Online (DEL-MEM) Program Format

The DEL-MEM program focuses on interdisciplinary approaches to environmental management. Through individual and group coursework and a master's project, you’ll deepen your knowledge of core concepts and tackle real-life case studies that are directly related to your current profession.

Our unique program format melds the Nicholas School’s multidisciplinary environmental curriculum with the renowned “place and space™” model of Duke’s Fuqua School of Business. Students reap the benefits of both online and face-to-face learning models to engage in challenging coursework, develop core leadership skills, and foster lasting relationships with their professors and peers.

Through the DEL-MEM Leadership Advantage, our program is designed to cultivate each student’s individual leadership capacity.


Place-Based Sessions

One of the defining features of the DEL-MEM program are our place-based sessions. We believe that a purely distance learning program misses the opportunity to develop strong relationships and networking opportunities between students and faculty. Therefore, students are required to participate in five short, intensive, place-based sessions during the two-year program. The place-based sessions prepare you for the upcoming semesters, allow you to meet your peers and faculty, provide an opportunity for leadership development, and allow you to connect with Duke University. During these sessions, students and faculty develop relationships that last long after the program ends!


Space-Based Sessions

Students spend the majority of their time learning through an online format. When not on campus or in Washington D.C., students participate in virtual classrooms both synchronously and asynchronously.

The “space” or distance learning portion uses interactive technologies to complement face-to-face sessions. Students use internet-based webconferencing to participate in real-time weekly course meetings with peers and faculty. Students also use the Sakai online learning management system, Skype, email, and discussion boards to complete individual and group coursework. Electronic versions of course materials (i.e., e-books, e-journals, etc.) are used in lieu of traditional hardcopy materials when available.

Synchronous Learning

The DEL-MEM program utilizes webconferencing technology to hold real-time weekly course meetings (typically 60-90 minutes per week per course). Engagement is made simple by utilizing web-based tools. Webcams are used to evoke a more personable, classroom-feel to the experience. These course meetings are typically held in the evening (ET). These meetings are recorded so students can review at any time.

Course meetings are heavily focused on discussions versus lectures. Students are encouraged to participate and be vocal. As mid-career professionals, student contribution is significant and is based on their expertise and experiences. At times, when a student is an expert on a topic, he/she will be asked to assist in leading the discussion. The peer-to-peer learning is significant and adds a key dimension to the learning experience.

Asynchronous Learning

The weekly webconference meetings are supplemented with readings, group projects, papers, and online discussion boards. The use of "e" versions of course materials are commonplace as the DEL-MEM program embraces the increasing availability of electronic resources – helping to support the Nicholas School’s efforts to “forge a sustainable future.” Students connect outside of the “classroom” via email, phone, discussion boards, and Skype.

Discussion boards are used extensively in all DEL-MEM courses. Think of them as the virtual version of the dialogue that happen in a bricks-and-mortar classroom. It is a place for students to continue and further explore the concepts presented and discussed during the weekly synchronous learning webconferences.


Orientation (August)

2017 Dates: August 20-24, 2017 (returning students: August 20-22)

2018 Dates: August 19-23, 2017 (returning students: August 19-21) - TENTATIVE

Your first place-based session is held at the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University in Durham, NC. It is designed to get you familiar with distance learning technology, including web-conferening, Duke email, libraries, etc. You are guided through a DEL-MEM Student Manual that provides you with all the in's and out's of the program. Before you leave for the week, you will have all the tools you need to complete the rest of the program. It is our goal to provide you with a framework and point of reference for your studies over the next four semesters. 

During this session, you meet your peers starting their second year in the program. Together, you begin your fall semester courses with your faculty. There are plenty of opportunities for social events and leadership development.

Midway through the week, all of the first year students and select faculty and staff travel together to Beaufort, NC to the Duke University Marine Lab! Here, you continue your introduction to the leadership development program. The DEL-MEM program is dedicated to leadership to meet real-world environmental challenges, so it should be no surprise that most of our orientation class time will be spent exploring issues in the field—i.e., the real world—rather than the classroom. We focus on timely environmental case studies of a variety of sorts. Our aim is not to provide you with “the answers” to these various challenges, but rather to arm you with the appropriate array of questions and with some insights regarding how best to begin answering them.

First year students earn 1 credit hour for this week-long place-based session.


D.C. Leadership Module (December)

December 9-13, 2017 

The hallmark of the DEL-MEM program is the dedicated Leadership Module in Washington D.C. On alternate years, students spend their December place-based session in Washington D.C.

This session is designed to provide students with a framework and point of reference for their leadership journey and development.  During the five-day session, students explore leadership in a variety ways, including individual meetings with prominent leaders in the field, discussions, and a case study project.  Students are exposed to a number of leaders, each selectively chosen to provide diverse viewpoints, leadership journeys, and styles. Students are asked to prepare challenging and thoughtful questions with the intent to spark reflection on one’s own leadership journey.

Students earn 1 credit hour for this place-based session during the semester it is held.


Course Introduction & Wrap-Up (December)

December 9-11, 2018 - TENTATIVE

When we are not in Washington D.C. holding our Leadership Module, we are in Durham at Duke University wrapping up our fall semester courses and beginning spring semester courses. This 3-4 day session begins with course wrap-up activities -- students present their group or individual culminating projects. Then, students are introduced to their spring course faculty, receive their course materials, and dive right in to the next semester. Scheduled between these events, are opportunities to meet with the leadership advisor, listen to a guest speaker as part of the Leadership Speaker Series, and socialize with peers and faculty.


Graduation (May)

2017 Dates: May 11-12 (required), 13-14 (optional)

2018 Dates: May 10-11 (required), 12-13 (optional)

2019 Dates: May 9-10 (required), 11-12 (optional) - TENTATIVE 

The last time you visit Duke University is in May of your fourth semester. This session is for graduating students and is when students formally present their Master's Project to their peers, faculty, and the Duke community. In addition, one day is dedicated to synthesizing the leadership development and growth each student has experienced in over the past two years. The session ends with a Nicholas School Recognition Ceremony and the Duke University Commencement Ceremony. Although, optional, these ceremonies allow you to celebrate and recognize your hard work and successes!

*Please note, all travel, lodging, transportation, and meal expenses associated with each place-based session are the responsibility of each student and is not included in the cost of tuition.