Duke Undergraduate Admissions

Early & Regular Decision

Regular and Early Decision Overview

Detailed instructions for both of these options are found on the Application Instructions page.

Early Decision

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.

Regular Decision

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 2012-2013, we admitted 30% of students who applied Early Decision and 10% 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.

Early Decision Overview

Students who have determined that Duke is their clear first choice of colleges may apply through our Early Decision program. 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.

In applying Early Decision, students commit to enroll at Duke if they are admitted in December.  Students who apply Early Decision to Duke may apply to other schools through any regular, rolling, or nonrestrictive early programs that will not place them into conflicting agreements with either institution.  If admitted to Duke, Early Decision candidates agree to withdraw any applications that they have submitted to other schools.

About 8% of Duke applicants choose to apply Early Decision, and there is an advantage in the admissions process to making that choice. In 2012-2013, we admitted 30% of students who applied Early Decision and 10% of students who applied Regular Decision.

Early Decision applications should be submitted by November 8 (extended due to Common Application challenges for some users).  Candidates will be notified of their admission decision by December 15 and should reply to our offer of admission and withdraw all other college applications by January 6.  Students who submit their financial aid applications by November 15 will receive their need-based financial aid awards along with their acceptance letters. Students not accepted in December may have their applications deferred to Regular Decision for further consideration or may be denied admission.

A full list of Early Decision deadlines and application forms can be found here.

Early Decision Myths and Facts

Myth: November 1 is just around the corner, so I don't have time to finish my application.
Fact: Given the challenges some users have experienced with the new version of the Common Application, Duke has extended the Early Decision deadline to Friday, November 8.

Myth: I can't apply Early Decision because my testing isn't complete.
Duke is happy to accept scores for Early Decision applicants from the October 26 ACT and the November 2 SAT tests.  You do not need to rush your scores.  Just include Duke as a score recipient when you take the test. Our SAT ID number is 5156, and our ACT ID number is 3088.  If you are applying from outside the United States, you may apply early without SAT SubjectTests provided that you have registered to take them in December.

Myth: The Early Decision process is more competitive than Regular Decision.
Fact: While some schools make this claim, at Duke we appreciate that we are your unquestioned first choice.  There’s an advantage in applying early to Duke—last year we admitted 30% of our Early Decision candidates and only 10% of our Regular Decision candidates. There are students for whom applying Early Decision can make all the difference.

Myth: The reason schools have higher acceptance rates for Early Decision is because athletes and children of alumni apply then.
Fact: Some schools do encourage athletes and alumni children to apply during Early Decision, but our philosophy is to encourage all students who have Duke as a clear first choice to apply Early Decision and gain that benefit.


Myth: I’m better off waiting until I get my first semester grades so that my application looks stronger.
Fact: Some students do benefit from waiting for that first set of grades, but for most applicants there’s more of an advantage in letting us know Duke is your top choice by applying Early Decision. Even if your application is deferred to our Regular Decision pool, the fact that you applied Early Decision remains part of your application.


Myth: I need to wait until I see my test scores to send in the application.
Fact: Duke always considers your best scores when reviewing testing. While you’re welcome to use Score Choice if you prefer, there’s no need to wait until you’ve seen your scores to apply.

Myth: I’ll have to commit to attend Duke without knowing if my family can afford it.
Fact: Duke commits to meeting full demonstrated financial need for every admitted student, and there is no financial aid advantage or disadvantage in applying Early Decision. You can learn a great deal about our financial aid practices and get an estimate of your financial aid award by using the Net Price Calculator on our Financial Aid website. If you are admitted and fill out the required forms by the appropriate deadlines, you will receive your need-based financial aid package at the same time you receive your admissions decision.

In the rare instances when students ultimately cannot afford to attend Duke, they may be released from the binding Early Decision commitment. Out of 757 students admitted Early Decision last year, fewer than 10 could ultimately not afford to attend Duke; after discussions among the family, the Financial Aid Office, and the Admissions Office, those students were released from their Early Decision commitment.

Myth: I won’t be in the running for merit scholarships if I apply Early Decision.
Fact: Duke offers a very limited number of merit-based scholarships, and all applicants, including Early Decision applicants, are considered for scholarships in the spring.  However, if you wish to compare different schools' financial aid packages or are depending specifically on a merit scholarship (rather than need-based financial aid) to make college affordable, we suggest you apply Regular Decision.

Deadlines are determined by the online submission date or by the postmark.