Duke in Los Angeles
Immersion in LA’s film, television & media industries
Duke in L.A. is an intensive academic and pre-professional program designed to introduce students to the rich visual and cultural production of America's second largest metropolis. Duke and non-Duke students are invited to apply. The program takes place during the spring semester.
The Duke in L.A. experience includes two seminars taught by Duke faculty, a student-selected course at the University of Southern California, and a credit-bearing internship with a business or organization of each student's choice. In addition to coursework, this program features field trips to notable events and locations in Los Angeles and the opportunity to make connections with people in a wide range of professional fields.
- PROGRAM OVERVIEW
Hollywood Culture Industries and Global L.A.
Since 1996, Duke in L.A. has concentrated on the entertainment industries in Hollywood, but beginning in spring 2011, the program expanded its curricular focus to include the exploration of Los Angeles as the model for a new global (visual) culture. Students study the city through a variety of approaches including visual studies, art (installation, video, sculpture, murals, performance, theater, and music), ethnic studies, urbanism, environmental studies, public policy, history of social movements, border studies, immigration, and language acquisition.
Building on class discussions, field trips, and independent research, students explore the visual production of the broad border area composed of Southern California, Northern Mexico, and the Pacific Rim.
The program’s academic focus includes the film, television, and media industries, which have been the core of the program in the past and now also introduces issues of the globalized city, architecture, urbanism, contemporary art, experimental arts, activism, radical popular culture, visual studies, and global south debates. The program also explores the rich cultural life of Asian, Latino/a, and African-American communities in the city.
Duke in L.A. also focuses on multilingualism as a key category that constitutes this complex urban environment and helps us to navigate through it. Thus, students from all backgrounds have the opportunity to use their language skills as they develop a particular area of study and, in the process, learn more about new forms of citizenship in the United States.
In addition to internships with film and television companies, the new program has a significantly expanded list of potential internship sites, including museums, art galleries, and community organizations related to the topics mentioned above.
From Duke Magazine: Forever Duke Q&A: Mark Vahradian '89, Paramount Pictures producer and writer
The Duke in LA program takes advantage of Los Angeles as one of the most significant cultural centers of an increasingly globalized United States and as one of the most diverse and interesting megacities worldwide.
While historically associated largely with Hollywood, the Los Angeles metropolitan area, with its many universities, art centers, and community organizations, has matched New York as a leading U.S. site for contemporary visual and intellectual production.
In 2000, Los Angeles was the U.S. city (with a population of more than five million) with the greatest percentage of foreign-born residents (36.2%). It is a vibrantly multilingual city—54% of Angelinos speak a language other than English at home.
The program offers four credits – three Duke credits and one transfer credit:
- Two signature courses taught by Duke faculty for Duke credit
- One course at the University of Southern California for transfer credit
- A 15-20 hour-per-week practicum (work-based experience/internship) for Duke credit
- SIGNATURE COURSES
- USC COURSES
- PRACTICUM COURSE
Both of the program's Duke courses provide the intellectual framework through which students integrate their USC courses and credit-bearing internships into a coherent, exciting academic experience.
VMS 359A / DOCST 359A / AMI 283A / LIT 230A / I&E 359A (ICS approved)
Introduction to Global Los Angeles: An Interdisciplinary Survey
(ALP) 1.0 Duke credit
Examines the identity of Los Angeles via its documentation: in films and art, in journalism and popular culture, in first-person oral histories and memoirs, and in neighborhood street art. In this class, each student engages with the city to produce a documentary project in a preferred medium. Taught by Kathleen Dowdey.
AMI 280AS / LIT 290AS-1 / PUBPOL (#TBD) / VMS (#TBD) / CDS (#TBD)
Studies in the United States Culture Industries
1.0 Duke credit
Focuses on the major U.S. culture industries, bringing to the classroom distinguished speakers from fields such as film, television, music, visual and performing arts, journalism, gaming, and marketing. Taught by Karen Price.
Students are required to take a course of their choosing at USC's College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences or School of Cinematic Arts. All courses taken at USC will convey to the Duke transcript as transfer credit, provided a C- or higher is earned in the course. For these courses only, letter grades will not appear on the Duke transcript and will not count in the Duke GPA.
To count for 1 transfer credit at Duke, courses taken at USC must total 3-4 USC units. Student may choose one course worth 3 or 4 units or two courses worth 2 units each.
Current USC Offerings
Duke University has no control over the course offerings at USC in a given semester. You will need to consult the USC course catalog to determine what is offered the semester you will be in L.A.
Previously Approved Courses
Below is a list of courses previously taken by Duke in L.A. students that were approved for transfer credit. This list is not meant to be a definitive list of course offerings, but it can give you a good idea of what may be offered, as well as how courses normally count at Duke.
- CNTV/CTPR 455 Introduction to Production Design
- COMM 203 Communication and Mass Media
- COMM 310 Media and Society
- CTAN 432 The World of Visual Effects
- CTAN 460 Character Design Workshop
- CTAN 470 Documentary Animation Production
- CTCS 192 Race, Class, and Gender in American Film
- CTCS 467 Television Symposium
- CTIN 486 Immersive Design Workshop
- CTPR 327 Motion Picture Camera
- CTPR 335 Motion Picture Editing
- CTPR 371 Intro to Multiple-Camera Production
- CTPR 385 Colloquium: Motion Picture Production Techniques
- CTPR 423 Introduction to Special Effects in Cinema
- CTPR 425 Production Planning
- CTPR 426 Episodic TV Drama Production
- CTPR 426 Single Camera Television Dramatic Series
- CTPR 454 Acting for Film and Television
- CTPR 461 Managing Television Stations and Internet Media
- CTPR 470 Practicum in On-Screen Direction of Actors
- CTPR 473 Directing the Composer
- CTWR 321 Intro to Television Writing
- CTWR 411 Television Script Analysis
- CTWR 412 Introduction to Screenwriting
- IR 383 Third World Negotiations
- JOUR 381 Entertainment, Business and Media in Today's Society
- PSYC 360 Abnormal Psychology
- PSYC 465 Forensic Psychology
The list above can also be accessed in the GEO Approved Course Database.
Students in the program are not restricted to taking the courses listed above; students may take any undergraduate course at USC for which they meet the prerequisites. If a course is not listed above (or in the GEO Approved Course Database), students will need to get the course approved for transfer credit.
Arts, Film or Media Practicum
1.0 Duke credit
Students work for a sponsoring company, organization, or artist suited to individual area of interest. Each student is required to submit a substantive paper containing significant analysis and interpretation as informed by workplace experiences and academic study. Simultaneous enrollment in AMI 280AS/LIT 290AS-1 required. Instructor: Staff.
*Important* International Students: If you are an international student studying at Duke on a visa (such as F-1), you will need to obtain CPT or OPT authorization for the required internship component of this U.S.-based program. Contact the Duke Visa Services Office for assistance. Download info sheet.
Duke in L.A. students hold internships of their choosing for Duke credit in a range of fields, including but not limited to the film, television, and media industries, the fine arts, and community advocacy.
Students are required to work 15 to 20 hours per week at their internships. They are responsible for find their own internships, though the program provides guidance in the search process.
Finding an Internship
Landing the right internship is an intensive and time-consuming process, but your work will be rewarded when you find the right fit—and you will learn a lot along the way! Since this is a highly individualized search process with many choices throughout, YOU are the only person who can conduct the search that will lead to your ideal placement. Duke faculty and staff can help to guide the way; but it is your resume, your interview skills, your communication abilities and professionalism, and your careful and thorough research that will lead to success.
Nickelodeon Animation Studios (2012)
Warner Bros. Animation (2012)
Cher Coulter (celebrity stylist)
American Film Institute
Color Force (2011, 2013, 2014)
Corner of the Sky Productions/Davis Entertainment
Cross Creek Pictures (2013, 2014)
di Bonaventura Pictures
Echo Lake Productions
First Look Studios (2008)
Footprint Features (2012)
Hollywood Gang Productions (2011)
Justin Bell Productions
Lion's Gate Entertainment
Mace Neufeld Productions
Martin Chase Productions (2008)
Marc Platt Productions (2014)
Material Pictures (2013)
Melisa Wallack (screenwriter)
New Line Cinema
Overbook Entertainment (2008, 2011, 2014)
Pixel Liberation Front (2011)
RSA Films (2011)
Scott Free Productions (2007)
Tollin Robbins Productions
Village Roadshow Pictures
Weed Road Pictures
inMotion Studios (2012)
Cutting Edge Group (2014)
EMI Music Group (2011)
LA Festival of New American Musicals (2008)
Penka Kouneva Studios (2012)
Squeak E Clean Productions (2007)
KCAL 9: News
Alliance for Children's Rights (2013)
Instituto de Educacion Popular del Sur de California (IDEPSCA) (2011)
aLine media (2007)
Integrated PR (2014)
The Gersh Agency (2012)
Innovative Artists Talent and Literary Agency, Inc.
International Creative Management (ICM) (2011)
Trademark Talent (2012)
CBS Casting (2012)
Color Force (2014)
General Hospital (2006)
Justin Bell Productions
KNBC 4: "Today in LA" or Sports Division
The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn
National Geographic Television Specials
Overbrook Entertainment (2014)
Tonight Show with Jay Leno
Viacom Media Networks (2012)
Gary Sanchez/Funny or Die (2011)
My semester in LA was a multidimensional experience and without a doubt was the most balanced semester I've had during my time as a Duke student. I was challenged academically, was able to gain valuable work experience, and had the opportunity to explore a culturally rich city and an industry that plays an integral role in American culture.
The Duke in LA course curriculum is unparalleled. We had the opportunity to meet professionals from all different sectors and branches of the arts, media, and entertainment industries. We had weekly guest speakers that ranged from Oscar-nominated actresses and directors to celebrity publicists and agents to famous music composers...and the list does on. I learned so much from hearing about their experiences firsthand and getting to know them on a casual and personal level.
My favorite aspect of the Duke in LA program was my internship experience. I had the awesome opportunity to intern for FOX Sports as a data analyst, which was absolutely incredible because it was a unique intersection of my academic focuses (Statistics and Visual Media Studies) and my passion for sports. The work culture was young and vibrant and really motivated me to produce my most creative and highest quality work. My semester interning in a professional environment and experiencing the pressure that comes along with working on live projects was a huge learning experience which in no way could have been substituted by any combination of Duke courses in Durham. I've developed not only a ton of professional relationships but also awesome friendships. The biggest gain aside from relationships was that the internship greatly helped me refine and shape my career goals.
In addition to having a plethora of opportunities to develop professionally, I was also productive from an academic standpoint. My USC Linear Algebra and Differential Equations course—together with the Duke in LA curriculum—fulfilled requirements for both my major and minor, which kept me on track.
Duke in LA is such a unique program and is something that no other elite institution offers to students. If you are interested in learning about the film, media, and entertainment industries, gaining work experience, and benefiting from a change of pace (and a semester of great weather), you should definitely consider spending a semester in LA...and leverage all possible connections and opportunities the program provides!
The film industry is kind of weird…and that’s why I love it. Combining art and business, the end goal is more or less to sell dreams. The semester in LA was incredibly helpful in furthering my understanding of how Hollywood runs. The Duke in LA program, with its classes, field trips, and programming with industry players provided me with a great look into to the biz. By interning at a Hollywood production company, I was in the thick of it and learned a lot just by keeping my ears open. The ability to take a class at USC was also great. The USC School of Cinematic Arts really is unparalleled in faculty, opportunities, and connections. In my class, we were taught about the film production process from beginning to end while focusing on one film in particular (in this case, the film Her ). Every week throughout the semester, a member of the film’s crew, including director Spike Jonze, came into class and spoke to us about their job and method. Other crew who spoke to us included the producer, production designer, costume designer, cinematographer, 1st AD, script supervisor, editors, special effects supervisors, and Warner Brothers marketing execs. Being in Los Angeles and taking a course at USC allows for opportunities (especially film-related) that you just cannot receive in Durham, or most anywhere other than LA.
This was the best semester of my life—and not just because I escaped the bitter winter climate of the East Coast. Participating in Duke in LA has provided me with contacts and resources beneficial to pursuing a career in film. Every week I had the privilege of dining with Duke alumni that work as producers, agents, journalists, lawyers, and actors. Interning on the Sony studio lot allowed me to see and hear firsthand the business and creative processes of filmmaking.
My USC journalism class, taught by a Hollywood journalist and Entertainment Tonight producer, gave me insight into both the corporate and creative sides of entertainment. Through interning and networking, I learned the ins and outs of an industry that is often misunderstood.
Duke in LA was a fantastic introduction to Los Angeles. I learned about film and culture, the entertainment industry, and the city itself from all different perspectives. I even found clarity on my own career! LA provided opportunities that can't be found anywhere else. It's an experience I will always cherish and never forget.
Students will reside in the University Gateway apartments adjacent to the USC campus. These apartments come fully-furnished and include televisions, cable, high-speed internet access, and kitchen appliances. The University Gateway community offers such amenities as a fitness center, study rooms, a resident club, 24-hour concierge service, and onsite dining and shopping.
Program runs early January to mid-May. Per Duke policy, no late arrivals or early departures are permitted
- Required move-in date and welcome dinner: TBD
- Mandatory full-day orientation: TBD
- 1st day of USC classes: TBD
- Move-out date: TBD
Included in Program Fee
The program fee for this program includes:
- Accommodations at University Gateway
- Program-sponsored activities and excursions
- Orientation program
- Limited local transportation
- Access to educational facilities at USC
- Group transport to program excursions
- Access to activities such as sports, lectures, social gatherings, etc. at host university
Not Included in Program Fee
Use the following list to assist with budgeting for expenses outside the program fee. This list contains common examples but should not be considered exhaustive.
The program fee does not include:
- Airport transportation to/from program site
- Meal Plan
- On-site accident and health insurance policy
- Out-of-pocket medical expenses
- Textbooks and class materials
- Mobile phone
- Independent travel and entertainment
- Items of a personal nature
Shared room: $5,200 per student per semester. These are two bedroom units with a common living area and kitchenette (two students per room).
Personal expenses can fluctuate greatly depending upon habits and preferences of the individual. It’s also wise to budget for unexpected expenses such as medical emergencies. On average, previous students suggest the amount between $1,000 - $1,200 for personal spending.
Payment Due Dates
Step 1: Within 3 weeks of acceptance to the program, confirm your enrollment by submitting the non-refundable $1,000 deposit ($1,040 for non-Duke students). Deposits are payable by check or Student Account E-Check. If you receive Duke financial aid, submit the Deposit Waiver Form in lieu of the deposit. Log in to MyGlobalEd for remittance instructions or waiver form.
NOTE: If you withdraw after committing to the program, your deposit will be retained or $1,000 will be charged to your Bursar account.
Step 2: Complete all post-acceptance items listed on your MyGlobalEd application, including the Participation Agreement, Pre-Departure Orientation, International Travel Registry, and any program-specific forms.
Step 3: Semester invoices will be sent via email to your Duke email address and home email address. Remit payment to the Bursar per due date and address indicated on your online statement. All financial arrangements involving Duke University must be completed prior to departure for the program.
Duke students receiving financial aid are eligible for aid for this program (work-study funds must be converted to loans). Students are individually responsible for making the necessary arrangements with the Office of Undergraduate Financial Aid and the Bursar. Non-Duke students are not eligible to receive financial aid at Duke and should contact their home institutions for financial aid information.
Karen Price: Program Director
Raised in North Carolina and based in Los Angeles, filmmaker and educator Karen Elizabeth Price has taught over the last five years at Duke's Center for Documentary Studies, Program in Arts of the Moving Image, and Sanford School of Public Policy. She received an MFA in cinema/television production from the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts, winning several national awards including a Student Emmy. Other degrees include an MA in creative writing and English from Hollins University and an AB in English and political science from Duke.
She directed, wrote, and produced the feature documentary HouseQuake, which won the Rhode Island International Film Festival’s Directorial Discovery Award at its festival premiere, received wide distribution from Brainstorm Media, and made its television debut on the Documentary Channel. Other writing and directing credits include her narrative short film gone and documentary Living by Instinct: Animals and Their Rescuers, which aired on PBS stations and screened at many festivals including the Los Angeles International Short Film Festival, the Mill Valley Film Festival, and the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival. She has directed, produced, and written numerous television episodes on such networks as Lifetime, Animal Planet, Discovery Health, and BIO. In addition to directing Duke in Los Angeles and teaching, she is currently developing several documentary and fiction films.
Kathleen Dowdey, Assistant Director
An award-winning filmmaker, Kathleen has most recently completed the feature documentary, Get in the Way: The Journey of John Lewis, a biography of civil rights icon and U.S. Congressman John Lewis, now showing at film festivals around the country. Actively engaged in the film and television community in Los Angeles, she brings an impressive breadth media experience to her teaching for Duke in LA.
She launched her career with the theatrically released documentary, A Celtic Trilogy, tracing the renaissance of Celtic identity in Ireland, Brittany, and Wales. Soon after, she took a hard look at the hidden world of domestic violence in her feature film, Blue Heaven, shown at film festivals around the world. Her PBS special, Dawn’s Early Light, was a biography of controversial southern newspaper editor Ralph McGill; and, while producing for Turner Broadcasting, she won a Cable Ace Award for the three-hour special, Larry King’s Night of Soviet Television.
As an undergraduate at Webster University, she developed a passion for the arts, culture and community activism and she brings this continuing enthusiasm to her classes, workshops and presentations. Her graduate study at the Rhode Island School of Design gave her a broad perspective on media which she explored in the groundbreaking interactive project, Columbus: Encounter, Discovery, and Beyond (IBM) and for installations at the Taejon Science and Technology Expo in South Korea. An accomplished television writer, director, and producer, her work has been shown on CBS/Paramount, NBC, PBS, The History Channel, Discovery, Arts and Entertainment, and many others. President of Early Light Productions in Los Angeles, Kathleen is member of the Directors Guild of America, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and the International Documentary Association.
FACULTY & STAFF
First-round application deadline: May 15
Second-round application deadline: August 15
Final application deadline: September 15
To apply, submit the following items to the Global Education Office for Undergraduates:
- Online application
- Duke in LA questionnaire (online)
- Official transcript(s) from all colleges and universities attended
- Personal statement, no longer than one page, explaining why you would like to participate on this program
There are no pre-requisites for Duke in L.A., though a GPA of 3.0 or above is expected for this program. Also coursework in the following areas is highly recommended: Art, Art History, & Visual and Media Studies; Arts of the Moving Image; International Comparative Studies; Literature; Music; Theater; Romance Studies (Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese); African and African American Studies; Latino/a Studies; Public Policy Studies; Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (AMES).
*Important* If you are an international student studying at Duke on a visa (such as F-1), you will need to obtain CPT or OPT authorization for the required internship component of this U.S.-based program. Contact the Duke Visa Services Office for assistance. Download info sheet.
Duke in LA is not just a semester abroad, but rather an experience that engulfs the students in a real world work environment within the entertainment industry, while bringing working entertainment professionals to the students to help shed light on all aspects of the entertainment industry. I only wish I’d had a similar crash course in the biz that will surely educate, excite and entice students to think beyond the typical career choices and to carve out a unique dream of their own."
John Doherty '07
Cross Creek Pictures