Council of Graduate Schools - Ph.D. Completion Project  
Project Information Project Participants Quantitative Data Promising Practices

Research Partner Profile

Duke University—(Featured Profile)

Principal Investigator
Jo Rae Wright
Dean, Graduate School & Vice Provost for Graduate Education
(919) 681-1560

Co-Principal Investigators
David F. Bell
Senior Associate Dean of the Graduate School
(919) 681-3257

Douglas James
Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs
(919) 681-3251

Participating Programs (10)
Biomedical Engineering
Computer Science
Electrical and Computer Engineering
Romance Studies

Under the leadership of the former Dean, Lewis Siegel, and the new Dean, Jo Rae Wright, Duke University has viewed Ph.D. completion as a major institutional priority. During Phase I of the Ph.D. Completion Project, each of the ten participating departments underwent a significant re-envisioning of its graduate program, and many implemented new initiatives independently or in conjunction with the Graduate School. Duke used its existing longitudinal database to conduct a fuller study of graduate student attrition/completion rates since the basic program of structural change was fully implemented in 1995-6. They also conducted roundtable discussions on specific topics that are likely to affect completion.

New Programs, Policies, Practices

  • Expand and refine Graduate School and departmental policies and practices for matriculation, and track and report on Ph.D. student degree progress.
  • Improve our financial packages by:
    • Increasing the stipend levels to the median of our peer group in each broad disciplinary area of the Graduate School;
    • Increasing the number of James B. Duke fellowship awards;
    • Increasing the number of summer research awards in the Humanities and Social Sciences; and
    • Providing health insurance premium coverage.
  • Implement a Parental Accommodation Policy.
  • Analyze Career and Professional Development needs of graduate students.
  • Evaluate Departmental and Graduate School-based TA training and plan for implementation of new programs and resources in the Graduate School as needed.
  • Enhance minority recruiting efforts:
    • Send staff, faculty, and/or student teams to recruitment fairs across the country, as well as to HBCU’s and other top universities.
    • Attend national conferences that feature undergraduate research and provide professional development and mentoring activities for underrepresented students.
    • Publish email directory of summer research programs at Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill, and build strong working relationships with faculty across the country.


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