Applying to UPEP

UPEP applicants should apply directly to the Duke Graduate School. All doctoral students must enter the program in the fall.

We welcome applicants from diverse academic, cultural, and professional backgrounds. Approximately 5-6 students are projected to enter the program each fall, for a total of 25-30 students enrolled at any given time.

Admission to the program is extremely competitive, with approximately 10 percent of applicants typically offered admission. Applicants should have a record of high academic achievement and the potential to become leading researchers on environmental policy issues. Although the program’s admissions committee evaluates applicants from a comprehensive standpoint, successful applicants will likely have:

  • High GPA and GRE scores are expected.
  • Personalized letters of recommendation that attest to the applicant’s scholarly ability.
  • Research interests that overlap those of one or more UPEP faculty members.
  • A personal statement that explains the applicant’s interest in pursuing an Environmental Policy Ph.D. at Duke (and preferred concentration), in view of the applicant’s prior education and experience, career objectives, and other pertinent factors.
    • An applicant should clearly specify the preferred concentration in the personal statement.

We encourage applicants to contact faculty members to learn about their research and their interest in accepting new doctoral students. To identify faculty members with research interests similar to yours, explore the Nicholas School Faculty Database and the Sanford School Find an Expert tool.

Candidates should have a strong interest in either the economic or political aspects of environmental studies. If you are primarily interested in other areas, consider the following doctoral programs instead:

  • If you are interested primarily in natural science aspects of the environment, consider applying to the Nicholas School’s PhD program in Environment, PhD program in Earth and Ocean Sciences, or Duke's PhD program in Ecology. 
  • If you are interested in studying marine resource issues from perspectives other than economics or political science, consider applying to the Nicholas School’s PhD program in Marine Science and Conservation.
  • If you are interested in an applied social science degree without a specific focus on the environment, consider applying to the Sanford School’s PhD program in Public Policy Studies.
  • If you are interested in studying the environment from a social science perspective, consider applying to the PhD program in Economics or PhD program in Political Science.