What is Duke’s Acceptance Rate and Admissions Requirements?

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Consistently ranking in the top 10 of U.S. News and World Report, Duke University is one of the most prestigious universities in the nation. Among many things, Duke is known for its world-class educational experience. Duke boasts an 8 to 1 student-to-faculty ratio, and 70% of classes have fewer than 19 students, which means that students receive ample support at the undergraduate level.


Half of their undergraduates also participate in research, giving them an advantage when applying to graduate programs, or even jobs and fellowships. Duke also offers over 200 study-abroad and study-away programs, where students can get first-hand field experience or situate their studies in a global cultural context.


With all that it has to offer, Duke is a top choice for many high school students. Here’s what you need to know to get in.


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.


Duke’s Acceptance Rate is 9%


Duke is a selective and competitive school. Last year, over 35,000 students applied to Duke. Of those, only 3,189 students were admitted, meaning that Duke has an estimated 9% acceptance rate. About 55% of those admitted students enrolled.


In the next couple of sections, we’ll discuss the logistics of submitting your application, as well as how you can optimize your profile.


Check out our video to learn more about how to get into Duke!



Admissions Requirements




Duke requires at least 4 years of high school English, and 3 years each of Math, Science, Social Studies, and a foreign language. For students interested in the Pratt School of Engineering, calculus is required, and physics is strongly recommended. Duke encourages students to take as many advanced level courses as possible, including AP, IB, honors, accelerated, and college courses. It’s important to note that 91% of applicants come from the top 10% of their high school class.


Application Components


Students apply either to the Trinity College of Arts and Sciences or the Pratt School of Engineering. It’s not easier or harder to be admitted to either school; the application is virtually identical, with an emphasis on math and science for Pratt applicants. Just choose the one that best matches your academic interests.


Duke requires the following for a complete application:


  • Either the Common or Coalition Application
    • For both, you will write a one-page personal essay, and two-short essay questions specific to Duke. One of the questions is required, but the other is optional.
  • A Secondary School Report, which includes a school profile and a recommendation form from your high school counselor.
  • A high school transcript, preferably showing first quarter senior grades or the equivalent.
  • Two teacher recommendations from major academic courses (English, Math, Social Studies, Science, or foreign language). If applying to the Pratt School of Engineering, you should include at least one recommendation from a math or science teacher.
  • An official SAT or ACT score
  • For financial aid, a CSS Profile and FAFSA
  • An optional arts supplement
  • $85 application fee



Standardized Tests


The middle 50% of their accepted students earned these scores, so you should aim to score within these ranges:


  • SAT: 1500-1560
  • ACT: 33-35


Duke will superscore for both the SAT and the ACT, meaning that they will combine your highest section scores to form a new composite score, even if the section scores are from different test sittings. The SAT Essay or the ACT Writing is optional. Students who submit SAT Scores are strongly recommended to submit two SAT Subject Tests, and if you are applying to the Pratt School of Engineering, you should take the SAT Subject Test in Math as one of your two subject tests.


Due to COVID-19, Duke is adopting a test-optional policy for students applying during the 2020-2021 admissions cycle. To learn more about test-optional policies, visit our blog post.




  • Early Decision applications are due November 1.
  • Regular Decision applications are due December 20 for priority consideration; otherwise, the deadline is January 2.


Since Duke is so selective, it is all the more important to take time in crafting your short responses. We strongly recommend responding to both prompts, including the optional one, to further demonstrate your interest in the school. In your essays, make sure to highlight how you’ve made an impact on your school or community.


For students who apply by the December 20 priority deadline, there is a chance you will be matched with a Duke alumnus in your area for an interview. This interview provides additional information for your application, but it is dependent on the availability of Duke alumni in your area.


Supplementary Materials


You can submit an additional reference beyond the three required recommendation letters. Err on the side of caution when submitting supplementary materials, however. You should only send an extra recommendation if you feel that a fourth perspective will bring significant insight to your profile.


If you have exceptional creative talent, Duke encourages you to submit an arts supplement that showcases your creativity. This could be in arts as diverse as dance or digital media. If you don’t need to plan on majoring in arts, you should submit an arts supplement only if you plan to be involved in the arts while at Duke.


Other than the additional reference/interview and the arts supplement, Duke does not accept other forms of supplementary materials. This makes it challenging to stand out, especially when Duke receives over 37,000 applications a year. 


Qualities of an Accepted Duke Student


Becoming the type of student who will thrive at Duke starts well before your senior year. Duke emphasizes a particular characteristic they call impact: “In some venue [admitted students] have made a difference. It might be in the classroom, in the community, or on the athletic field. It could be doing one thing brilliantly, or several things exceedingly well.”


According to their website, here are the other qualities Duke seeks:


  • A sense of engagement—with ideas, with other people, with a community
  • An inclination to take full advantage of your talents and abilities
  • An interest in being challenged; a healthy ambition
  • The desire to make a difference
  • Creativity, curiosity and a sense of fun
  • An openness to opportunities


Curious about your chances of acceptance to Duke? Our free chancing engine takes into account your GPA, test scores, extracurriculars, and other data to predict your odds of acceptance at over 500 colleges across the U.S. We’ll also let you know how you stack up against other applicants and how you can improve your profile. Sign up for your free CollegeVine account today to get started!


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Gianna Cifredo

Short Bio
Gianna Cifredo is a graduate of the University of Central Florida, where she majored in Philosophy. She has six years of higher education and test prep experience, and now works as a freelance writer specializing in education. She currently lives in Orlando, Florida and is a proud cat mom.

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