Frequently Asked Questions

When and how can I learn about new project teams?

New project teams are announced in early January. Visit the project team page to read detailed project descriptions and learn about student opportunities, anticipated outputs, timing and crediting for each new team.

Every year, you can also learn more about new project teams at the Bass Connections Fair, a tabling event in mid-January where students can talk to team leaders.

What are the application instructions?

During the normal student recruitment cycle, which generally runs from mid-January through mid-Februrary, applications are completed online. The online application will ask you for: basic background information, a resume (uploaded as a PDF or Microsoft Word file), name and contact information for two references – one of which should be a faculty member unless you are a first-year student, and a short-answer response explaining why you want to participate in Bass Connections. After completing this basic information, you will have the opportunity to identify up to three project teams to which you wish to apply. You will then be asked to complete a few short-answer questions specific to each of these projects. You may save your work in the application system and return to complete it at a later date.

How many projects can I apply to?

You may apply to up to three projects, but you should only apply to those that are of genuine interest to you. If you apply for more than one project, you will be asked to rank your selections in order of interest (e.g., first choice, second choice, third choice).

What is the deadline?

The deadline for consideration of applications for 2020-2021 project teams was Friday, February 14 at 5:00 p.m.

What is the selection process and timeline?

Once submitted, your application will be reviewed by the team leaders of the teams to which you applied. For students who applied by the mid-February deadline, first round decisions will be made by mid-March. It’s possible that team leaders may contact you before that time for additional information. If you applied to more than one team, you may receive an offer to join more than one team. Please note that in such an instance you may choose which team to join (you don’t have to stick with your initial ranking). If you receive more than one offer, we ask that you make your decision promptly so that you can free up space on another team for other students.

What are the benefits of participating in a Bass Connections project?

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

What should I consider before applying to a project team?

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

How are Bass Connections project teams formed?

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. 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.

How do Bass Connections project teams work?

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

What advice do other students have?

  • 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