New Opportunity: Summer Course Development Grants

Please note, this is last year’s RFP. Please see our current RFP for Summer 2023.

Summer course development grants.

Extended Deadline: March 1, 2022


For the summer of 2022, Duke’s offices of Undergraduate Education and Interdisciplinary Studies, in partnership with Duke Learning Innovation, are offering Summer Course Development Grants (SCDG) to schools, departments and other units that offer undergraduate curricula. These grants seek to foster the development or redesign of summer session courses that:

  • Align with the curricular priorities of the school, department or other unit
  • Have a good chance of attracting significant student interest from year to year
  • Incorporate innovative pedagogical approaches, which may include asynchronous components as part of an in-person class experience, or the development of hybrid courses
  • Will be taught by one or more Ph.D. students on a regular basis, beginning in Summer 2023.
RFP released 11/02/2021
RFP deadline for submission (extended) 03/01/2022 at 5:00 p.m.
Recipients notified 03/11/2022
Funds made available 05/01/2022
Funds to be expended by 08/15/2022


The last two summers have demonstrated significant demand by Duke students and undergraduates from other institutions for summer courses, including many offered online, that enable them to make progress on their educational plans. We see an opportunity to capitalize on that interest, while allowing departments and programs to expand and improve their undergraduate curricula, and provide Ph.D. students with opportunities to receive summer funding and gain experience as teachers.

This RFP offers schools, departments and other units that offer majors, minors or certificates the opportunity to develop or redesign a regular summer course that fulfills a critical curricular niche and will likely attract strong student interest. The data from Duke summer sessions indicates that broadly-based courses, particularly those fulfilling widely needed curricular requirements, are most likely to attract significant enrollment. More specialized offerings that dovetail closely with doctoral research topics, by contrast, typically under-enroll and risk cancellation.

One challenge for many Ph.D. students who teach in the summer has been the need to develop course materials. Through this funding opportunity, we hope to generate departmental or program resources that instructors of record can build on from year to year, lowering the time summer instructors must invest to get a course up and running. Those resources might include asynchronous elements (e.g., recorded lectures, interviews, or conversations), and guidelines for assignments, such as guided research, data analysis, primary source analysis, group projects, and ongoing partnerships with Durham- or Triangle-based organizations related to those projects.

Grant Details

Departments or other units that are awarded an SCDG will receive a funding package for one Ph.D. student in Summer 2022 (a half-stipend of $4,125, including fringe, coverage of the full summer health fee, and tuition) to work as a research assistant (RA) developing course materials in partnership with one faculty member. Departments or other units must commit to providing the remaining Ph.D. student stipend ($4,125, including fringe). The faculty member overseeing the RAship will receive $3,000 in research funding; applications with more than one faculty member will receive up to $5,000 in shared research funding.

Duke Learning Innovation will provide both formal course design guidance, which may take the form of an intensive kick-off workshop, and ongoing consultation to faculty and RAs funded by SCDGs. Learning Innovation will also convene the RAs periodically to share ideas, offer feedback on initial plans and build a cohort experience. In many cases, we presume that the Ph.D. student who works on developing or redesigning a course in Summer 2022 will have the chance to teach the resulting new or redesigned course in Summer 2023.

Restrictions and Parameters

  • Funds may only be used for Ph.D. student research assistantships and faculty research funds.
  • The research assistantship must take place between May 16 – August 19, 2022.
  • Ph.D. students should spend approximately 19.9 hours/week on course development work, which should include not just syllabus creation, but also the creation of course materials, structures for assignments, and any asynchronous modules, such as recordings of conversations or interviews with faculty members.
  • Courses must be offered during one of the two 2023 summer sessions.


  • Any school, department or other unit that offers an undergraduate major, minor or certificate is eligible for the grant. Applications should be submitted by the relevant director of undergraduate studies.
  • Two or more units may submit a joint application for a course that is or will be cross-listed.
  • International doctoral students who are included in the application as the RA should consult with Duke Visa Services for assistance with any visa-related requirements.

Review Process

The selection process will be overseen by the vice provosts for undergraduate education and interdisciplinary studies.

Proposal Requirements

Applications should consist of:

  • A description (maximum two pages) of the new or revised course, including:
    • The expected mix of asynchronous and synchronous components
    • Anticipated assignments
    • Anticipated role of the course within the unit’s curriculum
  • A brief overview from the department or unit providing a high-level sketch of course development activities to be completed during the RAship
  • A letter of support from the faculty partner or partners, discussing their role in assisting/overseeing the course development process
  • A CV (maximum two pages) for each faculty partner.

If a department or other unit has already identified an interested Ph.D. student who would serve as RA, and likely teach the developed course in Summer 2023, the application may also contain a letter of interest from that student.

To apply, visit:


For any questions related to the online application and/or logistical questions, please contact Amy Feistel. For questions about the application, or to talk through specific ideas for a proposal, please contact Gary Bennett, vice provost for undergraduate education, or Ed Balleisen, vice provost for interdisciplinary studies.


I am a faculty member with a new course idea. Am I eligible to apply for this grant?

Any school, department or unit that offers an undergraduate major, minor or certificate is eligible for an SCDG. Please coordinate an application with your department director of undergraduate studies, who will need to bring the idea forward.

Our program offers a certificate but we do not have Ph.D. students in our program. Am I eligible to apply for this grant?

Yes, any school, department or unit that offers an undergraduate major, minor or certificate is eligible for an SCDG. Ph.D. students from other programs can be added to the application as a possible RA. Please contact Ed Balleisen if you need assistance with finding a Ph.D. student for your application.

Our department received a grant but we have been unable to hire a Ph.D. student for the RA position. Do we still receive the grant?

No; disbursement of funds is dependent upon recruiting and hiring a student for the RA position.

Can a master’s or professional student be hired for the RA position?

No; only Ph.D. students are eligible for this funding.

Our proposed course will be a special topics course and will only be taught once. Are we eligible?

No. We are looking to seed courses that will be taught from summer to summer and that address curricular needs.

Our proposed course will be cross-listed. Are we still eligible for an SCDG?

Yes, though in that case, both units should endorse the proposal.

We would like two faculty members to serve as advisers for the course development process. Is that allowed?

More than one faculty member may partner on the grant. Awardees with more than one faculty partner will receive up to $5,000 in shared research funding.

We have more than one Ph.D. student whom we would like to hire for the RA position. May we hire more than one student?

No; this funding is for one RA position filled by one Ph.D. student.