Approved: May 1, 2008
Revised: September 23, 2008; February 4, 2014; May 3, 2016

I. Mission

The Graduate School consists of members of the Graduate Faculty, the training and research programs that they offer, and a small central staff to administer school-wide policies, procedures and programming. The Graduate School advocates for graduate scholarship, training, and mentorship as integral to the academic mission of the University as a whole, and it ensures that both the graduate student body and graduate education and training are of the highest intellectual quality and appropriate diversity. Through the dean, The Graduate School administration, and the elected representatives of the Graduate Faculty serving on the Executive Committee of the Graduate Faculty (see below), The Graduate School provides direction and maintains the quality of graduate education and training by establishing policies and standards that define good practice in all graduate programs, by overseeing the graduate curriculum of all degree programs, and by striving to achieve excellent student selection and retention. The Graduate School collaborates with the Graduate Faculty to ensure equity and balance across all academic disciplines and to create new graduate degree and certificate programs that will allow Duke University to remain at the forefront of developing fields of knowledge.


II. Organization and Administration


The Duke University Graduate Faculty is composed of full and term members, who together advise graduate students and serve on their milestone examination committees. Membership is contingent upon adherence to the Duke Community Standard. Full graduate faculty membership is of an unlimited duration as long as a full-time Duke faculty appointment is active and responsibilities are met. These include the following:

1. Appropriate oversight and assistance to all students on whose committee a member serves.

2. Attentive advisory support of all students for whom a graduate faculty member serves as supervisor, chair or primary advisor.

3. Active engagement in development and delivery of the graduate program.


Full Graduate Faculty membership confers the following privileges:

1. To chair graduate master’s or doctoral committees in the departments or units in which one serves as a full member.

2. To act as the primary advisor of a doctoral candidate or supervisor of graduate student’s dissertation research.

3. To participate in designing degree requirements for departments or programs in which she/he is a member.

Term membership on the Graduate Faculty is for a defined period of service on student milestone committee(s), and may or may not involve an ongoing advisory role in a student’s research on whose committee a term member may serve. A Graduate Faculty appointment is not necessary to act as instructor to a graduate student in a course.


Nominal prerequisites for admission to the Graduate Faculty as a full member include possession of a terminal degree in the relevant discipline, and a current faculty appointment at Duke University.  In addition, the candidate must have a tenure track faculty appointment at Duke, or another regular-rank, full-time Duke faculty appointment and the experience and distinction of current full Graduate Faculty in the nominating unit. Nominating departments may set additional requirements if they choose or, in special cases, request that the Dean waive one of these prerequisites (as in the case of joint degree programs with other universities, or programs at DKU).  Only departments with approved graduate degrees are eligible to nominate members of their own primary or secondary faculty as full members of the Graduate Faculty. In rare exceptions made by the Dean, non-departmental doctoral degree programs can nominate for full faculty membership, but only in the case of programs that have the financial resources to support students for a minimum of five years.  Secondary faculty may chair committees only if approved to do so by the primary, full graduate faculty of the host department.

Term membership for service on a student milestone committee requires a degree that is at least the same level for which the student is a degree candidate (e.g. a doctoral degree for a doctoral committee). Term faculty members must have demonstrable scholarly or research expertise in the broad field of the degree candidate on whose committee the term member would serve. Term members may be nominated by any academic unit with an approved Graduate School degree program, for service on its milestone committees. Candidates may be appointed for a limited term of up to five years. Duke faculty who are term members and experienced in graduate education, with service on four or more previous milestone committees at Duke, may be nominated by the program’s DGS to chair master’s examination committees. Term members may chair dissertation committees only in the case of joint doctoral programs with other universities, and only when explicitly approved to do by the responsible academic deans of both universities.

Nomination process

Nomination for appointment to full membership in the Graduate Faculty must be voted on by the full Graduate Faculty members of the nominating department, with a majority in favor.  Nominations subsequently forwarded to the Associate Dean must include: a) an official request from the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) and the Department Chair; b) documentation that there has been a majority vote cast by the full members of the graduate faculty in the academic unit; and c) a current curriculum vita. In addition, for secondary faculty from clinical departments, the nomination must include a letter of support for the graduate faculty appointment from the candidate’s department chair or division chief. Nominations for term membership must be approved and recommended by the DGS of the degree-sponsoring unit, with the nomination form accompanied by a current curriculum vita. The Dean reserves the right of effective review of each request.

Faculty review

Full Graduate Faculty status ends when a member ceases full-time, active employment as a Duke faculty member; such members may be re-nominated as term faculty. With Graduate School oversight, nominating departments are also responsible for reviewing the effectiveness of their graduate faculty, and are expected to recommend removal from the Graduate Faculty of any of their faculty members who fail to maintain an appropriate level of scholarship, engagement in student advising, or other essential participation in graduate training and education.  In addition, departments nominating secondary faculty are responsible for assuring that home departments/institutes allow the requisite level of participation in graduate training by those faculty.



The dean reports to the provost and is responsible for the leadership, management, and administrative structure of The Graduate School. The dean shall appoint assistant and associate deans deemed necessary to assist in the conduct of the following responsibilities:

1. Develop and maintain educational, research, and service programs to meet The Graduate School ‘s objectives;

2. Develop and administer policies and procedures to assure the productive pursuit of all Graduate School programs and activities;

3. Direct The Graduate School ‘s financial affairs and budget;

4. Represent The Graduate School to the university, the business community, government, environmental groups, other educational institutions, and the public at large.

The dean will present periodic reports on The Graduate School’s budget and on the state of the School to the Executive Committee of the Graduate Faculty.



The Executive Committee of the Graduate Faculty (ECGF) represents the graduate faculty and advises the dean in overseeing and setting the policies for graduate education and training.  It consists of an elected faculty chair plus four representatives from each of four academic divisions: Humanities, Biological Sciences, Physical Sciences, and Social Sciences (see Appendix A for a list of departments in each division).[1]  The ECGF normally meets twice monthly during the semester and maintains minutes, which are posted on The Graduate School web site to inform the graduate faculty of active policy discussions and recent decisions.  The ECGF conducts its meetings under Robert’s Rules of Order and requires a quorum, consisting of a simple majority of its members, to take any action.  Any member of the graduate faculty may propose an agenda item for an ECGF meeting.

1. The Chair is elected from among the sitting members of the ECGF by the sitting members of the committee to serve a one-year term.  The election occurs in the spring of each academic year, and the chair serves the entire following academic year.  An ECGF member may be elected and serve as chair even if her or his term on the committee expires at the end of the spring during which the election takes place.

2. Faculty representatives on the ECGF are elected for two-year staggered terms. The election of half of the ECGF members occurs in the spring of each academic year, and the incoming members begin their terms in the fall semester of the following academic year.

3. The dean and the associate and assistant deans of The Graduate School sit as ex officio, non-voting members of the committee. A representative of Perkins Library serves as an ex officio

4. The graduate faculty delegates to the Executive Committee of the Graduate Faculty the initiative for the formation and review of policy affecting graduate study at Duke University, including the following:

a. Examine and approve or reject all proposals for new graduate degrees (PhD, MA, MS) and new graduate certificate programs (a two-thirds vote of the ECGF members is required for approval of any new degree or certificate program);

b. Assess the reports of all external reviews of departments or programs with respect to graduate education and training at Duke and make recommendations for graduate program improvements, requiring, if necessary, interim reports to monitor implementation of requested improvements;

c. Advise the dean on matters of Graduate School policy.


III. Adoption and Amendments

These bylaws shall be adopted by two-thirds of the graduate faculty who choose to vote.  In determining the total votes cast, abstentions or blank votes do not count. Voting will be by written ballot (or email).

Amendments to the bylaws shall be debated and voted by the Executive Committee of the Graduate Faculty. Any proposed amendment must be circulated in writing to each member of the Executive Committee of the Graduate Faculty at least two scheduled academic weeks prior to the meeting at which the amendment will be considered. After the proposed amendment has been discussed at a meeting, a vote consisting of a two thirds majority of the Executive Committee members will suffice for the amendment to pass.

[1] Modifications to Appendix A do not require bylaw amendment.


Appendix A: Divisions of the Graduate Faculty


  • Art, Art History, and Visual Studies
  • Classical Studies
  • English
  • German Studies
  • Literature
  • Music
  • Philosophy
  • Religion
  • Romance Studies


  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Chemistry
  • Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Computer Science
  • Earth and Ocean Sciences
  • Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Environment
  • Marine Science and Conservation
  • Mathematics
  • Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science
  • Physics
  • Statistical Science


  • Biochemistry
  • Biology
  • Biostatistics and Bioinformatics
  • Cell Biology
  • Computational Biology and Bioinformatics
  • Ecology
  • Evolutionary Anthropology
  • Genetics and Genomics
  • Immunology
  • Medical Physics
  • Molecular Genetics and Microbiology
  • Neurobiology
  • Pathology
  • Pharmacology and Cancer Biology


  • Business Administration
  • Cultural Anthropology
  • Economics
  • Environmental Policy
  • History
  • Nursing
  • Political Science
  • Psychology and Neuroscience
  • Public Policy Studies
  • Sociology