House Courses

House Courses provide an intellectual experience that is not available in regular course offerings. Such courses are developed in response to student interests and concerns and serve as a bridge between the academic and residential life of students. They enhance intellectual life in the residence halls where they are taught, hence the name "House Course." These courses are open to all undergraduates.

House Courses carry 0.5 semester course credit and are offered only on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading basis. Four House Courses may count toward graduation. These courses meet at least 12 times for a minimum of 18 hours.

Who Teaches House Courses?

In order to give current undergraduates an opportunity to develop their own ideas and skills, House Courses may be taught by current Duke undergraduates, who must be supervised by a member of the Trinity College faculty teaching on campus in the semester during which the course is offered. Undergraduate student instructors of House Courses do not receive course credit for teaching and may not enroll in their own courses. House Courses may also be taught by faculty in a recognized school, department, or academic program at Duke.

All courses must be approved and sponsored by a Trinity College Arts and Sciences department AND approved by the Committee on Courses. House Courses are, in general, free-standing courses of 18 or fewer students. The course may not require for a grade any other curricular or extra-curricular activity or enterprise, nor participation in activities beyond those of the course itself. House Courses are not skills courses or required training for subsequent courses or activities. House Courses do not have prerequisites, corequisites, or required permission. Enrollment in House Courses is open and cannot be limited by anything but the size of the course. Nevertheless, enrollment priority may sometimes be given for those living in the House where the House Course is taught.

Application Deadlines:

March 5th, 2021, by 5 pm, for Fall 2021 (extended from February 19th)
October 1st, 2021, by 5 pm, for Spring 2022

If you are interested in organizing and teaching a House Course, please visit our How to Apply section (below). You'll find our application form, instructions for filling it out, a waiver of liability template form for any fieldtrips you may want to offer as part of the course, a syllabus template, instructions for reserving a residence hall room for your course if necessary, and more.

What is a House Course?

House Courses seek to provide an intellectual experience not available in regular departmental course offerings. They are intended to respond to undergraduate students' expressed interests and concerns. In their origins, they were meant to provide a bridge between the academic and residential life of students (hence the name House Courses) and to enhance intellectual life on campus through academic programs in the residence halls.

Do I get credit for taking a House Course?

Yes. House Courses are half credit courses.

May I audit a House Course?


How are House Courses graded?

House Courses are graded on the satisfactory/unsatisfactory (S/U) basis. 

Does my House Course have to be held in a residential hall?

Yes. Please contact well in advance of submitting your application should you have a question about the appropriateness of a location for your House Course. 

Who is the departmental chair? The departmental Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS)? Where do I go to obtain their signatures?

You must obtain BOTH signatures from your House Course's sponsoring department's chair and DUS on the requisite form for your application in order for it to be considered complete. Contact the department at which your faculty sponsor teaches for assistance obtaining signatures from the departmental DUS and chair. (Names available on their department's websites.) Missing signatures will constitute an incomplete application which cannot be processed. Please be proactive and contact academic departments well in advance of House Course deadlines, to allow sufficient time for DUSs and the department chair to sign your forms. 

Who is the Office of Housing and Residence Life's Residence Coordinator?

Please consult the House Course Room Reservations form and/or the Office of Housing, Dining, and Residence Life for the most up-to-date contact information.

If I have taught a House Course in the past, do I still need to submit two letters of recommendation?

No. Please note the semester and year you previously taught a house course on the House Course application. If you are co-teaching the course with a new instructor, your co-instructor must still submit two letters of recommendation, one of which must be from the House Course's faculty sponsor.

If I am co-teaching a House Course with one or two other instructors, and we have not taught House Courses before, do we each need to submit two letters of recommendation?

Yes. Two recommendations are required for each instructor. One letter for each instructor must be obtained from the House Course's faculty sponsor. Combined recommendation letters are acceptable. 

Can my faculty recommendation letters be sent directly to 011 Allen? 

Yes. They can either be mailed to 011 Allen Building, Campus Box 90050, or emailed to If emailing, the recommendation letter can be contained in the email itself, or sent via an attachment (PDF or Word documents preferred).

Please check to ensure recommendation letters note which House Course and instructor(s) for whom the recommendation is written. Combined recommendation letters for multiple instructors are acceptable. If you have questions about recommendation letters, please contact the Courses Committee via email at

Does my second recommendation letter need to be from a Trinity professor?

Pratt faculty may also write letters of recommendation, preferably in a field related to the subject of the House Course.

Can I have an extension on the House Course application?

No. If you do not make the deadline, we invite you to resubmit your application for the following semester. Late applications cannot be accepted. Applications missing components and/or required signatures are incomplete and cannot be accepted or processed. 

When and how will I find out if my House Course has been approved?

We will notify you via email, usually within two weeks of the House Course application deadline. 

When can students start signing up for House Courses on DukeHub?

The list is usually posted on DukeHub in the beginning of May (for the fall term) and December (for the spring term). Students may register from that time until the end of Drop/Add.

Can I be reimbursed for related course expenses?

No.  However, if you need one or two copies made of a course pack for either the instructor(s) or faculty sponsor, please email to arrange to have this done.

What are the policies regarding field trips?

1. Field trips should be optional. Waivers are not necessary for field trips on the Duke campus. For field trips within the city of Durham (local restaurants, theaters, etc.), waiver forms do not need to be completed if the participants will arrange their own transportation. If a House Course includes trips only in Durham, instructors should indicate whether participants will arrange their own transportation.

2. Field trip waiver forms MUST be completed for field trips traveling within Durham for which group transportation is provided for students, and for any trips to other cities/areas beyond Durham. To ensure that University policy is followed, instructors need to submit a waiver of liability form to Corporate Risk Management at well in advance of the field trip. A template is available on this website for House Course instructors to customize in accord with the information and needs for each course. Instructors must notify when the field trip has been approved. All students participating in the field trip must complete and sign the waiver form. Instructors must also include documentation of secured funding for field trips for trips traveling outside of Durham.

Instructors of courses needing to use a waiver form should bring the original signed forms to 011 Allen well before the field trip takes place and keep a copy for their own records. 

3. Anyone who has not signed the waiver form should not be permitted to participate in the trip.

What do I need to do as a House Course instructor after my House Course is approved?

For a list of guidelines for House Course student instructors, see tab below. This list is also emailed to instructors after their House Course is posted on DukeHub.

May I as a House Course instructor receive credit or payment for teaching a course?

No. House Course instructors are not permitted to enroll in their own House Courses or be paid for teaching their course. 

Can House Course instructors limit their enrollment to students  who have certain backgrounds or interests?

No. House Course instructors or sponsors are not permitted to limit enrollment to particular types students or to those with certain backgrounds related to course content or sponsor interests. House Courses must be open to all undergraduates. 

Can I get House Course credit for doing something related to past House Course class content in a subsequent semester?

No. The only way to receive credit for a House Course is to be enrolled in a House Course during a semester in which it is offered. Students cannot receive credit for completed projects outside of House Courses in subject matter related to House Course topics. 

How many students may enroll in my House Course?

House Courses have a maximum enrollment of 18 students. Please contact with any questions or to discuss exceptions.

Fall 2021

Number Title Day, Time, Location
HOUSECS 59.01 Applied Introduction to Quantum Computing Meeting details TBA
HOUSECS 59.02 Art in Technology Meeting details TBA
HOUSECS 59.03 Cardiovascular Diseases and Global Distributions Meeting details TBA
HOUSECS 59.04 Decadence and Growth Meeting details TBA
HOUSECS 59.05 Drug Development for Essential Medicines Meeting details TBA
HOUSECS 59.06 Energy Mechanics and Applications of Modeling Meeting details TBA
HOUSECS 59.07 Engineering Basics for Trinity Students Meeting details TBA
HOUSECS 59.08 Epidemiology of Stress and Stress Management Meeting details TBA
HOUSECS 59.08 Global Citizenship and Ethics Meeting details TBA
HOUSECS 59.10 Global Environmental Justice Meeting details TBA
HOUSECS 59.11 Healthcare: A Human Right? Meeting details TBA
HOUSECS 59.12 Industrial Animal Agriculture Meeting details TBA
HOUSECS 59.13 Introduction to Impact Investing Meeting details TBA
HOUSECS 59.14 Introduction to Machining and Fabrication Meeting details TBA
HOUSECS 59.15 Learn Our Land Meeting details TBA
HOUSECS 59.16 Listening to Yourself, Others, and the Community Meeting details TBA
HOUSECS 59.17 Litterae et Religio: Global Religious Literatures Meeting details TBA
HOUSECS 59.18 Mental Health in the Queer Community Meeting details TBA
HOUSECS 59.19 Poetry and Art as Healing Meeting details TBA
HOUSECS 59.20 Space Medicine Meeting details TBA
HOUSECS 59.21 Symbols of Nationalism: The Power and Danger of Flags Meeting details TBA
HOUSECS 59.23 Transforming the U.S. Healthcare System Meeting details TBA
HOUSECS 59.24 UNICEF's Humanitarian Revolution: An Innovative Approach to Social Impact Meeting details TBA
HOUSECS 59.25 Vaccines, Explained Meeting details TBA
HOUSECS 59.26 Women in Research: Experiences and Empowerment Meeting details TBA

If you have any questions about applying to teach a House Course or need other assistance, please contact us:

Jesse Summers, Ph.D.
Academic Dean and Director of Course Development

011 Allen Bldg

Staff Assistant, Office of Curriculum and Course Development

011 Allen Building

These guidelines are also available as a downloadable Word document:


At Start of the Semester:

  • ONLY student instructors who have officially been approved to be instructors of House Courses by the Committee on Courses may teach House Courses.
  • Please inform our office of your updated phone number, email address, and mailing address. It is important that you let us know of any changes in these throughout the time you are teaching the House Course.  Do let us know also if you have any House Course concerns where we can be of assistance.
  • LIST OF HOUSE COURSES: A list will be available for students on DukeHub and on the House Course webpage. Your e-mail address will be included on this list so students who want to register for the course will be able to reach you. The meeting time and place of your course MAY NOT be changed after they have been submitted to the Registrar.
  • COURSE SYLLABI: Syllabi will be available on the House Courses webpage. Email electronic copy of syllabus in Word document format to courserequests@duke.eduNo changes should be made in the syllabus without prior approval of the Course Committee.
  • CLASS LISTS: You may request a class list of enrolled students from your faculty sponsor before the first class meeting.
  • ATTENDANCE REQUIREMENT:  House Course instructors are to emphasize the importance of classroom attendance at the start of class and remind students that they must attend at least eleven class sessions. If any problems arise, you should speak to your faculty sponsor.
  • DROP/ADD DEADLINES: House Courses are subject to the same Drop/Add deadlines as full credit department courses (see Bulletin). After the Drop/Add period, students asking to make a change in registration for your course should be referred to their academic deans.
  • REMINDER: House Course Instructors may not register for their own courses.

During the Semester:

  • YOUR FACULTY SPONSOR: It is your responsibility to keep in touch with your faculty sponsor so that he/she may a) fulfill the commitment made on the House Course application form, b) help you utilize Sakai (through the sponsor’s name listed there as official instructor of the course, and c) help you refine your teaching techniques and resolve problems that may arise in the course. (Note: this office is unable to provide Sakai access for instructors - faculty sponsors facilitate this.)
  • INCURRED COSTS:  We are not able to provide any funding for your House Course. However, if you need one or two copies of a course pack that will be used by the instructor(s) or faculty sponsor, we can make them for you. 
  • MID-SEMESTER GRADE REPORTS: IMPORTANT – It is official university policy that midterm grades should be reported for all first-year students, as well as for upperclassmen doing unsatisfactory work.  Please be in contact with your faculty sponsor to arrange that he/she submit the grades electronically.  Only faculty members may submit grades.
  • FINAL GRADE REPORTS: IMPORTANT – In the semi-final weeks of classes, you should make an appointment to meet with your faculty sponsor early in the last week of classes to discuss the final grades, so the sponsor may submit them electronically.  Final grades are a very serious matter, and for House Courses should be submitted by the last day of classes. Missing final grades may have serious implications for graduation or continuation.
  • Concerning the Group/Dept. Portion of the Room Reservation Form: The instructors of House Courses, not the academic departments sponsoring the courses, are the parties responsible for any space set-up, clean-up, and damage to the room in which the House Course will be taking place.

You must submit your entire completed application and signature page by the deadlines below in order to successfully apply to teach a House Course.

Applications may be submitted at this link at any time. Please then submit the signature page generated at the end of the application, with approvals, to by the deadline. 

Email with problems. 

Late applications will not be accepted. Applications missing signatures or other components are incomplete and cannot be accepted. All required signatures must be on the same sheet. View application deadlines above.

Application Materials for reference:

Download Syllabus Template (docx - 24.93 KB)

Submit your application online

After submitting your application, please submit the signature page, with approvals, to

Applicants should fill out and submit the online form before the deadline. Any room technology needs (a computer for presentations, a projector, and so forth) should be included in your online reservation request form, in the text box provided. A room will be assigned for your House Course via your submitted form.

Customized Field Trip Waiver of Liability form and field trip information (if applicable) 

If there is travel for the course, instructors must contact Corporate Risk Management at and submit a Waiver of Liability form to them for approval well in advance of field trips. A sample Field Trip Waiver of Liability Form is provided above for reference.

An approved Waiver of Liability form must be completed for Durham field trips for which group transportation is provided for students and for any field trips to locations beyond Durham. Please customize the template according to the needs of the course and then submit to Corporate Risk Management for approval. Field trips must be optional and may not require any additional payment.

Course Syllabus: See Template above

Instructors should work with their faculty sponsors to create House Course syllabi. The subject must be treated in a critical, evaluative, historical, or analytical way; it must not be confined to teaching skills. Once the House Course is approved, the syllabus may not be changed without permission of the Courses Committee. If the Courses Committee required syllabus revisions, the final syllabus must be emailed (in Word document format) to Syllabi must include:

  • Student instructor(s) and faculty sponsor names and contact information.
  • Brief description of course.
  • Schedule of course meetings (include dates).
  • Description of each class session (e.g., topics to be covered).
  • Page references for all required readings listed for each class meeting, including books.
  • Total number of pages of reading required each week (50 pp. per week, or equivalent)
  • Prompts for required written assignments.
  • Identification of dates of classes the faculty sponsor will attend throughout semester (three classes minimum), the first of which must occur during the first three weeks of the semester. 
  • Outside speaker names and credentials.
  • Basis for grading.

Special information required for Duke undergraduate student instructors:

Current resume for each instructor.

Two letters of recommendation from a Trinity College professor (preferably who teach in a field related to the subject of the course) for each instructor. One of these recommendation letters for each instructor must be from the House Course's faculty sponsor. Combined recommendation letters (in which professors or sponsors recommend both instructors within the same letter) are acceptable. Letters of recommendation can be emailed to

Applicants who are have taught their House Course before do not need to submit new letters of recommendation.

Please direct questions regarding House Course applications to

In order to maintain suitable academic standards for House Courses, the following conditions must be met:

1. A Trinity College faculty member must supervise the course, and may serve as the instructor. 

In most cases, that faculty member's department will serve as the sponsoring department for the course. When the faculty member has no appointment in Trinity, a Trinity department must serve as sponsoring department. As instructor of record, the faculty sponsor bears administrative and grading responsibility for the course and will submit grades (in consultation with the instructors), including midterm grades, as appropriate; assist with access to Sakai; and assign permission numbers during drop/add as needed.

The sponsor will also: 1) participate in the development of the course syllabus, 2) attend at least three class meetings, the first of which must occur during weeks 1-3 of the semester, as indicated in the syllabus, 3) submit an evaluation, and 4) ensure that the course meets 12 times for a minimum total of 18 hours.  

Note: If a course is supervised by more than one faculty supervisor, each supervisor must attend three (3) meetings of the course and participate in the other administrative duties of the faculty supervisor.

2. Individuals may sponsor or teach ONLY ONE House Course per term.
3. House Courses must have significant academic content.

The Courses Committee expects that House Course subjects will be treated in a critical, evaluative, historical, and/or analytical way, and that House Courses will not primarily teach skills. Care must be taken to proclaim a House Course's academic approach in its title, syllabus, and place where it is offered:

a. The course, in its syllabus, must require one or more scholarly papers totaling approximately 1500 words in length or the equivalent of five (5) double spaced (typed) pages. Paper(s) are scholarly and analytical writings for which are provided directions/topics related to the course readings or research. Not satisfying this requirement are “reaction,” “response,” or “reflective” papers or journals.

b. Each course should require a minimum of 50 pages of reading (or equivalent) per week. The syllabus must include the total number of pages required for EACH class meeting, the total number of pages assigned for each week, and the exact page references for ALL readings, including books. If you believe this requirement is inappropriate for the content of your course, contact

c. The syllabus must contain the statement: “A grade of satisfactory in this course requires satisfactory completion of all assignments of this course including written and oral assignments, attendance, and [whatever individual other exercises an individual House Course may require].

4. Attendance Requirement.

A House Course must require in its syllabus that students attend at least eleven class sessions.

5. House Courses must take place in a university residence hall.

Student instructors should expect to host the course in their residence hall common room. If that is impossible, the request for a different room can be submitted as part of the application.

6. The first class meeting of a House Course must take place before the last day of Drop/Add.
7. House Courses may not change their syllabus, meeting time, or meeting place, without first receiving permission from the Courses Committee.
8. Open Enrollment to Undergraduates

House Courses must be open to all Duke undergraduates. House Course instructors and their faculty sponsors may not limit enrollment to particular student groups. Asking students to withdraw from a House Course once enrolled is prohibited. Instructors and sponsors should consider open undergraduate enrollment when creating syllabi and courses.

House Courses may be designed in such a way as to attract certain groups of students (for example, a course may be designed to attract students interested in Computer Science), but cannot be limited to those groups (for example, a Computer Science related House Course cannot be limited to only Computer Science students).

In some cases, priority registration may be given to those in the house whose commons is hosting the House Course. Please contact to discuss.

9. House Course instructors may not receive course credit for teaching their House Course(s), and may not enroll in their own courses.
10. Student enrollment for all House Courses is limited to a maximum of 18 students. Fewer than 18 students may enroll.

To request an exception, contact