Summer Onboarding Schedule

Summer onboarding starts in June and continues until the on-campus Orientation begins in August. During the summer, students can participate in a mix of self-paced activities and live online sessions. Most sessions will be recorded and linked to this page, with any exceptions indicated.

Signature summer happenings will be highlighted in the ePacks.

Self-Paced: Things to Explore
  • Advising: Want to know more how academic advising works? View more information in the ‘Academics’ section on the Onboarding Resources site.
  • Bass Connections: Duke’s Bass Connections bridges the classroom and the real world, allowing students to roll up their sleeves and tackle complex societal problems alongside faculty from across Duke. Each year, Bass Connections offers Masters, PhD, and undergraduate students the opportunity to participate in year-long, interdisciplinary research teams. Watch a brief video overview of the program, presented by Laura Howes, Director, Bass Connections.
  • Before You Arrive: Check out the ‘Before You Arrive’ section of the Onboarding Resources site to explore more self-paced activities this summer.
  • Career and Professional Development: The Nicholas School’s Career & Professional Development Center (CPDC) staff will review resumes for all incoming students this summer. Your reviewed resume will be sent to your Duke email inbox in August. If you have any questions before then, please do not hesitate to send an email to The CPDC team will also hold a session during Orientation.
  • Course Registration Resources: All course registration-related resources are available in the Course Registration and Academic Advising Resources folder in Duke Box. Students can expect to receive detailed information about course registration in July.
  • Diagnostic Exams: All incoming must take and pass the diagnostic exams. Students who have successfully completed prerequisite courses in calculus and statistics will take the exams this summer. Students who are not prepared to test this summer will test in late Fall 2024. More details about diagnostic testing are available in the ‘Before You Arrive’ section.
  • Duke Forest: The Duke Forest is a 7,000-acre teaching and research forest, and it remains an outdoor classroom and living laboratory. Regardless of concentration, there is no shortage of ways that MEM and MF students might use the Duke Forest to enhance their academic, professional and personal experiences while they are at the Nicholas School. Duke Forest staff are here to help facilitate any student use of the Forest, such as: 1) participate in ongoing research, 2) enroll in classes that use the Forest, 3) initiate your own research like a master’s project, 4) create an independent study, 5) develop environmental education opportunities, 6) apply for assistantships or work study positions, and 7) relax and take a hike along the roads and trails. The Duke Forest is a responsibly managed working forest, a live and in-color chance to see what truly renewable resource use looks like via our certified timber management program and overall holistic approach to forest management. 
  • Duke Gardens: The Duke Gardens, a stunning 55-acre garden nestled in the heart of Duke University, is a must-visit for new students. Its serene beauty and diverse flora make it a perfect spot for relaxation and exploration. We look forward to welcoming you to this natural oasis upon your arrival on campus.
  • Duke International Student Center Fall Orientation: The Duke International Student Center generally hosts an Orientation in August to welcome graduate and professional students the week prior to the Nicholas School’s Orientation. Check back at the website linked above for details.
  • Duke Marine Lab: The Marine Laboratory is a part of Duke University and is housed within the Nicholas School of the Environment. The programs offered at the Marine Laboratory play a central role in the school’s mission to provide interdisciplinary educational and research opportunities that address the crucial issue of environmental quality and the sustainable use of natural resources on Earth. Spending a semester, or the entire second year, at the Duke Marine Lab is an option available to students in all concentrations. Most Coastal and Marine Systems (CaMS) students will spend their second year at the Duke University Marine Laboratory in Beaufort, NC. CaMS are not required to spend two semesters at the Marine Lab during their second year, but most students in the CaMS concentration will take advantage of this opportunity. Take a virtual tour of the Marine Lab to learn more.
  • Gender Violence Prevention and Intervention: The required SAPG (Sexual Assault Prevention for Grad/Prof Students) training module schedule will be circulated this summer via your Duke email. This year, students will be required to complete two modules with about a month in between parts 1 and 2. Students should receive a separate email with an individual link to access the modules. For questions, visit the Student Affairs website.
  • Health Insurance: All Duke students must carry major medical insurance. Unless waived, all students will be enrolled in the Duke Student Medical Insurance Plan. The open enrollment date is typically announced by mid- to late-June. Be sure to check your Duke email. When the open enrollment window begins, you will be able to view the Plan Benefits for the upcoming school year. Coverage is from August 1 through July 31. In order to waive the Duke SMIP, the student must provide adequate proof of coverage under another health insurance plan. J1/F1 students must enroll in the Duke Student Medical Insurance Plan and are not eligible to waive. Please visit the dedicated insurance enrollment website to access further details, including plan options, enrollment forms, and additional resources. There, you will find comprehensive information to guide you through the enrollment process.
  • Information Technology: Take time to view the NSOE Information Technology’s instructional videos on various IT topics. There will be a live Nicholas School IT session during the on-campus Orientation. Additional Office of Informational Technology Resources for Students have been provided by the university’s OIT team.  
  • Shopping Carts: The Shopping Cart, in DukeHub, is where you can gather courses you are interested in taking. You can move courses from your Shopping Cart to your registration record when registration opens. Adding courses to your shopping cart does not mean enrolling in the course. View DukeHub course registration help guides at the central registrar’s office website. Students can expect to receive detailed information about course registration in July.
  • Student Groups: Nicholas School students are encouraged to participate in various student groups and activities to help build community. The leaders of student groups will contact new students early in the fall semester with more information on how to participate. Within the first two weeks of classes, there will also be a Student Groups Fair, known as the ‘We are Duke Environment Fair.’
  • Tech Prep: Students will be using various technologies in their classes and on special projects. Therefore, they are encouraged to familiarize themselves with certain online platforms over the summer and review the basics. The tech prep resources are divided into three sections. Incoming students should prioritize the tutorials in Part A over the summer – this section should be reviewed as early as possible and completed before Orientation.
  • Sustainable Name Tag: The Nicholas School provides incoming students with one sustainable name tag, which is typically worn for orientation, interviews, networking, professional opportunities, when meeting alumni, etc. In your application for admission, you already provided your preferred name (first and last) for the sustainable name tag (e.g., John Doe). Students will receive their sustainable nametag at Orientation. Questions? Contact the Student Services Office for questions.
  • Water Safety and Swimming Resources: During your studies at the Nicholas School, it is likely you will engage in field and travel activities designed to provide applied, experiential learning. These activities are an essential component of your education and may include day or overnight trips to diverse environments such as forests, streams, mountains, beaches, coastal areas, islands, the ocean, and both urban and rural settings. These excursions offer opportunities to explore and enjoy the outdoor world while gaining practical experiences. Given the nature of these activities, which may occur near, in, or on water, water safety is crucial. Whether you are a new swimmer, a beginner, or an experienced swimmer looking to learn or improve your skills, there are several resources available to you on campus (not an exhaustive list). You are encouraged to take advantage of these resources to enhance your water safety skills. If you have any questions or need further information, reach out to the contacts in this handout.
Interdisciplinary Opportunities
Moving to Durham, NC
  • New students are encouraged to move to Durham, NC, at least one week before the start of Orientation. Once you arrive, take time to settle in and identify resources in your community.
  • Bring things you enjoy, such as books, bikes, board games, etc.
  • Make sure you have secure and reliable internet service before classes begin.
  • Get a calendar and plan to use it for assignments, workshops, group meetings, etc.
  • Maintaining a healthy work/life balance and practicing effective time management is crucial for academic success and well-being. Strive to find the right balance that allows you to excel academically while also enjoying your time at Duke.
  • Prioritize your health and self-care. Duke has several resources to support student wellness –Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)Duke ReachWellness CenterStudent HealthDuWell, and many other resources.
  • Students should plan to use their residential address to receive personal postal mail. Graduate/professional students are not assigned an on-campus mailbox to receive standard postal mail. If you need postal mail services, visit Duke’s Campus Mail Services for assistance or view the list of local/Durham branches.
  • Please ensure that all of your electronic devices are functioning correctly. If you require tech, IT or AV support, for your personal devices, contact the Nicholas School’s IT team for assistance.
Tips for a Successful Semester
  • Check your Duke email regularly and respond if needed.
  • Keep up with the readings/assignments. Alert the instructor/TA should you run into difficulties. 
  • Connect with your advisor and faculty early and often.
  • Connect with peers, faculty, staff, students, your buddy, and other members of the broader Duke community. They are your current and future environmental colleagues.
  • Maintain a supportive community outside school (e.g., family, friends, past colleagues, etc.).
  • Practice self-care and prioritize your health and wellness. Duke has several resources to support student wellness –Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)Duke ReachWellness CenterStudent HealthDuWell, Office for Institutional Equity, and many other resources.
  • Manage your work and time. Expect more significant projects to require more time to complete and plan accordingly.
  • Set deadlines for yourself and try to stick to them.
  • Review your course syllabi at the beginning of the semester and plan for possible pinch points in the semester.
  • Check out DukeList for rentals, job listings, and go to JobX to view on- and off-campus jobs.
  • Make time to have fun! You will likely make friends and meet new people. Make time for dinner plans, social gatherings, and casual conversations.
  • If you do not know where to go or who to talk to, please contact the Student Services team. We are here for you!
Upcoming Dates/Live/Synchronous Online Sessions & Activities
  • Students can stay up-to-date with the list of live/synchronous online summer sessions by viewing the calendar of events in the ‘Upcoming Dates’ section of the Onboarding Resources website. The ‘Upcoming Dates’ section is on the right-sidebar menu on the Onboarding Resources site. Recordings, if available, will be linked below as well.

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Additional self-paced activities and live sessions may be added throughout the summer.
Remember to check back periodically. After Friday, June 14, additions and changes to the summer onboarding schedule will be noted as New or Revised. NSOE summer onboarding recordings.

  • August 5: Diagnostic exams testing window closes
  • August 6: Duke Gardens and Museum of Art, Register, 9:00 AM (ET), NEW
  • August 13: Downtown Durham Bulls Baseball Game, Register, 4:30 PM (ET), NEW
  • August 21: Tier Two: Course Registration begins (enroll in up to 16.5 credits)
  • August 19-23: Orientation Week! (attendance required)
  • August 29: Duke Women’s Soccer Game, Register, 6:30 PM (ET), NEW
  • August 30: Grad/Prof Student Football Tailgate, Register, 5:00 PM (ET), NEW
  • September 6: Drop/Add course registration ends for Fall 2024
  • September 14: Museum of Life and Science Brunch, Register, 10:00 AM (ET), NEW


Should you have any questions about summer onboarding schedule, send an email to Student Services.