February 13, 2011

Academic Advice

Note: As academic advice can vary greatly from individual to individual, this section will simply provide you a general overview of Duke’s academic requirements. It’s good to think about how you want to spend your time here at Duke and plan ahead in order to maximise the resources available to you.

Feel free to reach out to any of the Singaporean Dukies should you need more specific advice or to find out more about the different majors, courses, faculty, major requirements as well as academic opportunities at Duke. Most of us are fairly familiar with the system and can help you fine-tune your plans or offer different perspectives, so don’t be shy. Click here to access our database of Singaporean Dukies. 

For starters, here’s some information on the class registration procedure:

Class Registration

All students are required to enroll in at least four full-credit classes (4.0 credits) each semester.

Freshmen Only
Freshmen are only allowed to enroll in up to 4.5 credits in their first semester. If you are in the FOCUS program, you will earn 2.5 credits from the program.

If you want to add another 0.5 credits, you can only do so during the drop/add period and you will have to email your first-year advisor for permission. Typical 0.5 credit courses include PE courses, house and music courses. Go make friends! Don’t spend so much time in the classroom; first semester is a time for you to settle down and slowly get into the groove.

After Your First Semester
After your first semester, you will be able to increase your course load to as many as 5.5 course credits without your academic dean’s permission. Note that during registration, you may register for no more than 4.5 credits, and can only increase your course load during the drop/add period.

If you want to further increase your course load to 6.0 credits, you will need to request permission from your academic dean (listed on your DukeHub page). You will not be allowed to enroll in more than 6.0 credits. Please have a life outside of studies. You didn’t come all the way across the world just to study.

Drop/Add Period

The drop/add period allows you to drop and add courses to your schedule. It begins immediately after the last day of class registration and extends through the first two weeks of the semester.

If you are on the waitlist for a course, it may help to email the professor of the course (especially towards the end of drop/add) as professors may be able to accommodate a few more students and expand the class size. Waitlists will be erased one week after the start of school. If you know that a course will be oversubscribed, it helps to drop the professor an email before registration even starts, so that you’ll be on their radar if you ever need a permission number.

As a broad overview, several factors will influence your academic plan here at Duke:

1.    Which college you are enrolled in.

The graduation requirements differ greatly between Trinity and Pratt students. Don’t worry if you are undecided on your major; there is a common set of prerequisite courses that everyone will more or less begin with. It’s liberal arts for a reason, so just take your time in freshman year to explore.

Trinity College of Arts and Sciences
All Trinity students have to fulfill a set of requirements known as T-reqs, which involves taking courses in several different Areas of Knowledge (AOK) and Modes of Inquiry (MOI).

While this may initially seem daunting, you will soon realize that many classes fulfill multiple AOKs and MOIs. When you start book-bagging courses for your first semester, take note that you can use the advanced search function to filter courses based on AOKs and MOIs.

Pratt School of Engineering
The course sequence for Pratt students is a lot more straightforward than that for Trinity students, simply because it has less room for flexibility. Upside: you get to say Trinity College of Arts and Crafts. Downside: you’re in Pratt. #engineers

Freshmen Only: The FOCUS Program
The FOCUS program fulfills the first-year seminar requirement and some general education requirements for all Trinity students. However, do note that your FOCUS courses will most likely not count towards your degree requirements. There are some which do, so please ask the upperclassmen.

It is never too late to withdraw from FOCUS as long as you do so before the end of the drop/add period. For more information on FOCUS, feel free to reach out to upperclassmen. Some of us have/are on track to graduating early despite having done FOCUS.

2.    Your combination of majors/minors/certificates.

You must declare a major by your sophomore spring semester (fourth semester). Each major/minor/certificate comes with its own specific set of requirements. We highly recommend that you check the department websites to be clear about their requirements. One major is required for graduation, and the combined number of majors, minors, and certificates you declare may not exceed 3. The school does offer flexibility in major declaration, so you technically can still change majors after sophomore year.

Majors typically have a requirement of 10 credits, while minors and certificates typically have 5 or more. Click here to find out more about the possible combinations of majors, minors, and certificates at Duke.

Trinity College Only: Program II/Interdepartmental Major (IDM)
At Duke, you can also create your own major through Program II, which allows you to create a curriculum tailored to your specific academic interests, with the criteria that your design curriculum is well-focused, has a unifying theme, and cannot be accomplished within Program I. Take note that Program II is only offered in Trinity college, and that Program II cannot be combined with another major or minor.

Additionally, you can declare an interdepartmental major (IDM) in Trinity College, which encompasses an equal combination of two Trinity College departments or programs that offer a major.

3.    Placement Credits

Duke accepts several different types of placement credits including Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), and A-levels. Be sure to bring along your original certificates, which are required for verification before the placement credits are given. These certificates need to be sent to the Registrar, which is different from Undergraduate Admissions. In the event that the placement credit is not given in time for you to register, ask the professor for a permission number while explaining the situation.

For more information on placement credits

4.    No. of years you plan to graduate in.

All the courses are designed as four-year curriculums, and some include many pre-requisites that may span across four years.

If you intend to graduate early, you must be prepared to overload (enrol in more than 4 credits) for at least one semester. This may mean taking classes concurrently, even though one of your classes is a pre-requisite for another. An alternative to overloading may be to enroll in summer school.

All Duke students need 34 credits to graduate, of which you may activate a maximum of 2 placements credits. If you plan to graduate in 7 semesters, you may use a maximum of 4 placement credits. If you plan to graduate in 8 semesters (3 years), you may use up to 8 placement credits.

5.    Study Abroad Plan

Duke offers many study abroad opportunities and most students do at least a semester abroad. Do consider which semester you plan to do your study abroad in while you are working on your academic plan. Most students typically abroad during their sophomore spring, junior fall or junior spring semester. If your finances allow for it, please do; the experience is unparalleled and you learn a lot from it. Also, it’s a resume booster (that got your attention, didn’t it?).

It is helpful to have most of your pre-requisites / co-requisites completed before spending a semester abroad. We also highly recommend that you take into account classes you plan to take in succession at Duke, especially language classes (e.g. FRENCH 101, FRENCH 102, FRENCH 203), in order to avoid breaking the sequence apart with a study abroad semester.