Academic Life

A student taking notes during class

Field Studies courses offer the opportunity to learn by doing. All academic work is designed to include hands-on learning through field trips, lab work, simulations of real-world activities, guest speakers, and more.

All of these inquiry-based activities make heavy use of the resources available at our program sites, creating an opportunity that cannot be replicated in a traditional classroom.

Academic model

Instructional staff members build a classroom experience that challenges and inspires students. Curriculum follows our TIPster academic life model, focusing on five main criteria.

1. Rigorous Curriculum

Advancing the classroom experience through high expectations, academic challenge, critical thinking, and application of knowledge.

Sample activities include above-grade-level work, upper levels of Bloom’s taxonomy, student-led decision making, hands-on learning, differentiated instruction, alternative assessment, research, laboratory work, and experimental writing.

2. Critical Inquiry

Analyzing ideas, facts, and contradictions while exploring academic curiosity to develop and communicate informed perspectives.

Sample activities include process creation, design development, comparisons and contrasts, fact-finding, revising, and experiments.

3. Authentic Experiences

Connecting students with academic opportunities to interact with and respond to real-world situations.

Sample activities include field trips, guest speakers, field observations, interactions with professionals, simulations, real-world scenarios, and student-created media.

4. Collaborative Learning

Building academic community with shared goals and engaging in intellectual endeavors.

Sample activities include interdisciplinary learning, team presentations, group projects, debates, mock trials, discussions, and seminars.

5. Creative Thought

Generating innovative and original ideas, products, or solutions.

Sample activities include problem-solving with multiple solutions, computer programming, artistic expression, technological solutions, sensory engagement, sketches, videography, and public speaking.

Instructional teams

Duke TIP Instructors and Teaching Assistants are a diverse and talented group of individuals who embrace their role in the academic development of young scholars. Instructors are selected for their expertise in their field of study, and typically include:

  • exceptional graduate students enrolled in master’s or doctoral programs
  • outstanding teachers from public and private schools
  • accomplished college and university teaching staff

Teaching Assistants have at least two years of college coursework and are dedicated to supporting the academic growth and development of the students in collaboration with the Instructor. 

As an additional resource, most sites have an Academic Coordinator. The Academic Coordinator supports all elements of the instructional program, assisting with curriculum development, visiting classes regularly, providing feedback to the instructional teams, and helping support the student experience.

Evaluation at Duke TIP

Duke TIP does not assign letter or numeric final grades, nor offer course credit.

The nongraded approach encourages a less competitive environment in which students will become comfortable taking intellectual risks that they might avoid in a stressful grade-driven environment.

During the course, instructional teams will holistically evaluate performance using criteria such as journal entries, presentations, individual research, and class projects. 

End-of-program evaluations

Instructional teams complete an end-of-program student evaluatation on areas such as:

  • intellectual processes
  • work habits
  • peer interactions
  • products generated in the course, such as tests, essays, or visual projects

Students who successfully complete the program per the participation policies will have access to this end-of-program evaluation.


Seeking credit for your Duke TIP course

Many families have successfully requested that their local school issue placement or credit for work completed at Duke TIP. If you plan to seek credit, we recommend the following steps:

  • Before Duke TIP begins, call your school counselor, vice principal, or registrar (the person who would grant placement or credit for a student’s work at Duke TIP). Explain that Duke TIP Field Studies students enroll in one course for two weeks of intense coursework.
  • Inform the local school official that at the end of the Duke TIP course, students receive a syllabus and end-of-program evaluation.

School officials will use the information provided to decide whether to grant course placement or credit. We are happy to assist in this process.

Students who intend to include their Duke TIP participation as part of their college admissions portfolio should print and keep a copy of the end-of-program evaluation. We cannot guarantee that copies of the evaluation will be available at a later date, and neither we nor Duke University will produce a transcript for TIP students.

Parent involvement

Parents are an integral part of student success. We hope that you will support your student as they embark on what may be one of the most challenging academic experiences they have ever had.

Your support may also be needed over the course of the term as you help your child navigate a new environment. If needed, we hope to partner with you to support your child. But if things are going well, you may not hear from TIP over the course of the two weeks.


To discuss exceptions for students with disabilities, please contact the Coordinator of Accommodations at or (919) 668-9100.