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DKU Curriculum and Requirements

Overview of Degree Requirements

For a full outline of degree requirement, refer to the Undergraduate Programs Bulletin Part 3: The Curriculum (pages 12-20). The DKU curriculum emphasizes shared knowledge and experience, integrated learning and deep learning, and flexible pathways. Outlined below is a brief overview of structure and components.


  • Divisional areas of knowledge organize the faculty and the curriculum – Natural Sciences; Social Sciences; and Arts and Humanities – rather than traditional majors or departments. While organized by divisional areas of knowledge, Faculty teach and work across artificial academic disciplinary barriers to promote student engagement, learning, and growth. 
  • Intensive 7-week terms enable students to take two in-depth courses with the flexibility to take some courses in 14-week blocks.
  • Fridays and mini-terms are designed for practica, field trips, internships, civic engagement and non-credit mini-term courses.
  • Seminars of fewer than 20 students are the primary mechanism for instruction and the means by which excellence in writing, speaking and listening are nurtured, supplemented by stand-alone and co-courses in English as a Foreign Language.


    • General Education: 3 common core courses (12 credits), 2-4 language courses (8-16 credits) depending on proficiency, 3 electives (12 credits) as distributional requirements, and one Quantitative Reasoning course (4 credits)
    • Major: 16-19 courses (64 to 76 credits) (foundation, interdisciplinary, disciplinary, and signature product)
    • Electives: 8-13 courses (32 to 52 credits) depending on division and language proficiency, which include the three electives as distributional requirements and one Quantitative Reasoning course in General Education
    • Other requirements: 2 non-credit mini-term courses and 1 practice oriented educational experience (internships, civic engagement, etc.)
    • Signature Work and Experiential Education (8 credits and one non-credit experience)

DKU graduates will have experience addressing complex problems outside the classroom as well as within, developing these skills through “Signature Work”. Signature Work encourages students to seek creative alignments between curricular pathways and to engage in experiential learning that leads to the creation of knowledge and products for scholarly, private sector and public audiences.

Signature Work calls for each student to identify one or more questions, problems, or issues that are of particular importance to him or herself and to society, and to investigate these through a combination of curricular and related co-curricular experiences. Students develop guided pathways, identify questions, and undertake projects early in their academic career. During the sophomore year students work with their advisors and faculty mentors to begin identifying the major questions, problems, or issues on which they would like to work, and to develop a pathway that includes three thematically linked courses drawn from students’ interdisciplinary studies, disciplinary studies or electives, one or more co-curricular experiences, and two capstone courses in which a student creates a substantial scholarly or creative signature product. The co-curricular experiential learning component (e.g. internships, practica, community-based fieldwork or other civic projects) must comprise no fewer than 150 hours of work, and will be reflected on the transcript as non-credit, Practice-Oriented Education (POE). The signature product will vary across fields and disciplines, but will always include substantial writing, reflection on learning, and publicly visible results. A student’s pathway will be developed by the end of the sophomore, or beginning of the junior year, at the latest. In the senior year, a student will create an e-portfolio that captures both the signature product a student has produced and a narrative explaining the larger inquiry informing their pathway.

A total of 136 DKU credits is required for graduation with a DKU bachelor degree and 34 course credits (1 Duke course credit is equivalent to 4 DKU credits) is required for graduation with a Duke bachelor degree. Additional courses may be required to fulfill degree requirements.  More details on degree requirements are available for review in the Undergraduate Programs Bulletin.

136 Credits

A total of 136 DKU credits is required for graduation with a DKU bachelor degree inclusive of 34 DKU credits earned through courses taught or co-taught by Duke faculty (i.e. 8.5 courses; 1 course credit at Duke is equivalent to 4 DKU credits) required for graduation with a Duke bachelor degree.

International students meeting the aforementioned degree requirement for a Duke University degree will also meet the degree requirement for a Duke Kunshan University Bachelor degree. 

Course credit at Duke Kunshan University follows the same standard as Duke University in terms of instruction hours and off class study hours. Of the 136 credits required for graduation, a maximum of 8 credits passed with a D grade (D, D+, D-) can be used toward the 136 credits requirement. The 136 credits may include:

(1) no more than 2 credits in physical education activity courses (i.e., two one-credit activity courses);

(2) no more than four elected courses taken on a Credit/No Credit grading basis (not including courses offered only on that basis);

(3) no more than 40 credits combining any allowable transfer credits including AP/IPC, transfer credits for study abroad, etc.; and

(4) no more than DKU equivalent of 24 credits in graduate and professional school courses not listed in the Duke Kunshan University Undergraduate Programs Bulletin. These courses include all courses offered by DKU MMS program, Duke schools of business, law, divinity, nursing, and all graduate courses numbered 700 and above. These courses are generally not open to undergraduates and require special permission to enroll. 

For limitations on transfer credit and Advanced Placement credit, see the sections on “Advanced Placement” and “Transfer of Work Taken Elsewhere” in the chapter “Part 6: Academic Procedures and Information” in the Undergraduate Programs Bulletin.

To meet the 136 credit requirement, students need to complete additional elective courses in addition to completing the General Education and Major Requirements. The curriculum is designed to enable a wide range of flexibility for students. Some may elect to use their full range of electives to go wide and broad while others may elect to dive deep into their areas of disciplinary study.

Total Credits

Class of 2022:

For Chinese mainland students to meet the requirement for a Duke Kunshan University Bachelor’s degree, there are additional credit-bearing requirements: (i) Military training (2 credits); (ii) Two Chinese Society and Culture Courses (4 credits each, 8 credits in total); (iii) eight half-credit physical education courses (4 credits total, 2 of which can count toward the 136 credits for the Duke degree), and passing the physical proficiency test set by MOE. The total required credits for Chinese mainland students is 148, inclusive of the 136 credits required for all students.

For students from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan to meet the requirement for a Duke Kunshan University Bachelor’s degree, they must meet the same requirements as students from mainland China. However, they may substitute 2 credits selected from designated Chinese culture courses in place of the military training. The total required credits for students from Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan is 148, inclusive of the 136 credits required for all students.

Class of 2023 and later:

For Chinese mainland students to meet the requirement for a Duke Kunshan University Bachelor’s degree, there are additional credit-bearing requirements: (i) Military training (4 credits); (ii) Two Chinese Society and Culture Courses (4 credits each, 8 credits in total); (iii) eight half-credit physical education courses (4 credits total, 2 of which can count toward the 136 credits for the Duke degree), and passing the physical proficiency test set by MOE. The total required credits for Chinese mainland students is 150, inclusive of the 136 credits required for all students.

For students from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan to meet the requirement for a Duke Kunshan University Bachelor’s degree, they must meet the same requirements as students from mainland China. However, they may substitute 4 credits selected from designated Chinese culture courses in place of the military training. The total required credits for students from Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan is 150, inclusive of the 136 credits required for all students.

Non-Credit Mini-Term Courses

Mini-term courses are intensive, non-credit, non-graded, one-week short courses that provide a focused exposure to a single topic while enabling students to move outside of their comfort zones. These courses, which are offered between the two sessions of the spring semester, are intended for the generalist with minimal or no pre-requisites and could be academically or experientially oriented. Students need to take one mini-term course in order to fulfill their degree requirement. Students may enroll in additional mini-courses as space permits. Students can take these courses any time during their four-year study at Duke Kunshan University. This requirement encourages students to explore their intellectual interests and unfamiliar academic fields and locate their passions by offering short seminar-style courses in a risk-free setting

The Duke 34

Advisors should actively monitor the student’s progress towards completing the at least 34 credits requirements taught by Duke faculty. The classes can be taught or co-taught by Duke faculty. At least one of the instructors in the class has to be a Duke instructor.

Explanation of the Curriculum

General Education Distribution Requirements

While the three Common Core courses are content specific, the distribution requirements are meant for students to explore Modes of Inquiry in other academic divisions. We encourage students to take a course that is broad in scope which introduces them to the most prominent writers and thinkers in the broadest modes, rather than a course that studies a specific discipline of the divisional area, such as an ethnography or a psychology course. Students majoring in Arts and Humanities or Natural Sciences are recommended to take “Foundational Questions in Social Science” to fulfill the Social Sciences divisional requirement. Students majoring in Social Sciences or Natural Sciences are encouraged to take “The Art of Interpretation I” or “The Art of Interpretation II” to fulfill the Arts & Humanities divisional requirement. These courses introduce students to the other divisions outside of their major at a more foundational level. Students learn different ways people learn in different disciplines in these foundational courses.

Undergraduate Course Load

Students are reminded that it is their responsibility to be certain that their course load conforms with academic requirements. In fall and spring terms, the normal course load is 16
credits (8 credits in each 7-week session). In addition, students may enroll in 4-credits of language courses and one credit of PE courses without special permission from their advisor, up to a total of 20 credits plus PE. In the first 7-week session of their first semester, first-year students are restricted to a maximum of 8 credits (one four-credit course, one two-credit language course, and one additional two-credit course), plus one PE course. The maximum number of credits a student can take in any subsequent 7-week session without special permission is 10 (two 4-credit courses and one 2-credit course) plus one credit of PE courses. Students should note that in order to reach the 136 credits required for graduation, they will need 8 additional credits beyond the minimum course load of 16 credits per semester for eight semesters. These additional credits can be earned by any combination of semesters in which a student registers for greater than the 16-credit minimum, AP and IPC credits, or transfer credits.

DKU’s curriculum design features intensive 7-week sessions. A student has to be very well prepared to be able to take three classes in a session. DKU instructional method is demanding on students in a 7-week format. Advisors should encourage students to reflect on wellness, scholarship, and engagement plan as it relates to DKU expectations for intentional academic preparation and co-curricular involvement. 

Distribution Requirement

Distribution requirement is 3 courses (12 credits) with one course in each divisional area. Courses that fulfill the distribution requirement have the attributes in each area. Courses with two attributes may only be applied to one distributional requirement.

Quantitative Reasoning (QR) Requirement

Courses with a QR attribute and a divisional area attribute can only be counted as one of these attributes. For example, if a course is designated QR and NS, it may be applied toward either the quantitative reasoning requirement or the natural science distributional requirement, but not both. We will add the QR attribute to the courses that can fulfill this requirement and will also make adjustment on the attributes for the distributional requirement as well.


There are no class meetings scheduled on Fridays at DKU. Fridays are reserved for practice oriented education opportunities, such as field trips and independent research.

Signature Work

The Signature Work is an opportunity for students to link the co-curricular learning with their curricular learning. Students will identify a faculty mentor to guide them through the Signature Work experience by the end of sophomore year. Students whom have not identified a faculty mentor should work in consultation with their advisor and/or Office of Undergraduate Advising to identify an appropriate mentor. Traditionally, students have all kinds of co-curricular activities, but typically they are not linked to their academic learning. In Signature Work, students test out what they have learned in practice and let practice further inform their academics. So the student can say “I created my way through it. This is my distinct pathway, which I call my signature.” Students whom identify their area of research should complete appropriate material provided by the Office of Undergraduate Advising. 

Language Requirements

One of Duke Kunshan University’s goals is for students to graduate with strong skills in multiple languages, especially English and Chinese. To this end all students are required to take 8-16 credits of foreign language courses appropriate to their needs.

Duke Kunshan University’s medium of instruction is English, so it is imperative that all students have a strong command of English.  Further, the ability to produce effective academic papers and presentations in English is especially important. Students whose secondary education was not in English medium schools will generally benefit from instruction in academic English skills, and will therefore be assigned to the English for academic purposes (EAP) track at DKU and be required to take two courses, EAP 101 and 102. Students can further develop their academic English skills by taking elective EAP courses and/or written and oral communication (WOC) courses.

Students at Duke Kunshan University should also attain a high level in Chinese, not only because DKU is located in China, but also because Chinese is already one of the world’s most important global languages. For this reason, students who are not required to be in the EAP track and who do not yet have a strong academic and professional command of Chinese will be assigned to a Chinese as second language (CSL) track, and assigned to a course appropriate to their Chinese level based on the results of a DKU placement examination process. All CSL-track students are required to meet two criteria: they must take at least two Chinese language courses (8 credits), and must successfully complete CHINESE 202 or a higher level course. That is to say, students who begin their Chinese study in CHINESE 101 are required to take Chinese courses until they complete CHINESE 202; students who begin studying Chinese in CHINESE 201, CHINESE 202 or another higher level course are required to take two courses beyond whatever level they begin at. After satisfying their foreign language requirement, CSL-track students are encouraged to continue developing their Chinese language skills by taking higher level elective courses in Chinese, and also by designing and carrying out their own Chinese learning plans either independently or with guidance and support from the Language Learning Studio. 

Students who enter DKU with such a strong command of both English and Chinese that they can readily do academic work in both languages – and that no appropriate EAP and CSL courses are offered for them – may not be assigned to either the EAP track or the CSL track. These students can satisfy their foreign language requirement in several ways. One option is to take independent study courses in a third language (TLANG) through the Language Learning Studio. Another option is to take advanced written and oral communication (WOC) courses. Because the content of different sections of WOC courses differ considerably, students are allowed to take more than one WOC course of the same course number if the course content of the two courses is different.

More information on language placement is in the Entrance Credit and Placement sections of Part 6: Academic Procedures and Information of the Undergraduate Programs Bulletin.

Study Abroad

Students at Duke Kunshan University will have opportunities for study abroad experiences that are integrated with the undergraduate curriculum and major offerings. Working closely with Duke University and with Duke’s Global Education Office (GEO), the Study Abroad Office will provide students with a range of opportunities to join programs both in China, in the United States, and elsewhere abroad. 

Duke Kunshan University students will be able and encouraged to study for one semester and one summer term at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, during their junior year. At Duke, they will be able to take a wide variety of courses in both major and elective subjects, while also participating in student activities, organizations, and clubs. The Duke study abroad experience will also involve an immersive learning experience in American culture, society, and values. 

While the study abroad experience at Duke University will likely prove attractive to the great majority of our students, we also expect that not all students will wish to spend an entire six months on the Duke campus, but will opt for other study abroad opportunities instead. The Study Abroad Office will help students explore these opportunities and over time, the Study Abroad Office will develop different study abroad programs and options for Duke Kunshan University students.

Students who have questions about study away should be directed to make an appointment with Dr. Andrew Field, Director of Study Abroad and Outreach at


DKU offers 13 majors in three divisions: Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, and Arts and Humanities. Each major may have multiple tracks. You can find the All Majors Table and all the Major Requirements below.

Academic Policies and Procedures

Academic Procedures and Information

Check Undergraduate Programs Bulletin Part 6: Academic Procedures and Information section (pages 28-46) for information.

This part includes important information on the following topics:

  • Entrance Credit and Placement
    • Placement in Languages
  • Transfer of Work Taken Elsewhere
  • Time Limit for Completing Undergraduate Degree
  • Registration
    • Schedule Changes
    • Course Withdrawals
  • Undergraduate Course Load
  • Eligibility for Courses
  • Course Repeat
  • Course Audit
  • Independent Studies
  • Submission of Term Paper
  • Declaration of Major
  • Class Attendance and Missed Work
  • Class Scheduling
  • Incomplete Coursework and Excused Absence from Final Exam
  • Final Examinations
  • Grading and Grade Requirements
    • Credit/No Credit (CR/NC) Grading System
    • Effects of Incomplete Work
  • Continuation
  • Academic Warning and Probation
  • Changes in Status
  • Academic Recognition and Honors
  • Notification of Intention to Graduate
  • Graduation and Commencement
  • Education Records
  • The Provision of Academic Information to Parents and Guardians
  • Procedure for Resolution of Students’ Academic Concerns
  • Grade Review Procedure
  • Exclusion of Disruptive Students from a Course
  • Compliance with Academic Regulations
  • Religious Holidays

Internal Procedures

Academic Accommodations

If you have a student who expresses concerns about his/her physical or learning disabilities and may want to request academic accommodations, you can refer the student to Campus Health Services.

Academic Integrity

Refer to this Academic Integrity document for details.

Refer to for academic integrity policy. 

Sick Leave Policy

Please refer to this document for the sick leave policy.

Course Withdrawal

Students can petition to withdraw from a course with the advisor’s approval. The student should schedule an appointment with his/her advisor and then fill out a form in the Registrar’s Office to make this request.

Late Add/Drop

Students can petition to late add/drop a course after the deadline has passed with the advisor’s approval. The student should schedule an appointment with his/her advisor and then fill out a form in the Registrar’s Office to make this request.

Request a Meeting with Associate Dean

If you or a student would like to request a meeting with Associate Dean Dr. Tourgeé D. Simpson, Jr., they can email Senior Coordinator for Academic Advising at

Request to Transfer or Withdraw from the University

If you have a student who expresses desire to transfer or withdraw from the University, first ask probing questions and ask the students for details of his/her thought process. If the student strongly insists on transferring or withdrawing, refer the student to have a conversation with Dean of Undergraduate Studies or designee.

Referral to Counseling Services

Advisors will need to fill out the Counseling Referral Form (found in Advisor Resources in Sakai) and send it to Psychological Counselor Fan Yang (, 3665 7211). If a student expresses suicidal thoughts or ideas that may harm himself/herself or to the people around him/her or pose a threat to the community, you should contact Assistant Dean of Students Damian Medina at

Student Complaints and Petitions

If they receive academic complaints or petitions from students that need to escalated, please contact Associate Dean Dr. Tourgeé D. Simpson, Jr. at

Sexual Harassment

If a student mentions to you an instance of sexual harassment that happened to himself/herself/another student, you are obligated to report it immediately in writing to. Damian Medina, Assistant Dean of Students ( and Associate Dean, Dr. Tourgeé D. Simpson, Jr. at

You can let the student know that the matter is going to be dealt with in a confidential way, which means that only the staff members who have a need to know will know.

Academic Concerns and CARE Team

If you have general concerns about a student’s academic performance or well-being, you can share these with the Office of Undergraduate Advising by emailing

If you have any concerns about a student that you would like to bring to the attention of the CARE team, you can email or complete a report online here. See CARE Team information here.

AP/IPC Credits

Entrance Credit 

Scores on the AP and IB exams, and documented previous educational experience are the criteria that can be used to determine a student’s qualifications for certain advanced courses. In addition, a limited amount of elective course credit may be awarded on the basis of precollege examination and/or credits earned of the following two types: advanced placement (AP) and international placement credit (IPC). Duke Kunshan University will record on students’ permanent Duke Kunshan University records courses of these two types completed prior to their matriculation at Duke Kunshan University. See the policy on Credit: AP and IPC in the appendix which had been shared with students. 

Class Registration

Spring 2020 Registration for First-Year Students

For Spring 2020 Registration, there will be two registration windows for each class:

  • 8:00 pm on Tuesday, November 12: Priority Registration for Sophomore students (up to 4 credits)
  • 8:00 am on Wednesday, November 13: Regular Registration for Sophomore students
  • 8:00 pm on Wednesday, November 13: Priority Registration for First-Year students (up to 4 credits)
  • 8:00 am on Thursday, November 14: Regular Registration for First-Year students

We recommend that advising meetings with your students take place between October 28 – November 8. You can lift the Advisor Hold on their accounts after you meet with the student. Students can register for up to 4 credits (the class(es) the student desires to be enrolled in the most) during the Priority Registration period. Regular Registration access for all courses means that students should enroll in a full schedule for the entire semester (maximum 16 credits plus 1 credit of PE). Advisors should try to be available in their office during these registration windows in case their advisees need to go over their schedule and troubleshoot issues if any occurs. The design of this registration process is implemented to potentially increase student satisfaction and increase student retention.