Regular and Early Decision Overview
Detailed instructions for both of these options are found on the Application Instructions page.
Students who have determined that Duke is their clear first choice of colleges may apply through our Early Decision program. In applying Early Decision, students commit to enroll at Duke if they are admitted in December. This option is suited for students who are sure Duke is their first choice, who have established strong and consistent academic records throughout secondary school and who will have completed all the required standardized testing by early November.
Most applicants apply to Duke through Regular Decision, which gives them time well into their last year of secondary school to think about the colleges that interest them most. Regular Decision applicants can apply to more than one college and can wait until the spring to make a commitment to the college of their choice.
Is there an advantage to applying through the Early Decision program?
There is an advantage in the admissions process to applying Early Decision. In 2011-2012, we admitted 25% of students who applied Early Decision and 12% of students who applied Regular Decision. There is no financial aid advantage or disadvantage in applying Early Decision, but students who wish to compare different schools' financial aid packages should apply Regular Decision.
Whom We Look For
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.
Because the admissions process is so personal and contextual, it's impossible to predict a candidate's chances of admission by looking at academic qualifications alone. We're guided initially 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 from two teachers and a counselor
- Extracurricular activities
- The quality of thought and expression in the application essay
- Standardized test scores
Students we accept haven't just gone through the motions—they've put heart and soul into the areas that interest them. Frankly, students we do not admit often have these qualities as well. That's why Admissions Committee members spend countless hours reading and evaluating applications each year. Ultimately, we consider applicants within the context of their particular circumstances and the applicant pool as a whole, and do our best to determine which students will make the best match with Duke.
Key Characteristics We Seek
- A sense of engagement -- with ideas, with other people, with a community
- An inclination to take full advantage of the talents and abilities you've been given
- An interest in being challenged; a healthy ambition
- The ability and desire to make a difference
- Creativity, curiosity and a sense of fun
- An openness to opportunities
We do NOT require minimum scores on the SAT or ACT, GPA, or class rank for consideration or admission.
Duke in Your Area
Every year our admissions officers travel to locations throughout the United States and the world to give high school students and their families an inside look at the Duke experience. At our programs, you can find out about Duke's academic offerings and student life, as well as the admissions process and financial assistance options. Learn more about Duke in your area.
How do my scores compare?
To gain a better perspective on the median scores of accepted students and to see how your achievements might compare:View the Class of 2016 Profile
We like students who love to think, who strive, who are willing to take a chance and who understand that sometimes you learn more from failure than from success. Christoph Guttentag, Dean of Undergraduate Admissions