Overview of Degree Requirements | Duke Kunshan University

Overview of Degree Requirements

Updated DKU Undergraduate Academic Requirements can be found on this document (VPN required for access). For a full outline of degree requirement, refer to the Undergraduate Programs Bulletin here

The DKU curriculum emphasizes shared knowledge and experience, integrated learning and deep learning, and flexible pathways. Outlined below is a brief overview of structure and components:


  • Divisional areas of knowledge organize the faculty and the curriculum – Natural Sciences; Social Sciences; and Arts and Humanities – rather than traditional majors or departments.
  • Intensive 7-week terms enable students to take two in-depth courses with the flexibility to take some courses in 14-week blocks.
  • Fridays and mini-terms are designed for practica, field trips, internships, civic engagement and non-credit mini-term courses.
  • Seminars of fewer than 20 students are the primary mechanism for instruction and the means by which excellence in writing, speaking and listening are nurtured, supplemented by stand-alone and co-courses in English as a Foreign Language.


  • General Education: 3 common core courses (12 credits), 2-4 language courses (8-16 credits) depending on proficiency, 3 electives (12 credits) as distributional requirements, and one Quantitative Reasoning course (4 credits)
  • Major: 16-19 courses (64 to 76 credits) (foundation, interdisciplinary, disciplinary, and signature product)
  • Electives: 8-13 courses (32 to 52 credits) depending on division and language proficiency, which include the three electives as distributional requirements and one Quantitative Reasoning course in General Education
  • Other requirements: 2 non-credit mini-term courses and 1 practice oriented educational experience (internships, civic engagement, etc.)
  • Signature Work and Experiential Education (8 credits and one non-credit experience):DKU graduates will have experience addressing complex problems outside the classroom as well as within, developing these skills through “Signature Work”. Signature Work encourages students to seek creative alignments between curricular pathways and to engage in experiential learning that leads to the creation of knowledge and products for scholarly, private sector and public audiences.

    Signature Work calls for each student to identify one or more questions, problems, or issues that are of particular importance to him or herself and to society, and to investigate these through a combination of curricular and related co-curricular experiences. Students develop guided pathways, identify questions, and undertake projects early in their academic career. During the sophomore year students work with their advisors and faculty mentors to begin identifying the major questions, problems, or issues on which they would like to work, and to develop a pathway that includes three thematically linked courses drawn from students' interdisciplinary studies, disciplinary studies or electives, one or more co-curricular experiences, and two capstone courses in which a student creates a substantial scholarly or creative signature product. The co-curricular experiential learning component (e.g. internships, practica, community-based fieldwork or other civic projects) must comprise no fewer than 150 hours of work, and will be reflected on the transcript as non-credit, Practice-Oriented Education (POE). The signature product will vary across fields and disciplines, but will always include substantial writing, reflection on learning, and publicly visible results. A student's pathway will be developed by the end of the sophomore, or beginning of the junior year, at the latest. In the senior year, a student will create an e-portfolio that captures both the signature product a student has produced and a narrative explaining the larger inquiry informing their pathway.

A total of 136 DKU credits is required for graduation with a DKU bachelor degree and 34 course credits (1 Duke course credit is equivalent to 4 DKU credits) is required for graduation with a Duke bachelor degree. Additional courses may be required to fulfill degree requirements. More details on degree requirements are available for review in the Undergraduate Programs Bulletin here.

Figure 1. Course Distribution & Signature Work

Figure 2. Signature Work

136 Credits

A total of 136 DKU credits is required for graduation with a DKU bachelor degree inclusive of 34 DKU credits earned through courses taught or co-taught by Duke faculty (i.e. 8.5 courses; 1 course credit at Duke is equivalent to 4 DKU credits) required for graduation with a Duke bachelor degree.

International students meeting the aforementioned degree requirement for a Duke University degree will also meet the degree requirement for a Duke Kunshan University Bachelor degree.

For Chinese mainland students to meet the requirement for a Duke Kunshan University Bachelor degree, there are the additional credit-bearing requirements: (i) Military training (2 credits); (ii) Two Chinese Society and Culture Courses (4 credits each, 8 credits in total); (iii) Four physical education courses (4 credits), and passing the physical proficiency test set by MOE.

For Students from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan to meet the requirement for a Duke Kunshan University Bachelor degree, they need to take two required Chinese Society and Culture Courses (4 credits each, 8 credits in total).

Course credit at Duke Kunshan University follows the same standard as Duke University in terms of instruction hours and off class study hours. Of the 136 credits required for graduation, a maximum of 8 credits passed with a D grade (D, D+, D-) can be used toward the 136 credits requirement. The 136 credits may include (1) no more than 2 credits in physical education activity courses (i.e., two one-credit activity courses); (2) no more than four elected courses taken on a Credit/No Credit grading basis (not including courses offered only on that basis); (3) no more than 40 credits combining any allowable transfer credits including AP/IPC, transfer credits for study abroad, etc.; and (4) no more than DKU equivalent of 24 credits in graduate and professional school courses not listed in the Duke Kunshan University Undergraduate Programs Bulletin. These courses include all courses offered by DKU MMS program, Duke schools of business, law, divinity, nursing, and all graduate courses numbered 700 and above. These courses are generally not open to undergraduates and require special permission to enroll. For limitations on transfer credit and Advanced Placement credit, see the sections on “Advanced Placement” and “Transfer of Work Taken Elsewhere” in the chapter “Academic Procedures and Information”.

To meet the 136 credit requirement, students need to complete additional elective courses in addition to completing the General Education and Major Requirements. The curriculum is designed to enable a wide range of flexibility for students. Some may elect to use their full range of electives to go wide and broad while others may elect to dive deep into their areas of disciplinary study.

Non-Credit Mini-Term Courses

Mini-term courses are intensive, non-credit, non-graded, 1 week short courses that provide a focused exposure to a single topic while enabling students to move outside of their comfort zones. These courses, which are offered before the fall semester and after the spring semester, are intended for the generalist with minimal or no pre-requisites and could be academically or experientially oriented. Students need to take two mini-term courses in order to fulfill their degree requirement. Students can take these courses any time during their four-year study at DKU. This requirement encourages students to explore their intellectual interests and unfamiliar academic fields and locate their passions by offering short seminar-style courses in a risk-free setting.