Experiential Ethics Certificate

In the experiential Ethics Certificate Program, students work with a faculty mentor to craft their own coherent pathway bringing together coursework, research, and community engagement focused on one of our five program areas: Global MigrationHuman RightsRethinking RegulationMoral Attitudes and Decision-Making, and Religions and Public Life.

This certificate requires both a Gateway and Capstone course:

Gateway: Ethics 101D/PolSci 120D: The Challenges of Living an Ethical Life

This course is an interdisciplinary introduction to ethical inquiry using materials from film to philosophy to explore questions of personal ethics as well as political and social ethical challenges.

Capstone: Ethics 490S: Research Seminar in Ethics

This course should be taken in the spring semester of a student’s senior year, and it is open only to Ethics Certificate students. Usually organized around a broad theme, the course allows students to undertake their own original research, integrating the knowledge obtained through a major or majors with insights gained through a study of ethics. As appropriate, the research for this course can link with (but not substituted by) research undertaken to graduate with Distinction in a major or in the certificate.

In addition to the Gateway and Capstone courses, students must take two additional courses related to the program theme of their choosing as well as complete two different experiential components totaling 450 hours of work.

  • Research Experience: The first experience must be a faculty-mentored research experience (either for-credit or not) that must exceed 150 hours. This could include an independent research topic, or work as part of a research team like Bass Connections or Kenan Collaboratory.
  • Field Experience: The second experience is a non-credit community-based field experience that exceeds 300 hours. Students may choose any type of field work, but this could include an existing program such as DukeEngage Dublin or Kenan Summer Fellows.

Interested students should contact Kate Abendroth <kate.abendroth@duke.edu> for more information. Students must create an approved certificate plan early in the junior year to complete the experiential certificate.


The following rules apply to students in all Duke certificate programs:

  • No more than half of the courses taken to satisfy the requirements of the certificate may originate in a single department or program.
  • Students electing to satisfy the requirements of a certificate program may use for that purpose no more than two courses that are also used to satisfy the requirements of a major, minor, or other certificate programs being pursued.
  • At least four of the courses used for a certificate must be 100-level or above.
  • At least half the courses taken to satisfy a certificate must be taken at Duke.