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Duke University
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Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

The Ultimate Guide to Applying to Duke

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Stellar athletics and stellar academics: These are among the characteristics most commonly attributed to Duke University. Duke is renowned for its top performing basketball team, which has secured 5 total wins in the NCAA Division I championships. With this impressive record, it’s no wonder that sports play an important role on Duke’s campus. Duke teems with school spirit, and students are proud to be Blue Devils.


Beyond athletics, Duke is also known for its outstanding academic reputation. Duke is consistently ranked among the top universities in the nation, and it is ranked 5th in number of Rhodes, Marshall, Truman, Goldwater, and Udall Scholars produced. Duke boasts high caliber research facilities, highly regarded faculty members, and strong interdisciplinary academic opportunities. It comes as no surprise that a Duke education is highly valued in the job field; indeed, a New York Times corporate study from 2012 showed that Duke graduates were among the most valued and sought out worldwide.


Are you interested in applying to Duke University? In this blog post, we’ll walk you through the Duke application and give you the tips, tricks, and insights you need to really make your applying stand out.


Want to learn what Duke University will actually cost you based on your income? And how long your application to the school should take? Here’s what every student considering Duke University needs to know.


Introducing Duke

Duke was founded in 1838 by Methodists and Quakers. Today, it is nonsectarian. Originally, located in Trinity, North Carolina, Duke moved to Durham, North Carolina in 1892.


Duke is now home to approximately 6,639 undergraduate students. Duke offers four engineering majors and 46 arts and sciences majors, in addition to 52 minors. Furthermore, Duke also offers the unique Program II, which provides students with the opportunity of designing their own interdisciplinary arts and science major, and IDEAS, which enables students to create their own engineering major. Duke is divided into ten schools and colleges. Undergraduates enroll in either the Trinity College of Arts and Sciences, or the Pratt School of Engineering.


On campus, Duke offers a variety of extracurricular opportunities. There are more than 400 student organizations at Duke, that range from cultural to service to special interest groups and beyond. In addition, Duke fields thirty seven sports clubs and several officially recognized intramural teams. Greek life is also popular among students at Duke, and approximately 30% of the Duke undergraduate population is affiliated.


Duke also boasts several notable alumni, including Apple CEO Tim Cook, Melinda & Bill Gates Foundation co-founder Melinda Gates, seven-time NBA All Star Grant Hill, former U.S. President Richard Nixon, and other global influencers. Duke also prides itself on its strong alumni network, and there are currently 157,017 active Duke alumni.  


Admissions Profile


Duke is a highly competitive university, and is among the most selective in the nation. 31,186 students applied to the Duke Class of 2019. Of those, 3,569 were accepted, and 1,758 enrolled. Duke’s overall acceptance rate was approximately 11%. The Regular Decision acceptance rate was 10%. The Early Decision acceptance rate was 26%. Duke’s Early Decision program is binding, meaning that if you are accepted under the program you are required to enroll.


50% of students were students of color. 60% of students came from a public high school, and 23% came from a private high school. 85.5% of students were from the United States, and 14.5% were international students. 52% were male, and 48% were female. 10% were first generation college students. Duke operates the 1G Network, which provides support for first gen students.


For the Trinity College of Arts and Sciences, the middle 50% scores for the SAT Critical Reading section were 690-790; for Math, 700-800; for Writing, 700-790. This makes for a composite range of 2090-2380 on the old scale, and 1390-1590 on the new scale. The middle 50% for the ACT Composite was 31-35.


For the Pratt School of Engineering, the middle 50% for the SAT Critical Reading section was 700-790;  for Math, 760-800; for Writing, 710-790. The composite range was 2170-2380 on the scale, and 1460-1590 on the new scale. The range for the ACT Composite was 33-35.


Applying to Duke


Duke accepts both the Common Application and the Coalition Application, and you may choose to submit either. For more information on both, check out CollegeVine’s User Guides to the Common Application and the Coalition Application. Regardless of which application you choose to submit, you must submit them by November 1 for Early Decision and January 3 for Regular Decision. Additionally, if you wish to receive priority consideration for an alumni interview and are applying under Regular Decision, you must submit your application by December 20.


Along with your Common or Coalition app, you need to submit your secondary school report with your counselor recommendation, high school transcript, and two teacher recommendations by November 1 for Early Decision and January 3 for Regular Decision. If you’re applying under the Early Decision program, you must also submit your first quarter grades by November 12.


If you are applying under Regular Decision, or were accepted or deferred under Early Decision, you must submit your midyear grade report by February 15. Accepted students intending on enrolling must submit their final transcript upon high school graduation.


You also have the option of submitting an arts supplement if you have exceptional artistic talent that you feel would add to your application. The deadline for submitting an arts supplement is November 1 for Early Decision, and January 7 for Regular Decision. For more information on submitting an arts supplement, check out our guide on arts supplements. Additionally, if you are debating submitting supplementary materials in general, check out our post on additional materials.


Early Decision candidates will receive their decisions by December 15, and must reply by January 6. Regular Decision candidates will receive their decisions by April 1, and must reply by May 1.


Paying for Duke

The estimated cost of attendance for Duke in the 2016-2017 school year was $70,092. However, 55% of students did not pay this full amount. Duke operates a need blind admissions policy, meaning that your ability to pay for Duke does not factor into your admissions decision. Furthermore, Duke pledges to meet the full financial need of domestic students.


Duke offers both merit based and need based scholarships. However, the university’s primary commitment is to offer need based financial aid for domestic students in order to ensure that every student who is admitted to Duke is able to attend.


For international students, Duke is need aware. International students may be considered in two pools: international students not applying for financial aid will be considered with domestic students, and international students applying for aid will be consider in a separate pool. Duke admits approximately 20-25 international students seeking aid each year.


There are two different timelines for financial aid applications, depending on which application plan you intend on pursuing. For Early Decision applicants, the CSS Profile and the FAFSA are due by November 15. The IDOC tax documents and tax documents for noncustodial parents are due by November. Financial aid estimates will be provided to students by December 15. They will receive their actual financial aid award by April 1.


Regular Decision applicants must submit their FAFSA, CSS Profile, noncustodial profile application, IDOC tax documents, and non custodial parent tax and wage documents by February 1. They will receive their financial aid award by April 1.


The Duke Application



In the first section of the Duke Supplement to Common App, you are asked to enter general information regarding your application. This includes:

  • Your student status, which essentially asks whether you intend on applying to the Trinity College of Arts and Sciences or the Pratt School of Engineering
  • Your preferred start term; the only available answer is Fall 2017
  • Whether you intend on applying under the Early Decision or Regular Decision program
  • Whether you intend to pursue need based financial aid
  • Whether you “would you like to be contacted by a Duke alumna/us for an interview if an interviewing committee operates in your local area”
  • Whether you have ever applied or plan to apply to an ROTC scholarship
  • Whether you plan to apply for a school specific fee waiver
  • The Early Decision agreement, which reads: “If you are accepted under an Early Decision plan, you must promptly withdraw the applications submitted to other colleges and universities and make no additional applications to any other university in any country. If you are an Early Decision candidate and are seeking financial aid, you need not withdraw other applications until you have received notification about financial aid from the admitting Early Decision institution.”
  • Which, if any, signature Duke academic opportunities you are interested in. These include:
    • Baldwin Scholars Program (female students)
    • Bass Connections
    • Biological Sciences Undergraduate Research Fellowship
    • Cardea Fellows Program
    • Center for Documentary Studies
    • Center for Sexual & Gender Diversity
    • Duke Center for Genomic and Computational Biology
  • Whether you intend on submitting an arts supplement/portfolio



In the academics section, you are asked to indicate your first, second, and third choices for academic programs at Duke. Note that your selections are not binding.


In the Contacts section, you are asked whether you have ever applied to Duke in the past. If so, you are asked to provide the month and year during which you applied. You are also asked how you first learned about Duke, and have the option of providing up to ten responses in order of influence. The last question in this section asks for your permission allowing Duke to contact you via phone or text.


Next, in the Family section, you are asked if any of your siblings are also applying to Duke in this cycle. If so, you are asked to provide their information. You are also asked if any of your family members have attended Duke. If you respond in the affirmative, you are then asked if any of those relatives are a parent, parent, step-parent, sibling, or grandparent. If so, you are prompted to provide the information of those family members. Last, you are also asked if either of your parents/stepparents are a current, full-time employee of Duke University/Duke Health System.


The last section in the Duke Supplement to the Common App is entitled Other Information. In this section, you are first asked you have read and will agree to uphold the Duke Community Standard. The Duke Community Standard is as follows:

“Duke Community Standard: Duke University is a community dedicated to scholarship, leadership, and service and to the principles of honesty, fairness, respect, and accountability. Citizens of this community commit to reflect upon and uphold these principles in all academic and non-academic endeavors, and to protect and promote a culture of integrity. To uphold the Duke Community Standard:

  • I will not lie, cheat, or steal in my academic endeavors;
  • I will conduct myself honorably in all my endeavors; and
  • I will act if the Standard is compromised.


Please indicate “yes” that you have read and will uphold the Duke Community Standard.”


In addition, you are asked to indicate that you have read and agree to the Duke conditions of application, which are:

  • “That providing false information, including your citizenship or U.S. visa status, is grounds for termination of your application or revocation of an admissions offer or your enrollment status at any time;
  • That you authorize the Admissions Office and appropriate faculty and staff of all educational institutions you have attended to discuss your candidacy;
  • That the only valid notification of an admissions decision is the formal decision letter from the Dean of Undergraduate Admissions;
  • That Duke University may discontinue your application for admission if you are accepted under a binding Early Decision program to another college or university;
  • That Duke University may discontinue your application or withdraw your offer of admission at any time if you apply Early Decision to Duke and the terms of the Early Decision Agreement are not met; and
  • That if any of the information in your application changes between now and your enrollment at Duke, you will notify the Admissions Office within 48 hours. Failing to notify the Admissions Office within 48 hours of any changes may result in the withdrawal of your application and/or the offer of admission at any time.”


The Duke Essays


The first Duke essay prompt is specific to which undergraduate you are applying. This essay has a 150 limit. The prompt for Trinity College of Arts and Sciences is:

“If you are applying to the Trinity College of Arts and Sciences as a first year applicant, please discuss why you consider Duke a good match for you. Is there something particular about Duke that attracts you?”  


The prompt for the Pratt School of Engineering is:

“If you are applying to the Pratt School of Engineering as either a first-year or transfer applicant, please discuss why you want to study engineering and why you would like to study at Duke.”


The second Duke essay prompt is optional, and limited to 250 words. This prompt asks:

Duke University seeks a talented, engaged student body that embodies the wide range of human experience; we believe that the diversity of our students makes our community stronger. If you’d like to share a perspective you bring or experiences you’ve had to help us understand you better — perhaps related to a community you belong to, your sexual orientation or gender identity, or your family or cultural background — we encourage you to do so. Real people are reading your application, and we want to do our best to understand and appreciate the real people applying to Duke.”


For more information, check out the CollegeVine Guide to Writing the 2016-2017 Duke Essays.


We hope that this post has helped answer some of the questions you may have had about applying to Duke University. We at CollegeVine wish you the best of luck with your application.


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Lydia Tahraoui
Senior Blogger

Short Bio
Lydia is a Social Studies concentrator at Harvard University who is deeply committed to helping guide students through the college admissions process. In addition to writing for the CollegeVine blog, Lydia enjoys analyzing Middle Eastern and North African politics and keeping up with all things pop culture.