Instructions & Preparation for 2016-2017
- General Instructions
- Artistic Supplements
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Application Tracking and Updates
Duke University Office of Undergraduate Admissions
2138 Campus Drive, Box 90586
Durham, NC 27708-0586
(919) 684-3214 (phone)
A complete application consists of various documents, some of which have different deadlines. Please refer to our application components and deadlines, which will let you know what documents are required and when they are due.
Where to Begin
The application will ask you to provide biographical and academic information, to detail your extracurricular activities and to do a bit of personal essay writing. It also includes forms for school officials to complete on your behalf. It is acceptable if your school forms and/or teacher recommendations are submitted on paper, even though your portion of the application will be submitted online.
Please note that Duke will not accept activity resumes for the 2017 application process. If you have information that you need to share with us that will not be reflected elsewhere in your application, you may add it to the Additional Information section of the application.
Once we receive the student-submitted portions of your application, we will send you an email with instructions for accessing a personalized Application Checklist where you can monitor the status of your application, check that we have received the required documents, make changes to your personal information and view your admission decision.
Both the Common Application and the Coalition Application include a one-page personal essay. In addition, both include two short essay questions that are specific to Duke and that offer you the opportunity to share your unique interests and perspective. One of the short essay questions is required, and the other is optional--and yes, it is truly optional! You can submit your short writing with or after the other student portions of the application, no later than the application deadline.
You must send your nonrefundable $85 application fee or fee waiver request along with the Common Application or Coalition Application. Both applications accept online payment via credit card or electronic check. Please note that we do not accept credit card payment by telephone. If you pay by check, please make the check payable to Duke University. Checks must be for payment in U.S. dollars and must be drawn on a U.S. bank.
We offer fee waivers for qualifying students, which means under many circumstances we will waive the $85 application fee for students with high financial need. Through your Common Application or Coalition Application you may request an application fee waiver online, and your guidance counselor will receive an email invitation to endorse your request.
Defining an Academic Concentration
You must apply to either the Trinity College of Arts & Sciences or the Pratt School of Engineering. The application will also ask you to indicate your preliminary academic interests so we can get to know you intellectually. Please refer to the overview of Trinity and Pratt as well as their majors and minors if you have questions about the best program for your interests. It is not easier or harder to be admitted to one program or another; pick the school and academic fields that best match your interests.
Applying Early or Regular Decision
You must also apply either for Early Decision or Regular Decision, and we will process your application according to the plan you check on the Common Application. To apply Early Decision, you, one of your parents and your secondary school counselor must sign the Early Decision Agreement confirming your commitment to enroll at Duke if you are admitted. You will receive your admission decision in mid-December.
All candidates for admission must complete one of the following standardized testing options: the ACT, including writing, or the SAT, including the essay for students who choose to submit the new SAT. For students who submit the SAT, two SAT Subject Tests are strongly recommended. Students who have taken multiple tests may choose which scores to send to Duke. For students who elect to send multiple test scores Duke will use whichever score is highest.
Students from more than 85 countries have found a home at Duke. Innovative, restless and driven: these are qualities not confined by geography.
There is no separate application for international students.
Standardized Testing Considerations for International Applicants
All applicants for the first-year class, whether educated in the United States or abroad, are required to complete the full testing requirements. The SAT and ACT tests are given throughout the year at testing centers around the world, although students outside the United States will generally find that the SAT is available in more places than the ACT. We understand that some students do not have access to a testing center in their home countries (e.g., mainland China). These students may be exempt, and if so, may not be disadvantaged in the evaluation process.
In Duke's application process, SAT and ACT scores are not viewed as the sole measure of a student's academic ability. We also recognize that test scores from bilingual students, or students outside of a United States high school system, may reflect a student's lack of familiarity and experience with this type of standardized test. This is taken into account when applications are considered.
Results of national examinations such as the GCSE or A-levels cannot be substituted for the SAT, SAT Subject Tests, or ACT.
We recommend but do not require the IELTS (International English Language Testing System), the PTE Academic (Pearson Test of English), or the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) for non-native English speakers who feel their TOEFL or IELTS scores might represent their English ability better than their SAT or ACT scores do. You can read more about how we consider the TOEFL here.
Curriculum Considerations for International Applicants
Prior to the anticipated date of enrollment at Duke, students should have completed an academic program that would enable them to enroll at a university in their home countries. For example, students from British or British-based education systems should have completed their A-levels before enrollment, and students from the French or German education systems should complete the Baccalaureate or Abitur. For most students, this means that they will begin the application process during their final year of study in a pre-university program.
To obtain an F-1 visa for study in the United States, a foreign citizen must furnish his or her home country's U.S. consulate with proof of ability to meet educational expenses, along with a certificate of eligibility for a visa application (the I-20 form). I-20 forms for incoming foreign students are issued only after a student has accepted an offer of admission at Duke and returned a completed Certificate of Financial Responsibility. Visa services and advice on federal regulations concerning non-U.S. citizens are available through Duke Visa Services.
Interviews for International Students
While not required for admission, interviews provide an opportunity for the applicant to learn about Duke and for a representative of the university to learn about the applicant's strengths. We have alumni volunteers conducting interviews in forty-two countries worldwide.
Because of the high volume of applicants we receive from China, Duke will accept admissions interviews from InitialView for students attending school in China. These interviews will serve in lieu of alumni interviews. We encourage interested students in China to arrange an interview with InitialView as soon as possible in order to secure an appointment. All interviews must be submitted to Duke by December 1 for Early Decision and March 1 for Regular Decision.
Undocumented or DACA Students
We welcome applications from undocumented and DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) students. You apply in the same way U.S. citizens and permanent residents do, and your application will be considered the same way U.S citizens and permanent residents are, by the regional admissions officer responsible for where you attend high school.
When you apply, you should be honest about your current citizenship status. You do not need a social security number to use the Common Application or Coalition Application; that field can be left blank.
Beginning with students who are applying for admission for Fall of 2017, Duke will review undocumented and DACA students using the same “need-blind” process as applicants who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents. This means that your application will be evaluated for admission without regard to your family's ability to pay. Our need-blind model allows us to create a class characterized by both exceptional talent and meaningful diversity, regardless of the financial circumstances of our applicants’ families.
Duke University views its financial aid program as an investment in students and their futures. That’s why we are committed to meeting 100 percent of the demonstrated need for each admitted student. Undocumented or DACA students who wish to apply for financial aid should fill out the CSS Profile by the appropriate Early Decision or Regular Decision deadline.
Information about the financial aid process for undocumented students can be found here, and answers to frequently asked questions can be found here. For general instructions on how to apply for financial aid, please visit the Office of Undergraduate Financial Aid website.
Duke’s Support for Undocumented and DACA Students
Duke University’s goal is to provide access, inclusion, and support to all of our students and their diverse backgrounds and needs. We encourage you to read more about how this support applies to undocumented and DACA students in this message from the Duke University President.
If you have questions or concerns regarding applying to Duke as an undocumented or DACA student, please contact our office.
Homeschooled or Cyber-Schooled Students
Duke University welcomes applications from students who are educated in nonconventional ways such as homeschooling and cyber-schooling. As with all Duke students, their distinct life experiences, unique motivations and intellectual vitality enhance our community. Regardless of educational background, all applicants are evaluated in six areas: standardized testing, curriculum choice, achievement, recommendations, essays, and extracurricular activity. While we do not have any additional application requirements for these students, there is some benefit for these students and their families in providing supplementary information to help us better understand the context, the rigor and the students’ achievements in their chosen educational path.
Below are some suggestions for homeschooled or cyber-schooled students to better elucidate their academics and involvement in our application process:
In general, students should take the best and most challenging courses available. We recommend but do not require four years of English and at least three years of mathematics, natural science, foreign language, and social studies. For students applying to the Pratt School of Engineering, we require coursework in calculus and strongly recommend physics. Most homeschooled students have followed varied curricula. We do not support or prefer any particular program. Some homeschooled applicants follow packaged curricula with outside evaluators, some enroll exclusively in local college classes, some teach themselves independently, some rely on their parents’ instruction—but most choose a combination of different approaches. We understand that the choice of curriculum is best decided by each individual family. Whatever path a student chooses, we would like information about the student’s homeschool experience and environment that would be helpful for our committee.
In addition to the courses and grades, we are interested in knowing how and why the student and family chose homeschooling, the setting for homeschooling, and the philosophy behind the education provided. We are also interested in the philosophy behind and the setting of the education provided. For courses that are taught at home, we would like an explanation of the grading scale or other methods of evaluation. When a student indicates that he/she is homeschooled, the Common Application generates supplemental questions on the School Report that should be completed and submitted to provide this information. Students are also welcome to share their insights into their educational choice, especially their thoughts about the benefits they have gained and how the experience will allow them to contribute to the community at Duke. If the student has taken courses from a distance learning program, traditional secondary school, or any institution of higher education, we require official transcripts from these institutions. Applicants are not required to present a GED or proof of accreditation.
The standardized testing requirements are the same for all Duke applicants: students must submit scores from either the ACT with writing or the SAT Reasoning Test with essay, with SAT subject tests strongly recommended for students who have taken only the SAT. However, in the absence of traditional grades, we encourage homeschooled students to submit AP test and/or additional SAT subject results to validate their mastery of a subject.
Letters of Recommendation
Although your parent may complete your school report to provide context for your academic choices, we encourage students to provide two additional letters of recommendation from non-relatives and preferably from individuals who have worked with the student in an in-person academic setting. Employers, religious leaders, sports coaches or other adults can write these recommendations if all academic instruction takes place in the home. Letters from an on-line instructor are less helpful if he/she has not had direct contact with the homeschool student.
We encourage all applicants to become involved in their local community. Many times the line between curricular and extracurricular activities may be less distinct for homeschooled students so it is especially important to describe and document your involvements.
We encourage homeschooled students to submit their applications in time for us to arrange an alumni interview in the student's local area. An interview report provides the admissions committee an additional source of information and perspective about a student’s potential fit for the Duke community.
We welcome your interest in transferring to Duke. Every fall, approximately 30 students transfer into either the Trinity College of Arts & Sciences or the Pratt School of Engineering. Most will enroll as sophomores, although the selection committee will also admit a small number of juniors.
While transfer students are new to the Duke community, they bring with them the same characteristics of talent and engagement as the rest of their undergraduate peers. Transfer students add a tremendous amount to campus life – all while pursuing their unique, intellectual interests at one of America’s leading universities.
Please consult the following guidelines to determine your eligibility to transfer to Duke:
• If you have attended any college or university in the past four years and will have successfully completed at least one full year of transferrable college work by the August in which you hope to enroll, you qualify to apply to Duke as a transfer applicant.
• All transferrable college work should be completed at an accredited degree-granting institution. College work completed at a vocational, technical, performance, or professional program will not be considered.
• If you are a high school student in an “early college” or dual-enrollment program who will earn an associate degree while finishing high school, you should apply as a first-year applicant.
• If you have already completed an undergraduate (bachelor’s) degree at a four-year college, you cannot be considered for transfer admission.
• Unfortunately, you may not apply for transfer to Duke as a part-time student. Instead, we encourage you to contact Duke Continuing Studies for information on taking courses on a non-degree basis.
• The admissions committee seeks applicants who can provide evidence of academic preparation within the past four years. If you have not recently attended high school or college, we strongly encourage you to do so prior to applying for transfer, either through Duke Continuing Studies or an accredited degree-granting institution in your local area.
Duke offers military veterans a high level of support as they transition to our campus community. For more information about the resources available to veterans, please visit the Duke Veterans website.
Duke offers a multitude of opportunities to its undergraduates. We’re looking for students ready to respond to those opportunities intelligently, creatively and enthusiastically. We like ambition and curiosity, talent and persistence, energy and humanity.
When we read an application and then discuss an application in our Admissions Committee, we consider both the academic and the personal qualities of each student. We think about what a student has accomplished within the context of the opportunities and challenges he or she has faced. And we seek those students who will bring a variety of experiences, backgrounds, interests and opinions to the campus. We especially appreciate students who love thinking hard about things and who like to make a difference in the world. Our admissions process is guided by our assessment of six primary factors:
• The rigor of a candidate’s academic program
• Academic performance as measured by grades in academic courses
• Letters of recommendation
• Extracurricular activities
• The quality of thought and expression in the application essay
• Standardized test scores (Transfer applicants must submit scores from either the SAT or ACT, without exception.)
Transfer admission to Duke is highly selective, with the admission rate ranging from 3% to 7% over the past five years. Transfer applicants are expected to have demonstrated a high level of academic talent, both at their current higher education institution and in high school. The most successful applicants will have a minimum college GPA of 3.7 in a challenging academic program. Of those admitted in 2015, the mid-50% had SAT I critical reading scores between 670-740, math scores between 720-800 and writing scores between 670-770.
Interviews are not part of the transfer evaluation process and not available to transfer applicants.
Required Materials and Deadlines
Your application must be submitted electronically through either the Common Application or Coalition Application. Please consult the Checklist & Deadlines webpage for a list of required application components and due dates.
Optional Arts Supplement
If you have exceptional talent in dance, theater, art, music, photography or film/video/digital media, you may submit supplementary material to be evaluated by an appropriate faculty member. You may begin to submit artistic materials on February 15. All submissions are due by March 15. Please click here for more detailed instructions.
Transfer of Credit
• Duke will grant credit for no more than two years of coursework completed elsewhere, regardless of the number of credits a student has previously earned. In order to earn a Duke degree, a transfer student must spend at least two years at Duke.
• We do not offer a preliminary credit evaluation to applicants prior to the release of admissions decisions. Instead, credit evaluations are completed upon matriculation by an academic dean. Please see the Duke University Undergraduate Bulletin for more information on how transfer credits are evaluated.
• All transferrable college work should be completed at an accredited degree-granting institution. College work completed at a vocational, technical, performance, or professional program will not be considered.
• We do not accept credits for courses that have been taken online.
Duke University views its financial aid program as an investment in students and their futures. We seek a diverse student body and are committed to ensuring aided students can take full advantage of the Duke experience. To that end, Duke admits transfer applicants who are U.S. citizens and permanent residents without regard to financial circumstance or aid eligibility and meets 100 percent of each admitted student's demonstrated need throughout their undergraduate enrollment. Unfortunately, need-based financial aid is not available for international transfer students. In addition, Duke does not offer merit-based scholarships to transfer students.
The number of semesters of aid eligibility for students transferring to Duke is based on the policy of up to nine academic semesters less the number of semesters studied elsewhere. This also includes financial assistance for one summer term, if needed. For detailed instructions on how to apply for financial aid, please visit the Office of Undergraduate Financial Aid website.
Transfer Student Housing
Duke believes that the residential experience is an important factor in the education process. The Board of Trustees mandates that all undergraduates live on campus for three years. As an extension of this practice, transfer students are required to live on campus for two years. Exceptions to the housing requirement include:
• Transfer students who enter as juniors may request to live on campus for only one year.
• Non-traditional transfer students (married students, military veterans, and those students older than most undergraduates) may request the housing requirement be waived entirely.
The housing application will be available in mid-May and is due on July 1. Visit the Housing, Dining, and Residence Life website for more information on student housing options.
Students with Disabilities
Duke University is committed to the equality of educational opportunities for all qualified students. Students with disabilities (including learning disabilities, hearing or visual impairments, mobility impairments, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorders, psychiatric impairments or chronic health disabilities) who apply to Duke can choose whether or not to disclose their disability to us. Our office is prohibited by law from making inquiries about a student's disability in the admissions process. We will not require you at any point in the admissions process to disclose if you have a disability.
Some students choose to include information about their disability in their admissions application because they feel it is an important element of their experiences as a student up to that point, or because they want to share with us how they have overcome an obstacle that not everyone has had to face. We always appreciate any significant information a student wishes to share with us and consider that information in understanding a student's achievements. We evaluate a student's accomplishments within the context of any opportunities or challenges presented to that student. We do not use information about a disability to deny admission to a student.
There is no separate admissions process at Duke for students with disabilities. All students who apply to Duke, including those who have a diagnosed impairment/disability, are evaluated using the same criteria.
If you have questions or require additional information, please contact the Admissions Office at (919) 684-3214 and ask for the admissions officer responsible for students with disabilities.
Accommodations at Duke
All students have the right to request reasonable accommodations at Duke. Students requesting consideration for reasonable accommodations must have an impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities and should contact the Student Disability Access Office.
We recognize that students with disabilities sometimes find the transition from secondary education to post-secondary education difficult due to the differences in the level of services and accommodations provided at post-secondary institutions. Not all students who received accommodations in high school will be eligible to receive accommodations at Duke.
In primary and secondary education, a student's parents and school staff often bear the responsibility of evaluating, supporting and providing accommodations to the student. At the post-secondary level, it is the student's responsibility to identify that he/she has a diagnosed impairment/disability and to follow the appropriate procedures to request consideration for reasonable accommodations.
Please be aware that Duke is not required to approve any accommodation that would change the fundamental nature of a course or a curriculum. Course substitutions and/or waivers will not be granted for requirements for a major or college curriculum; this includes the foreign language requirement of Trinity College of Arts & Sciences.
For additional information about accommodations and resources at Duke, we encourage you to contact the Student Disability Access Office at this email address.
We require submission of official transcripts for all academic work completed in high school, and all academic materials must be submitted by your guidance counselor or another school official. Self-submitted transcripts are not acceptable for our review.
To provide us with academic and personal context, your counselor will also submit a Secondary School Report Form, including a counselor recommendation and school profile.
First Quarter Grades
We require first quarter or first marking period grades for all Early Decision applicants by November 12 or as soon as they are available. Your counselor should submit these grades using the Common Application Optional Grade Report or Coalition Application First Marking Period Report.
If your school will be unable to provide us with official midterm grades by mid-November, you should request an unofficial progress report to be sent by a school official. A student's senior year academic work is often a critical component of our review.
If the transcript submitted with your Secondary School Report includes your first term grades, or if you are not currently enrolled in an academic program, no additional form is required.
We require midyear grades for all Regular Decision applicants and all Early Decision accepted and deferred applicants by February 15 or as soon as first semester or trimester grades are available. Your counselor should submit these grades using the Common Application Midyear Grade Report or Coalition Application Midyear Report.
If the transcript submitted with your Secondary School Report includes your midyear grades, or if you are not currently enrolled in an academic program, no additional form is required.
College/University and Summer School Transcripts
We wish to see a full representation of your high school work, including that which you may have taken beyond your regular high school offerings. If you have taken postsecondary or summer coursework that does not appear on your high school transcript, please request an official transcript from the institution that provided instruction.
We understand that most colleges and universities do not provide midterm grades and we do not expect to see first-quarter grades or midyear progress reports from colleges. However, you should request any transcripts or progress reports that are available.
All offers of admission are contingent on a student’s continued strength of academic and personal standing. Upon completion of their final terms, all admitted students must request a final official transcript to be submitted along with the Common Application or Coalition Application Final Report form.
Although all student application forms must be submitted online through the Common Application or Coalition Application website, schools may send hard copy materials to us via fax at 919-668-1661 or postal mail at 2138 Campus Drive, Box 90586, Durham, NC 27708. They may also submit materials via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have already completed secondary school and your application includes a final, complete secondary school transcript as part of the School Report, you do not need to submit first quarter grades using the Optional Report, nor do you need to submit the Midyear Report. Your online checklist may show these items as missing, but—since the information we need is already included in the materials your school submitted—that will not affect your candidacy.
All candidates for admission must complete one of the following standardized testing options and arrange to have official test score reports sent to Duke:
The test of the ACT, including the writing exam
The College Board SAT, with two Subject Tests strongly recommended. Students who submit the new SAT will also be required to submit the essay component.
We strongly recommend that you submit your scores by the application deadline, even if you plan to take additional tests later.
For students who choose to submit the ACT with writing, Duke will consider the highest composite score and highest scores on each section, regardless of test date, but will not recalculate the composite score. Students who take the ACT are not required to submit SAT or SAT Subject Test scores. Our school code for the ACT is 3088.
If it is financially burdensome for you to release your ACT scores to Duke, then your counselor may submit your scores by fax to 919-668-1661 or by email to email@example.com.
For students who submit the SAT, two SAT Subject Tests are strongly recommended. Students who have taken the test multiple times may choose which scores to send to Duke. Duke will use the highest available scores in each section, plus the two highest Subject Test scores, regardless of the date those tests were taken. Our school code for the SAT is 5156.
The redesigned SAT: Students graduating from high school in 2017 may submit either the new or old SAT. Duke does not have a preference for either test, but if you choose to submit both, Duke will consider the stronger score as determined by concordance tables. Students graduating in 2018 will be required to submit the new SAT.
Applicants to the Pratt School of Engineering who take the SAT are strongly recommended to take one SAT Subject Test in Mathematics (level 1 or level 2). Applicants to the Trinity College of Arts & Sciences who take the SAT may take any two SAT Subject Tests. For complete information about the use of SAT Subject Test scores in foreign language placement at Duke, please visit Languages at Duke.
Frequently Asked Questions
If I take both the SAT and ACT, do I need to send both scores to Duke? How does Duke consider multiple scores?
We will always consider your highest score regardless of test type or test date, and you are welcome to send us SAT scores, ACT scores or both. Applicants may choose the Score Choice option for the SAT and choose to submit scores from specific ACT test dates. We do NOT require applicants to submit all of their test scores--just the ones necessary to fulfill the testing requirement.
If I take the ACT, can I also submit SAT Subject Tests?
Although we do not require or expect SAT Subject Test scores from candidates who take the ACT with Writing to fulfill our testing requirement, we do accept them and will consider them as an additional demonstration of subject proficiency.
If I submit the new SAT with essay and/or the ACT with writing, will Duke consider a higher SAT score or ACT composite score from a test date without writing?
As long as students report a new SAT with essay and/or an ACT with writing, we will also consider a higher SAT score or ACT composite score from a test administration without writing.
Will it hurt my candidacy to take standardized tests multiple times?
No. However, standardized testing should not become one of your extracurricular activities! We'd rather see you spend your time pursuing your curiosities and interests, and most students don't see significant score improvements beyond their second or third sitting for a given test.
If I took the SAT or ACT before high school, can I use these scores in my application?
No. Only testing that is taken in high school will be considered in the admissions process.
If I have taken Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate examinations, what role do those scores play in the admissions process? Should I report those scores officially?
We value those scores when available as demonstrations of subject mastery to complement your academic transcripts. You should self-report these scores in your application. We will require an official score report from students who matriculate at Duke who wish to use those scores for credit or placement.
I had my test scores sent to Duke before I applied. Why don't I see them in my Duke Application Checklist?
If your test scores were released to Duke prior to submitting an application, and you only recently applied, please allow several business days for us to connect your scores to your application materials. If after that point your scores are not displayed on your checklist, and you have verification from the testing agency that they've been received, you may call our office or send us an email. We will investigate and then respond to your inquiry.
We strongly recommend that candidates take all required SAT or ACT exams no later than the month prior to their application deadline, and applicants should submit all test scores necessary to fulfill the testing requirement by the application deadline (November 1 for Early Decision; January 3 for Regular Decision).
Early Decision candidates may submit new or additional scores from the November 5 SAT and the October 22 ACT, and Regular Decision candidates may submit new or additional scores from the January 21 SAT and the February 11 ACT.
Tip: you don't need to rush report scores to Duke, but if you are taking any tests after the application deadline, you should request a score report to Duke at the time you sit for your exam.
Applicants who do not use English as their primary language must demonstrate the ability to undertake a rigorous, fast-paced academic program in English. As Duke students must have the ability to read quickly and to express themselves clearly both orally and in writing, applicants must be fluent in written and spoken English at the time the application is submitted.
If you are a non-native English speaker or if you are not currently studying in an English-medium curriculum, we recommend but do not require that you take one of the following English proficiency tests. Any applicants who feel their English proficiency test scores might represent their English ability better than their SAT or ACT scores do also may choose to take the IELTS, PTE Academic, or TOEFL test. If you take the tests more than once, we will use your highest scores. We do not have any preference among the three tests.
We will consider all of your test scores along with the essays, recommendations, and other parts of the admissions application to evaluate your proficiency in English.
IELTS (International English Language Testing System)
- Minimum band score expected: 7
PTE Academic (Pearson Test of English)
- Minimum score expected: 70
TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)
- Duke’s school code for the TOEFL is 5156
- Minimum scores expected:
- 100 on the internet-based TOEFL
- 600 on the paper-based TOEFL
Both the Common Application and the Coalition Application include a one-page personal essay. In addition, both include short essay questions that are specific to Duke and that offer you the opportunity to tell us about your personal and intellectual interests. You can submit short writing with or after the other student portions of the application, no later than the application deadline.
2016-2017 Common Application Prompts
All applicants who complete the Common Application will choose to respond to one of the following five essay prompts. The personal essay length is capped at 650 words.
- Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
- The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
- Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?
- Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma-anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.
- Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.
2016-2017 Coalition Application Prompt
All applicants who complete the Coalition Application will choose to respond to one of the following five essay prompts. The personal essay length is capped at 650 words.
Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.
Describe a time when you made a meaningful contribution to others in which the greater good was your focus. Discuss the challenges and rewards of making your contribution.
Has there been a time when you’ve had a long-cherished or accepted belief challenged? How did you respond? How did the challenge affect your beliefs?
What is the hardest part of being a teenager now? What’s the best part? What advice would you give a younger sibling or friend (assuming they would listen to you)?
Submit an essay on a topic of your choice.
Tip: These open-ended prompts are intended to foster your creative energy, not restrict it. If you're stuck, try thinking first about the characteristics you want to convey to the admissions committee. Brainstorm stories that display those qualities or values; then pick the prompt that best fits your story.
2016-2017 Duke Prompts
The following question is required for Engineering applicants.
• 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. (150 words maximum)
The following question is required for Arts & Sciences applicants.
• If you are applying to the Trinity College of Arts & Sciences as either a first-year or transfer applicant, please discuss why you consider Duke a good match for you. Is there something particular about Duke that attracts you? (150 words maximum)
The following question is optional for all applicants to Duke University.
• 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. (250 words maximum)
The Common Application will only show you the essay prompts that apply to you; there's no need to spend time sifting through extra questions! Note that this means you must select your desired undergraduate school--either the Trinity College of Arts and Sciences or the Pratt School of Engineering--before you will see the corresponding version of the "Why Duke?" prompt to which you will respond.
Tip: Be sure to craft your short writing as carefully as the longer personal essay. Every piece of your application matters!
Recommendations give us another way to learn who you are. We require three letters of recommendation for each applicant: one recommendation from your guidance counselor and two recommendations from teachers who have taught you in major academic courses (English, mathematics, social studies, sciences, foreign languages), preferably within the last two years of secondary school. If you are applying to the Pratt School of Engineering, at least one recommendation should be from a math or science teacher.
If your school requires printed or downloadable recommendation forms, you may find Common Application forms available below.
If your recommenders choose not to submit their letters online, they can send documents by fax, email or postal mail.
Fax: (919) 668-1661
Office of Undergraduate Admissions
2138 Campus Drive
Durham, North Carolina 27708
Additionally, applicants may submit one Personal Recommendation. This recommendation is optional, and can come from a peer, a coach, a director, a teacher from an elective course, a family member, or anyone else who knows you well and will give us a better idea of who you are. This optional information will be considered in our understanding of you as a person, but will not be formally evaluated as part of your application. If you do not submit the information, your chance of admission will not be affected.
There is no required form for this recommendation. Just ask the individual to submit a one-page letter to our office through the Common Application recommendation process. We will also accept letters by fax, email or postal mail.
Fax: (919) 668-1661
Office of Undergraduate Admissions
2138 Campus Drive
Durham, North Carolina 27708
Tip: Make sure that the recommendation letter includes the applicant's full name, date of birth and current high school so we can add it to the correct file!
At Duke, alumni interviews are an optional component of the application process. When present, an interview report provides the admissions committee an additional source of information and perspective about your potential fit for Duke. Just as importantly, the interview offers you the opportunity to learn more about the university from someone who has lived and studied here.
Interviews are typically conducted in a central location (e.g. a coffee shop or your high school guidance office) and last 30-60 minutes. We recommend that you dress in business casual attire and that you come prepared to talk about your interests and activities and to ask informed questions about Duke.
Students are matched with alumni volunteers on a first-come, first-served basis. We encourage students who wish to interview to submit their application by the Early Decision deadline (November 1) or the Regular Decision priority interview deadline (December 20).
If you submit your application, including the Duke Writing Supplement, by the appropriate deadline and there is an alumni interviewing committee in your local area, a committee member will contact you via phone or email to arrange an interview.
If You Don't Receive an Interview
Unfortunately, we don’t have alumni volunteers everywhere. Candidates who do not hear from an interviewer by the second week of November (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, but we want to be sure that those students whose applications won't include interview reports have an opportunity for an additional voice of support in their files.
Your chances of admission won't be affected adversely if we are unable to offer you an interview, nor will they be affected if you choose not to send an extra recommendation.
Due to the high volume of applicants we receive from China, Duke will accept admissions interviews from InitialView for students attending school in China. These interviews will serve in lieu of alumni interviews. We encourage interested students in China to arrange an interview with InitialView as soon as possible in order to secure an appointment. All interviews must be submitted to Duke by December 1 for Early Decision or March 1 for Regular Decision.
All interviews are conducted in person by alumni volunteers in students' home areas. We do not conduct on-campus interviews.
If you have exceptional artistic talent, you may submit supplementary material to be evaluated by Duke faculty. Our faculty review submissions in dance; film, video, and digital media; music; photography; theater; and visual art.
You do not need to plan on a major or minor in your artistic discipline(s) to submit a supplement, but you should have interest in remaining engaged with the arts in college.
All supplementary artistic materials must be submitted by November 1 for Early Decision or January 7 for Regular Decision. Transfer applicants may submit artistic materials between February 15 and March 15.
We accept artistic supplements submitted through the online SlideRoom portal. Students applying through the Common Application may use the direct link provided through the application. Students using the Coalition Application should go to duke.slideroom.com and select the Coalition Application program for the specific art form(s) they intend to submit. Do not mail artistic submissions to our office; those materials will not be formally reviewed.
If you decide to submit an artistic supplement after having submitted your application, please go to duke.slideroom.com and follow the instructions.
We do not accept creative writing samples for faculty review. A brief creative writing sample of no more than two pages, labeled with your full name and date of birth, may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. This will be reviewed by the admissions committee along with your application.
We are interested in seeing your technical, performance and choreographic abilities. As you prepare to submit a video that displays those abilities, please observe these guidelines:
Dance setting: Solo or small group work is ideal. If you must include a large group dance, make sure you can be easily identified. We would like to see you in a performance situation, however, excerpts from a technique class are acceptable.
Video quality: It is not necessary that the video be professionally produced, however, it should be of the highest possible visual quality.
Length: 10 minutes is ideal. You may excerpt sections of works in performance and/or rehearsal. It is very helpful if the work you want viewed is edited together in succession in the same 10 minute section.
Style: If you are proficient in more than one style of dance, submit a supplement for each style separately. You may submit up to 10 minutes per style. Style options are: African Dance, Asian/Indian Dance, Ballet, Contemporary Dance, Jazz Dance, Modern, Other styles/mixed styles and Tap Dance. Choreography in each of these areas is welcome.
Include a written description of the website link providing the following information about the recording:
- Title of works, choreographer, and music/sound accompaniment
- Date of the recording
- Length of the pieces/excerpt
- If it is an ensemble, a description of yourself
- Any other information you feel is pertinent
Please also submit an abbreviated resume in the "Additional Information" section of SlideRoom with any pertinent dance or dance-related experience. You may also include a short narrative statement about the role that dance has played in your life and the role you see it playing in your college career, your experience in different or multiple dance styles, your choreographic interest and experience, community involvement, and anything else you consider important about your dancing.
For any other questions please feel free to call the Dance Program at 919-660-3354 or email email@example.com.
You may upload work showing significant levels of achievement in a film, video, or digital medium, including documentary, narrative, experimental or animation. Submissions should be no longer than 10 minutes in length.
Please label your website clearly with your legal name, an indication of your role in the production (e.g., director, screenwriter, editor), project title and year completed. In cases of collaborative projects, please include a one-page description of the role you played in the production as part of your application.
While musicians of every level are welcome at Duke, only those who demonstrate outstanding ability in performance or composition should submit supplemental material. Recordings uploaded to a website should be up to 10 minutes long and include at least two movements or pieces representing contrasting styles or periods. Each selection must be an unedited solo performance.
If possible, include piano accompaniment where appropriate. Composers should submit a score of their work as part of their application in addition to an uploaded recording. Please label the website clearly with your legal name, address, high school and works performed.
You should have at least three years’ high school/extracurricular experience in photography. Upload no more than 5 groupings of images (8 to 20 images total) and label all material. We encourage you to upload work that shows your depth as a photographer, that depicts work you’ve shown in exhibitions, and that has received awards.
Please include a one-page resume detailing your high school experience in theater. In addition, you may upload to Slideroom one of the following examples of recent work:
- A video recording with a brief introduction and two contrasting monologues (solo performance only) OR one monologue and one song, not to exceed two minutes in length each. Excerpts from productions will not be considered.
- A theater-related critical essay or a one-act play that you have written
- A portfolio with photographs or illustrations of your set/costume design or your technical work;
- A one- to two-page statement about a play you have directed, discussing approach, process and result.
If you have questions regarding format or content, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Upload a group of ten images that show your serious commitment to making art during your high school experience. You may combine multiple images into collages to create the ten images requested. Do not include work done prior to high school. Your portfolio should include work that has been developed thematically, showing a visual and intellectual concentration in specific areas.
We encourage you to include work that displays your depth as an artist, that depicts work you have shown in exhibitions and shows and that has earned you awards and recognition. Please remember that your work is being evaluated for its artistic design and intellectual merit, so your portfolio should include only work that shows your serious commitment to art. Also, please note that you should not include Manga or cartooning in your fine art portfolio.
What does Duke look for in an applicant?
Every year, thousands of the world's best students apply to Duke. They come from public, private and parochial schools, and from all points on the economic, political, and geographic spectrum. Most have graduated in the top 10 percent of their secondary school class. These top students are attracted to Duke for its academic challenge, stimulating campus environment, and reputation for educating men and women of influence and achievement. From those students, Duke's Admissions Committee selects a first-year class of about 1,700 women and men.
First, please understand that we do not have a minimum required score for either the SAT or ACT, nor do we have a minimum required GPA or class rank.
We do not report average SAT or ACT scores, but you can view the middle 50 percent range for standardized test scores of last year's admitted students here. Likewise, we do not quote an average GPA. We ask for a student’s GPA and class rank, when available, but we also realize that many schools consider GPA on different scales and some schools do not consider GPA or class rank at all. We consider this information in the context of what guidance counselors tell us about their schools.
Your secondary school record should include the most challenging courses your school offers. We recommend four years of English and at least three years of mathematics, natural science, foreign language and social studies. We also encourage you to enroll in advanced-level work in as many of these areas as possible. We generally expect students to enroll in five academic courses per year, and if a student does not take four years in a particular subject area, it should be replaced with an academic course of equal rigor. If you are applying to the Pratt School of Engineering, calculus is required before you enroll. We also strongly recommend, but do not require, that you have taken physics.
Successful Duke applicants typically have significant extracurricular commitments, all of which we value. Most students admitted to Duke have demonstrated, in a word, impact. In some venue they 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.
Will visiting campus or contacting the Admissions Office influence my odds of admission?
We do not track the number of contacts or visits to campus an applicant has made. Although we are always glad when students visit campus, demonstrated interest is not an advantage in the admissions process. We prefer to focus on a student's strengths and accomplishments.
Does Duke accept Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate credits?
Duke recognizes the Advanced Placement Program of the College Board and grants a limited amount of elective credit and placement into advanced courses for scores of 4 or 5 on most AP exams. AP exams may not be taken once students have enrolled at Duke.
Entering students who have completed internationally recognized college-level examinations with high scores will receive international placement credit in essentially the same way that credit is awarded for AP exams.
Does Duke accept resumes as part of a student's application materials?
Duke will not be accepting activity resumes for the 2016 application process.
If you have information that you need to share with us that will not be reflected elsewhere in your application, you may add it to the Additional Information section of the application.
When and how should I schedule a visit to Duke?
Visit our Plan Your Trip section of the site to learn more.
Does Duke offer preprofessional majors?
Because of Duke’s core commitment to a liberal arts education, Duke does not offer premedicine, prebusiness or prelaw majors, minors or certificates. Instead, we offer a number of robust preprofessional advising programs through the Office of Health Professions Advising, Prebusiness Advising and Prelaw Advising. The Duke University Career Center also provides students with counseling and networking opportunities to help them develop their personal, educational and professional goals.
Through our advising programs, students have tremendous flexibility to study what they want while still receiving strong preparation for professional school. Our medical school and law school acceptance rates are 85% and 98%, respectively, and many of our alumni go on to be leaders in medicine, business and law.
Where can I find information about campus safety?
Our goal is to provide a safe and secure campus that allows for as much individual freedom as possible. Some of the many safety and security programs and initiatives at Duke include: an on-campus police force with round-the-clock patrol, a system for locking residence halls 24 hours a day and using Duke cards for entry, emergency notification systems and hundreds of "help phones" located around campus. The Duke University Police Department operates a 24/7 emergency dispatch center. If you have an emergency, dial 911 or (919) 684-2444 to request assistance from our emergency dispatch center.
The Annual Security and Fire Safety Reports include institutional policies concerning campus safety and security, and statistics for the previous three years concerning reported crimes that occurred on Duke University and adjacent public property and fires that occurred in residence halls. A copy is available online or upon request to the Duke Police Department at 919-684-4602.
- View your application status
- Confirm receipt of required documents and test scores
- Change your decision plan
- Change your college of interest
- Update your name, address, email and more
- Update your financial aid status
- View your admissions decision
If you have earned new honors or awards since you submitted your application, you may send any updates you would like us to review to the address noted below or to email@example.com. (Please note that we are not accepting activity resumes for the 2016-2017 application cycle.) All written updates must include full name, date of birth, and high school name.
The deadline for submission of application updates for Early Decision is November 15, 2016 and for Regular Decision is February 25, 2017.