Gap Years and Duke

Explore. Discover. Grow.

Gap Years and Duke

There are few opportunities in life where you can take a meaningful amount of time to pause, reflect, explore, and grow. There are even fewer opportunities where you can do so knowing you have a truly exceptional opportunity waiting for you. A gap year is your opportunity to catch your breath, gain some perspective, make a difference in a community near or far, grow as a person, and be better prepared for all that Duke has to offer.

Quote Created with Sketch.

“My gap year gave me the time to think about where I’m going, but more importantly, to reflect on how I would get there.”

Makee Anderson
Class of 2024

What is a gap year?

We consider a gap year to be the break taken by students before enrolling at Duke. The experiences had during this time can take many different forms, but regardless of how you choose to spend it, a gap year can provide many benefits.

Gap years can include:

  • Travel
  • Volunteering and community service
  • Internships or paid work
  • Skill-development
  • Military or religious service
  • And so much more!


We recommend that students consider a gap year as an opportunity to broaden their horizons. Regardless of what you are involved in, you will have the opportunities to grow and learn more about yourself and the world.

There are some important questions you should ask yourself as you begin to plan your year:

  • What do I want to do?
  • How do I want to benefit?
  • How much will it cost?
  • What skills can I acquire?


The Gap Year Association is a great place to get started and can help you realize just how many opportunities are out there!

To hear directly from students, you can read the Duke Gap Year Program blogs or GapYearly, which also has a database of programs to explore.

Gap Year Pathways

Admitted students can request to defer their enrollment for one year* – their space in the class for the following year will be held for them. Duke does not approve gap semesters.

*Two-year deferrals are awarded on a case by case basis, usually for required military or religious service requirements.

If you want to defer your enrollment, there are two pathways you can follow:

  • Independent Deferral – Any student who wishes to defer their enrollment can request their gap year through their Applicant Portal.
  • Duke Gap Year Program – Those who are interested in joining a cohort of students who are taking intentional gap years, emphasizing civic engagement and personal discovery, may apply to join the Duke Gap Year Program. Some funding may also be available. An application is made available to all admitted students.

The deadline to request a gap year is May 31, 2022.

Gap Year Conditions

All students who choose to defer their enrollment must accept the following conditions:

  • You agree not to apply for admission as a degree-seeking student to any other college or university during the remainder of this year or during the coming year.
  • You may not enroll at another college or university as a degree-seeking or part-time student during your gap year with the expectation of:
    • Receiving Duke credit for those courses
    • Repeating those courses at Duke for credit
  • You may not enroll in a post-graduate program at a secondary school.
  • You continue to abide by both the Conditions of Application and the conditions mentioned in your letter of admission: We expect you to maintain high standards of academic performance and personal behavior in and out of school, which includes abiding by our Community Standard. If there is any change in the information in your application—including any academic, personal, disciplinary, or legal matters—you must contact the admissions office within 48 hours.


Gap year students will receive an email from Duke Admissions in January of the year they intend to enroll, asking them to confirm their plans to matriculate in the fall. Students should notify the Admissions Office of any changes to their contact information in order to receive this information in a timely manner.

Once their enrollment is confirmed, students will begin to receive email communication from other campus offices, including New Student Programs, Housing, Visa Services, etc. They will also be invited to admitted student events throughout the spring.

Financial Aid

Students who applied for financial aid during the application process will need to reapply with updated financial aid information in order to receive their new package. Students should connect with the Karsh Office of Undergraduate Financial Support with questions about this process.

Students who were awarded a merit scholarship will maintain that scholarship after their gap year.


All first-year applicants admitted to Duke are eligible to apply to the Duke Gap Year Program. DGYP members will be admitted to the program based on their plans, which should emphasize community service and personal growth.


As a member of the Duke Gap Year Program, students are expected to:

  • Provide blog and social media posts during their gap year
  • Participate in surveys to contribute to studies conducted by the Gap Year Research Consortium
  • Once enrolled at Duke, serve as mentors to the next cohort of students and participate in on-campus events and programming


  • Students who need financial assistance to support their gap year plans can request up to $15,000 in funding from the Duke Gap Year Program.
  • In most cases, funding will be distributed directly to the student in two payments, one in July and one in January. The funding can be applied toward program costs, transportation, housing, equipment, and other expenses directly associated with their gap year program.
  • Awards will not be considered in the student’s financial aid package; however, they will be considered reportable income for that tax year.

Applying to the DGYP

The Duke Gap Year Program is now available and the deadline to apply is May 31, 2022. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Students can learn more and submit their applications through the link below.

Apply Now to the Duke Gap Year Program

DGYP Resources

Interesting in learning more about the Duke Gap Year Program and want to start planning your own gap year?

Take a look at some of the resources below to get started:

  • Duke Gap Year Program – Current Students and Blogs
  • Gap Year Association – A national non-profit that is a comprehensive gap year guide and resource
  • GapYearly – A gap year planning guide for students by students, with first-hand accounts and mentorship from former gappers
  • Service Year – A database of volunteer and civic engagement opportunities
Duke student pets two horses.
Skijler, a Duke Gap Year student backpacking in Auvillar, France.

Outdoor Experiences

Skijler Hiking the Camino de Santiago

“I walked 250 miles with nothing but myself and a backpack.”
Read More

Community Service

Cate’s work with the Sierra Club

“I worked on restoring Idaho’s wild salmon populations to healthy, sustainable levels and learned so much more about running successful policy campaigns.”
Read More

Personal Projects

Mack’s Prep School

“MSP is the academic nonprofit I founded with the mission of equipping under-resourced and economically disadvantaged high schoolers with all the necessary skills, knowledge and tools to take advantage of their education.”
Read More


Maia’s time in Israel

“For the first two months of being in Israel, each week felt like a new adventure.”
Read More