EEH Prerequisites & Required Courses

Start planning early to get the most out of your Ecotoxicology & Environmental Health program experience. Contact our Admissions Office (prospective students) or see Student Advising (admitted and current students) for more information.


These are the courses you’ll need to complete before you start your degree program. See our Statement of Prerequisite Coursework for details.

Prerequisites for All MEM Students

  1. Some previous training in the natural sciences or the social sciences related to the student’s area of interest.
  2. At least one semester of college calculus.
  3. A college statistics course that includes descriptive statistics, probability distributions, hypothesis testing, confidence intervals, correlation, simple linear regression, and simple ANOVAs.

Additional Prerequisites for EEH Students

  1. One semester of college-level chemistry. In addition, a semester of organic chemistry is strongly recommended but not required.
  2. One semester of a college-level fundamental ecology course or similar course with approval of program chair is required. Students who have not taken it prior to enrolling will be required to take it as part of the EEH curriculum.


The MEM degree requires a minimum of 48 credit hours. A typical EEH curriculum consists of the following components:

  • Four courses/tutorials required for all MEM students (6-8 credit hours)
  • Four core courses (12 credit hours minimum)
  • Two courses within a chosen area of specialization (6 credit hours minimum)
  • One statistics course (3 credit hours minimum)
  • One social science course (3 credit hours minimum)
  • One tools course in a quantitative focal area (3 credit hours minimum)
  • Master’s Project (4-6 credit hours)
  • Additional electives to meet the 48-credit hour minimum for degree completion

Choosing a Track

The EEH program allows students to choose from two curriculum tracks. We can help you determine which track best aligns with your interests and career goals.

Integrated Science and Management Track
This is the default track for students admitted to the EEH program. Students in this track focus on completing the required coursework and their Master’s Project. This track also allows for several elective courses in the student’s areas of interest.

Research Track
This track provides in-depth research training. Students in this track conduct research in the laboratory of a faculty sponsor. Because each faculty member typically sponsors only one research-track MEM student each year, the track has limited openings and is highly competitive.

To participate in this track, you must:

  • Identify and contact potential faculty sponsors to discuss research topics and opportunities. (Do this as early as possible, preferably before the end of your first semester.)
  • Obtain written approval from a faculty sponsor. Faculty members make decisions about a student’s suitability for the research track based on the student’s educational background and experience, overall academic performance, and identification of a research topic of mutual interest to both the student and the faculty sponsor.
  • Register for 12 to 18 credit hours of an independent research project under ENVIRON 899. This research project replaces the requirement for the Master’s Project. Note that students enrolling in the research track will enroll in fewer elective courses to allow time to focus on their research project.
  • Commit to working in your faculty sponsor’s laboratory during the summer between your first and second year. Students frequently need to devote some time to research and laboratory work in the faculty sponsor’s laboratory during the second year, as well.

Course Requirements for All MEM Students

All MEM students must take the following courses:

  • ENVIRON 896 Professional Communications (1/2 credit hour)
  • ENVIRON 897 Writing a Master’s Project (1/2 credit hour)
  • ENVIRON 898.04 MP Seminar (1 credit hour to be awarded at the end of 4 semesters)
  • ENVIRON 899.xx Master’s Project (4 to 6 credit hours)
  • Successful completion of online Introductory Master’s Project Tutorials

Course Requirements Specific to the EEH Program

The EEH curriculum consists of four core courses, two courses within a chosen area of specialization, one statistics class, one social science course, and one course in a quantitative focal area. In addition, students will be expected to take one course in ecology if they have not previously taken a college level ecology class. See example courses >

The majority of the faculty members and course offerings in the EEH program are located at our Durham campus. With careful planning it is possible for a student to spend one or two semesters in their second year at the Duke University Marine Laboratory in Beaufort, NC. Marine Laboratory faculty members are also available to serve as advisors and to direct Master’s Projects.


The purpose of specialized elective courses is to support your Master’s Project and advance your career goals. Each student must take at least two courses within their chosen area of specialization. Three areas of specialization are offered:

  • Environmental Toxicology
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Environmental Health

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 typically culminates in a paper and 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. We suggest taking additional courses in your chosen area of specialization, although alternative plans (for example, foreign languages) are acceptable.


Courses supporting the EEH program are taught within the Nicholas School, at several other departments at Duke, and at UNC-Chapel Hill and NCSU. This list of example courses is not exhaustive; see our Advising page for an up-do-date list of available courses.

Core Courses

Students choose at least four Core Courses for a total of 12 credit hours minimum.

ENVIRON 501 Environmental Toxicology (3 credit hours)
ENVIRON 537 Environmental Health (3 credit hours)
ENVIRON 539 Human Health & Ecol (Envir) Risk Assess (3 credit hours)
ENVIRON 540 Chemical Fate of Organic Compounds (3 credit hours)
OR ENVIRON 542 Aquatic Chemistry (3 credit hours)

Specialization Courses

Students select two courses from their chosen area of specialization for a total of 6 credit hours minimum.

Environmental Toxicology
Recommended courses include graduate level toxicology, physiology, biochemistry, and molecular biology field. Suggested additional courses are listed below; other alternative courses may be substituted with approval by the EEH Chair.

  • ENVIRON 819 Mechanisms in Toxicology (3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 871 Integ./Comp. Pathobiology for Toxicologists (3 credit hours)
  • PHARM 533 Essentials of Pharmacology & Toxicology (3 credit hours)
  • TOXC 707 Advanced Toxicology (UNC) (3 credit hours)
  • BIOCHEM 301 Introductory Biochemistry I (3 credit hours - note that undergraduate courses are tallied in “units” and 1 unit=3 credits.)
  • ENVIRON 753LA Sensory Phys Mar Animals (offered at the Marine Laboratory in Beaufort, 4 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 772LA Biochem. Marine Animals (offered during summer at the Marine Laboratory in Beaufort, 4 credit hours)

Environmental Chemistry
ENVIRON 540 and ENVIRON 542 are required courses for students specializing in environmental chemistry. Suggested additional courses are listed below; other alternative courses may be substituted with approval by the EEH Chair.

  • ENVIRON 739 Intro to Atmospheric Chemistry (3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 598.99 Chemical Transformation Env Contaminants (3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 566 Environmental Analytical Chemistry (3 credit hours)
  • EOS 525 Water Pollution (3 credit hours)
  • EOS 571 Stable & Radioactive Isotopes in Env Sci (3 credit hours)
  • EOS 573S Analytical Techniques (3 credit hours)
  • CEE 560 Environmental Transport (3 credit hours)
  • CEE 571 Hazardous/Toxic Waste (3 credit hours)
  • CEE 666 Aquatic Geochemistry (3 credit hours)

Environmental Health
Two additional courses (not including the one required core environmental health class) in a graduate level field are required. Suggested additional classes are listed below, but not all classes are offered on a regular basis.  Other classes not listed here may be substituted with approval by the EEH Chair.

  • CEE 690 Air Pollution (3 credits)
  • ENVIRON 538 Env Health: Econ/Policy (Global Env Health) (3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 636 Spatial Epidemiology (3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 637S Population-Environment Dynamics & Health
  • GLHLTH 510 Global Health & Genomics
  • GLHLTH 571 Intro to Global Maternal and Child Health
  • GLHLTH 595 Connections in Global Health: Inter. Team Projects
  • GLHLTH 671 African Health Systems, NGOs, and Global Health

Statistics Course

Students must take one statistics course. The recommended course is ENVIRON 710 Applied Data Analysis for Envir. Science (3 credit hours).

Social Science Course

Students must take one social science course. Recommended courses include the following. Other alternative courses may be substituted with approval by the EEH Chair.

  • ENVIRON 520 Resource and Environmental Economics I (3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 531 Econ Analysis of Resource & Envir. Policies (3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 533A Marine Fisheries Policy (Beaufort, 3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 550 Land Use Principles and Policy (3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 557 Social Science Surveys for Envir. Mgmt (3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 577 Environmental Politics (3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 786A Marine Policy (Beaufort, 3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 822A Coastal Watershed Sci & Policy (Beaufort, 3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 709A Conservation Bio & Policy (Beaufort, summer, 3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 828A Governance of Social-Ecol Sys. (Beaufort, 3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 860SA Political Ecology (Beaufort, 3 credit hours)
  • LAW 235 Environmental Law (3 credit hours)

Tools Course

Students are required to take one tools course but we highly recommend taking two. Recommended courses include the following. Other alternative courses may be substituted with approval by the EEH Chair.

  • ENVIRON 535 Air Quality Management (3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 536 Water Quality Management (3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 559 Fundamental of Geospatial Analysis (3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 701 Forest Measurements (4 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 750 Genomics of Microbial Diversity (3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 780 Environmental Exposure Analysis (3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 816 Wetlands Field Skills (3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 832 Environmental Decision Analysis (3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 887A Theory & Methods - Policy Analysis (Beaufort, 3 credit hours)

Ecology Course

Students are required to take one ecology course if they have not done so before entering the program. Recommended courses include the following. Other alternative courses may be substituted with approval by the EEH Chair.

  • BIO 206 Organismal Diversity (3 credit hours)
  • BIOLOGY 560 Ecology/Global Change (3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 361 Field Ecology (3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 503 Forest Ecosystems (3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 561 Tropical Ecology (3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 585A Fisheries Ecology (Beaufort, 3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 714 Landscape Ecology (3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 773LA Marine Ecology (Beaufort, 4 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 776A Marine Mammals (Beaufort, 4 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 812 Wetlands Ecology (3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 817 Urban Tropical Ecology (Beaufort, 3 credit hours)

Elective Courses

Students may take additional core, specialization, tools, or other courses as electives to fulfill the minimum of 48 credit hours required to complete the MEM program. Additional recommended electives include the following:

  • ENVIRON 547 Environmental Health and Safety (3 credit hours – taught occasionally)
  • ENVIRON 549    California Water Crisis (3 credit hours)
  • ENVIRON 762 Environmental Mega-Trends (3 credit hours)
  • EOS 527 International Water Resources (3 credit hours)
  • EOS 551S Global Environmental Change (3 credit hours)