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Academic Policies and Procedures

Core classes

All fellows are required to take the core classes. One may be exempted from Economic Foundations or Empirical Analysis for Development if they have had previous economics or statistics coursework. This must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies and Program Coordinator of Student Services.

Undergraduate classes

Courses numbered from 1-499 undergraduate level courses. Graduate students are permitted to take only two (six credits) undergraduate courses during the course of their studies. Graduate students must earn at least a B- grade or better for the undergraduate course to count.  If a graduate student earns a C+ grade or lower, the undergraduate course will not count toward his or her degree and the credits must be made up in a later semester.


Fellows who wish to complement their study program by auditing an additional course or seminar outside their area of expertise may do so with the approval of their advisor. To officially audit a course, meaning the course will appear on their academic record, fellows must officially enroll in the audited course before the official drop/add deadline for registration. To audit a course, a student must obtain the written permission of the instructor of the course with an original signature on the letter giving the student permission to audit. The letter must include the title, course number, and days and times of the course as well as the student auditor's name. The letter may be dropped off at the Registrar's Office in the Smith Warehouse or scanned and sent by email to A degree candidate registered full-time in a degree program may audit courses without charge during the fall and spring semesters. They will then be manually enrolled in the course by Duke Registrar staff.

Fellows officially auditing a course will receive an “AD” notation on the transcript, indicating that the course was successfully audited, or an “AW” if the course was not successfully audited.

Informal auditing requires only permission from the professor to sit in on a course. Informally audited courses will not appear on the fellow’s academic record and cannot be added to the record retroactively. 

Fellows must be sure to discuss the professor’s audit policy for the course before agreeing to audit.

Fellows cannot audit a course and then take the course for credit in a later semester.

Course Overload

Twelve credits is the typically load per semester for MIDP fellows. The Duke system will allow graduate students to enroll in up to 16 credits per semester. If fellows must take more than 16 credits, they must have the additional course load approved by their academic advisor and then request a credit override from the MIDP Program Coordinator for Student Services.

English and Foreign Language courses


All non-native English speakers must sit for both oral and written English exams prior to the start of courses. Based on the results of those exams, they may be required to take up to three English courses. English courses do not count toward the degree program or non-degree certificate and must be taken in addition to the required degree credits.

  1. WRITING: Fellows who place into basic or advanced written English must fulfill the requirement through practicums designed to cover professional writing and editing within the context of public policy. These courses are listed under “public policy."
    Public Policy Writing Practicum (fall)
    Professional Editing Practicum (spring)
    Fellows who place into basic must take both courses. Fellows who place into advanced are only required to take the fall course.
  2. SPEAKING: Fellows who place into advanced oral English must fulfill the requirement through a practicum designed to cover academic presentations within the context of public policy. This course is listed under “public policy” and is offered in the spring.
    Public Policy Presentation Practicum
    Fellows who place into basic oral English must fulfill the requirement through a Duke English for International Student (EIS) course. This course is listed under the “graduate school” (GS 721) and is offered in fall and spring.
  3. Fellows may not take English courses through Duke’s English for International Students (EIS) program in addition to the required course they place into through the entrance exams. Fellows wishing to improve their English by taking advanced English courses may take advanced English only through MIDP practicums. These course are not “ESL” courses but are designed for native and non-native speakers who wish to improve their writing, editing and speaking skills.
    Public Policy Writing Practicum
    Professional Editing Practicum
    Public Policy Presentation Practicum

Foreign Languages

Only fellows who have a scholarship which requires them to learn a foreign language are permitted to take foreign language courses. Up to two foreign language courses for up to six credits may be counted toward the two-year master’s degree requirements. Foreign language courses do not count toward requirements for the one-year degree or non-degree certificate. Most foreign language courses are offered at the undergraduate level, so please note that the minimum grade policy for undergraduate courses applies (B- or better for the course to count), and that no further undergraduate level courses may be taken if a foreign language is pursued.

Independent Study/Research

In exceptional cases, during their second year of studies fellows may request an independent study from MIDP faculty for a broad topic not otherwise addressed in regular classes. Such requests must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies according to procedures in Annex 1 (see below). Requests from one-year fellows may be considered for their summer semester only.

Field Research

In cases of research involving field interviews/questionnaires, fellows are expected to submit their questionnaire (after prior review by their academic/Master’s Project adviser) for clearance by Duke University's Institutional Review Board (IRB).

Academic Expectations

All MIDP fellows are expected to remain in “good academic standing” throughout their studies at Duke University. They are expected to attend all classes and perform required assignments, obtain A or B grades, and maintain a 3.0 cumulative Grade Point Average. C grades and below are considered unsatisfactory.   

Fellows who receive C grades in any core MIDP course (Policy Analysis for Development, Economic Foundations for Development, Applied Development Economics, Economic Growth and Development Policy and Empirical Analysis for Development), and/or have a cumulative GPA below 3.0 will be placed on academic probation. If the fellow continues to perform poorly in classes, he or she will be considered for academic dismissal from the program.

Fellows who obtain an F grade in any core MIDP course will be considered for academic dismissal. F grades in an elective course will result in academic probation or, in extreme cases, academic dismissal.

Any fellow whose performance during academic probation is unsatisfactory will be asked to withdraw from the program. Academic probation may result in the suspension of financial support awarded by MIDP or other funding sources.

Plagiarism and cheating

Duke University and MIDP consider plagiarism and cheating, in any class, academic dishonesty. As provided in university regulations, failure to adhere to academic integrity regulations may result in immediate dismissal. Information on how to avoid plagiarism and cheating will be provided in MIDP orientation sessions and individual courses. Should fellows require further clarification about the meaning of plagiarism (namely the use of other people’s work without the indication of its source, as if it were one’s own) or cheating, it is their responsibility to consult with their academic adviser or course professor. It is always advisable to ask questions about plagiarism or cheating before turning in an assignment instead of finding out “after the fact.”

Cheating on exams may include, but is not limited to, copying another student’s answers, working as a group on a take-home exam, sharing answers to exams taken in a course, or obtaining copies of an exam prior to the exam period.

Each fellow is required to sign an academic integrity contract during orientation. This contract binds the fellow to the academic rules and regulations of MIDP and Duke University. For more information, see the Sanford School's Code of Professional Conduct.

Personal Responsibility

All fellows are expected to be respectful of their professors and classmates. Fellows are expected to arrive to their classes and turn all of their assignments in on time. Any forms of harassment, particularly sexual harassment, will not be tolerated and may result in immediate dismissal from the program. We recognize that the definition of harassment differs from one culture to another, and encourage fellows to seek advice from program faculty and staff and/or International House if they are unsure of appropriate behavior in the United States. Sanford's Code of Professional Conduct and Duke’s Student Sexual Misconduct Policy are available online and are applicable to all Duke students, faculty and staff.


Annex 1


  1. General policy: In exceptional cases, and normally for fellows in their second year of studies, the MIDP program may consider requests for independent studies with MIDP faculty. Such studies should be for a topic which is not otherwise addressed in regular classes and in which the proposed supervising faculty has special expertise. Independent studies are not a substitute for the summer internship.
  2. Scope of the study: The independent study project must be narrowly defined enough to lead to a paper in which an answer to a specific policy question is provided, or a specific research tool is developed (e.g., a survey, an evaluation of a past project, construction of a data set, etc.)
  3. Relation with Master’s Project: Independent study papers may not serve as the initial draft of one's Master's Project, although they may address related or peripheral topics. The Masters' Project must address a broader issue, and contain analyses that go well beyond the issue considered in any independent study project. Literature reviews in preparation for one's Master's Project are not considered acceptable independent study projects.
  4. Limit per student and per semester: The maximum number of independent studies by any one fellow is one independent study over the two-year MIDP program. The maximum total number of approvals is up to five per semester, assuming a class of 35. 
  5. Fellow’s Proposal: Fellows considering an individual study must make a request in writing to the MIDP Director of Graduate Studies with a two-page proposal (i) clearly defining the proposed topic and study program which should have a high intellectual content equivalent to a three-credit load (in special cases fewer credits may be allowed); (ii) explaining why they wish to study it, (iii) demonstrating that it is not offered at Duke or UNC, (iv) specifying the expected deliverables; (v) providing a preliminary bibliography; and (vi) indicating with which faculty they propose to study and why. The proposed faculty would need to sign the fellow’s proposal, thereby indicating his/her agreement to supervise the study, if approved.
  6. Decision process: The deadline for submission of fellows’ proposals described in section 5 is one week before close of registration for the semester when the study would be undertaken. Before close of registration, an ad hoc MIDP faculty committee will select the most deserving requests.
  7. One-Year fellows: One-year fellows follow the same procedure for requesting an independent study. One-year fellows are only permitted to do an independent study during the summer semester.
  8. Study Outcome: In addition to the final paper that they write for the study’s academic supervisor, fellows may occasionally be requested to make a public presentation of their findings for the benefit of the MIDP community.
  9. Independent Study under PARM: As fellows enrolling in PARM do so through the vehicle of an independent study, the limit of one study per semester under above sections 4 and 7 does not apply to such study.