Overview

The Center for Documentary Studies offers a wide range of courses for adults who are interested in learning to do their own documentary work. These documentary arts courses, available through flexible admission with reasonable fees, involve instruction in photography, film/video, audio, narrative writing, and other creative media. Special topics and subjects such as documentary traditions, techniques, fieldwork theory, and the ethics involved in conducting and presenting documentary work are also covered. These hands-on courses help adults achieve their goals of completing a first project or refining an ongoing project. All courses are designed to help students explore concepts in documentary arts and apply them to their own work. Classes are offered during the evening or on weekends to accommodate the schedules of working adults. Summer intensive institutes, as well as online classes, are also available.

 
This open-admissions adult education program includes the option of earning a Certificate in Documentary Arts; a two-year distance-learning certificate track is available for non-local students.
 

To contact Continuing Education at the Center for Documentary Studies, please call 919.660.3670 or email

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Students register for all classes through this site: http://www.asaponlinereg.com/default.aspx?org=112
 

If you don’t have this link handy, you can always find the registration site from the main menu at the top of any page, via Classes > Continuing Education Courses, or via links on the right-hand side of the homepage. 
 
Another useful URL is cdscourses.org, which will direct you to the Continuing Education page on the main CDS website. 
 
The email address you choose to use to login into the registration site will be the primary means through which the Center for Documentary Studies (CDS) will contact you. Our registration site will track your course and payment history. Please read the refund policy carefully. Some institutes and workshops may require a non-refundable deposit.
 
 
 
How long are CDS Continuing Education courses?
 
Most courses run six or eight weeks. There are also one-, two-, three-, and four-day workshops, and weeklong institutes (the weeklong institutes, in video, audio, nonfiction writing, and the Intensive Introduction to Documentary Studies, as well as an artists’ retreat, are only held in the summer).
 
Classes are typically small, with an average of 12 students. Registration functions on a first-come, first-serve basis. On the occasion that a course does not reach a minimum enrollment, the course is cancelled for that term and students will receive a refund. 
 
 
 

Who teaches in the CDS Continuing Education program?
 
Our instructors are working professionals experienced in both the practice and theory of the documentary arts. Many of them have been teaching at CDS for over ten years, and members of CDS’s undergraduate faculty also teach Continuing Education courses. Instructor bios are included with each course description.
 
How can I contact the CDS Continuing Education program?
 
Questions regarding classes and the program in general may be sent to  or directed to 919.660.3670.
 
 
 
It looks like a class is full. How do I find out if there is still space available in a course?
 
Students are encouraged to sign-up through the registration site (http://www.asaponlinereg.com/default.aspx?org=112) even if the course is shown to have a waitlist. Signing up will automatically put the student on the waitlist in the order s/he applied. If space opens up in a class, the student will be notified by email and will have 24 hours to complete registration.
 
 
 
When will a particular course be offered again?
 
Courses required for the Certificate in Documentary Arts are offered each term, as are all beginning courses, such as Introduction to Documentary Video Editing and Introduction to Audio Documentary.
 
 
 
When can I register for courses for the next term?
 
CDS Continuing Education courses have two terms. The fall term runs September through December; fall courses open for registration in July. The spring/summer term runs January through August; spring/summer courses open for registration in early December.
 
 
 
What are the requirements for the Certificate in Documentary Arts?
 

There are two approaches to earning a Certificate in Documentary Arts. The traditional track is best for local students who are able to attend on-site classes at CDS. This track may take up to four years to complete. A two-year distance track, designed for students who live outside the area but who need the support and mentorship that the certificate program provides, is also available. Certificate graduation ceremonies are held in December and May and include a public presentation of student projects. 

We’ve listed the certificate requirements for each track below.


Certificate in Documentary Arts requirements, on-site track:

Students have four years to complete the following course requirements as well as a documentary project for public presentation.

• Introductory Seminar in Documentary Studies or Intensive Introduction to Documentary Studies, during which students draft a project proposal with a timeline for completion. This course can be taken at any time in the first year.

• Approximately four electives in any media (for a minimum of 112 total class/credit hours), while conducting fieldwork and putting together a rough draft of final project

• Advanced Projects course, during which students develop their projects over six weeks with the instructor in a small-group setting. This class may be taken more than once.

• Final Seminar in Documentary Studies, during which students refine and polish their projects. The course culminates with a public presentation and graduation with the Certificate in Documentary Arts. Students must receive permission from the director of Continuing Education to enroll in the Final Seminar.


Certificate in Documentary Arts requirements, distance-learning track:

Students have two years to complete the following course requirements as well as a documentary project for public presentation. 

• Intensive Introduction to Documentary Studies, during which students draft a project proposal with a timeline for completion. This course can be taken at any time in the first year.

• At least two electives in any media. These electives can be a combination of online courses, summer institutes, or weekend workshops. 

• Two Doc U Arts sessions. Each year, a Doc U Arts session will take place over a long weekend in February. 

• In September of the second year students will begin a seven-month mentorship with an instructor (chosen by CDS) to refine and polish their final projects. The $1,200 fee covers eight virtual sessions, to be arranged by the student and instructor.

• The certificate program culminates with a public presentation and graduation with the Certificate in Documentary Arts. 

Apply for the Certificate in Documentary Arts

 
 

Can you share examples of course sequences in different media for the Certificate in Documentary Arts?

We’ve put together sample course sequences in Audio, Photography, and Video to give you an idea of what classes a student might take to complete the certificate program.


Audio

• Introductory Seminar in Documentary Studies (20 hours) or Intensive Introduction to Documentary Studies (38 hours)

• Introduction to Audio Documentary (18 hours)

• Elective courses totaling at least 60 hours (or 42 hours with the Intensive Introduction to Documentary Studies). Elective courses do not have to be in the same medium.

• Audio Projects (12 hours)

• Final Seminar in Documentary Studies (12 hours) 


Photography

• Introductory Seminar in Documentary Studies (20 hours) or Intensive Introduction to Documentary Studies (38 hours)

• Elective courses totaling at least 78 hours (or 60 hours with the Intensive Introduction to Documentary Studies). Elective courses do not have to be in the same medium.

• Photography Projects (12 hours)

• Final Seminar in Documentary Studies (12 hours)


Video

• Introductory Seminar in Documentary Studies (20 hours) or Intensive Introduction to Documentary Studies (38 hours)

• Introduction to Documentary Video Editing (20 hours)

• Introduction to Documentary Video Field Production (20 hours)

• Elective courses totaling at least 28 hours (or 10 hours with the Intensive Introduction to Documentary Studies). Elective courses do not have to be in the same medium.

• Video Projects (12 hours)

• Final Seminar in Documentary Studies (12 hours)

 
How do I get to CDS and where can I park?
 
 
There is free parking available behind the building.  Please enter through the front door of the older part of the building (with the large front porch). Students may exit through any door.
 
 
 
Where are courses held?


 
All courses, unless otherwise stated, will be held in the CDS Bridges Building (the newer part of the building). There are Duke undergraduate students taking courses in this building during the day. Continuing Education courses are taught in the evening and on weekends. Lab facilities will also be shared with Duke students.
 
 
 
Is financial aid available?
 
Traditional financial aid is not available. Students needing payment options or inquiring about scholarships should send a detailed request and statement explaining their situation to .



 
 
Do I need to provide my own equipment and editing software/hardware? Can I use the digital photo printers or the darkroom at CDS?

 
CDS continuing education students are expected to provide their own equipment. Intermediate and advanced courses assume students will purchase their own editing systems. Students may use our digital printers or darkroom, which are accessible on a space-available basis, with payment of a lab fee, which is good for one semester, fall or spring, and is not prorated. 
 
The Digital Printing Tutorial class, which includes the lab fee, is required to use CDS’s printers. Students wishing to use our darkroom must first consult with CDS photography and digital arts associate Harlan Campbell (919.613.0942/harlan.campbell@duke.edu). The Darkroom Tutorial class, which includes the lab fee, may be required.
 
 
 

What should students expect after signing up for a course?
 
Our small classes are filled with students with a diverse range of ages and experiences, which brings a unique dynamic to each class. Courses provide practical technical information about conducting fieldwork, and also include discussions of various approaches and the ethical challenges of various projects. Additionally, our classes provide a safe and creative audience for constructive critique of documentary work. Many courses have a blog or website associated with the class.
 
Instructors will contact students at least one week prior to the start of class. There may be a list of recommended or required readings sent via email. Most classes require work—fieldwork or production or writing assignments—outside of class.
 
 
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