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Graduate Education at Duke

At Duke, we are committed to keeping our graduate programs at a moderate size. Approximately 2,500 PhD students and 700 research master’s degree students are enrolled across more than 70 departments and programs, working with more than 1,300 graduate faculty members. The small, private settings in our departments and programs help graduate students and faculty build a special partnership marked by intimate collegiality and common purpose.

The hallmark of graduate education at Duke is a rich blend of deep, specialized knowledge in a field of study, intersecting with the frontiers of other fields. Multidisciplinary approaches are considered key to discovery and the production of knowledge. Collaborative research and study groups of faculty and graduate students coalesce around problems and themes in many university settings that extend beyond the boundaries of individual departments and programs.

The collaboration doesn’t stop at the boundaries of campus. Thanks to its location in the Research Triangle, Duke has strong connections with other major universities and with public and private institutes and firms. Outreach to these communities is an integral part of the Duke graduate experience, both academically and culturally.

Graduate students who thrive in the Duke environment are creative, venturesome, and unwilling to accept worn-out answers. If this sounds like you, take a look at our programs and see what we have to offer. 

Role of The Graduate School

Graduate students are a needed leavening in any academic community. At the Duke University Graduate School, providing faculty and graduate students with the incentive to innovate, to discover, and to challenge tradition is considered the very best application of the university’s resources.

The overall mission of The Graduate School is to provide research-based graduate training that will help students learn the analytical skills to be future leaders in a wide variety of professions. Although many of our graduates enter academia, the education they obtain here is intended to be applicable to any job that involves the discovery, creative application, and teaching of new knowledge.

In addition, The Graduate School exists in large measure to support the research and educational missions of a faculty interested in the frontiers of knowledge, and in so doing, to advocate for the primacy of scholarship throughout the university.

The Graduate School serves several other roles as well:

  1. Provide quality control for all aspects of graduate education at Duke and establish policies and standards that define good practice in all graduate programs, high quality in curriculum, and excellence in student selection.
  2. Improve the quality of our programs through a variety of mechanisms, including providing funds to recruit the best and most diverse students, conducting regular reviews of programs, and giving special attention to the promotion of diversity and intellectual collegiality in each of our programs. We pay regular attention to the special needs and issues that pertain but are not limited to international students, students from underrepresented groups, and women in certain disciplines. The Graduate School also assumes an important role in promoting integrity in research and scholarship through courses in ethical conduct of research.
  3. Serve as the primary advocate for the need of graduate students to be students, so that any service roles they may serve in the university to obtain financial support will be treated as secondary to their need to have time and adequate resources to engage in graduate study. The Graduate School works hard to find the financial and intellectual resources that enable students to successfully complete their degree programs in a timely fashion.
  4. Play an active role in supporting all aspects of graduate student life, including those that are not precisely academic in nature. We recognize that the quality of a student’s overall life experience while in graduate school is critical to successful completion of graduate training and to a lifetime of work that can make good use of that training. The Graduate School works with student groups and support offices to promote the interests of graduate students in areas such as financial aid, health care, counseling, and child care. The Graduate School also provides professional development opportunities to explore academic and nonacademic career prospects for recipients of graduate degrees.