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Interview at Duke for Literature Program


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Hi all,

I've been meandering the various grad. forums for a while, and I have a question to ask if anyone is capable of providing me with a bit of insight.

I received an email the end of January inviting me as a finalist for the Duke Literature PhD program. I've spoken to many of my prof's regarding this process, and they all seem to indicate that no school (they know of) would spend a weekend providing housing, food and various events on students they are not intent to recruit into the program. And thus, they suggested that the process seems like a mere formality (just to ensure there are no glaring misrepresentations) before they formally send out their acceptances; however, they've been keen to emphasize that I should go as prepared as possible.

I'm a little more skeptical, though...

From the bits of searching I have done, it seems that -- in previous years -- the program has only have a limited number of available spots, and those students who don't "pass" the interview are consequently waitlisted. As such, I've been trying to glean some info into the actual interview process, and have come up short. I assume a host of the usual questions will be asked (e.g. "why duke?") but I'm unsure as to the specific nature of the Duke Lit. process, itself (are they going to quiz me theoretically? should I be reading up on the prof's I mentioned in my statement? etc).

From what I've been able to extract from the grad. admin, it's won't be just one interview, as she made mention that she'll be scheduling my interviewS for the morning.

If anyone knows any former or current Lit. Phd's who have undergone this process and can put me in touch -- or, anyone in general who knows how they conduct this stuff, I would greatly... GREATLY appreciate it!

Thanks all!

P.S. I've put this in the interdisciplinary forum as well -- I hope that's not inappropriate!

Edited by Soccah123
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I didn't apply to Duke, but I live in the area and had a history prof who got his PhD there. He said that for the History Department interview, they wanted to make sure the applicant was a good fit. Some of it is finding out if you're a loony bird or a stable and mature person, and some of it is finding out more about your interests and how they'll fit with the profs and other students. Duke is a tight-knit community, you'll be heavily involved with these people for a goodly number of years, and everyone wants to make sure it's the right choice for you and them.

So, his advice was to be yourself, be clear about your interests and abilities, and make sure they believe Duke is your first choice. Don't forget that you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. And you'll want to check out the area if you aren't local and see if you could imagine living in Durham for half a decade. Personally, I love it here; Durham is the young, "artsy" part of the triangle (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill).

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I didn't apply to Duke, but I live in the area and had a history prof who got his PhD there. He said that for the History Department interview, they wanted to make sure the applicant was a good fit. Some of it is finding out if you're a loony bird or a stable and mature person, and some of it is finding out more about your interests and how they'll fit with the profs and other students. Duke is a tight-knit community, you'll be heavily involved with these people for a goodly number of years, and everyone wants to make sure it's the right choice for you and them.

So, his advice was to be yourself, be clear about your interests and abilities, and make sure they believe Duke is your first choice. Don't forget that you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. And you'll want to check out the area if you aren't local and see if you could imagine living in Durham for half a decade. Personally, I love it here; Durham is the young, "artsy" part of the triangle (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill).

Terrific! Thanks for your insight, I really appreciate it :)

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Terrific! Thanks for your insight, I really appreciate it :)

They take about half of the interviewed students. You will go through "rounds"-- about one hour per professor (sometimes two on one) and they will also make a schedule just for you-- you will visit classes that appeal to you or visit specialty programs (archives, language depts, etc) which appeal to your research.

THe interviews are taken very seriously so be prepared to talk about your research and where you plan to go with your ideas. On the other hand, everyone is super nice there and it's actually fun meeting other applicants! and when I went they treated us to a really fancy dinner, catered lunches, etc.

PM me if you have more questions. I did the interview and I got in (but declined my spot) in a past admissions cycle

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They take about half of the interviewed students. You will go through "rounds"-- about one hour per professor (sometimes two on one) and they will also make a schedule just for you-- you will visit classes that appeal to you or visit specialty programs (archives, language depts, etc) which appeal to your research.

THe interviews are taken very seriously so be prepared to talk about your research and where you plan to go with your ideas. On the other hand, everyone is super nice there and it's actually fun meeting other applicants! and when I went they treated us to a really fancy dinner, catered lunches, etc.

PM me if you have more questions. I did the interview and I got in (but declined my spot) in a past admissions cycle

Oh God, that sounds so intense! I was disappointed when I didn't get an interview invite because Duke would have been such a great fit for me, but now I'm just so glad I don't have to go through that process! Good luck Soccah123, it's an honor just to be invited and I'm sure you'll do great!

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They take about half of the interviewed students. You will go through "rounds"-- about one hour per professor (sometimes two on one) and they will also make a schedule just for you-- you will visit classes that appeal to you or visit specialty programs (archives, language depts, etc) which appeal to your research.

THe interviews are taken very seriously so be prepared to talk about your research and where you plan to go with your ideas. On the other hand, everyone is super nice there and it's actually fun meeting other applicants! and when I went they treated us to a really fancy dinner, catered lunches, etc.

PM me if you have more questions. I did the interview and I got in (but declined my spot) in a past admissions cycle

I think it sounds very exciting! It's awesome that the department is willing to spend so much time with their prospective students. I also think it's pretty impressive that they plan a personalized schedule for each individual. As stressful as the interviews might be, it's a great opportunity to make a good impression and develop contacts. Plus, I'd always rather have the option to talk more about my interests rather than leaving up to the crap-shoot of mass reviews so many adcoms have to do.

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