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Frequently Asked Questions about Bass Connections for Students
Bass Connections provides opportunities for students to go beyond their classes and majors and have a different kind of educational experience. Common benefits include:
- Applying coursework to a complex societal challenge through a practical, hands-on experience
- Engaging in team-based problem-solving – including learning how to work with others to shape project goals, navigate ambiguity and disagreements and redirect as needed
- Building close relationships with students and faculty from different disciplines and experience levels
- Developing a deep understanding of an issue of interest to you
- Learning and applying research skills in a small group environment
- Engaging with communities and organizations outside of Duke
- Exploring potential career paths and gaining valuable experience for your resume
Bass Connections is not a standard course, but rather a team-based project with different requirements. When considering whether to apply for a project team:
- Look for a project team around a topic you are passionate about
- Talk with your advisor to understand how participating aligns with your degree requirements
- Make sure you understand the requirements of a project before applying – every team operates differently
- Be prepared to actively participate in all team meetings and activities over the course of the project (projects can range from nine to 16 months, and may include a summer component)
- Plan to commit about the same amount of time to your project as you would a course (i.e., about 10 hours/week)
- Be prepared to grapple with ambiguity and a changing landscape – research on complex problems is an exploratory process that can take many years
Each fall, faculty members from across the university propose projects related to at least one of the five Bass Connections themes. The selected projects are announced to students in January and students have approximately a month to apply. A few projects continue to accept applications on a rolling basis. Team leaders review the applicants and select a team. Some team leaders may conduct interviews or request additional information from applicants. Once accepted onto a team, students enroll in Bass Connections for course credit, or in some cases such as summer work, receive a stipend in lieu of credit.
Every team operates differently, so it’s important to understand the requirements of a project before applying. Most project descriptions on this website include information about the project timeline and structure. If you need additional information, we encourage you to contact the team leader listed for the project. Some general parameters to consider include:
- Project teams are designed to be intellectually diverse – including students and faculty from different disciplines, students at different stages of their academic studies and external partners
- Project teams range in size, typically involving between four and 12 team members including at least two faculty members
- Projects generally last nine to 12 months, but some projects may last up to 16 months
- Some teams start in the summer, others in the fall
- Some projects may be multi-year, with students rolling off and on
- Teams set their own schedule but generally meet at least once a week
- Participants should expect to spend 10 hours per week on their project
- Team members generally work together to set direction and assign roles and responsibilities
- "Do it! One of my favorite experiences so far at Duke."
- "Definitely pick a topic you are interested in, but do not build up too rigid expectations of the work you will be doing in contribution to the project."
- "Be open to new ideas and new ways of thinking."
- "Choose a project carefully to ensure you will give it your all and stay interested throughout."
- "Apply to projects that interest you rather than ones that align with your career interests. You never know where your experiences will take you."
- Browse student stories to learn more