prior to arriving on campus. If necessary, you may matriculate with one required prerequisite deficiency.
For questions related to courses and prerequisites, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can I get an application fee waiver?
We are able to offer application fee waivers for the following individuals:
- Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, City Year, Gates Millennium Scholars and/or Teach for America alumni
- Active duty military and veterans
- Fulbright recipients for the upcoming academic year who will be using their award to fund all or part of the Nicholas School degree
- GRE Fee Reduction Voucher recipients
If you meet any of these qualifiers, please complete the Application Fee Waiver Request Form, which is embedded in the application. The admissions office will process your request within five business days. If you qualify, we will waive the application fee on your account, and confirmation will be visible after you submit your application. If we require additional information, we will contact you via email. Please note we cannot reimburse a processed application fee.
We recommend you submit your application without paying the fee if you anticipate your waiver request will be approved.
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?
We review applicants very holistically, so each piece of the application is important.
MEM and MF applicants
- Practice taking the GRE test so that you feel prepared when you take the one that counts. Remember that the GRE involves pacing yourself so that you can perform to the best of your ability. We recommend that you take the GRE at least a few months before applying (e.g. in June), so that if you are not comfortable with your score, you have time to take it again to perhaps improve your score.
- Be sure to review our programs, specifically the MEM program areas, to ensure a solid understanding of our curriculum.
- Think through whom you will approach for recommendations and ensure that they know you, why you are applying to this particular program, and your capabilities so that they can speak to your strengths and appropriateness for our program.
- Help us to know you, by including a well-thought out resume that highlights your accomplishments and gives us insights into what makes you a unique candidate and highlights your relevant experience. Also take advantage of the "15 Random Things" application item by describing yourself in a creative way. This is a unique opportunity for you to go beyond academic and professional credentials and really showcase how you will be a part of a large community of smart and active people who are working to make a positive impact in the world.
- Diversity is not about checking boxes. Diversity 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 enabled you to bring a unique perspective to the classroom and the professional environmental landscape. you have a story to tell, we'd love to hear how your background and experiences add diversity to our cohort.
- Ensure that you 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 that you have qualities and accomplishments that add value to your cohort. It's also important that you convey a plan to manage your academic, professional and personal priorities over the next two years.
- Think through whom you will approach for recommendations, and ensure that they know you, why you are applying to this particular program, your professional experience, and your leadership capabilities so that they can speak to your strengths and appropriateness for our program. We highly recommend that you consider recommenders from your professional circle, such as your supervisor, a client, co-worker, etc.
Is the application the same for the Master’s and PhD programs?
No. PhD admissions are handled through Duke’s Graduate School.
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 (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 change your mind post-admission, you would follow the same protocol as someone changing program areas within the degree.
When will I receive my admissions decision?
We anticipate releasing admissions decisions by mid-March.
I’ve been out of school a while and don’t have any academic recommenders. Who should I ask?
Your 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. Nevertheless, if you find yourself unable to find an academic recommender that can still speak to these characteristics, think about someone that knows you well enough to rate your strengths and who can thoughtfully articulate them for us. Who you choose to write your recommendation is your decision, though we would prefer to hear from employers and/or supervisors from a work/professional setting.
DEL-MEM: Applicants are required to submit professional recommendations.
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.
What is the tuition structure for concurrent degrees?
Tuition for concurrent degrees will be based on a blended rate. Financial aid from the Nicholas School, if awarded, will then be adjusted accordingly.
What aid is available for international students?
We consider all admitted applicants, including international students, for school-supported aid: 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 federally supported loans such as the Stafford or GradPlus. Students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents are eligible for federal loan programs.
Whereas the federally supported loan programs are not available to non-U.S. 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.
Can I apply for financial aid after the admission deadlines?
Federal student aid (through the FAFSA) 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.
FAQ Video Series
In this series of short videos answering frequently asked questions (FAQs), gain insight into the many programs Duke Environment offers and how to choose what is right for you. Get tips and advice from one of our Admissions Officers on how to set your application apart.
#1: Applying to Graduate School
Concerned about the environment? Considering applying to grad school? Learn about all of your master's degree options, and get tips and advice on how to make the right decision for you.
#2: Choosing a Program Area
Applying to grad school, but unsure which environmental program area to choose for your master's? Nicholas Admissions Officer Melissa explains how to decide your academic focus by evaluating your options through a lens of possibility.
#3: Satisfying Prerequisites
Join Nicholas School Admissions Officer Melissa as she provides tips on how best to find the requirements and understand the prerequisites needed to apply for grad school to study environmental issues.
#4: Crafting a Statement of Purpose
What makes a strong Statement of Purpose for your grad school application? Nicholas School of the Environment Admissions Officer Melissa offers advice on how to identify and describe your "why".
#5: Sharing 15 Random Things
Stymied by the 15 Random Things part of the Nicholas School of the Environment application for grad school? Admissions Officer Melissa provides tips on how to capitalize on this opportunity to let us know the unique perspective you will bring to your cohort.
#6: Understanding the Deadlines
Learn about the difference between our priority and regular deadlines for applying for graduate school at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment from Admissions Officer Melissa.
#7: Requesting Letters of Recommendation
Applying for grad school and wondering what makes a good letter of recommendation? Whom should you ask to write one? Watch this video to learn how to make the most of your letters from Admissions Officer Melissa, from Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment.
#8: What About the GRE?
Applying to grad school and confused about GRE scores? Admissions Officer Melissa, from Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment, explains what is - and is not - required.
Still Have Questions?
The admissions team is here to help you through the application and enrollment process. We encourage you to attend one of our recruitment events, connect with us during virtual office hours and reach out with questions anytime.