The majority of MEM and MF students conduct their Master’s Project (MP) in collaboration with a client. As a part of these client-based projects, students may be asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) to prevent unauthorized use of proprietary information. NDAs are most frequently encountered with, but are not limited to, private sector clients.
Nicholas School NDA Guidelines
The Nicholas School has developed its own NDA template. If a client asks for an NDA, students should ask the client if they’d be willing to enter into an NDA agreement following the language in the Nicholas School NDA template. It is important to note that the Nicholas School NDA template is an agreement between the students and the client and does not require a Duke signature. In this agreement, students are considered individuals, not representatives of Duke. As such, the MP advisor, who is considered a representative of Duke, may not sign this agreement. If the client agrees to these terms, the students may proceed, with the consent of their MP advisor, with signing the document without further formal review.
Client NDA – Duke Signature not Required
The client may want to use their own NDA language. Students should carefully review the terms of the agreement with their MP advisor. If the NDA does not require an official Duke signature, the students may proceed, with the consent of their MP advisor, and sign the document without further formal review.
Duke Signature Required
Rarely, the client may ask to enter an NDA with Duke, as well as the students. NDAs that require a Duke signature must be reviewed by the Office of Research Support. Students should first submit the agreement to the Nicholas School’s finance office for preliminary review. Note that MP advisors may not sign for the university. Students and the client should expect this review process to take up to a month.