Before You Arrive

Things to Remember
As you prepare to matriculate at the Nicholas School of the Environment in the Fall, we’ve outlined a few key topics for your attention over the summer.

Early to Mid-Summer

Buddy Program
  • Opt-In to the Buddy Program. Form due by June 14.
  • The Nicholas School Buddy Program is a program that pairs incoming students with current student volunteers. These volunteers offer their advice and guidance on housing, classes, recreation, student clubs and organizations, social life in Durham, and many other aspects of the student experience. Buddies usually communicate during the summer via Zoom, email, or phone. However, it is encouraged that buddies meet within the first few weeks of the fall semester. The program aims to create friendships between classmates and/or professional relationships between future environmental professionals. This can be very rewarding for both parties, but participation is not mandatory. If you would like to be paired with a 2nd-year student Buddy, you will have the opportunity to opt-in during the summer. The program is led by the Nicholas School Student Council.

Connect & Chat

Email, NetID & Listservs
  • Students who have submitted their tuition deposit will receive a Duke NetID (network identification) within 2-3 business days of confirming their Fall enrollment. They do not need to request one. This NetID is necessary for accessing various university portals and systems, so it’s essential to keep it and the password secure. It’s crucial to note that the NetID is not the same as the Duke Unique ID (DUID), and both can be located in DukeHub under My Profile.
  • Please ensure that you have checked your personal email address for any initial instructions and login details that you may have missed. It is also recommended to check your SPAM and Junk folders just in case. In case you are unable to find this information, you can contact the Office of Information Technology (OIT) to request that the initial setup instructions be resent to you. Please be prepared to provide some personal identification markers such as your date of birth, permanent address, and so on.
  • Furthermore, your Duke email address will be added to the appropriate Concentration listserv by mid-summer. Please note that these listservs are intended for academic purposes only. We will add students to the listservs using their Duke Alias email address. In case you change your Duke Alias email address, kindly inform the Student Services office. The Concentration listserv addresses for first-year students are:
  • Environment Concentrations: (Coastal and Marine Systems); (Energy and Environment); (Ecotoxicology and Environmental Health); and (Terrestrial and Freshwater Environments).
  • Management Concentrations: (Business and Environment); (Community Engagement and Environmental Justice); (Environmental Analytics and Modeling); and (Economics and Environmental Policy).
  • Forestry: (Master of Forestry)

Health Insurance
  • All Duke students must carry major medical insurance.
  • Duke University provides a highly rated medical insurance plan for its students. Unless waived, all students are required to enroll in the Duke Student Medical Insurance Plan (SMIP). The open enrollment period is typically announced by mid-June, so it’s important to regularly check your Duke email for updates.
  • Register to attend the Health Insurance Session on June 18 hosted by Duke Student Health.
  • During the open enrollment window, which usually begins around mid-June, you’ll have the opportunity to view the Plan Benefits for the upcoming school year. To make a decision on whether to waive or enroll in the Duke SMIP, you’ll need to log into your DukeHub account. It’s important to note that the coverage period is from August 1 through July 31.
  • To enroll in or waive the plan, please visit Student Health for additional information and instructions. If you decide to waive the Duke SMIP, you must provide adequate proof of coverage under another health insurance plan. You can review the criteria for waiving the plan on the same website. If you fail to make a decision by the open enrollment deadline, you will automatically be enrolled in the Duke Student Medical Insurance Plan and will not be able to waive it. The insurance charge will remain on your Bursar account, and you’ll receive your enrollment information and insurance card by mid-September.
  • International Students: International students at Duke on the F-1 or J-1 Visa are required to purchase Duke’s plan. US students may waive the plan if they can provide proof of comparable coverage. 
  • Questions about health insurance should be directed to or call 919-684-1481. Due to volume, allow 2-3 business days for a response. 

  • Start your housing search early!
  • Durham, North Carolina will be your home for the next few years. Students are strongly encouraged to secure housing arrangements as early as possible during the summer. It is best to have housing arrangements finalized before the beginning of your Orientation Week activities. Moving to Durham at least a week before Orientation will help to ease your transitioning process as well as allow you to familiarize yourself with Durham, your new home.
  • Off-Campus Housing in Durham (Duke Student Affairs)
  • The process to secure housing may prove to be one of the most time-consuming aspects of your transition to the area. Begin your process early and take advantage of available resources in order to make the most of the experience. Note: Most new graduate and professional students must secure off-campus housing; limited on-campus housing options are available at the link below.
  • The director of Off Campus & Community Life, Student Affairs, recently held a virtual session on ‘Finding a Place to Live in Durham.’ View recording and slide deck.
  • Search living options close to campus >> Housing Near Duke
  • DukeList also has housing options available
  • House Hunting Tips and Furnished Temporary Housing
  • For on-campus graduate and professional student housing, priority will be given to students on visa status attending school outside of their home country for the first time.

ID Card
  • All students at Duke University are required to possess a Duke Student ID card. To get your ID card, you need to upload your photo by mid-summer. Please watch the video that provides submission instructions. If you need more information about your Duke Card, then please visit the Duke Card office website.
  • It’s important to note that the Duke Card Office only issues Mobile Duke Cards, which are easy to use and keep up with. However, students must have their mobile device with them at all times to access facilities on Duke’s Campus. If you don’t have a smartphone, you can request a physical card, but only by appointment. The Duke Card Office is always ready to help new students with any issues they may have in provisioning the Mobile Duke Card, either by phone or by appointment.

  • Compliance required for all Duke Students.
  • All incoming students must provide Duke University with a copy of their current immunization records. The deadline to submit your immunization records and health history information is June 15. Although the deadline is June 15, the most important thing to remember is that you must have your immunization records submitted prior to the beginning of the fall semester. However, failure to submit within 30 days of the start of the term, will mean that you will not be permitted to continue attending class.
  • The Student Health Office, Student Affairs, recently held an Overview of the NC Immunization Process. View recording and slide deck.
  • If you have additional questions about the immunization requirements/compliance, we encourage you to contact the Immunization Compliance Coordinator at Immunization records should not be sent to the Student Services at the Nicholas School of the Environment.
  • Immunization Requirements for Graduate Students
  • Immunization Compliance FAQs
Lockers & Mailboxes
  • Mailboxes. Students should plan to use their residential address to receive personal postal mail. If you need postal mail services, contact Duke’s Campus Mail Services for assistance. 
  • Lockers. Nicholas School students may request a locker to store their books and other small personal possessions (at no cost) until they graduate from the program. There is no charge to reserve a NSOE locker. Lockers are also located in the basement of Grainger Hall. Please do not place valuable items in your locker such as laptops, video equipment, cell phones etc. The school is not responsible for any stolen or lost items stored in your locker nor responsible for any vandalism or damage done to your locker.
  • While your locker is provided as a courtesy, failure to return your locker key upon graduation can result in the holding of your diploma or additional fees. Remember you must request a locker. They are not assigned automatically. Locker keys will be distributed during Orientation. The locker request form should be submitted by the date posted in the summer ePack. 
  • Pick-up Locker Key/Questions should be directed to: Tom Brooks, Program Coordinator, Facilities Office, Nicholas School, 2104 Grainger Hall.

POD Leaders
  • We will separate the incoming class into small groups or PODS. Groups are assigned randomly i.e., not by concentration, age, background, gender, professional interests, etc. Second year/returning student volunteers will serve as the small group (or POD) leaders during Fall Orientation Week. Your POD leaders will be here to welcome you on the first day of Orientation Week, join the academic advising sessions and have been invited to attend lunches and social outings. We hope that you will take this opportunity to get to know other incoming students and your group leader. 
  • Throughout the program, you will have many opportunities to both meet with and interact with students within your concentration. However, we’re hoping that your POD experience will provide you with an early opportunity to expand your academic, professional and personal networks. Throughout Orientation Week, your POD leader will be available via email, Slack, and in-person to answer any questions that you may have about the Nicholas School, Duke University and the Durham area.
  • More info to come on PODS in summer 2024.

Parking & Transportation
  • Students who wish to park a vehicle on Duke’s campus must display a valid parking permit. By June, parking permits should be available for purchase.
  • For those of you who are planning to purchase a parking permit, you may find this informational video about commuting to and parking at Duke helpful. Keep in mind, this video was created originally to be a part of the international students’ summer series, but the information is useful for any student wanting to learn more about parking and transportation options at Duke and in Durham. 
  • Alongside your housing search, it is also important to consider an array of alternative transportation options available at Duke and in Durham. Learn more about transit, walking/biking, carpool, carshare and commute planning at the onboarding resources and parking and transportation websites. 
Tech Prep
  • As a student in the Master of Environmental Management and Master of Forestry professional degree programs, tech preparation is essential. Students will need to use several different technologies in their classes and on special projects. Incoming students are encouraged to spend time over the summer getting familiar with these platforms and reviewing the fundamentals. 
  • The tech prep resources are separated into three sections. Over the summer, incoming students should prioritize the tutorials in Part A – this section should be completed before Orientation.

Mid to Late-Summer

As you wrap-up your summer preparation, make sure you take care of the following before Orientation gets underway.

  1. Complete the Orientation Event Registration Form.
  2. Submit your final undergraduate transcript.
  3. Submit proof of completion of prerequisite requirements.
  4. Prepare for and take the calculus and statistics diagnostic exams.
  5. Review the course registration guides circulated by the NSOE Registrar.
  6. Register for Tier One Fall classes in the DukeHub.
  7. Familiarize yourself with the degree audit tool known as Stellic.
  8. Review assistantship positions (if applicable).
  9. Resolve any outstanding financial aid issues/pay your Bursar bill.
  10. Finalize your housing arrangements and contact your roommate (if applicable).