MEM/MF + MBA

The master’s project (MP) requirements and expectations outlined below are intended for only MEM/MF-MBA students who matriculated in the Nicholas School beginning fall 2019 or later.

The Master’s Project (MP) is an integral part of the Master of Environmental Management (MEM) and Master of Forestry (MF) degrees and provides an opportunity to apply the skills students have acquired in the classroom to real-world environmental problems.  Students completing a dual MEM or MF and Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree program with either Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business or the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School also participate in several applied projects while completing their MBA degree.  MEM-MBA and MF-MBA students may therefore fulfill their MP requirement by expanding on a project that they have already completed during their MBA program or creating a new client-based project.  This document outlines those options.  While many MEM-MBA and MF-MBA students pursue an alternative MP experience, MEM-MBAs and MF-MBAs may also opt into the regular MEM three-semester (3S) or two-semester (2S) MP processes.  Dual-degree students pursuing a traditional MP must follow the 3S or 2S policies described elsewhere.

Project and Credit Options

MEM-MBA and MF-MBA students may pursue one of the following options to fulfill their MP requirement:

  1. Extend an MBA project for which the student(s) received course credit or financial compensation.  In this situation, the student(s) may not receive MP credit under ENV 899.
  2. Extend an MBA project completed without course credit or financial compensation.  In this situation, student(s) may request up to 3 MP credits under ENV 899.
  3. Complete a new client project of the student’s (or students’) own design without financial compensation.  In this situation, students may request up to 3 MP credits under ENV 899 but will not receive regular advising from Nicholas School faculty even though this is an original project.

The expectations for dual MBA students pursuing an alternative MP are different for MEMs and MFs.

Expectations for MEM-MBA Students

MEM-MBA students pursuing an alternative MP are not required to prepare a MP Work Plan, give a MP status update presentation in the fall, or register for MP credits (i.e., ENVIRON 899).  MEM-MBAs pursuing an alternative MP, however, must present the results of their work at the April MP Symposium (the December MP Symposium for fall graduates) and produce a written report describing their project’s objectives, methodology, and results for upload to the Duke Libraries’ public DukeSpace archives.  Program chairs will assign an MP advisor for the alternative MP.  The advisor will be available for general guidance and will need to read a draft of the final MP written report but will not be engaged with the project on a regular basis.  MEM-MBA degree students are strongly encouraged to work collaboratively with members of their cohort to complete their MP as a group, but this is not required. 

Expectations for MF-MBA Students

MF-MBA students pursuing an alternative MP are required to prepare a MP Work Plan and give a MP status update presentation in the fall.  They do not need to register for MP credits (i.e., ENVIRON 899).  MF-MBAs pursuing an alternative MP must present the results of their work at the April MP Symposium (the December MP Symposium for fall graduates) and produce a written report describing their project’s objectives, methodology, and results for upload to the Duke Libraries’ public DukeSpace archives.  The MF program chair(s) will assign an MP advisor for the alternative MP, and MF-MBAs must engage with their MP advisor on a regular basis

In addition, per Society of American Foresters (SAF) accreditation requirements, dual MF-MBAs, like all MF students, must complete a capstone project with significant forestry content.  The MP typically fulfills this requirement.  If an MF-MBA alternative MP (or a traditional MP) does not meet this requirement, then the student must complete a separate independent study.

Beyond the need for significant forestry content, all MF-MBA MPs, including the alternative options described here, must meet two additional conditions:

  1. The project must involve formal data collection and rely on this data in its analysis.  The data may be either quantitative or qualitative and may be from either a primary source (for example, a survey or fieldwork conducted for the MP) or a secondary source (for example, government statistics).  The written MP must document the data source and collection process.
  2. The methodology must involve best analytical practices as recognized by forestry practitioners and researchers.  These practices must be reproducible by others, and the written MP must document each step of the analytical process.

One Page Project summary

MEM-MBA students pursuing an alternative MP must complete the MEM/MBA Project Summary form that includes a 1-page description of their topic and plans. The write-up should include:

  1. Project title.
  2. Project background. 
    1. If the alternative MP will build off a prior experience, describe the project td work completed to date. Include information on the course, case competition, or other origin for the work; the number of credits already received for the work; and a list of group members. If work was undertaken as a member of a group, the student(s) must clearly describe their contribution to the project.
    2. If the alternative MP is a de novo client study, describe the client and client needs.
  3. Project approach. For alternative MPs that build off existing experiences or involve a new client study, provide a concise description of the project goals, associated methodology, needed resources, and deliverable(s).

Request MP Credits (ENVIRON 899)

Students may request to enroll in up to 3 MP credits (under their MP advisor’s section of ENVIRON 899) if they have not already earned academic credit for the original project nor received financial compensation.  Students who do not enroll in MP credits must still earn the minimum number credits needed to satisfy Nicholas School requirements for the dual MEM-MBA or MF-MBA degree. 

*IMPORTANT* students may only request academic credit for their work if they have not already earned credit for the original project completed in their MBA program and have not (or will not) be compensated in any way for the project work, which includes but not limited to regular pay, stipends, and other awards.

Project Completion & Presentation:

In the fall and spring, MPs culminate in a public presentation to the Nicholas School community, clients and guests at an end-of-semester symposium and a written report that becomes part of the Duke Library electronic archives. Students will produce a written report and present the result of the project at the MP Symposium in April or December for fall graduates. On the final program worksheet, the student should indicate that master’s project requirement has been satisfied once they have received approval from their advisor and presented during the Nicholas School’s MP Symposium. The final program worksheet must be signed by the advisor and submitted to Student Services.

Deadlines

  • Submit one-page project summary by the start of the first semester in year three
  • Enroll in MP credits in year three (if applicable)
  • Submit 10-line abstract to Student Services in the second semester of year three by a predetermined deadline (please follow directions sent from nsoe-mastersproject@duke.edu.
  • Submit final MP, which must be uploaded in the by a predetermined deadline in the second semester of year three
  • Submit final executive summary to Student Services signed by the MP advisor
  • Present in MP Symposium