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History & Quick Facts

The Nicholas School celebrates it creation date as 1991, but it represents a coming together of three entities that are almost as old as the university itself. The School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and the Duke University Marine Lab (both formed in 1938) came together in 1991 to become the School of the Environment, which was named the Nicholas School of the Environment in 1995 following a $20 million gift from Peter M. and Ginny Nicholas of Boston. In 1997, the Department of Geology (formed in 1936) joined the school as the Division of Earth and Ocean Sciences and focuses on a number of areas at the intersection of earth and environmental sciences.


  • Nicholas School of the Environment: 1991
  • Duke University Marine Lab: 1938
  • School of Forestry: 1938
  • Department of Geology: 1936

As of 2017 school year:


  • PhD: 160
  • Professional: 350
  • Undergraduates: 100 (majors)


  • Core: 70
  • Affiliated: 88


  • Core: 120

Annual Fund Goal (FY 2017):

  • $1.2 million

Number of Alumni (PhD/MEM/MF/DEL-MEM):

  • 5300

2017 Infographic


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