CEM Prerequisites & Requirements


  1. MEM Program Prerequisites >
  2. CEM specific prerequisites: college microeconomics course or an introductory college economics course with a substantial microeconomics component.

CEM Required Courses

CEM student are required to take two core policy classes and a general environmental economics sequence:

  1. ENVIRON 775 Ocean and Coastal Law and Policy – Roady (3 credit hours, fall 1st year, Durham)
  2. ENVIRON 786A Marine Policy – G. Murray (3 credit hours, fall 2nd year, Beaufort)
  3. ENVIRON 520/521 Environmental Economics

CEM Individual Concentration Courses

Each student must select a concentration area and take at least three Core Courses that complement that area (9 credit hours minimum). 

Concentrations are flexible and subjective; the litmus test for a feasible topic is that it develops a coherent body of knowledge and a reasonably well-bounded arena for practical applications. There are several approaches you can use to select your concentration.  The Nicholas School and the Duke University Marine Lab, where most CEMs spend their second year, has particular expertise in several concentration areas, some of which are listed below and include: Community-based management; Estuaries, wetlands and coastal water quality; Applied marine ecology; Fisheries and aquaculture; Marine spatial planning, Coastal zone management, and Management of protected species and critical habitats. This list is only provided to give examples of some popular current concentrations. A wide variety of common concentration areas or newly emerging areas may be considered. CEM students are expected to work with their academic advisors and the CEM program chairs to develop their individual topical concentration.

CEM Tools Courses

Your tools courses provide the technical skills you’ll need to work effectively in your selected concentration area. Each student must complete at least four Tools Courses (12 credit hours minimum). It is strongly suggested that a statistics and data analysis course, such as ENVIRON710, be included as one of these courses. See example Tools Courses.

Your advisor can help you build a toolkit suited to your interests and past experience. The litmus test for a toolkit is that it is logically coherent and provides a practical set of skills for applications within that concentration. Example toolkit themes include:

  • Field ecology methods
  • Marine geospatial analysis and remote sensing
  • Social science methods
  • Policy analysis
  • Community based and participatory approaches
  • Data analysis and modelling

Specialized Elective Courses

The purpose of specialized elective courses is to support your topical concentration and Master’s Project and advance your career goals. Each student must select at least three electives (9 credit hours minimum) including one natural science course, one social science course, and one synthesis course. These courses should complement the rest of your curriculum and may be selected from the Concentration Courses and Tools Courses listed below, or from among many others in the Duke, UNC and NC State catalogs.

Master’s Project

Each MEM student must complete a Master’s Project. This project provides an opportunity to integrate your coursework and showcase your ability to use what you have learned at the Nicholas School to design and carry out a well-formulated and defensible analysis of a management-related problem. The Master’s Project may be done individually or in a group and culminates in a written document (that can be complemented with other media) and a presentation in the program’s final semester. The Master’s Project fulfills 4-6 credit hours.

Additional Electives

Students typically must take several additional elective courses to fulfill the minimum 48-credit hour requirement for degree completion.


Courses supporting the CEM program are taught within the Nicholas School, at several other departments at Duke, and at UNC-Chapel Hill and NCSU.  Many of these are offered at the Duke University Marine Lab, located in Beaufort, North Carolina.  This list of example courses is not exhaustive; see our Advising page for an up-do-date list of available courses.

Concentration Courses

Possible concentration areas include:

Community-based management

  • ENV 551DA International Conservation and Development
  • Collective Action, Environment and Development (ENV 544)
  • ENV 528SA Community Based Marine Conservation in the Gulf of California
  • ENV 755 Community-based Environmental Management

Estuaries, wetlands and coastal water quality

  • Wetland Restoration Ecology (ENV 809)
  • Fundamentals of Water Biogeochemistry and Pollution (EOS 525)
  • Urban Tropical Ecology (ENV 571A)

Applied Marine Ecology

  • Marine Ecology (ENV 773LA)
  • Wetland Ecology and Management (ENV 812)
  • Environmental Toxicology (ENV 501)

Fisheries and Aquaculture:

  • Should I Eat Fish? Economics, Ecology and Health (ENV 569)
  • Aquaculture and the Environment (ENV 719A)
  • Marine Fisheries Policy (ENV 533A)
  • Fisheries Biogeography (EVN 585)

Marine Spatial Planning:

  • Geospatial Analysis for Coastal Marine Management (ENV 765)
  • Economic Valuation of the Environment (ENV 531)
  • Marine Conservation Biology (ENV 824A)

Coastal Zone Management

  • Environmental Law (ENV 835)
  • Landscape Analysis & Management (ENV 724)
  • Coastal Watershed Science and Policy (ENV 822A)

Management of Protected species and critical habitats

  • Biology of Marine Mammals (ENV 776A)
  • Biology and Conservation of Sea Turtles
  • Marine Conservation Biology

Social Science and Policy:

  • ENVIRON 533A Marine Fisheries Policy
  • ENVIRON 544 Collective Action Property Rights and the Environment
  • ENVIRON 502 Climate Change and the Law
  • ENVIRON 822A Coastal Watershed Science and Policy
  • ENVIRON 860SA Political Ecology

Tools Courses Students choose at least four Tools Courses for a total of 12 credit hours minimum. This should include at least two courses from a single approach, and at least one additional course from a different but complementary approach.

ENVIRON 710 Applied Data Analysis for Environmental Science (3 credit hours) 
Other similar courses (e.g., at NCSU or UNC) may also be useful courses.

Marine Geospatial Analysis and remote sensing
(Note: While some of these are 4-credit hour courses, only 3 credit hours count per course in meeting the tools distributional requirement):

ENVIRON 559 Fundamentals of Geospatial Analysis (4 credit hours)
ENVIRON 724 Landscape Analysis and Management (4 credit hours)
ENVIRON 765 Geospatial Analysis for Marine and Coastal Mgmt (4 credit hours)
ENVIRON 857L Satellite Remote Sensing for Environmental Analysis (4 credit hours)
ENVIRON 859 Advanced Geospatial Analysis (3 credit hours)

Social Science Methods
ENVIRON 557 Social Science Surveys (3 credit hours)
ENVIRON 556 Environmental Conflict Resolution (3 credit hours)
ENVIRON 590.67 Participatory Methods (2 credit hours)
ENVIRON 758 Applied Qualitative Research Methods (3 credit hours)
ENVIRON 832 Environmental Decision Analysis (3 credit hours)

Marine Field Ecology
ENVIRON 706 Wildlife Surveys
ENVIRON 809 Wetland Restoration Ecology
ENVIRON 771 Geospatial Field Data Collection

Policy analysis
ENVIRON 531 Economic Valuation of the Environment
ENVIRON 563 Cost-Benefit Analysis for Health and Environmental Policy
ENVIRON 569 Should I Eat Fish? Economics, Ecology, and Health
ENVIRON 705 Social Impact Analysis
ENVIRON 887A Theory and Methods for Policy Analysis of the Commons (3 credit hours, Beaufort)
ENVIRON 860SA Political Ecology

Assessments based on models (statistical or simulation)
ENVIRON 590.38 Species Distribution Modeling
ENVIRON 655L Bayesian Inference for Environmental Models
ENVIRON 756 Spatio-Temporal Environmental Models
ENVIRON 769 Hydrologic Modeling for Water Quantity and Quality Assessment
EOS 512 Climate Change and Climate Modeling