The Ultimate Guide to Applying to Duke
- Average Stats of Accepted Duke University Students
- Duke University Application Process
- Duke University Financial Aid
- What Are Your Chances of Acceptance?
Duke is well-known for its men’s basketball program (and its rabid fans, affectionately known as Cameron Crazies) thanks to its five national championships and frequent appearances on national television. College-bound students know Duke equally well for its highly ranked academics, prominent position in the Research Triangle, attracting top students from across the globe, and super-selective admissions.
Average Stats of Accepted Duke University Students
It’s not just the best basketball players who are attracted to attending Duke. The university is also a highly sought-after school by some of the nation’s top students, as evidenced by their impressive secondary school performance—95% of accepted students graduated in the top 10% of their class and their middle 50% SAT/ACT scores are 1490-1560/33-35.
Duke is test-optional for the 2022-2023 admissions cycle, meaning that applicants can decide whether or not they submit test scores with their application. Applicants are typically advised to include their test scores if they are within the university’s middle 50% range (this is particularly true for students with scores on the high end of the range).
Great grades and superb test scores are the norm for Duke applicants and won’t guarantee admission to the university. They will, however, ensure an applicant is given serious consideration for admission. Top schools like Duke use a tool known as the Academic Index—a numerical score that summarizes an applicant’s entire academic performance—to screen out candidates who don’t meet their standards.
Duke University Application Process
Have aspirations of becoming a Blue Devil? Here’s what you need to know about Duke’s application process.
Duke University accepts three applications: the Common Application, the Coalition Application, and the Questbridge Application. There is an $85 application fee at Duke and fee waivers are available for qualifying students.
There are two pathways to admission at Duke: Early Decision (ED) and Regular Decision (RD). Early Decision is binding and applicants who apply through it are committed to attending Duke if accepted. Early Decision applicants to Duke are accepted at a much higher rate than Regular Decision applicants—the ED acceptance rate is 16.36% compared to a mere 5.87% overall acceptance rate.
- Early Decision applications are due November 1
- Regular Decision applications are due January 3
- Official transcript
- First-quarter grades (ED applicants only)
- Midyear grades
- 2 teacher recommendations
- High school counselor recommendation
- Personal recommendation (optional)
- Writing supplement
- Interview (optional)
- SAT/ACT (optional)
- Art supplemental (optional)
Supplemental Essays: All Duke applicants are required to compose the long essay component of the Common or Coalition Application along with one short Duke-specific supplemental essay. Duke also poses four optional short-answer questions to applicants, who can either ignore them or respond to a maximum of two of the prompts. Because of the incredibly selective nature of Duke admissions, applicants serious about attending the university are encouraged to complete all the prompts available.
The prompt that every Duke applicant is required to respond to is:
- Required Prompt: What is your sense of Duke as a university and a community, and why do you consider it a good match for you? If there’s something in particular about our offerings that attracts you, feel free to share that as well. (250-word limit)
Applicants can choose to respond to none of the optional questions below, or to a maximum of two.
- Prompt 1 (optional): We seek a diverse student body that embodies the wide range of human experience. In that context, we are interested in what you’d like to share about your lived experiences and how they’ve influenced how you think of yourself. (250-word limit)
- Prompt 2 (optional): We believe there is benefit in sharing and sometimes questioning our beliefs or values; who do you agree with on the big important things, or who do you have your most interesting disagreements with? What are you agreeing or disagreeing about? (250-word limit)
- Prompt 3 (optional): What has been your best academic experience in the last two years, and what made it so good? (250-word limit)
- Prompt 4 (optional): Duke’s commitment to diversity and inclusion includes sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. If you’d like to share with us more about your identity in this context, feel free to do so here. (250-word limit)
Composing college essays is often a stressful process, but CollegeVine can help ease some anxiety and get you on the right track to writing your essays. Check out our article How to Write the Duke University Essays 2022-2023 for thoughtful advice on how to create attention-grabbing essays that will bolster your odds of admission. If you already have drafts of your essays but want criticism before submitting them, you can get free feedback from other students or paid expert feedback using CollegeVine Essay Review.
Interviews: Interviews are an optional part of the Duke application process. They are available on a first-come, first-served basis and are held with alumni interviewers. Students who want an interview must submit their application by the Early Decision deadline (November 1) or the Regular Decision priority interview deadline (December 20).
Art Supplements: Talented individuals in the arts—such as dance, music, photography, film, or theater—may submit supplemental material for review by a Duke faculty member in the corresponding program or department. Art supplements should demonstrate extraordinary talent and those submitting them have commonly received significant awards and honors at the state, national, or international levels.
When Will You Hear Back?
Early Decision applicants can expect to receive a decision by mid-December, while Regular Decision applicants will receive notification in late March or early April.
Duke University Financial Aid
Financial Aid Generosity
Duke University has taken steps to make the school affordable to applicants from all financial backgrounds. The university awards $130 million in grant aid annually, and more than half of undergraduates pay less than the full price to attend. The estimated cost of Duke is $84,517.
Tuition and Fees
Books and Supplies
Duke will meet 100% demonstrated need of its students and an impressive 70% of Duke students graduate debt free. Merit scholarships are available to Duke students, and a majority of applicants are automatically considered for them. One exception is the prestigious Robertson Scholars program, a full-ride award that covers undergraduate tuition, mandatory fees, and room and board.
On top of strong financial aid packages, Duke graduates can expect an excellent return on investment in their education. The website Payscale ranks Duke 81 (out of 1,976 schools) on its list of best-value colleges.
For even more insight into the actual expense of attending Duke University, read our article What Does it Really Cost to Attend Duke University?
How to Apply for Financial Aid
Students applying for financial aid are required to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form as well as a CSS profile.
- The Early Decision financial aid application deadline is November 1
- The Regular Decision financial aid application deadline is February 1
What Are Your Chances of Acceptance?
Getting into Duke is tough, but admission odds vary from student to student. CollegeVine’s free chancing engine uses factors like academics, extracurriculars, and demographics to provide you with your own personal chances of acceptance at Duke and hundreds of other colleges across the country. Our chancing engine also offers valuable insight into the strengths and weaknesses of your profile and highlights areas where you can improve.
Learn more about Duke University, including its diversity, the majors offered, and how long your application should take.