Duke is home to superb professional and graduate programs set in a highly interdisciplinary, liberal arts environment. This combination enables us to seize new opportunities in graduate education so that our graduate and professional students are prepared to navigate diverse and quickly evolving intellectual and career landscapes.

In partnership with The Graduate School, in 2017-2018 the Provost convened a university-wide ad hoc committee to re-imagine doctoral education (RiDE) at Duke. The RiDE committee examined how to balance disciplinary excellence with PhD training that equips our students to make a difference in a wide array of professional contexts. The committee also emphasized the need to develop best practices for developing students’ skills in communication, leadership, and teaching and mentoring, as well as their ability to work effectively in teams, both within and across disciplines.

Since then, the Provost’s Office has continued to work with The Graduate School, Duke’s other schools, and the university’s 54 Ph.D. programs to adopt new policies and launch new programs in support of graduate education. A crucial initiative has been to provide five years of 12-months funding for all Ph.D. students, linked to robust opportunities for research, teaching, community engagement, and professional development. 

RiDE Programs and Activities

Deepening Partnerships and Advancing the Ph.D. 

Actions by schools and individual doctoral programs to articulate their missions and align their program elements with their priorities

RiDE Fellowships

Departments like Art, Art History & Visual Studies, and Statistical Science have worked with Ph.D. student fellows to survey recent alumni about curricular priorities, investigate curricular innovations at peer institutions, and research strategies for developing more inclusive communities in specific disciplines.

Read about RiDE Fellow Kirsten Overdahl's work

Refreshing Curricula

A growing number of departments are updating course work in line with intellectual developments and making the “hidden curriculum” more transparent to all students.

The School of Medicine’s BIOTRAIN program provides crucial scaffolding for all 17 Ph.D. programs in the school.

Read about BIOTRAIN

Tracking Student Progress

Several schools, including the School of Medicine, the Pratt School of Engineering, and the Nicholas School of the Environment, have developed systems to document student milestones, record intellectual development plans, foster reflection about career aspirations, and facilitate exploration of diverse career paths.

Read about the Pratt Ph.D.+ Framework


Consistent excellence in Ph.D. education requires a collaborative approach to mentoring and advising that draws on the insights of multiple professors, key staff members, and near peers.

The University Center of Exemplary Mentoring

Funded by the Sloan Foundation, Duke’s UCEM works to increase the diversity of the campus research community by recruiting and supporting Ph.D. students from underrepresented minorities (URM) in engineering and the physical sciences.  The fostering of mentoring networks is a key facet of UCEM’s efforts.

The University Center of Exemplary Mentoring


Excellent team-based graduate mentoring requires institutional scaffolding and opportunities for faculty to learn. In response to requests from a growing number of departments within Trinity College, the Office for Faculty Advancement has developed intensive faculty mentoring workshops.  The School of Medicine has developed a mandatory training program for its faculty involved in Ph.D. education and has developed a mechanism for supervisors to receive regular feedback from mentees. 



Duke has developed several programs to complement faculty advising and mentoring – peer mentoring groups both within and across schools, interdisciplinary group coaching for students at different stages of training, wellness coaching, and robust resources in The Graduate School and the Career Center around professional development, career discernment, and job searches, whether within or beyond academia.


Making the Most of Duke

Actions at the university level to ensure that an appropriate array of intellectual opportunities outside the boundaries of specific degree programs are available to all doctoral students


Every year, hundreds of Duke Ph.D. students take leadership positions in Bass Connections teams, join interdisciplinary working groups in areas like global health, digital humanities, and ethics, and pursue interdisciplinary certificates.

Read about the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Certificate


Duke Ph.D. students can avail themselves of short-courses and workshops in the Libraries, the Innovation Co-Lab, school-based offerings like those in Pratt’s PhD+, and the Duke Graduate Academy.  Topics range from digital humanities methods, coding, and web development, to public speaking and science communication, to business fundamentals, leadership of teams, and interdisciplinary project management.

Read student reflections on the Graduate Academy


Duke Ph.D. students have numerous avenues to gain experience through teaching practicums and short-term internships.  Bass Instructional Fellowships and Summer Sessions give advanced students the opportunity to serve as instructors of record. Through Graduate Student Training Enhancement Grants, students pursue summer internships linked to their research interests. The Provost’s Office also curates research-based internships with internal units like Duke University Press and Duke Forest, and a growing number of local organizations, through the auspices of the Office of Durham & Community Affairs.

Learn about curated Ph.D. internships for summer 2023