Roles and Responsibilities of a Program II Advisor

Program II is not a major, but rather an individualized degree program. Students admitted to Program II examine and explore an area of scholarship by deigning their own unique program of study and fulfilling its requirements. Students are guided through the application process by an advisor (you) and Dean Rachael Murphey. The six modules of the application are described here.

Advising a Program II student is a commitment that is both exciting and rewarding; but it is just that: a commitment. As an advisor, you are expected to support your advisee from the time of their application through to graduation. The role of an advisor has three main components:

  1. Before Approval: assisting student in designing their program of study
  2. After Approval: monitoring the student’s progress through their time at Duke.
  3. Capstone Duties: serving as a mentor and chair member for the student’s capstone project.


In order to provide prospective advisors with the necessary information to decide if they would like to take on a Program II mentee, the Program II Committee has created the following checklist of expected responsibilities accompanying the role. Please ensure that you are able and willing to fulfill each of the responsibilities below before committing to serving as an advisor.


Stage 1: Before Approval

  • First meeting with the student: discuss the student’s ideas for a program, and if you would be an appropriate advisor (based on research areas, course of study, future plans, etc.)
  • Second meeting with student: discuss and revise the courses selected by student, discuss the thematic question, as well as sub-questions underlaying their course of study.
  • Read and provide feedback on the student’s application prior to submission.
  • Write a letter of recommendation to accompany the student’s application.
    • If you have concerns regarding a student’s proposal, share these concerns with the student before submitting a letter; encourage them to apply to Program II at a later date after addressing your concerns.
  • Work with the student in acquiring DUS letter of approval from your department.


Stage 2: After Approval

  • Check in with student once a month to discuss their upcoming/current course load. Clear them for registration prior each semester.
  • Assist student in applying to summer and post-graduate opportunities, internships, and grants when appropriate
  • Generally, support your Program II advisee with the knowledge that they do not have a department to return to for aid.


Stage 3: Capstone Duties

  • Junior year: discuss possible capstone ideas with student and necessary steps for completion (independent study, funding, IRB approval, etc.)
  • As a part of the student's capstone, they are expected to participate in either: completing two (2) independent studies with their advisor, or completing a departments GWD sequence. 
  • Senior year: mentor the student’s progress through their capstone project
    • Capstone may take the forms of:
      • A capstone project, completed through two independent studies with their advisor (you)
      • A Graduation with Distinction (GWD) project, either through completing any appropriate department’s two-course thesis sequence, or independently with you as their advisor.
    • This role does include serving as a chair on their GWD committee.