For details instructions about the application process and its components, visit How to Apply.
Can I apply with a three-year bachelor’s degree?
Applicants to the Nicholas School’s professional master’s degree programs must hold the equivalent of a four-year US bachelor's degree from an accredited institution prior to matriculation at the Nicholas School. Applicants whose undergraduate programs are three years in length typically must complete a fourth year of study to be considered for admission.
Do you conduct interviews?
On campus MEM, MF: Non-native English speakers, including those who qualify for an English language testing waiver, may be required to participate in a virtual interview to evaluate spoken English language ability. This interview is structured as a conversation with a member of our staff and does not require formal preparation. Nicholas School staff will contact applicants via email if this is required. Notes from this session will be included alongside application materials, and reviewed by the Admissions and Awards Committee.
DEL-MEM: Applicants may be asked to participate in a virtual admissions interview to discuss their professional goals, readiness for self-directed distance learning, and how they envision the DEL-MEM facilitating their growth as an environmental leader. For non-native English speakers, spoken English language proficiency will also be evaluated. Nicholas School staff will be in contact to schedule this after the application is submitted.
How do I make myself a strong applicant?
- At the Nicholas School, we know a community of smart, active people with a wide range of experiences and expertise enables us to build a better environmental future. We take that to heart in our holistic application review process. We expect that applicants will have some previous training (via coursework or experience) in the natural and/or social sciences related to your area of interest.
- Prerequisite course preparation is essential not just for your application but for success in the programs at the Nicholas School. Please take note and view our Statement of Prerequisite Coursework in order to determine what prerequisite course(s) are required and which are highly recommended for your intended field of study.
- A grade of a B- is required for all prerequisite courses. All courses to satisfy required prerequisite(s) must be taken for college credit to fulfill prerequisite requirements. Accredited college or university (including community, technical or junior college) are preferred for prerequisite course completion. Required prerequisites completed via traditional distance learning courses (i.e., regularly scheduled class meetings) or self-paced distance learning courses are not preferred but are accepted if taken for college credit. Courses completed via correspondence, independent study, Coursera, MOOC, or Opencourseware are not accepted. AP or IB courses if the student earns college credit for the course(s) from their undergraduate institution
- Our application is designed to enable you to share your academic and professional preparation for graduate study alongside your lived experiences that shape how you approach problem solving, teamwork and collaboration. We are interested in you as an individual, the ways your experiences shape the perspective you’ll bring to the classroom and the professional environmental landscape.
Before beginning your application, read the How to Apply instructions carefully. Additional instructions will be available in the application itself. Refer to these resources as you work on your application. Craft each application component with the goal of conveying what you’d bring to the Nicholas School community, and how you hope to grow during your time here. Graduate school is a major commitment, and we hope to learn how a Nicholas School degree fits into your overall professional and personal trajectory.
Is there a minimum GPA required for admissions consideration?
There is no undergraduate grade point average (GPA) minimum requirement to apply to the MEM or MF degree programs. Competitive applications often have a minimum undergraduate cumulative GPA of 3.0 (on 4.0 scale). As part of our holistic application review process, each applicant’s GPA is considered as one of many factors and we understand that GPA is not the sole indicator of academic and professional potential.
If your GPA was significantly impacted by external factors (i.e., health issues, other personal reasons), you are welcome to expound in your application to the extent you feel comfortable.
What should I consider when selecting my MEM primary and secondary concentrations?
- The structure of the MEM curriculum allows you to customize your education to what is important to you by selecting two concentrations—one that will give you depth of knowledge in a topical area (Environment Concentration), and a second that will provide the skills needed to put this knowledge into practice (Management Concentration). Both the Environment Concentration and Management Concentration selection should consider your academic history, work experience, and career interests.
- MEM students will complete four courses (12 credits) in each of their two selected concentrations (plus an additional 5-6 elective courses). Course requirements for each concentration are the same regardless of whether selected as the primary or secondary concentration.
- Students will be assigned their faculty academic advisor and attend their Program Seminar based on their primary concentration.
- Required prerequisite coursework must be completed for both concentrations. Visit our Statement of Prerequisite Coursework for required prerequisites for each concentration. Meeting required perquisites should be considered when selecting your concentrations.
- The MEM program at the Nicholas School allows you to combine opportunities aligned with your interests and passions to craft a graduate school experience that will equip you for career success rooted in making meaningful change in the world. Reflect on your own academic and professional/career goals and how enrollment in your selected primary and secondary concentrations will help you achieve and further these goals.
Am I able to change one or both of my MEM area(s) of concentration?
During the Application Process
- Prior to Application Submission: Yes! You can make your concentration change(s) through the application in the Program Information section. Log into your application to make the concentration change(s).
- Post Application Submission: Yes! Once your application is submitted, you will need to request the concentration change(s) by emailing the admissions office. We will process the change and confirm the change via email. Please allow 5 business days to process.
As an Enrolled Student
- Maybe. Consideration of concentration changes may be made during specific windows as communicated by the Nicholas School Registrar and approval is not guaranteed. Approvals are made by the Program Chair for each concentration. Approval decisions are made, in part, based on space availability, communication of academic and career endeavors, and completion of required and/or recommended prerequisites for the requested concentration(s).
Do I need to be a certain age, have a specific major or have a certain amount or type of work experience?
- Students join our programs from a range of academic and experiential backgrounds. We have a balanced mix of students who join us directly after undergrad and those who join us later. In our incoming class each year, we usually have 40+ areas of undergraduate study represented. Some have directly relatable research, work, internship and/or volunteer experiences, while others bring transferable skills from other areas of interest and professions.
- We expect that applicants will have some previous training (via coursework or experience) in the natural and/or social sciences related to your area of interest. One (1) or more years of post-baccalaureate experience is a plus. This includes military service and paid work experiences including internships, AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, Teach for America and other service work assignments. The Nicholas School values work experience as part of preparation for graduate study, as work experience often provides students with valuable teamwork experience and a clearer idea of their goals for graduate study.
- Our holistic review considers all that you share on your application—from your coursework to your statement of purposes to work experience(s) to your resume—as we complete our admissions evaluation. We will also consider any prerequisite courses you’ve taken or that are currently in-progress. Please view our Statement of Prerequisite Coursework for more details on required prerequisites.
- For those interested in pursuing the Business & Environment (BE) concentration, competitive applicants to the BE concentration will have a minimum of one (1) year post-baccalaureate experience for admissions consideration. BE applicants without at least one (1) year post-baccalaureate experience must have significant undergraduate coursework in business, finance, accounting, and/or economics.
- Applicants need not be a certain age, but five years of post-bachelor's degree environmentally-related experience is required (professional OR a significant commitment to the personal/volunteer work in related fields). Evidence of leadership potential and an established background in fields directly related to the environment is also required.
For more information on preparing your application, see How to Apply.
Who should I ask to write my recommendations?
In the online application form, applicants will enter contact information for three individuals who can articulately write about their suitability for the program and graduate study. Your recommenders should be able to write about your leadership potential, problem solving skills, maturity, personal integrity, etc.
- MEM, MF: Applicants currently completing their undergraduate study should submit at least one academic recommendation. Recent graduates are encouraged to submit at least one academic recommendation. If you find yourself unable to find an academic recommender who can still speak to these characteristics, think about someone who knows you well enough to rate your strengths and who can thoughtfully articulate them for us. The person you choose to write your recommendation is your decision, though we would prefer to hear from employers and/or supervisors from a work/professional setting. Recommendations from family members or friends is not preferred or recommended.
- DEL-MEM: In the online application form, applicants will enter contact information for three professional references who can articulately write about their suitability for the program and graduate study. Your recommenders should be able to write about your leadership potential, problem solving skills, maturity, personal integrity, etc. The person you choose to write your recommendation is your decision, though we would prefer to hear from employers and/or supervisors from a work/professional setting. Recommendations from family members or friends is not preferred or recommended.
For further details on letter of recommendation:
How to Apply to NSOE Master's Programs
Is the application the same for the Master’s and PhD programs?
No. PhD admissions are handled through Duke’s Graduate School.
I'm interested in pursuing concurrent degrees. Do I have to complete two applications?
Applicants to the on-campus MEM or MF may apply to concurrent degrees at the same time they apply to the Nicholas School, or during their first year of enrollment.
- Applicants wishing to pursue the Nicholas School's concurrent MEM+MF should apply with one application to the Nicholas School.
- Applicants to the MEM or MF wishing to pursue a concurrent degree with a non-Nicholas School program will complete two applications: one to the Nicholas School, and one to the non-Nicholas School program.
When will I receive my admissions decision?
Admissions decisions are released in mid-March. If applicable, financial aid notifications are sent soon after.
Applicants will receive consideration for merit-based financial aid—no separate application is required.
Applicants must apply for need-based aid by the deadline.
If I am admitted, what opportunities will I have to visit and/or learn about the Nicholas School?
We hope you will plan to participate in Explore Duke Environment: Admitted Student Events.
- Our in-person, on-campus visit day is typically in March. Designed specifically for admitted students to our on-campus MEM and MF program, this day is meant to enhance the admitted student experience for those who are able to come to campus.
- Virtual sessions will be held throughout March and April. These sessions will cover informational and logistical topics, as well as facilitate connection with various members of the Duke Environment community, including current students, alumni, faculty, staff, and campus partners. We will offer opportunities for you to engage with the Nicholas School community, meet other admitted students and see yourself at Duke.
Monitor your email for a schedule of events!
The purpose of prerequisite requirements is to ensure that students are adequately prepared for graduate-level courses in the Master of Environmental Management (MEM) and Master of Forestry (MF) professional degree programs.
All areas of study within the Master of Environmental Management and the Master of Forestry require one semester each of calculus and statistics. Additional courses may be required or recommended depending on areas of study within the MEM or MF degree.
What should I do if I am missing a prerequisite course?
If you are missing prerequisites:
- You may still apply for and be offered admission if you are missing one or more prerequisite courses; however, students must begin the program with a maximum of one missing prerequisite course (i.e., students missing more than one prerequisite course must complete coursework prior to the start of the fall semester).
- MF Degree: Although students without the level of preparation described above may be accepted for admission to the MF program, it is expected that all prerequisite deficiencies will be completed prior to matriculating by means of formal for-credit coursework to assist in the successful and timely progression through the MF degree.
- We strongly urge all students to complete all prerequisite coursework prior to the start of the program. An initial review of prerequisite coursework is completed as part of the admissions application review. The NSOE Registrar determines the official prerequisite status for enrolling students in the spring prior to the fall term (e.g. students enrolling for Fall 2024 will receive a prerequisite review in Spring 2024).
- Students who begin the program missing the maximum one prerequisite course must complete the requirement during the first year, preferably in the fall semester.
For program-specific requirements, guidance on meeting prerequisites, and further details:
GRE & English Language Testing
Is the GRE required?
The GRE requirement for fall 2024 admission consideration remains suspended. Applicants should not submit GRE scores, as GRE scores will not be reviewed as part of our admissions process.
Applications will continue to be reviewed holistically. During this time, the Nicholas School will also assess the continued need and value of requiring the GRE in future application cycles.
If my native language is not English, do I have to submit English language exam scores?
If your native language is not English, you must submit an official score on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam or the Duolingo English Test. This requirement is waived if you earned your undergraduate degree in the United States, earned an undergraduate or master's degree from an English-only speaking institution, or have been working in the United States for two years or more. Please see the minimum language score required for admission consideration in each test section below.
- Official TOEFL scores should be reported to Duke University’s institution code 5156; there is no department code.
- Official TOEFL scores are matched to student records after the application is submitted. Please allow 3-5 business days for this process.
- TOEFL iBT minimum score = 100
- A PDF of your IELTS score report should be uploaded in the "Supplemental Uploads" section of the application. Scores will be considered unofficial until Admissions staff verify your scores through the testing service.
- IELTS minimum overall band score = 7.0 (must receive a minimum of a 6.5 on each individual section)
- There is no institutional code for Duolingo, but applicants will need to select “Duke University Graduate Programs: Graduate School; Divinity; Engineering; Environment; Public Policy; Duke Kunshan” at the "Graduate" program type level as the institution to send scores to.
- Please Note: Make sure to include subscores when you select your institution. Score reports without subscores will not be accepted. If you are not sure how to include subscores in your score report, please contact Duolingo English Test support on the Duolingo English Test website.
- Duolingo minimum score = 125
Career & Professional Development
Where can I expect to work when I graduate?
While there are many factors that determine where you will work, a few of the bigger factors are the strength of your professional network, the quality of your professional experience and the breadth of your academic background. Nicholas School graduates can be found around the world in consulting firms, business/industry, non-profit and non-governmental organizations, federal/state/local governments, etc. Employers range from start-up ventures to boutique consulting firms to multi-national corporations and conservation organizations.
How many students have internships?
Each summer, about 95% of our students engage in internships or summer research projects around the world, providing valuable opportunities to gain career-related experience and build a professional network.
What kind of benefits does the CPDC offer?
From the very beginning, students are presented with a Career-Readiness Curriculum, which outlines essential skills and experiences that students should pursue as they search for internships and their first job. While not an exhaustive list, below you'll see the kinds of things you can expect from the CPDC. Keep in mind on-campus students typically have 10+ distinctive interactions with the CPDC every year.
- One-on-one consultations for career advice and job search strategies
- Current job and internship postings
- Recruiting events
- Professional development workshops
- Weekly newsletters
- Access to our active alumni network
- Access to the Handshake career development platform for a wide range of job and internship resources
- Weekly resource listings for both employment and summer experiences
Tuition & Cost
For questions related to Tuition and Cost for master's programs, visit the Tuition and Fees section of the website.
What is flat-fee tuition?
The Nicholas School uses a “flat-fee” tuition structure, which means all master’s degree students pay the same tuition regardless of their specific program, number of credits registered for, or whether the work is done online or in-residence. You can take courses in one of our other graduate/professional schools (e.g. Fuqua, Pratt, Duke Law, etc.) at no additional cost (some courses may be restricted and some limitations may apply depending on class size, instructor permission, etc.).
What is the tuition structure for concurrent degrees?
Tuition for concurrent degrees will be based on a blended rate. Financial aid from the Nicholas School, if awarded, will then be adjusted accordingly.
What aid is available for international students?
We consider all admitted applicants, including international students, for school-supported aid: merit-based aid in the form of scholarships and/or assistantships and need-based grants.
International students are not eligible for federally supported loans such as the Stafford or GradPlus. Students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents are eligible for federal loan programs.
Whereas the federally supported loan programs are not available to non-U.S. citizens or permanent residents, the Nicholas School’s need-based grant program is open to F-1 and J-1 visa holders, provided they can supply the necessary documentation to support their application.
Can I apply for financial aid after the admission deadlines?
Federal student aid (through the FAFSA) is not tied to our admission deadline.
All applications received by the application deadline will receive consideration for our merit-based scholarships. Your application for admission also serves as your merit-based scholarship application.
You will be considered for Nicholas School need-based grants as long as you complete your CSS profile and submit the proper documentation by its deadline (no exceptions to the deadline requirement).
Do you offer part-time or evening classes?
MEM, MF: We do not offer part-time or evening classes.
DEL-MEM: While the DEL-MEM program is not part-time, it is a flexible, innovative format that allows you to update your education while maintaining a commitment to your job and family.
While many MS degree programs are more research-focused, the MEM is an applied degree. As a professional master’s degree, our Master of Environmental Management provides an interdisciplinary lens on tackling environmental issues in partnership with colleagues and communities. Our students receive training in the natural and social sciences, and develop skills that complement this content knowledge with tools to apply it, and this experience is embedded into the MEM experience.
Duke MEM, MF and DEL-MEM students complete a master's project rather than a master's thesis. A culminating hands-on experience, the master’s project enables students to apply the professional skills and knowledge they’ve acquired in the classroom to projects that tackle real-world environmental challenges, often in service to an industry, government or nonprofit external partner.
Compare the Duke MEM to an MS at another school (infographic)
Do Nicholas School master’s programs prepare me for a PhD program?
While the majority of our graduates enter the workforce upon graduation, a handful of our MEM graduates do pursue further study in doctoral programs.
Both the Masters of Environmental Management and the Masters of Forestry programs are STEM compliant.
We have had several international students take the one year OPT extension. There is a separate application and approval process for OPT. Additionally, students wanting to use the STEM designation for the 24-month extension to work in the United States will need to complete a third application and approval process. Please note that the full extension cannot be applied for or granted in advance. For more information, visit Duke Visa Services:
- F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT)
- F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT) 24-Month STEM Extension
Can I defer my enrollment?
Applicants should plan to apply to the Nicholas School for the term in which they intend to begin their study. All NSOE master’s programs begin in the fall semester. We do not offer spring or summer admissions.
Deferrals will be granted for Teach for America, Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, City Year and military service. Deferrals are granted for one year (next fall admission cycle). Approved deferral requests require receipt of your tuition deposit; should you choose not to matriculate, you will forfeit your deposit and be required to reapply for future admission consideration. Any financial aid award(s) will be canceled and re-evaluated alongside the next admitted student class and a new FAFSA will be required.
Can I transfer into the Duke MEM/MF programs?
We do not accept transfers from other programs into the MEM/MF programs at the Nicholas School. It is possible, however, to apply to a concurrent degree program once enrolled, such as the MPP, JD, MBA, etc. through our concurrent degree program.
The Nicholas School does not accept transfer credits of any kind; courses taken through the Interinstitutional Agreement are not considered transfer credits.
Still Have Questions?
The admissions team is here to help you through the application and enrollment process. We encourage you to attend one of our recruitment events, connect with us during virtual office hours and reach out with questions anytime.