Undergraduate Certificate Program in Decision Science

Undergraduates bring the decision sciences into their Duke experience through coursework, scientific research, and participation in D-CIDES activities. Duke is notable for the sheer breadth of courses that involve aspects of decision making; these span all of the research themes within D-CIDES, from basic biology to societal impact. Students in Duke’s Trinity College can pursue decision-science-related coursework while pursuing any of the majors in the social sciences or several of the majors within the biological sciences. Students within Electrical and Biomedical Engineering majors in Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering also seek this coursework, if they want to apply computational modeling or biomedical techniques to problems in decision making. Students can also create their own major using Duke’s Program II option; this allows motivated students to aggregate courses from several majors toward a single coherent, interdisciplinary program of study. Finally, each year many students participate in joint research with D-CIDES faculty, often for academic credit through independent study courses.

Decision Sciences Certificate Program

The Decision Sciences certificate (DECSCI) at Duke University focuses on how humans make decisions in a variety of contexts – including economic, political and social choices. If you are interested in behavioral economics, game theory, machine learning or neuroeconomics, this certificate will provide an interdisciplinary appreciation for how these (often) separate fields all approach decision making. This will enable communication and collaboration across disciplinary boundaries and will allow you to engage in research with a broader perspective than that provided by any single major.

As with most certificates at Duke, the gateway course, DECSCI 101, is the point of entry to the certificate and will be taught each fall. Because quantitative methods are central to studying decision making, you will acquire a common background after completing the gateway by taking one course in each of four different methodological areas. Finally, you will participate in a shared capstone course, DECSCI 401, that approaches problems in a variety of domains (e.g., voting, consumer choice, markets) from the perspective of decision science and that emphasizes interactive and team-based learning. Through the certificate program, not only will you gain new skills in conducting research in decision making, but you will also build a set of colleagues in fellow students who share your interests and who can collaborate with you on research. The certificate is not a replacement for research in the major; rather, it is a supplement that will help you participate more fully in research in your home discipline (whether via honors or by participating in a lab). The emphasis throughout is on exploring and evaluating research on the cutting edge of the social, computational and biological sciences. The certificate will consider the processes that shape our abilities to evaluate choices, to make ethical decisions, and to understand and influence those around us. Finally, it creates distinctive interdisciplinary opportunities for Duke students to approach real-world problems from multiple fields of inquiry.


The typical path through the Certificate in Decision Sciences (DECSCI) is displayed below. Note that in most cases, it is possible to take more advanced classes instead of the courses listed here. The goal of the curriculum is have students take the biggest “bang for the buck” courses in each of the main quantitative methodological approaches to studying human decision-making. These courses are generally suitable for students from a variety of majors (i.e., have minimal prerequisites), provide tangible disciplinary skills and facilitate conversations across different areas of decision science.

Full certificate details.



Scott de Marchi (Political Science, demarchi@duke.edu)

Scott Huettel (Psychology & Neuroscience, scott.huettel@duke.edu)

Rachel Kranton (Economics, rachel.kranton@duke.edu)

Ronald Parr (Computer Science, parr@cs.duke.edu)


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The Duke Institute for Brain Sciences is a scientific institute with a collaborative spirit and a commitment to education, service and knowledge across disciplines. We encourage creativity, taking risks, sharing ideas and working together.


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