Take a Duke Course at a Discount

Employees turn to Duke classrooms for higher education, professional growth 

Mary Samouelian is auditing a beginning German class at Duke to prepare her for archiving materials in German. Photo by Marsha A. Green.
Mary Samouelian is auditing a beginning German class at Duke to prepare her for archiving materials in German. Photo by Marsha A. Green.

Mary Samouelian stared at the long German word on the blackboard: Löschwasser-einspeisung. 

She pronounced the syllables with the class and smiled when she made the connection to the English translation: fire hydrant.

Samouelian, an archivist for the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, is auditing German 101 at Duke this spring through the Special Duke Employee Tuition Rate offered by Duke Continuing Studies. The class is helping her prepare for a large project at work that will involve materials in German. 

"It's to my benefit to have a basic knowledge of the language, and this class is a convenient and inexpensive way to learn it," Samouelian said. 

The Special Duke Employee Tuition Rate Program enables employees working at least 20 hours per week to take an undergraduate course for academic credit for $975; the normal rate for one credit is $5,501. Employees can also audit a class for $100 instead of the regular $535 fee.

Since the program launched last summer, 35 employees have enrolled in classes at Duke. The deadline for applying for the special rate for summer session is May 1. The deadline for fall is Sept. 1.

Paula Gilbert, associate dean and director of Duke Continuing Studies, said she expects the number of employees taking Duke courses to increase as more employees learn about the program. 

"The discount has been received well for both personal and professional learning," she said. "The biggest hurdle is often the time commitment required."

The discount applies to undergraduate courses (numbered 1-699) in Trinity College of Arts and Sciences, Duke Marine Lab and the Sanford School of Public Policy. Music lessons, physical education courses, study abroad, Pratt School of Engineering and graduate-level courses are not eligible for this special tuition rate.

Glenn Setliff, Jr., an analyst in the office of information technology, is taking a Duke class for an advanced degree requirement. He needed a linear algebra course as part of his Master of Computer Science degree from North Carolina State University. He couldn't find a class during the evening to accommodate his work schedule, so he enrolled in a 50-minute class at Duke that fits into his lunch break.

"I'm visibly older than everyone else in the class, and it is the hardest class I've ever taken," he said. "But I think I can power through it." 

The special tuition rate through Continuing Studies is independent from the financial assistance available through Duke's Employee Tuition Assistance Program. However, Setliff and other eligible employees can apply to the Employee Tuition Assistance Program for reimbursement of the special tuition rate courses if the courses are taken for academic credit and meet all other eligibility requirements for the tuition assistance program. 

Without the special tuition rate, the linear algebra class would have eaten up Setliff's annual $5,250 reimbursement allowance from the Employee Tuition Assistance Program. Because of the discount, he has more than $4,000 to apply toward other classes this fall. 

For Samouelian, the archivist, auditing German offered the chance to explore a Duke course without pressure. "Not having to worry about the final exam makes it a lot more fun," she said. "I'm already planning on taking a class in the fall to keep my language skills fresh."