Academic Support

Students pursuing a master’s degree in the Graduate Liberal Studies Program have the opportunity to design the degree around personal or career goals.  In order to plan successfully, students need to be aware of how these goals fit in with the options and requirements of the program and the academic resources at Duke University.   To aid in this process, director Donna Zapf and assistant director Kent Wicker serve as the academic advisors for the Graduate Liberal Studies programs.  This means that they are always available to answer questions concerning courses, course planning, the master’s project, or other academic requirements, options and opportunities – in other words, to help students navigate academics at Duke University. 

Students will automatically be scheduled for an advising session with either Donna or Kent at two points during their time in the GLS program.

  • Early Advising Session:  This is scheduled for the semester the student is registered in his or her second course. 

    • For a student taking one course per semester, this would be the second semester.
    • For a student taking three courses per semester, this would be the first semester.

While the student can bring any concern to this meeting, it focuses on making sure the student is aware of basic requirements and options, and is able to make informed choices about courses early in the program.  During this stage of the program, there is no need to commit to any particular concentration: students are encouraged to explore across a variety of disciplines.

  • Midpoint Advising Session: This session is scheduled for the semester the student is registered in his or her fifth course.

    • For a student taking one course per semester, this would be the fifth semester.
    • For a student taking three courses per semester, this would be the second semester.

While the student can bring any concern to this meeting, it focuses on making sure the student is able to plan the second half of his or her GLS course of study in such a way as to be ready for the master’s project.  During this stage of the program, students are encouraged to take courses that offer them knowledge, skills and contacts that could be useful in the master’s project they anticipate.

Students, however, are not limited to these two sessions.  Because good communication and early discussion of potential problems is important, students are always welcome to contact the GLS office to make an appointment to see either Donna or Kent at any time.  

The last stage in the program is typically the master’s project.  While working on the project, the student’s primary source of academic advice will be the master’s project supervisor.  However, students are still free to consult with Donna or Kent during this time in order to better understand their requirements and options, or to address any problems.   

Further Resources for Student Support

Students in the GLS program can also take advantage of the array of resources offered to them as graduate students attending Duke University.  These include the following:

  • The website of The Graduate School can answer questions about graduate certificate programs, graduate student requirements, appropriate academic conduct, and professional development opportunities. 
  • Graduate Student Affairs (GSA) is an office within the Graduate School that helps graduate students at Duke find the support, resources and opportunities they need to succeed in their degree programs.  It sponsors a graduate student parent support group as well as an array of student groups, including the Graduate and Professional Student Council (GPSC), and support groups for students of various ethnic, gender and sexual identities. 
  • International House offers advocacy and services to support international students in their adjustment to a different culture and language.