Duke University
  • EduScore 91 /100

Duke University: Quick Overview

  • Year founded1838
  • Number of students enrolled6,692
  • Average cost (in total)$72,710
  • Acceptance rate11.4%
  • SAT/ACT1390/31
  • Application dateJanuary 2nd

Duke University is well known though out the country as a powerhouse for academic research. The campus is located in Durham, North Carolina and boasts the largest continuous research center in the country.

Duke’s campus is situated on over 8,600 acres (3,500 hectares) on three contiguous campuses in Durham. The university is organized into 10 schools and colleges, which house both undergraduate and graduate programs. Duke’s graduate programs include the highly ranked Fuqua School of Business as well as the Pratt School of Engineering, School of Law, School of Medicine, Sanford School of Public Policy and School of Nursing.

Fuqua School of Business is ranked 3rd among business schools in the United States by Bloomberg BusinessWeek. Duke has produced a remediable number of prominent fugues in the world of business and finance, with alumni representing CEOs and Presidents of numerous fortune 500 companies, including Apple, JP Morgan Chase and Pepsi. According to Forbes magazine, Duke ranks 11th among universities that have produced billionaires and 1st among universities located in the South.

Roughly 35% of the Duke student body participate in Greek organizations, making fraternities and sororities an important part of Duke’s student culture. Outside of academic performance, Duke places emphasis on their athletic programs, with students participating in 27 sports and more than 650 student-athletes. Notable Duke alumni include President Richard Nixon, Melinda Gates and the Pulitzer Prize winner William Styron, as well as 13 Nobel laureates and 3 Turing Award winners.

History and mission

Founded in 1838, Duke University started its life as The Brown Schoolhouse, an independent subscription school founded by an organization of Methodists and Quakers. The school received its charter in 1841 and became a state college. It wasn’t until 1924 that the Duke was named after the Duke family of benefactors, who had donated substantially to the building and endowment of the University.

The Duke family endowment came with the requirement that women be placed “on equal footing” with men, leading to the first women being admitted to the University in 1904. Duke University “seeks to engage the mind, elevate the spirit, and stimulate the best effort of all who are associated with the University”.

Areas of Study

Undergraduate programs at Duke are enhanced by a large number of offered majors, including four engineering majors and Program II, which allows students to design their own interdisciplinary major in arts & sciences, and IDEAS, which allows students to design their own engineering major. Popular majors include Economics, Computer Science, and Public Policy Analysis with 95% of Duke students going on to earn a degree.

Fuqua School of Business

Duke’s Fuqua School of Business regularly ranks as a top school for business with a history of producing leaders in international business and entrepreneurs. It currently enrolls more than 1,300 students in degree-seeking programs. The school is organized into 10 disciplines of focus – Accounting, Marketing, Decision Sciences, Economics, Finance, Management, Health Sector Management, Management Communication, Operations Management, and Strategy. Fuqua graduates achieved the 15th highest average salary. Duke’s strategy connects with students on the expanding social mission of business and the implications for leadership today. Duke’s School of Business is highly cooperative, both with other departments and other universities in the US and Abroad.

School of Law

Duke Law School is currently ranked 11th in the nation among law schools by US News. Duke Law is ranked highly in the areas of Environmental Law and Intellectual Property Law. Duke’s Law program is extremely competitive in order to retain its small and focused community that has access to an accomplished faculty with students enjoying uniquely close interactions with professors. A large number of faculty practice in both the public and private sectors both in the United States and abroad. Many are former Fulbright Scholars, Rhodes Scholars, and Marshall Scholars with a few having clerked for the supreme court.

Pratt School of Engineering

The Pratt School of Engineering at Duke continues the tradition of pioneering programs int the field of engineering. The precursor of Duke’s engineering education dates back to 1851, very early in the school’s tenure as a higher learning institution. The school was named the Edmund T. Pratt Jr. School of Engineering in 1999, in honor the of the alumni former CEO of Pfizer. The school’s research centers have played leading roles in the development of many important technologies, including:

  • Real-time ultrasound imaging in clinical practice (1976)
  • Continuous interleaved sampling strategy for cochlear implants (1991)
  • First working “invisibility cloak” using metamaterials (2006)
  • World’s first gigapixel camera (2012)

School of Medicine

The School of Medicine at Duke include large-scale medical research programs and studies, which give Duke the reputation of being one of the world’s foremost patient care and biomedical research institutions. The Duke Clinical Research Institute is home to the Duke Databank for Cardiovascular Diseases, the largest and oldest institutional cardiovascular database in the world. The graduate and PhD programs are highly competitive, admitting only 115 students out of some 7,500 applicants each year.

School of Nursing

Duke’s School of Nursing is a top Nursing school for high-level education in the field. The School of Nursing ranks #1 in for PhD programs, including Nurse Practitioner specializations and #2 for Graduate Nursing programs. As Duke home to a large medical complex and university hospital, many graduates of the nursing program find jobs within the hospital system.

Online program

Duke does offer several web-based certificate and degree programs that are either partially or completely adapted for distance learning. These programs notably include a Doctor of Nursing and Master of Science in Nursing degrees, a Master of Engineering Management, and the Global Executive MBA. There are also numerous certificate programs for professionals who are currently perusing expanding career goals. More information can be found at https://online.duke.edu/programs.

How do I apply to Duke University?

Duke University’s application process starts with the general application form. The perspective student must fill out an application form via one of two standardized application portals – My Coalition (mycoalition.org) or The Common Application (commonapp.org). Both will include essay questions as well as an opportunity to provide background and achievement information to the selection board. Early decision applicants must apply by November 1st, while standard applicants must submit applications by January 2nd.

An $85 application fee applies, although a need-based waiver of the fee is available. Each student should supply two teacher recommendations, one counselor recommendation in addition to their high school transcripts. All applicants who are still attending high school should submit their mid-year grades once they become available via their school counseling department.

Standardized testing is required of all applicants in the form of the SAT, both writing and math or the ACT with the optional writing portion. Students who take the ACT are not required to submit SAT scores. The median scores for past applicants have been SAT-Evidence-Based Reading and Writing 680-770, Math 700-800 or ACT Composite: 31-34.

Students who wish to interview as a part of the application process are encouraged to submit their application by the Early Decision deadline (November 1) or the Regular Decision priority interview deadline (December 20). Interviews are conducted by Alumni and current senior students at various locations around the country. Candidates who do not hear from an interviewer by November 20 (Early Decision) or the second week of February (Regular Decision) are welcome to submit an additional recommendation in place of the interview. This additional letter isn’t required.

Further information on applying or on scheduling an interview can be accessed on Duke’s website at https://admissions.duke.edu/application/instructions.

Acceptance rate

Duke is considered one of the most prestigious Southern Universities. As such, they receive close to 40,000 applications every year. That number is on the rise, as the number of applications to Duke rose 8% between 2017 and 2018. Duke puts high emphasis on academic achievement for their applicants. The median Duke student ranks in the 75th percentile of their peers. Duke admits 11% of applicants, however odds for those applying to graduate programs, especially to the Fuqua School of Business improve significantly, where 24% of applicants are admitted. The medical programs, however, become much more competitive, with an acceptance rate of 7%.

Student life at Duke

The student experience at Duke University is one of a large university feel in a suburban setting. Undergraduate students are required to live on campus for the first 3 years of their studies. All freshmen are housed in one of 14 residences on East Campus. These buildings range in occupancy size from 50 to 250 residents.

Men’s basketball is traditionally a significant component of student life at Duke. Students fans are referred to as Cameron Crazies, and show their support of the men’s basketball team by “tenting” for home games, or camping out the night before the game for the best seating at the game. Students also engage in more than 400 student groups and organizations, including 7 campus a capella groups, student government and advisory boards and 37 athletic clubs.

Duke has a strong Greek community that have independent housing on campus and off that are main features of social life. Duke aims to create an atmosphere of ethnic, cultural and religious diversity, which can be seen in all aspects of campus life. Cultural groups are provided funding directly from the university via the Multicultural Center. Duke also encourages civic engagement that has lead to 30 student-run service organizations in Durham with focus on community outreach and raising awareness on major civil issues.


Duke Campus

Duke’s campus features many buildings in the Gothic Revival style of architecture, with many students is referred to by student as the “Gothic Wonderland”. The campus is divided into four sections spread throughout the city of Durham. The William R. Perkins Library, together with the university Archives and the business, divinity, law and medical school libraries, comprise one of the nation’s top 10 private research library systems. The Blue Devil men‘s and women‘s basketball teams play in Cameron Indoor Stadium, which seats 9,000 and is the home court for the “Cameron Crazies”- Duke’s die-hard basketball fans. The Nasher Museum reopened in its new building in 2005 and creates leading-edge exhibitions that travel to major venues around the country.

Costs of studying at Duke University

Annual tuition at Duke University cost of around $54,000 including all fees. As most students live on campus, the price of housing and living expenses can be easily calculated. The yearly cost of housing per student is as follows:

  • Tuition $54,000
  • Housing $15,500
  • Books $3,466

Those figures raise the total cost for one student above the steep cost of tuition at around $19,000. That puts the cost of one year at Duke at an estimated $72,710. Duke does seek a diverse student body and are committed to ensuring that all students can take full advantage of the Duke experience.

In keeping with that mission, Duke does provide need-based financial aid up to 100% of costs based on student circumstances. While Duke is able to offer limited merit scholarships, the university’s primary commitment is to provide need-based financial aid in order to enable all qualified students, regardless of financial circumstance, to receive a high-quality education. Athletic scholarships are available for those participating in varsity sports programs and are based on Division I scholarship guidelines.


Duke University’s location found its home in Durham, North Carolina in 1892 while still under the moniker Trinity College. The campus was endowed by the Washington family, who made their fortune in the tobacco trade.

Q: How much money will I make with a degree from Duke University?A: 10 years after graduation, the median Duke graduate earns $53,000 annually. That is nearly $20,000 more per year than the median reported income for US students 10 years after graduating from college. That number was obtained based on students who received Federal Financial Aid. Duke graduates can expect to earn a salary in the six-figures by mid-career, which is significantly more compared to grads from other NC colleges. Q: How does the accreditation process work?A: As with all US universities and colleges, Duke is accredited by one of 6 independent accreditation agencies. Duke is under the preview of Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award baccalaureate, masters, doctorate, and professional degrees. SACSCOC evaluates institutions of higher education every 10 years against a set of uniform standards for competence.

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