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Summer 2020 Employment Opportunities and Other Support for Ph.D. Students

The following is a message from Provost Sally Kornbluth and Executive Vice Provost Jennifer Francis. A follow-up to this message was sent on May 4.

April 4, 2020

Dear Duke Doctoral Students,

We recognize this is a time of unprecedented stress for all of our doctoral students. In addition to concern about your own health and safety, and that of your loved ones, the pandemic has severely disrupted your lives, your studies, your research and your careers. Please know that we share your concerns and are here to support you.

Many of you have shared specific concerns about the uncertainties of the upcoming summer, particularly for those of you who had expected to pursue internships, external work opportunities, or compensated research or teaching opportunities within Duke. In addition to our university-wide announcement on summer arrangements, we want to provide you with specific information on issues of direct interest to graduate students:

  • Duke is committed to providing employment this summer for any enrolled and continuing Ph.D. student who needs it and does not currently have 12-month funding. If you are awarded a fellowship (either external or from The Graduate School) that does not cover the full summer, these opportunities will also be available to you. We are identifying virtual opportunities (e.g., RA and TA-ships and work for various Duke units) to provide summer funding for those who do not otherwise have it, and to help replace lost career development opportunities. As part of that effort, we are working with internal and external partners to transition on-site programs to virtual or some other alternative form. We expect to have more information for you about these opportunities in 2-3 weeks.
  • For example, we expect there to be many new instructional opportunities this summer. We are converting Summer Session 1 and 2 classes into online formats and have asked department chairs to involve graduate students in this transition as much as possible – as instructors, as discussion leaders, as technology advisors, as TAs, as graders. Even if we are in the position to have some on-campus activities in Session 2, we plan to have a full slate of remote delivery courses available. We believe these will provide excellent opportunities to both support students and provide important avenues for educational and career development. If you are interested, please contact your department chair, DGS or DUS to get more information.
  • As announced earlier this week, Duke has established a student assistance fund to provide resources to help students in need. Early next week, a portal will be available to accept student requests/applications for funds. These relief funds are intended to cover immediate needs arising before summer funding opportunities begin.


In addition, we have asked directors of graduate studies and deans to actively communicate with you in the following ways:

  • Advisors should conduct regular check-ins with each doctoral student.
  • Advisors and students should discuss and agree upon explicit goals for near term (rest of semester) and intermediate-term (summer), tailored to the circumstances of each student; advisors and their students should use check-ins as a means to see how people are doing in general, to identify progress towards short-term goals, discuss unanticipated challenges, and chart next steps.
  • Departments/programs must provide clear expectations to faculty and students around timeliness of formal and informal feedback, and how that feedback will be provided (oral, written).


We will be back in touch soon with further information and hope that you, your friends, and family stay safe and well.

Sally Kornbluth, Provost
Jennifer Francis, Executive Vice Provost