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Duke Undergraduate Admissions

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Preview your first-year experience...

Independence. Anticipation. Discovery.

The first-year experience at Duke takes place primarily on our historic East Campus, which is home to over 1,700 first-year students. You will live, learn, study, explore and socialize on East, the center of a distinctive academic, extracurricular and cultural first year.

Living on Campus

Welcome home to East Campus and Duke’s first-year experience!

All first-year Duke undergraduates live together on historic East Campus, a residential arrangement that fosters a close-knit community. You may arrive not knowing anyone, but you will quickly meet classmates and start building friendships that will grow throughout your time at Duke and beyond.

The first-year experience introduces you to the Duke focus of growing and learning in both formal and impromptu situations from peers as well as professors. You’ll meet people from diverse backgrounds and explore new interests and possibilities. From your home on East Campus, you’ll quickly discover Durham’s restaurants, shops and arts destinations that begin on the neighboring blocks. You’ll also explore the rest of Duke, which is an easy walk, bike or bus ride away along Campus Drive.

East Campus Bell Tower

All first-year students live in residence halls on East Campus in a housing community intentionally designed to support the needs and interests of those new to college life. 

All residence halls come equipped with staff members: Residence Coordinators, Graduate Residents and Residential Assistants are there to make sure the students are comfortable, safe and engaged in the quad community.

First-year students are assigned to housing randomly, but they have an opportunity to state preferences for things like single rooms, single-sex or coed halls and specific living communities. Rooms include a chest of drawers, closet or wardrobe, mirror, study desk and chair, bookcase or shelving, window blinds, a bed and computer network connections. 

East Campus

Duke believes an exceptional residential undergraduate experience is part of your education and we require you to live on campus your first three years. After a year on the all-freshman East Campus, you then move into a “house” with a mix of sophomores, juniors and seniors. Upperclass students reside in sections of West Campus residential halls or in clusters of apartments on Central Campus, which has its own restaurants, pool and playing fields. Seniors can continue living in their houses or branch out into Durham.

You and a few close friends can live in an upperclass house where the residents define the house’s character. Or you can choose a house where everyone shares a common interest in something like the arts, wellness, community service or entrepreneurism. Others choose to join a fraternity or sorority and live with members of their Greek organizations. For more specifics, check out our housing site.

McClendon Tower - part of K4

Duke has a number of living communities for students with specific academic or extracurricular interests.

The Focus Program
The Focus Program is an interdisciplinary program in which first-year students with common intellectual interests live and learn together. Duke offers around a dozen Focus Program topics a year, and each examines a different theme. 

Performing Arts
Any incoming first-year student may choose to live in the performing arts community—and you don't need to be a music or drama major. 

Life in the Performing Arts Community will include guest speakers, an activities fair, weekly events (poetry readings, performances, etc.), student art exhibits, community service opportunities and access to arts-related events in the Triangle area.

The East Campus Wellness Living/Learning Community at Duke University allows first-year students the opportunity to learn healthy living habits and be a part of an interactive wellness community. The community offers a shared commitment among Duke students and staff to the development and practice of healthy living; an environment free of alcohol, tobacco and illegal substances; quiet hours each evening for studying. Members are expected to refrain from the use and possession of alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs at all times.

Living Communities

Duke offers cuisine that defies all preconceived notions about dorm food.

You can choose from:

  • Ten different Dining Plans that all involve an ultra-flexible debit system (points) that allows students to purchase what they want, when they want. All students are required to participate in Duke's Dining Plan to some degree, but they can choose the degree.
  • Twenty-six unique campus eateries where you can get everything from smoothies to burritos to General Tso's chicken. (FYI: In a recent "highly scientific" survey, 51 percent of Duke students agreed that the best place to eat on West Campus is The Loop.)
  • Eleven Merchants-on-Points restaurants that deliver to dorms on all meal plans, at all hours. MOP just might become your best friend—all it takes is that one night when you're out of cash, you missed dinner, and you have four more chapters to get through...
  • Though vegetarian options are plentiful, there is also Plan V, a vegetarian food co-op chartered by the Duke Student Government.
  • Students who require a kosher diet may eat at the Freeman Center for Jewish Life. 

To learn more about eating on campus, check out the Duke Dining site

The Duke dining program features more than 40 restaurants and cafes with an abundance of options and nutritious choices that helped Duke earn top rankings as one of the best campuses for college dining.

The East Campus dining hall is The Marketplace, where the menu emphasizes fresh ingredients, seasonal vegetables, and variety—with various stations including homestyle favorites, grill items, a full salad bar, pasta, pizza, a deli and a world station with rotating entrees from around the globe. There is also a Belgian waffle station, a full variety of breakfast cereals, and homemade breads, soups and desserts.

Please see a comprehensive list of venues and menus on campus. 

The Duke community includes people from all over the world with different tastes and eating habits. Our diverse offerings are among the reasons that Duke has been ranked as the best in the nation for healthy campus food, according to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

Balance Your Plate is an educational campaign, sponsored by Duke Student Health, Duke Dining and Bon Appétit, intended to address the “how to” of healthy eating at a glance. A plate that regularly reflects choices from all food groups, in moderate portions, is a practical and easy way to stay healthy and manage your weight.

Duke also has a strong commitment to sustainability with 70 percent of Duke Dining’s  food waste composted, as well as ongoing efforts to source more food from local farms. To learn more about “green” dining at Duke, visit Duke Sustainability.

Anyone who has general questions about food allergies may contact, Franca Alphin, Director of Nutrition Services, at (919) 613-7486 or via email at

No matter where on campus you live, Duke's instructional programs, fitness and wellness programs and outstanding facilities are nearby. The hours are flexible enough to accommodate just about any schedule. Learn more about health and wellness on the Student Affairs' website

Student Health Services (SHS) at Duke University is jointly supported by the Division of Student Affairs and the Department of Pediatrics. The Duke Student Health Center is the primary source for a wide range of healthcare services, many of which are covered by the Student Health Fee.

Additionally, the Student Wellness Center is dedicated to fostering a living/learning environment on campus and within the surrounding community that encourages the full development of the individual as an engaged member of the community.

You don’t have to play Division I sports to be active at Duke. Duke Recreation & Physical Education offers a wide range of programs that encourage healthy lifestyles through education and recreation. Gifts support our daily operations and provide funding for new intramural and club sport teams, equipment upgrades and facility improvements.

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) helps Duke students enhance strengths and develop abilities to successfully live, grow and learn in their personal and academic lives. We offer many services to Duke undergraduate, graduate and professional students, including brief individual counseling/psychotherapy, consultation, couples and group counseling, assistance with referrals and more.

CAPS staff also provide outreach education programs to student groups, particularly programs supportive of at-risk populations. on a wide range of issues impacting them in various aspects of campus life.

Duke University seeks to attain and maintain a place of leadership in all that we do. This includes leadership in environmental stewardship and sustainability on our campus, in our medical institutions and in the larger community of which we are a part.

We are committed to examining the actual and potential environmental impacts associated with our activities and services in order to continually improve environmental performance. Visit the Duke Sustainability website to learn more.

Green dorm room

Joining a group that is working to make Duke more sustainable is one of the best ways for students, staff and faculty to have an impact.

Duke University seeks to make sustainability a part of the educational experience for every student through courses in diverse fields addressing the core concepts of sustainability, research opportunities and interactions with the campus as a sustainability living laboratory.

No matter what your relation to the university, whether it be as a student, faculty, staff, alumnus or Durham resident, we want you to get involved in greening Duke.

Learn more at Duke's Sustainability site. 

Read about first-year experiences from Duke freshmen.

Follow our bloggers and read about their first year at Duke.

Meet Our Freshman Bloggers
Latest Freshmen Blog Post
Ask Admissions: Blue Devil Days

Ask Admissions: Blue Devil Days

Posted by Ashley Alman , March 3, 2013

Campus Safety

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.

While drinking alcohol is not uncommon among American undergraduates nationwide, Duke has clear expectations and strict policies about  breaking state laws and university rules. Breaking the rules has serious consequences.

The Annual Clery Security Report for Duke includes specific policies concerning campus safety and security, as well as statistics for the previous three years. A copy of this report can be obtained by contacting the Duke Police Department at (919) 684-4602 or by accessing the report online. The pertinent statutory authority is at 34 CFR Part 668.41 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

Getting Around Campus

Getting Around Campus

Duke’s beautiful campus is filled with trees and green space. In order to maintain this natural atmosphere, most parking is found on the periphery of campus. Duke's Parking & Transportation Services provides parking facilities, buses and shuttles, and various means of alternative transportation and Duke's bus system connect all areas of campus. All students, including freshmen, are allowed to have cars on campus. Freshmen can park on East Campus and upperclass students can park on Central or West, close to living spaces.  Durham has many public transportation options with stops on campus, including the Bull City Connector and the Durham Area Transit Authority (DATA buses), both free to Duke students. 

Duke's new GPS transit system allows real-time location data for Duke buses. Duke community members and visitors can use a computer or mobile device to track buses at any of the 113 bus stops on and around campus.

Additionally, Duke Van Services provides free rides to and from on-campus locations when bus service is unavailable, as well as to off-campus areas. 

Duke Traditions
A spirited place

This is an amazingly friendly place where people of extraordinarily various backgrounds learn to accomplish things together they couldn’t achieve on their own. It’s a place where people take trouble to challenge each other, to support each other, to respect each other and to enjoy each other.

Richard Brodhead, President

K-Ville and Cameron Crazies

Krzyzewskiville, or K-ville for short, is a phenomenon that occurs before major men's basketball games at Duke University. In simplest terms, it is the line for undergraduate students wishing to gain access to the designated tenting games. Students await placement for sought-after seats at games, living in a community of tents outside of Cameron Indoor Stadium. Coach K has been known to buy pizza for the K-Ville residents and has held open-forum "team meetings" with the Cameron Crazies before games.


This international cultural festival, held on main West Quad, is a popular annual event open to the entire Duke community. Springternational showcases the many cultures represented at Duke and features international food, music and performances.


Froshlife is an annual competition that brings first-year students together with filmmaking equipment to produce short movies about their Duke experience. Films are judged at their “world premiere” on East Campus.

Bricks to Stone

Bricks to Stone

Bricks to Stone is a ceremony that signals the end of the first-year experience and the transition to the larger Duke community. Students are “pinned” with a special class pin by administrators and faculty who have played meaningful roles during the students’ first year at Duke.

Midnight Breakfast

Midnight Breakfast

At the end of each semester, the East Campus Council works with Duke Dining Services to host a late-night study break in the Marketplace. Midnight Breakfast has become a campus tradition and students look forward to receiving the themed t-shirt in addition to the yummy late-night meal. Past themes have transported hungry students to Candyland, a Rock Concert, Sailing the Seas and even a Boy Band event.