Requirements for Taking Courses to Fulfill Prerequisites

Students may fulfill prerequisite requirements by demonstrating successful completion of at least one of the following options for each required prerequisite. While highly recommended, students may choose whether or not to complete prerequisite courses recommended for their program area of study.

Traditional/standard college-level course

Complete a college level course at any accredited college or university (including community, technical or junior college); for graded credit and a minimum grade of C- earned (a Passing (P) or Satisfactory (S) grade) is also acceptable; and submit an official transcript to demonstrate successful completion. 


Students may satisfy prerequisite requirements by providing a certificate of completion at the conclusion of a course taken through Coursera, MOOC or Opencourseware. Addendum: If you are unable to provide a certificate of completion, you can submit a copy of your complete grade history at the end of the course. Save a list of your final grades as a PDF (see the “Grades” section within the course portal). Upload certificates and grade reports in the transcript drop box.  Duke University offers chemistry and statistics courses at no cost to current Duke students; non-Duke Coursera courses are at the student’s expense. Search for course options that are covered by Duke Coursera.  NetID login is required to take the statistics and chemistry Coursera courses at Duke. Login and then click on Go to Coursera at Duke. Below is the list of Duke and non-Duke options:

Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB)

We will accept advanced placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses if the student earns college credit for the course(s) from their undergraduate institution. College credit must be clearly documented on the official undergraduate transcript. In the absence of the appropriate documentation on the official undergraduate transcript, we will accept an official letter from the institution’s Registrar’s Office (sent directly to our office), which clearly confirms the student earned college credit for the advanced placement course(s); the letter may not be sent by the applicant or student.

Distance Learning Courses

Students may fulfill prerequisites at any accredited college or university. Students wishing to enroll in a distance learning course (i.e. online), in order to fulfill a prerequisite, are encouraged to seek prior approval to make sure the course is appropriate to fulfill the prerequisite requirement. Send an email to with the name of the institution, course title, course number, credit value, dates of the course and the link to the online course details. The Nicholas School maintains a short list of Pre-Approved distance learning courses (for required prerequisites only). To request a list of Pre-Approved Distance Learning Courses, send an email to


If desired, students may send a copy of the syllabus or detailed course description for review and approval before they enroll and pay for prerequisite courses. While this step is not required, we encourage students to be sure that the course covers the required topics. Students are welcomed and encouraged to send the course syllabus to Allow up to 3-5 business days for the review process to be completed and to receive a response via email.

Matriculation/Enrollment Expectations

Students may not matriculate with more than one required prerequisite deficiency. Once the student confirms intent to enroll, their transcript is reviewed for prerequisite requirements for the program area to which they are admitted. Students will receive notification of their prerequisite deficiencies shortly after confirming their intent to enroll in the fall. We strongly urge students to complete their prerequisite coursework prior to matriculation. Students lacking a prerequisite may be unable to take courses in the recommended sequence and may find it difficult to graduate within the standard two years of study.

Courses taken after matriculation to satisfy a prerequisite do not count towards the credits required for the professional degree. Successful completion of graduate-level courses in the MEM and MF program does not eliminate a prerequisite requirement. Students who fail to complete their prerequisite coursework by the end of the first year of study are at risk of being dismissed from the program. NOTE: Students admitted to the cooperative college 3-2 program may not matriculate with any prerequisite deficiencies.

Diagnostic Exams

The Nicholas School administers diagnostic exams in calculus and statistics. All students are expected to take the diagnostic exams. Students must complete the calculus and statistics prerequisites prior to taking the diagnostic exams. We encourage students to spend time reviewing calculus and statistics subjects prior to the exams. Although we want students to do well on the diagnostic exams, please do not stress about these tests in advance. The exams are intended to assess where students are in these subjects at the time that they matriculate and to ensure that students are prepared for graduate level courses requiring calculus and statistics as prerequisites. Students cannot take the diagnostic exams to waive a prerequisite requirement.

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