CDS Courses: Frequently Asked Questions

How can I contact CDS Courses?

Schedule a one on one advising session here, email us at, or call Michael Betts II at 919-660-3670 or Rahi Hasan at 919-660-3678.

Who teaches the courses?

Our instructors are working professional artists with demonstrated applied theory and practice within the documentary arts.  Click here for more information about our instructors.

How is COVID-19 Impacting classes and course offerings?

Due to the international health pandemic, all courses, events, and meetings for CDS Courses are all occurring virtually (via Zoom) until further notice.

How long are classes?

Most meet weekly for two to ten weeks, usually in the evening or on weekends. Some are one- to four-day workshops. In the summer we offer weeklong intensives.

When can I register?

Our classes are open enrollment and students can sign up anytime. Registration is first-come, first-served.  If a course you are looking to take is not open for enrollment or is not offered this semester, please schedule a one-on-one advising session with a member of the CDS Courses team by clicking this link. Please note: due to COVID-19, our usual course dates have shifted; check for the current schedule.

It looks like a class is full. How do I find out if there is still space available?

We encourage you to sign up for the waitlist. If the demand for the course is high, we will consider adding another section. Schedule an advising session to talk through alternative course options.

What should students expect after signing up for a course?

Classes are small, an average of eight students, with a mixed range of ages, experiences, and backgrounds.  Classes are a mixture of technical and applied theory, based in anti-racist and equitable practice. Classes seek to redefine the arts world, aiming to provide a safer space for person-centered constructive critique. CDS Courses’ mission is to train students in making work that sees the entirety of the humanity of the collaborators that students are documenting. 

Instructors will contact students in the week leading up to the start of class. If a class does not reach its minimum enrollment, students will receive a full refund. Most courses require work outside of class, culminating in a short project.

How can I know when a particular course is offered again?  

The lineup changes each term. Courses required for the Certificate in Documentary Arts are offered each term. Some beginning courses, such as Introduction to Documentary Video Editing and Make That Audio Doc, are offered each fall.

Where are courses held?

Due to the current international health crisis, all CDS Courses classes are virtual until further notice.

Typically, unless otherwise stated, all onsite courses are held at CDS (1317 West Pettigrew Street, Durham, North Carolina). In the spring and fall, Duke undergraduate students take courses in the building during the day, and CDS Courses classes take place in the evening and on weekends. In the summer, CDS Courses holds weeklong intensives.

How do I get to CDS and where can I park?

Directions can be found on our website. There is free parking available behind the building or on the street in front.

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

Due to the current international health crisis, there is no non-Duke staff/faculty access to the Center for Documentary Studies building until further notice.

Outside of summer intensives, students are expected to use their own equipment. If you are currently enrolled in a class, the computer labs are open to you. Students may use our digital printers or darkroom, accessible on a space-available basis, with payment of a lab fee that is good for one semester and is not prorated.

Students wishing to use our printers or darkroom should contact CDS photography and digital arts associate Harlan Campbell (919-613-0942; A tutorial may be required.

How do online courses work? 

Instructors of online courses will communicate Zoom links and times a week prior to class starting.  It is recommended that your computer and network connection meet these standards.  To download Zoom click here.

What are the requirements for the Certificate in Documentary Arts?

All students (local or distance) can take the track which best suits them. The Certificate in Documentary Arts is made to support and mentor students in search of new or deepening skills within their existing or new medium of choice. Local and distance students graduate together at ceremonies that include virtual public presentations of their projects. The ceremonies are held in December and May.

Requirements can be found at this link.