Duke Sanford offers top-ranked environmental academics and expertise in environmental and energy policy to address policy innovations that affect the very health of our planet at a crucial time when science is being questioned. 


Academic Overview


Sanford faculty, like professor Alex Pfaff, are recognized for their expertise around the world, advising the White House, the U.S Environmental Protection Agency, the World Bank, the InterAmerican Development Bank, state governments, and policymakers.

Related Programs & Courses

The Public Policy Studies major is a perennial top major at Duke University.

  • MPP (Environment and Energy Specialization available) - view concentration requirements
  • MPP/Master of Environmental Management (MEM) or Master of Forestry (MF) – dual degree options with Sanford School/Nicholas School
  • IMEP (International Master of Environmental Policy)
  • PhD in Public Policy
  • PhD – University Program in Environmental Policy - joint program with Sanford School/Nicholas School

Graduate-level elective courses include:

  • Climate Change Economics and Policy
  • International Environmental Policy
  • Collective Action
  • Sustainable Development
  • Environment & Development
  • Energy & Development
  • Global Environmental Health
  • top-ranked Nicholas School of the Environment
  • Duke’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions designing policy responses to the most pressing environmental and energy challenges
  • interdisciplinary project teams at the Duke University Energy Initiative

Sample Stories & Research


Student Spotlight

Matthew Vining MPP'23 was an environmental engineer prior to choosing to attend graduate school. Matthew is passionate about environmental issues, especially ones linked to social and human health outcomes. 

Watch his story

Research Spotlight

The eighth season of the Ways & Means podcast features Sanford research into potential climate change solutions. From climate migration, to revised food labels to solar-powered minigrids - the episodes reveal the cutting-edge research happening at Duke.

Listen to the series

What can you do with a focus on energy & the environment?


Lindsey Kurnath MPP'08

Alumni Story

Lindsey Kurnath received her MPP in 2008  Her career has taken her to the White House, the highest mountain in Washington, and now the southernmost shore of New York. Lindsey has literally seen environmental policy from many angles.  She is now Deputy Superintendent of Fire Island National Seashore in New York.

Read Lindsey's story | Read more alumni stories 

Key Partnerships

Nicholas School of the Environment


Students can take classes, attend lectures and interact with faculty and students at the top-ranked Nicholas School of the Environment

Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability


Duke’s Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability designs policy responses to the most pressing environmental and energy challenges. 

Duke Climate Commitment: A University Initiative


The Duke Climate Commitment is a university-wide, impact-oriented initiative to address the climate crisis.


Let's Connect

Interested in pursuing a degree with a focus on energy & environment policy? Great! The admissions page for each program has detailed guidelines, including our contact info. Please reach out!


Explore the 2024 Impact Report