It may be possible to change coursework advisors, with the approval of both the current and prospective advisors, and it is common to have as a master’s project advisor someone other than the coursework advisor. It also may be possible to change concentrations through the end of the second semester (out of four required semesters of enrollment), provided that the student has met the prerequisites for the new concentration and provided that it is still possible for the student to meet all requirements of the new program before graduation. A student changing concentrations will usually be assigned a new coursework advisor. The student is responsible for ensuring that all degree requirements have been met. Faculty coursework advisors and staff in Student Services are available to advise and assist students but the final responsibility rests with the student.
It is usually possible to change coursework advisors, with the approval of both the current and prospective advisors, and it is common to have as a master’s project advisor someone other than the coursework advisor. It is also usually possible to change concentrations through the end of the second semester (out of four required semesters of enrollment), provided that the student has met the prerequisites for the new concentration and provided that it is still possible for the student to meet all requirements of the new program before graduation. A student changing concentrations will usually be assigned a new coursework advisor. The student is responsible for ensuring that all degree requirements have been met. Faculty coursework advisors and staff in Student Services are available to advise and assist students but the final responsibility rests with the student.
Students in the DEL-MEM Program have the majority of their required coursework planned for them. Students work directly with the faculty program director, the staff program coordinator, and/or the Nicholas School registrar to ensure they are meeting these requirements before graduation; however, the responsibility rests with the students to successfully manage their coursework. DEL-MEM students will be assigned a master’s project advisor during their second semester.
Non-native English speakers applying to the MEM, MF, and DEL-MEM should consult with that program for specific requirements beyond the TOEFL, nicholas.duke.edu/admissions/how-apply.
Students desiring accommodations to support their studies should contact the Student Disability Access Office (access.duke.edu; email firstname.lastname@example.org). Students must provide appropriate documentation and discuss their needs with the professionals in that office. Duke University makes its own decisions regarding accommodations; just because a student received accommodations previously does not guarantee accommodations at Duke. If SDAO determines that accommodations are warranted, the office will communicate those accommodations to the ADA liaison in the Nicholas School, who will in turn communicate those accommodations to the student’s instructors. Students are responsible for providing course enrollment details to the ADA liaison in advance of each semester. Students may not request individual accommodation of instructors and instructors should direct students to SDAO or the ADA liaison for the school. The ADA liaison will work with the student and the instructors to ensure compliance.
More information about the SDAO is available in the Duke University Bulletin at registrar.bulletins.duke.edu/resources/sdao.
Entering students who enroll in the Master of Environmental Management, Master of Forestry, or DEL-MEM degree programs will receive instructions from the Nicholas School registrar about registering for courses. Registration for new students typically takes place over the summer or during orientation week. Students register for succeeding semesters at times scheduled in the university calendar.
Registration is approved by the advisor and completed by the student using an online registration system. Registration is required to take courses for credit or audit. A student must be registered to establish eligibility for university and other loans, the student health service, and study and laboratory space. All tuition and fee payments and any indebtedness must be settled before registration can be completed.
Candidates for the professional degrees are considered fully registered when they enroll full-time for the number of semesters required in their individual degree programs (for example, four semesters for the MEM or MF degree). Students normally register for 12 graduate credits per semester, although a variation from 9 to 16 graduate credits is common. Students must have the permission of their advisor to register for more than 16.5 graduate credits in a semester, and all students who wish to enroll for fewer than 9 graduate credits must make a formal request to the education committee to study part-time.
Courses below the 500 level may not be applied toward the required credits needed for a master’s/graduate degree, except for courses taught at Duke Law School. With the approval of their program, graduate students may enroll in lower-level courses as a course overload, but these courses will not count toward any graduation requirement (including electives) and will not count toward the credits required to demonstrate full-time enrollment status. Graduate/professional students interested in enrolling in courses below the 500 level must complete the appropriate registration form and submit it to the Office of Student Services.
The DEL-MEM Program is a minimum thirty-course credit degree program. To complete the DEL-MEM Program within four consecutive semesters, students typically take between 6 and 9 graduate credits per semester. Permission is required to register for fewer than 6 graduate credits or more than 12 graduate credits in a semester. Students must be enrolled with at least 6 graduate credits to be considered a full-time student and to receive federal financial aid, if eligible. Students registering for fewer than 6 graduate credits per semester are not eligible to receive federal financial aid.
The Nicholas School does not accept transfer credits; courses taken through the Interinstitutional Agreement (see below) are not considered transfer credits.
All students should register at the times specified by the university. The charge for late registration is significant.
The period for dropping and adding courses ends on the tenth calendar day of the fall and spring semesters. During the summer, dropping or adding courses is limited to the first three days of the term. Students are advised to make all class changes on the first day of class if possible.
Reciprocal Agreements with Neighboring Universities
Students enrolled full-time in the Nicholas School during the regular academic year may enroll for up to 6 course credits (two course maximum) per semester at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University, North Carolina Central University, or any other university participating in the Interinstitutional Agreement if they are also registered for at least 6 course credits at Duke during the same semester. Similarly, graduate students at these universities may take up to 6 course credits per semester at Duke. In the summer, students may take courses interinstitutionally if they are enrolled at Duke for at least the same number of hours they wish to take at the other school(s); graduate students are limited to two summer courses at other institutions. This agreement does not apply to contract programs such as the American Dance Festival. The student must pay any special fees required of students at the host institution and provide their own transportation. A transportation service sponsored by the Robertson Scholars Program travels between Duke and Chapel Hill on a regular schedule during the academic year. The reciprocal agreements with neighboring universities do not apply to distance-learning programs. In general, online or distance-learning courses are not part of the interinstitutional agreement. If a student identifies a course at one of the participating institutions that is offered only in an online format, the student may petition the central registrar's office for permission to take the course through the Interinstitutional Agreement. Decisions will be on a case-by-case basis with no expectation of setting a precedent.
North Carolina law requires students entering a college or university in the state to be immunized against measles, rubella, tetanus, pertussis, diphtheria, and in some cases, polio. Each entering student is required to present proof of these immunizations in accordance with the instructions contained in the Student Health Services form provided with the student’s matriculation material. This form should be completed and returned to Student Health Services prior to the student’s first day of classes. Duke University cannot permit a student to attend classes unless the required immunizations have been obtained. Students who fail to meet the immunization requirements will be withdrawn from the university. DEL-MEM students are exempt from this requirement unless the student chooses to take courses on campus. If that happens, then a Certificate of Immunization or record of immunization must be presented on or before the date the person first registers for a semester.
Courses offered by the school are described in this bulletin. However, courses are subject to change. Prior to registration for a given term, the Office of Student Services prepares a list of courses to be offered.
All professional degree students have the opportunity to pursue independent study with individual faculty members. After discussing the potential for an independent study with a faculty member, students register to take independent study credit under ENVIRON 593 (ENVIRON 997 for DEL-MEM students).
Field Trips, Field Work, and Travel Courses
The MEM and MF degrees are applied and experiential in nature. Field trips and travel courses enhance that experiential learning and add significant value to the learning experience. Course Field Trips are defined as experiential learning trips or field work taking place outside the normal assigned classroom and are considered a required or recommended (but optional) element of a course.
Planning for Travel Courses
Faculty should determine whether experiential learning opportunities are required or optional for a course offering. Consideration should be given to whether there are reasonable alternatives aligned with course objectives for required experiential learning activities. Students who do not participate in optional experiential learning activities should not be negatively impacted through the grading process or otherwise.
Faculty are responsible for planning and working with the Nicholas School administrative staff on the logistics of field trips, including transportation, meals, communications, and safety protocols.
In all cases where a field trip or field work necessitates a student leaving campus, the following policies and procedures must be observed:
The instructor must include all details regarding any field or travel for the course in the course syllabus.
The instructor must discuss the field trip with the students enrolled in the course on the first day of class.
Required field trips may not be scheduled to conflict with other courses
Students must have the opportunity to consider the requirements of the course and make an enrollment decision prior to the conclusion of drop/add.
If required, the student must sign a participation agreement provided by the instructor and submit the signed agreement to Student Services prior to departure. Students who do not sign the agreement may not participate in the field experience.
The instructor must file an Emergency Response Plan with Student Services in advance of departure.
Transportation must be provided; students may not use personal vehicles for travel related to field trips. Drivers must be instructors or teaching assistants and they must have completed the required training.
Some courses will require course fees to offset the cost of travel. Those course fees will be listed in DukeHub and assessed to the student’s bursar account. Should the student need additional financial aid to cover the additional travel cost, the student should consult their financial aid counselor.
Master’s Project—On-Campus Students
All students must complete a capstone master’s project in which knowledge, skills, and tools acquired during the two years of study are applied to address environmental problems. Students will receive 4 to 6 course credits for the master’s project; some exceptions apply to dual degree (e.g., MBA, MPP, and MCRP) students. These students must submit a project proposal that has been approved by the MP advisor according to published deadlines. During the final two terms, major emphasis should be placed on the project.
Most students in the MEM and MF programs complete collaborative, or group, master’s projects. In group master’s projects, teams of three to five students take on a real-world challenge facing a client. Students work directly with the client, under the supervision of an assigned faculty advisor, to address the challenge. These projects begin in the fall semester of the students’ second year and are completed in the following spring semester. Fewer numbers of students complete individual and/or more research-based master’s projects. Students in this group should identify their project during the second term of study, work on it during the summer between academic years and complete it during the third and fourth terms.
Fewer numbers of students complete individual and/or more research-based master’s projects. Students in this group should identify their project during the second term of study, work on it during the summer between academic years and complete it during the third and fourth terms.
Students may use summer internships as the basis for master’s projects and may consult closely with a supervisor outside the school to complete the work, though their faculty supervisor is the final reviewer and grader of the project. In most cases, project advisors for individual master’s projects are assigned by faculty committee, taking into account subject matter, experience, interest, as well as equitability of advising responsibilities.
Students should maintain close contact with their advisors throughout their work on the master’s project. Advisors review and approve the project in mid-March for public presentation in early April. All students are required to make a public presentation of their project at a Master’s Project Symposium in April or December that is open to the public.
All completed master’s projects are required to be uploaded to Duke Library’s DukeSpace website and are searchable across the Internet. If the master’s project contains sensitive information (e.g., from the client’s point of view, in terms of future publication elsewhere, or sensitivity for commercial ventures) students may create a redacted version of the written master’s project or request an embargo of up to two years.
Master’s Project—DEL-MEM Students
All DEL-MEM students must complete a master’s project of 4-6 course credits. The project should be identified during the second term of study, initiated during the summer between academic years, and completed during the third and fourth terms. During the final two terms, major emphasis should be placed on the project. In completing the project, the student applies theoretical and analytical training acquired during the two years of study to actual natural resource or environmental problems. DEL-MEM students are encouraged to use current professional career interests and projects as the basis for their master’s project and may consult closely with a supervisor outside the school, as well as with their faculty master’s project advisor, to complete their work. Students should maintain close contact with their advisors during the development and writing of the master’s project. Projects should reach the final stages of completion by midterm of the final semester. A complete draft of the project must be delivered to the advisor before October 1 for those graduating in December, before March 1 for those graduating in May, and before July 1 for those graduating in September. The advisor is responsible for critical assessment and grading. Actual dates may fluctuate depending on possible changes to the organization of the MP process. All students are required to make a public presentation of their project at a Master's Project Symposium in April or December that is open to the public.
Students registered for a full course load may audit courses free of charge. Otherwise, the audit fee is $680 per course credit. In classes in which enrollment is limited, students enrolled for credit will receive priority. Audited courses are recorded with a grade of AD for satisfactory completion or WA for unsatisfactory completion on the student’s permanent record. Regular attendance is expected. Changes from audit to credit are not permitted after the Drop/Add period. Audited courses may not be used to fulfill either concentration or graduation requirements. Audited courses may not be counted toward the number of credits required for graduation. Students must obtain written permission from the instructor to audit a course.
Executive Education Short Courses
Non-degree short courses are offered through the Nicholas School’s Environment+. View registration, enrollment, and availability policies at nicholas.duke.edu/academics/environment-plus. Policies and course offerings are subject to change without notice.
Courses required as a part of the concentration elected by the student or required by the advisor must be retaken if failed. Courses prerequisite to more advanced courses the student wishes to take must be retaken if failed. Elective courses may be retaken if the student wishes to do so. See the section on grades below for additional information.
It is expected that students attend class every time the course meets. It is understood that on occasion the student may need to miss class due to illness. Whenever possible, as a courtesy to the instructor, the student should be in communication with the instructor in advance of the absence. If the absence is unexpected due to illness, the student should alert the instructor as soon as possible. If a medical condition or extended illness causes the student to miss more than one class meeting, a doctor’s note should be provided to Student Services. If a medical condition or extended illness causes absence from a test, mid-term, or exam, the instructor may arrange an alternate test date, at the instructor’s discretion. If such is the case the student must provide a doctor’s excuse to Student Services.
The grading system used in the Nicholas School and The Graduate School is as follows: A (exceptional); B (good); C (satisfactory); F (failing); I (incomplete); Z (continuing). Plus (+) and minus (-) notations are permitted. Course instructors are unable to change grades once final grades have been submitted unless there has been an error in calculation or transcription.
The grades of P (pass) and F (fail) are used in the Nicholas School for seminars, master’s projects, concentration seminars, and modular courses. At the instructor’s option, the grades of P or F or regular letter grades are used for intensive courses and independent projects. If a student wishes to take a regularly letter-graded course on a Pass/Fail basis, permission for the Pass/Fail option must be obtained in writing from the instructor prior to registration for the course. Regularly graded courses taken on a Pass/Fail basis may not count toward graduation or fulfill programmatic requirements.
The grade of Z is assigned for an independent project or a master’s project that extends over a period of more than one semester; a final grade is given upon completion of the project.
A grade of I indicates that some portion of the student’s work is lacking, for an acceptable reason, at the time grades are reported. Students unable to complete course requirements by the deadline must have communicated with the instructor well in advance of the conclusion of the course so that the instructor may determine if an Incomplete is appropriate and necessary. Students who fail to communicate with the instructor and who fail to complete the course requirements will be assigned a failing grade (F). Requirements of all courses in which an instructor assigns a grade of Incomplete must be fulfilled within one calendar year following the date of the assignment of the incomplete grade.
In exceptional circumstances, upon recommendation of the professor who assigned the grade of Incomplete, the dean of the Nicholas School may extend the time for completion of the course requirements. If, in the judgment of the professor and the student’s advisor, completion of the requirements is not a reasonable alternative for the student, the student may petition the Education Committee to allow the grade of I to stand permanently on their record. No student will be allowed to graduate with an Incomplete unless permission has been granted for it to stand permanently on the record.
Failing a course may leave a student short of credits for graduation or lacking concentration curriculum requirements. If the failed course is not necessary to complete program curriculum requirements, the student may substitute another course to make up the lost credit, with the advisor’s approval. If the failed course is necessary to complete concentration curriculum requirements, the student must retake either that course or an acceptable substitute, with the advisor’s approval. An Independent Study is not an acceptable substitute for a failed course. Both the original failing grade and the grade received for the retaken or substitute course will appear on the student’s transcript.
Failure of a course also subjects the student to dismissal.
Probation and Dismissal
Any of the following situations will result in probationary status for the following semester:
Failing one or more courses
Two or more C (C-, C, C+) grades in a semester
Failing to maintain a cumulative average of at least B-
A student on probation must meet jointly with their advisor and one additional regular-rank faculty member selected by the student and their advisor before the end of Drop/Add (preferably before the beginning of the semester) to discuss what is going wrong and how to remedy it. These faculty committees or the Education Committee have the discretion to suggest that a student take a leave of absence for a semester if they judge that to be the best way for the student to improve academic performance. A student on probation must meet again with the advisor and second faculty member a month after the first meeting to review academic progress.
Any student who does not meet academic standards at the end of the probationary semester will be subject to dismissal from the Nicholas School. The Education Committee will make decisions on dismissal.
In addition, students must have at least 48 graduate credits (30 graduate credits within the DEL-MEM Program) with a grade point average of B- (2.7) or better to graduate. Students who fail to meet that standard during their final semester must take additional Duke course credits to meet the standard before they can graduate. Any exceptions are at the discretion of the Education Committee.
For students placed on probation, the Nicholas School’s policy regarding awards from the school (e.g., merit-based financial aid, fellowships, scholarships, recognition awards with no monetary component) is as follows: Students not in good standing (with regard to academics or honor code) are not eligible for any new awards from the Nicholas School (e.g., scholarships, fellowships, school-supported internships, and recognitions without monetary component) whether academic performance is a criterion or not.
Students holding scholarships or other awards when they are put on probation may be allowed to keep them for one semester if the student’s petition to do so is approved by the senior associate dean for academics and the assistant dean for student services. Any student not released from probation after one semester will not be eligible to retain the scholarship/fellowship.
Students who are dismissed for honor code or other serious violations must relinquish any awards.
Satisfactory Academic Progress
Federal regulations require that, in order to be eligible for assistance from any Federal Title IV student aid program, including but not limited to the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan and the GradPLUS loan, a student must be making satisfactory academic progress.
For the purpose of Title IV financial aid eligibility only, a student enrolled in the Master of Environmental Management and/ or Master of Forestry degree in the Nicholas School of the Environment as a full-time degree-seeking student must meet the following standards of satisfactory academic progress:
The student must have a cumulative grade point average of at least a B- (2.7) or higher after completing their first semester and at the end of each subsequent semester (fall and spring semesters; does not include summer terms one and two).
A student in either the MEM or the MF must earn their degree before earning 72 course credits (150% of the standard minimum 48 credits). A student in the dual MEM/MF must earn at least 72 course credits in order to graduate and successfully complete the degree requirements before earning 108 course credits. A student in a dual degree program must complete successfully at least 36 course credits and earn their degree before earning 54 course credits on their Nicholas School transcript. Students must successfully complete all of their degree requirements before obtaining 150% of the credits needed to graduate from each program as outlined.
The student must earn satisfactory grades in at least 67% of their cumulative credits. Satisfactory grades in the Nicholas School are A, B, C (including + and -), CR, and P.
Any student who fails to meet satisfactory academic progress will be placed on Title IV warning for one semester. During that semester, the student will continue to be eligible for Title IV aid. At the end of a term during which a student is on Title IV warning, if the student still fails to meet any of the requirements, the student will become ineligible for Title IV assistance.
All cases falling outside the stated policies and procedures of the school are referred to the Education Committee for decision. The committee reviews and makes decisions regarding course requirements for graduation, student probation, and dismissal, student petitions for waivers of degree requirements, and all actions that deviate from established academic regulations. Any waiver requests to reduce credits, course requirements, minimum semesters of tuition, or semester enrollment requirements must be made before half of the total credits are completed for the student’s degree program.
A student who desires to petition the committee should do so by writing to its chair. A precise statement of the reason for the request is required. The student will be notified in writing of the decision of the committee by the chair.
Transcripts of Credit
A student who is registered for a course and who successfully completes the requirements as prescribed by the instructor receives credit on university records. A transcript fee, charged to all students during their first semester of enrollment, covers all future transcript requests. Only the Office of the University Registrar issues transcripts of credit. Currently enrolled students may request transcripts through DukeHub. Alumni wishing to request transcripts should go to registrar.duke.edu/student-resources/transcripts and complete the online form. No transcripts will be issued for students who fail to clear all financial obligations to the university upon graduation.
Length of Study
For full-time on-campus students and DEL-MEM students, the typical time for completing a professional master’s degree is four semesters, not including summer. All degree requirements for the MEM, MF, and DEL-MEM must be completed within five years of the first term of admission. Any term/s during which the student is not enrolled for any number of credits still counts and is included in the five-year window for completion.
For a typical dual degree student, the normal time for completing both professional degrees is five to eight semesters depending on the other concurrent degree being pursued. The time to degree completion remains five years from the first term of admission. Any term/s during which the student is not enrolled for any number of credits still counts and are included in the five-year window for completion.
Leave of Absence or Withdrawal
Occasionally, special circumstances require a student to leave the university for one or two semesters at a time. If the reason for the departure is considered an emergency, the student may request a leave of absence for a period not to exceed one year. If the reason is to study elsewhere in a combined degree program, a leave will be granted for the length of study. If the student plans to do field studies or an internship, they must maintain university enrollment by paying a registration fee each semester of the academic year until full-time study is resumed.
Under all circumstances, the student must request the leave for a specific length of time prior to departure from the university. Extensions must be requested if they are required for a maximum of two semesters, except as indicated above. Failure to request a leave or an extension of leave may result in a penalty charge and/or dismissal from the university. A student is eligible to request a leave of absence only after having completed at least one semester of study.
A student who wishes to withdraw from the university must make a written request to do so. For refunds upon withdrawal, see the section on financial information on the page Tuition Policies.
Even if degree plans are tentative, a candidate for a degree must apply for graduation at the designated time for each semester. The registration is valid only for the semester for which it is filed. If the student does not receive the degree as expected, they must register again at a later time.
All candidates are encouraged to attend the commencement exercises at which their degrees are to be awarded. A student who is unable to attend must notify the assistant dean for student services no later than four weeks prior to commencement to receive the degree in absentia.