Doctoral Degrees

The PhD degree is offered through the Duke Graduate School via the Division of Marine Science and Conservation, the University Program in Ecology, or the Integrated Toxicology and Environmental Health Program. Approximately five PhD candidates are accepted each year. PhD students spend the first year on Duke’s main campus and the remaining four years at the Marine Lab in Beaufort.

If you are interested in pursuing a PhD degree through the Division of Marine Science and Conservation:

  • Determine if there are Marine Lab faculty members who have research interests that overlap with your interests. If you are already communicating with faculty at the Marine Lab, seek their advice.
  • Contact Rachel Lo Piccolo, Assistant to the Director of Graduate Studies or 252-504-7585, to discuss your specific interests prior to submitting an application.

PhD candidate applications must be submitted directly (electronically) to the Duke Graduate School which then passes the application to the department specified by the applicant on the form. For additional details please visit the Duke Graduate School Admissions page. The Graduate School application deadline is December 8, 2017.

Marine Science and Conservation PhD Course Requirements
(adopted September 2014)

The Division in Marine Science and Conservation at the Nicholas School of the Environment administers its own PhD program. All PhD students in the MSC program fulfill requirements in four areas: professional development, interdisciplinary seminar, theory and methods, and research seminars. The course work amounts to 8 graded and 2 non-graded units of study. Students should discuss other course options and training needs with their advisor.

Course Category


Professional development

Doctoral Student Seminar & Professional Development ENV 849A
1 unit, non-graded
Students take this course twice
Topics rotate, but have included grant writing, preparing future faculty, and interdisciplinary reading

Interdisciplinary seminar

Current Topics in Marine Conservation ENV 886A
2 units
Students take this course once

PhD level theory and methods courses

2 courses, 3 units each
Students take 1 course from approved social sciences and 1 from approved natural sciences courses.

Current natural science courses:

Current social science:

Research seminars

In each of years 2, 3, and 4 of their program, MSC students will present an overview of their research interests and progress.