IRES Training Requirements and Eligibility


Any graduate student who is a citizen of the U.S. and has a primary advisor that is a participating Duke faculty member is eligible to apply. Proficiency in German is not required, as English is the language of science throughout Europe. All formal coursework must be completed prior to the visit, so most visits will occur during the third or fourth year of graduate school.

Graduate students must identify a participating Berlin faculty member to train with who will complement their training at Duke and help them accomplish their thesis aims. Students must coordinate with both their primary advisor and host faculty to schedule and outline goals for their visit. A letter of confirmation from both the Duke and Berlin mentors is required as part of the application materials.

Students should note that German semesters overlap but do not coincide with U.S. semesters.

Visits should last approximately three months.

Expectations and Requirements

  • During visits, students will be expected to work full-time, interacting closely with their host research group and gaining expertise for their home research lab.
  • Students will have a faculty advisor working in one of the three focal areas: computational biology, developmental systems, or high-throughput genomics.
  • Dissertation committees must members from the other two focal areas and at least one member located in Berlin. Berlin committee member(s) will be based on student’s research project and on the opportunity to gain complementary technical and professional training from working in that committee member’s laboratory.
  • Students will participate in a variety of local workshops and seminars offered at the host institution or regionally.
  • Upon their return to Duke, students will meet with their primary advisor to discuss the visit. Within two weeks of returning, they will submit a two-page "Visit Report" that addresses progress towards their research and professional development goals as outlined in the Visit Plan.
  • Students will prepare a narrative for the IRES website reflecting on how their experience shaped their development as scientists.
  • Students will attend an annual symposium (alternating between Duke and Berlin) to present their research projects and network more broadly. They will be encouraged to attend not only following their visit, but also throughout graduate school.

Preparing for your Visit

Students admitted to the program will meet with the Program Director, Associate Program Director, and their primary advisor to review requirements and expectations.

Students without a valid passport should contact the Duke International Travel Office, which can assist with obtaining one. They are encouraged to register with the U.S. Department of State and submit travel dates/destinations according to its recommendations.

A few weeks prior to departure, the student, primary advisor, and host faculty will schedule a videoconference to review the research project, professional development goals, and culture of the host lab and institution. The student will prepare a two-page Visit Plan to their primary advisor and faculty host that outlines the research and career goals. The host faculty member will identify a trainee within their group to serve as the primary point of contact to help with practical and social integration into the lab group, institution and German culture during the student's visit.

The Duke Program Coordinator will assist students with travel planns and explain Duke and federal travel guidelines to them. The Berlin Program Coordinator will arrange local housing. The Duke and Berlin Program Coordinators will develop a document to distribute students prior to their visits that provides

  • Information about cultural opportunities in Berlin;
  • Practical advice about living in Berlin, such as using public transit and how to contact the American consulate;
  • Descriptions of the participating Berlin institutions and research groups;
  • Details about housing arrangements; and
  • Information specific to the institution.

Travel Instructions for IRES

Cultural Preparation

We strongly encourage students to learn some basic German prior to their visit. We will coordinate with Dr Jakob Norberg, Director of the Duke in Berlin program, to identify appropriate self-study materials and opportunities to practice with German-speaking Duke students. The IRTG staff will provide materials to introduce students to the cultural life of Berlin and Germany more broadly prior to their visit.  We encourage students to join the Duke German Club, which offers seminars, coffee hours, films, and other activities for students interested in German culture. Finally, students are encouraged to meet with a Duke graduate student who has previously visited Berlin as part of the Carolina-Duke Graduate Program in German Studies in order to gain a personal perspective on cultural opportunities as well as practical tips for living in Berlin.