Professional Development Requirement

The program has six primary mechanisms for professional development: the proseminar, the second-year empirical paper course, the departmental colloquium, departmental workshops, informal research collaboration with faculty, and formal teaching experience.


First-year students take a two-semester (ungraded) course on professional development led by the DGS. This course will introduce students to contemporary debates, academic writing, other aspects of the field as a whole, and various aspects of professionalization.

Second-Year Empirical Paper Course

In the second year, students take a two-semester course that guides them through writing their first full empirical paper. (This course does not count toward the course requirements listed above.) The goal is to prepare a paper (about 8,000 to 10,000 words long) that will be suitable for submission to an academic journal.

Departmental Colloquium

A key element of departmental life is the (almost) weekly Jensen speaker series. Students are expected to attend these talks as well as other departmental talks (e.g., job talks) as a key element of their professional socialization. Students are encouraged to attend talks in other affiliated units such as DNAC, DuPRI, the Kenan Institute for Ethics, and other campus speaker series.


Much of the life of the department goes on in the various departmental workshops. Students are strongly encouraged to begin participating in a workshop early in the program and no later than the beginning of the second year of study.

Research Collaboration With Faculty

A great deal of professional development happens in the course of research collaborations with faculty. There is no formal mechanism to coordinate or monitor student collaboration with faculty, but our most successful students often co-author with faculty as part of their training. Students are encouraged to approach faculty members with research ideas rather than waiting to be asked to collaborate.

Teaching Experience

Most students will have the opportunity to work as a Teaching Assistant for some part of their time in the program. In addition to this experience, we encourage all students to teach their own course at least once after completing their Preliminary Exam.