Finance & Administration

Course Fees and Embedded Travel Policy


This policy is intended to clarify standards on the imposition of "course fees" beyond expenditures typically required for normal coursework, such as textbooks, software, and other educational materials. As the university continues to encourage pedagogic innovation, it is recognized that sometimes this innovation may entail exceptional costs above and beyond what a unit's educational budget can be expected to bear, such as support for extended field trips ("embedded travel"), admission to performances or museums, special equipment and so forth. At the same time, we want to ensure that such classroom experiences are available to all students regardless of their ability to pay. This policy explains the process for getting unusual course fees approved.

Fee Standards

Expense Type Allowed as a course fee? Explanation

Standard course costs such as:

  • Lab supplies
  • Art supplies
  • Special office support such as large scale printing

The costs for this type of expense should be included in the department or unit/s educational budget.

Exceptions are music lessons offered through the Music Department and some sport-related courses offered through Health, Wellness and Physical Education

Extraordinary costs such as:

  • Embedded travel
  • Admissions fees
  • Performance fees
  • Special equipment
Must be approved in advance.

The imposition of course fees for nonstandard costs that are warranted to achieve learning objectives must be approved in advance by the Office of the Dean and Vice Provost for Undergraduate Eduation and must be charged through the Bursar's Office (not collected by the course instructor of the department). See the process for seeking approval below.

Note: Duke has developed a mechanism that will allow students who receive need-based financial aid to have such costs covered entirely as part of their aid package. Students not receiving need-based financial aid will be expected to pay approved course fees.


Review & Approval Process for Extroardinary Course Fees

  1. The faculty member teaching the course should submit a short proposal to the Dean and Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education describing why the expenses are necessary to achieve the learning objectives of the course (including an overall budget and cost per student). Deadline for proposals: End of the registration nperiod in the previous semester (roughly two weeks before classes end).
  2. The Vice Provost will confer with the respective school's academic dean and the Director of Financial Aid Office to determine if the additional cost to students is warranted.
  3. If a course is associated with travel away from Duke's campus, the Global Education Office for Undergraduates must also approved the embedded travel checklist to ensure that faculty have appropriately planned for the health, wellness, and safety of our students. Trips must comply with Duke's travel policies, especially regarding restricted regions. Policy details can be found here:
  4. If a course fee is approved, each participating student's Bursar account will be billed, and the funds will be transferred to the appropriate unit. Under no circumstances should faculty or staff collect fees directly. This ensures that students on financial aid can participate, and that Duke is in compliance with requirements concerning the collection and distribution of funds.