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Summer Course Development Grants Available for Curricular Priorities

Deadline: February 6, 2023


Duke’s Office of Undergraduate Education and Office of Interdisciplinary Studies, in partnership with Duke Learning Innovation, are opening a second round of proposals for Summer Course Development Grants. Schools, departments and other units that offer undergraduate curricula are eligible. 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 creation of digital learning assets to supplement or deliver instruction and/or enhance student engagement; such resources can be 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 the following summer.
RFP round two releasedDecember 14, 2022
RFP deadline for submission5:00 p.m., February 6, 2023
Recipients notifiedMarch 2023
Ph.D. student funds made availableMay 2023
Faculty research funds made availableJuly 2023
Funds to be expended bySeptember 2023


The summers of 2021 and 2022 demonstrated significant demand by Duke students and undergraduates from other institutions for summer courses that enable them to make progress on their educational plans. We want 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 effective teachers.

This grant program provides 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’s summer sessions indicate 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 development of 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.

Grant Details

Departments or other units that are awarded a Summer Course Development Grant will receive a funding package for one Ph.D. student in the summer (a full stipend of $8,415, including fringe, coverage of the full summer health fee, and tuition) to work as a graduate assistant developing course materials in partnership with one faculty member. Departments or other units do not need to provide any funds. The faculty member overseeing the graduate assistantship 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 structured course design guidance, which will take the form of a required, in-person, three-day workshop series May 16-18, 2023, ongoing consultation with faculty and graduate assistants funded by the grants, and a culminating presentation of the summer’s work. Learning Innovation will also convene the graduate assistants periodically to share ideas and offer feedback on initial plans. Ideally, the Ph.D. student who works on developing or redesigning a course will have the chance to teach the resulting new or redesigned course the following summer.

Restrictions and Parameters

  • Funds may only be used for Ph.D. student graduate assistantships and faculty research funds.
  • The graduate assistantship must take place between May 15 and August 18, 2023.
  • Ph.D. students should spend approximately 19.9 hours/week on course development work, which should include syllabus creation, creation of course materials, structures for graded and ungraded assignments, and any asynchronous modules.
  • Courses must be offered during one of the two 2024 summer sessions, with the further expectation that units will continue to offer the course thereafter.


  • 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 Ph.D. students who are included in the application as the graduate assistant 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:

  • description (maximum two pages) of the new or revised course, including anticipated course learning outcomes; learning approaches (inverted learning, asynchronous learning assets, synchronous components, etc.); assignments and modes of assessment; and role of the course within the unit’s curriculum (NOTE: we understand that for new courses, these ideas will often be tentative)
  • If the proposal is to redesign a course, the existing syllabus
  • brief overview from the department or unit providing a high-level sketch of course development activities to be completed during the graduate assistantship
  • letter of support from the faculty partner or partners, discussing their role in assisting/overseeing the course development process, and acknowledging that the selected Ph.D. student will need to attend the in-person May workshop series
  • 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 graduate assistant and likely teach the developed course the following summer, the application may also contain a letter of interest and CV (maximum two pages) from that student.

How to Apply

Proposals will be accepted using Formstack. The deadline for submission is 5:00 p.m. on February 6, 2023.


For any questions related to the online application and/or logistical questions, please contact the Office of Interdisciplinary Studies. 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 a Summer Course Development Grant. Please coordinate with your department director of undergraduate studies, who will need to bring the idea forward and submit the application in Formstack.

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 a Summer Course Development Grant. Ph.D. students from other programs can be added to the application as a possible graduate assistant. 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 graduate assistant position. Do we still receive the grant?

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

Can a master’s or professional student be hired for the graduate assistant 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 answer curricular needs.

Our proposed course will be cross-listed. Are we still eligible for a Summer Course Development Grant?

Yes, though in this 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 graduate assistant position. May we hire more than one student?

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