Portfolio Requirement

The purpose of the portfolio requirement and strengthened capstone is to ensure that all master's students engage in creative learning and the production of knowledge, rather than simply absorbing material. These additions also encourage students to reflect during their period of study on the appropriateness of their chosen courses, internships, and other activities. The material gathered will be of value as well in applying for jobs or doctoral programs; it also will assist Duke Economics in evaluating the effectiveness of its programs.

Portfolio Overview

  • All student (final) papers and slides from oral or written presentations, both from capstone and other courses, as well as relevant computer programs. Material created by the student as a research or teaching assistant also may be included.
  • Updated resume.
  • A document (expected two to five pages) that examines the student’s objectives upon arrival into the master's program and at the conclusion. This self-assessment statement also should include a discussion of the student’s long-run plans, and a discussion of the effectiveness and limitations of the master's program in helping meet these goals.
  • If the student undertook an internship as part of his or her academic program, a written description of the project, including a discussion of how the experience relates to the student’s field and a summary of what was learned, must be included in the portfolio, along with copies of any non-proprietary documents or presentations created by the student during that period.

It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that a given capstone course — since these are subject to modification by different instructors — will contain material appropriate for the portfolio.

The portfolio must contain at least one substantial research paper. Acceptable papers for the portfolio must do the following:

  • Clearly state a research problem and put it in the context of the relevant literature.
  • Demonstrate the value of the solution to the research problem.
  • Apply sound methods/tools and describe them effectively.
  • Analyze and interpret data.
  • Communicate ideas clearly and professionally.
  • Demonstrate the capability for independent research.
  • Due to their varying nature, not all papers will need to meet all of these criteria.  For example, a theory paper might not analyze and interpret data.  The general expectation is that papers 20 pages or longer that are submitted for the portfolio will have a grade of B+ or better while shorter papers will have a minimum grade of A-.

Portfolio Evaluation

Determination that the content of the portfolio is sufficient to merit recommendation for graduation is made by an Examining Committee consisting of the student’s academic advisor, the director of graduate studies, and the director of EcoTeach or her/his designated faculty representative.

  • Students should make a note of the deadlines for submission of the preliminary and final versions of the portfolio. The dates are posted on Sakai and will be strictly adhered to. Students are expected to meet all deadlines punctually. Late submissions will not be accepted. 
  • Precise directions WITH DEADLINES for the structure and composition of the portfolio are posted on Sakai. For reference, students may refer to the links below:

Download Portfolio Instructions


  • Preliminary versions of the portfolio should be uploaded to the Sakai site for approval by the posted date.
  • After approval, final versions of the portfolio should be uploaded to Sakai on time.