House Courses: Frequently Asked Questions

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. 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 Hourse 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, please click here. 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.