Trinity College of Arts & Sciences at Duke University Program II

Program II Committee

The Program II Committee is a standing committee of the Arts & Sciences Council.  Serving on the 5-member Committee are three faculty members representing the sciences, the social sciences and the humanities, as well Dean Grunwald, the program director, and a senior Program II student.  It is the Committee's responsibility to review, evaluate, and approve all applications to Program II.  The Committee takes this responsibility very seriously.  At the same time, it recognizes and appreciates the considerable work that students put into  their applications to Program II and is eager to approve strong programs of study.  When it is necessary for the Committee to turn down an application to Program II, it is careful to provide useful, constructive criticism and suggestions for strengthening the program.  Students who take the Committee's criticisms seriously and revise their programs in accordance with its suggestions, are often rewarded by having their reapplication approved the next time the Committee meets.

Among the things that the Program II Committee is looking for in successful applications are the following:

  • The proposed program of study is appropriately conducted within Program II;
  • The program is coherent and feasible;
  • The core courses suitably enable the student to explore the program topic effectively and well;
  • The essay is well written and clearly and convincingly makes the case for the intellectual validity of the program of study;
  • The program provides the student with broad and deep exposure to to ideas in accordance with the University's commitment to the goals of a liberal arts education;

In the light of these consideration, successful applications should present in a thoughtful way the academic and intellectual merits of the program. It should not present arguments based on the future utility of the study.  In particular, you should not dwell on your career interests and the usefulness of your Program II to your plans for the future.  Similarly, students should avoid presenting programs of study that might broadly be characterized as pre-professional.  Duke generally and Program II in particular does not see as the goal of the undergraduate experience to train students for particular careers.  Rather, Program II looks for evidence that you are eager to engage intentionally with issues and questions of intellectual substance and significance.