Duke in Los Angeles

spring semester program with practicum experience

Experience a New Global Culture

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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 practicum course which includes an 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.


Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

Term: Spring

Dates: January 4 to May 8, 2019

Application Deadline: Initial Deadline: May 15, Second Round Deadline: August 15, Final Deadline: September 15

Academic Theme(s): Film, television, and media industries

Credit Type: Hybrid Credit

Eligibility: No prerequisites, though a GPA of 3.0 or above is expected for this program. coursework in the following areas is highly recommended: Art, Art History, & Visual and Media Studies; Arts of the Moving Image; Documentary Studies; 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). Non-Duke students are welcome to apply.

Duke Affiliation: Duke Arts of the Moving Image and Duke Center for Documentary Studies

Housing: Apartments

GEO Advisor: Carolyn Covalt

  • Duke in LA

  • On the set of 'Friends'

  • Kelly Clarkson's chair on 'The Voice' (2018)

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  • At the Santa Monica Pier

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  • Reading original poetry at USC open mic night

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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.



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 one Duke credit each
  • One course at the University of Southern California for transfer credit
  • A practicum course (containing a work-based experience/internship component) for one Duke credit




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 /  DOCST 282AS / PUBPOL  293AS / VMS 279AS
Studies in the United States Culture Industries 
(ALP, R, W) 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. Courses taken at USC will convey to the Duke transcript as transfer credit, provided students obtain course approval, earn a C- or higher in the course, and take action to reconcile the transfer credit. For these courses only, letter grades will not appear on the Duke transcript and will not count in the Duke GPA. 

Course Weight

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. No underloads or overloads are allowed, see Course Load for details.

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.

Course Approvals

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.

See: Course Approval Process


AMI 295A
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. 


Attention: International Students – If you are an international student studying at Duke on a visa (such as F-1), you will need to obtain the required CPT or OPT authorization for the internship that is a required part of this program. Please contact Duke Visa Services immediately for assistance.


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.


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.

There is no meal plan provided through the program. All apartments have full kitchen facilities for students to prepare meals. There are also restaurants and shops in the immediate vicinity. USC makes meal plans available for purchase to Duke in L.A. participants. Meal plans are optional, and not covered by the program fee.


Spring 2019

Program runs early January to mid-May. Per Duke policy, no late arrivals or early departures are permitted

  • Arrival: January 4, 2019
  • Departure: May 8, 2019*

*Please note that USC finals run until May 8. The Duke courses have a last day of April 26, however, students who are taking a USC course may need to stay until May 8 to complete USC finals.

Housing Before/After

You will need to make your own housing arrangements if you will be arriving before the program start date. If you wish to stay beyond the program departure date, the accommodations at University Gateway are available through the end of the month, independent of the program. Contact the GEO program manager for more details.


Spring 2019

These costs are estimated based on previous years’ programs and the current exchange rate. All costs are subject to change.

  Duke Students Non-Duke Students
Tuition $26,880 $26,880
Program Fee $800 $800
Housing Fee $5,200 $5,200
Transcript Fee N/A $40
Other Costs Other Costs Other Costs
TOTAL (Estimated) $40,110 $40,150

Costs FAQs

Financial Aid

Duke students receiving institutional need-based grant aid are eligible for aid for this program; work-study funds are converted to grants. Students are individually responsible for making the necessary arrangements with the Karsh Office of Undergraduate Financial Support and the Duke Bursar’s Office.

Non-Duke students are not eligible to receive financial aid at Duke and should contact their home institutions for financial aid information.


Program faculty director(s) can assist with questions related to program academics, admissions, on-site needs, etc. For all other inquiries, please contact the GEO representative listed.

Program Faculty

Karen Price, Program Director

Karen Price head shot

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

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.

Program Staff

Amy Bowes

GEO Asst. Director & Regional Manager



  • First-round application deadline: May 15
  • Second-round application deadline: August 15
  • Final application deadline: September 15

This program has rolling admission. Applications will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis until the program fills; after that, qualified students are added to a waitlist and notified of openings. Applications must be received by the deadline to be considered.

Priority: Priority will be given to applicants who apply early.

Minimum GPA: A GPA of 3.0 or above is expected for this program.

Non-Duke students: Non-Duke students are welcome to apply for this program. You must be a degree-seeking student in good standing at an accredited college or university. Consult your university’s registrar and/or study away advisor for assistance with transfer credit. Students who are not matriculated at a college or university are not eligible to participate in Duke’s study away programs.

International Students: If you are an international student studying at Duke on a visa (such as F-1), you will need to obtain the required CPT or OPT authorization for the internship that is a required part of this program. Please contact Duke Visa Services immediately for assistance.

All applicants will be considered without regard to race, color, national or ethnic origin, handicap, sexual orientation or preference, gender or age.

Physical Requirements

Before applying to this program, please take into consideration the light physical demands required by some of this program’s activities. Activities include walking moderate distances on sometimes hilly, uneven, and/or cobbled terrain, climbing up stairs, using public transportation, and standing during tours and site visits. If you have questions or are concerned about any of these activities, please contact the faculty program director.


Start your application early to ensure that it is complete by the deadline! Incomplete applications will not be forwarded to the program directors for consideration.

Submit the following items using MyGlobalEd:

  1. Online application
  2. Duke in LA questionnaire (online)
  3. Official transcript(s) from all colleges and universities attended. First-year students should wait for fall semester grades to be posted before submitting their transcript.
  4. Personal statement, no longer than one page, explaining why you would like to participate on this program
  5. Resumé


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."

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.

John Doherty '07
Creative Executive
Cross Creek Pictures


I can say without hesitation that my semester in LA was the best thing I ever did at Duke." 

We were given an in-depth look at the inner workings and multifaceted nature of the industry, and as a group we formed life-long friendships that have lasted to this day. Through interning at certain production companies, we simultaneously gained experience and self-confidence in our ability to live and succeed in the Hollywood industry. To anyone considering applying to the program, don't consider it. Do it. It may just change your life.

Julian Sandulli
Program Participant

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!

Kaila Perez
Program Participant

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 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 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 [2013]). 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.

Alex Elliott
Program Participant

I even found clarity on my own career!"

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. LA provided opportunities that can't be found anywhere else. It's an experience I will always cherish and never forget.

Spencer Paez
Program Participant

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.

Gabrielle Sawyer
Program Participant