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Principles of Selection

James B. Duke, in his Indenture of Trust, requested that “great care and discrimination be exercised in admitting as students only those whose previous record shows a character, determination, and application evincing a wholesome and real ambition for life.” Therefore, in considering prospective students, Duke University looks beyond the basic characteristics of academic competence possessed by the majority of applicants. It seeks, regardless of race, color, religion, national and ethnic origin, gender, handicap, sexual orientation, or age, not only evidence of intellectual promise and maturity of judgment, but also a sense of life beyond the classroom. Often, this is expressed in the form of special talents and accomplishments; it is seen consistently in a student’s determination to make creative use of the opportunities and challenges posed by Duke University. 

Requirements for Application

As there are occasional changes in admission policies or procedures after the printing deadline for the Bulletin of Undergraduate Instruction, candidates are urged to consult the Duke Admissions website at for specific admissions information, dates, and policies.

Degree Status

Although there are no inflexible requirements as to subject matter, students are urged to choose a broad and challenging high school program. Candidates for admission should present a minimum of four years of English and at least three of mathematics, natural sciences, a foreign language, and social studies. Applicants to Pratt School of Engineering are strongly advised to take four years of mathematics and four years of science, including physics. Calculus is a prerequisite for admission to Pratt School of Engineering.

Duke University has a test-optional policy for students applying for first-year or transfer admission. Applications will be equally considered regardless of whether or not students submit SAT or ACT scores. Duke University will continue to consider self-reported and/or official scores from the SAT and ACT, English proficiency tests, Advanced Placement tests, International Baccalaureate exams, and A-level and other similar national exams from students who choose to submit them. Duke will accept self-reported scores for purposes of assessing an application; scores sent from testing agencies will be required only from those students who enroll at Duke.

Nondegree Status

Summer Session. Persons who are or were at the time of leaving their home institutions in good standing in accredited colleges or universities may be admitted for summer study only by the director of the summer session. Duke students who are on leave or who have been involuntarily withdrawn from the university are not eligible to enroll in courses during the summer session or fall and spring terms.

Continuing Studies. Admission as a continuing studies student at Duke is limited to adults who live in the Triangle area; Duke graduates; persons who will be moving into the area and plan to reside here for a substantial period of time, for family and work reasons; and visiting college students desiring a course of study particular to Duke. These students are given academic counseling by the Office of Continuing Studies; they are subject to most of the regulations set forth for degree candidates. Duke students who are on leave or who have been involuntarily withdrawn from the university are not eligible to enroll as nondegree students through the Office of Continuing Studies. Because these students oftentimes are prohibited from being on the Duke campus, they should also understand that they may not enroll in any noncredit classes that meet on Duke’s campus.

Application Procedures

Degree Status

Information regarding applying for admission may be obtained online at the Duke Admissions website at A nonrefundable processing fee that is determined annually must accompany the first part of the application. Students may apply using either the Common Application or Coalition Application. The Common Application ( and the Coalition Application ( are available online.

A personal interview is not required for admission, but it provides an opportunity to learn more about an applicant’s strengths and goals. All interviews are conducted by alumni volunteers. Students who submit their Common Application by the Early Decision deadline (November 1) or the Regular Decision priority interview deadline (December 20) will be contacted by alumni on a first-come, first-served basis. While Duke makes every effort to interview all applicants who submit applications by these deadlines, interviews are not guaranteed.

Regular Decision. Candidates who wish to enter Duke as first-year students must submit a completed application no later than January 2 of the year in which they intend to enroll. Decisions are provided by the university in late March, and accepted candidates are expected to reserve a place in the class by May 1.

Early Decision. The Early Decision plan is designed to provide well-qualified students who know Duke is their first choice a means of indicating that commitment to the university and notification of a decision early enough to eliminate the necessity of applying to several colleges.

Candidates who apply for Early Decision are required to sign a statement confirming their commitment to enroll at Duke if they are admitted in the Early Decision process. Under this agreement, applicants are required to withdraw all applications to other colleges and universities once they learn of their admission to Duke. Students applying to Duke under Early Decision may not apply to any school whose conditions of application conflict with those outlined in Duke’s Early Decision agreement. However, Early Decision applicants are still able to apply to other schools whose conditions of application do not conflict with Duke’s, provided they enroll at Duke if admitted. Duke reserves the right to withdraw the applications of students accepted to other schools under binding Early Decision plans. Secondary school counselors and parents are also asked to sign the Early Decision agreement. Students who are denied admission under the Early Decision program may not reapply for admission under the Regular Decision program.

Students applying for Early Decision must submit a completed application by November 1. Applicants are notified of their status—admit, defer, or deny—by mid-December. Admitted students are expected to respond by January 6. The credentials of candidates who are deferred are considered along with candidates for Regular Decision. Deferred students are no longer bound by the Early Decision agreement and are free to accept offers of admission from other colleges and universities.

Midyear Admission. A midyear (January) admission program has not been offered to first-year students for a number of years and there are no current plans to reinstate one.

Transfer Admission. A limited number of transfer seats may be available, and the number will vary from year to year. Prospective transfer students should refer to the Duke Admissions website at for the most up-to-date information on the transfer process. Duke considers transfer applicants intending to enter Duke as sophomores or juniors. All students entering the Trinity College of Arts & Sciences must meet the college’s curriculum requirements in addition to the requirements of their selected major. For most transfer students, this will require up to six semesters at Duke to complete. Candidates must submit completed application forms, official transcripts of all work completed at other accredited colleges, high school records, scores on the SAT or ACT, and employment records if there has been an extended period of employment since graduation from secondary school. See the section “Transfer Credit for Students Transferring to Duke.”

Transfer applicants submit a completed application by March 15, learn of their decisions in mid-May, and must respond to the university by June 1.

Nondegree Status

Summer Session. General information, registration forms, and schedules of courses may be obtained from the office’s website ( or by calling (919) 684-6259. An application fee is required.

Continuing Education. Applications may be obtained from the Office of Continuing Studies and must be returned to that office, accompanied by the application fee, by August 1 for the fall semester, by December 1 for the spring semester, by April 15 for Summer Session Term 1, and by June 1 for Summer Session Term 2.

A certain grade point average over four courses must be attained before a nondegree student may apply for degree candidacy. More detailed information on nondegree coursework through continuing education is available from the Office of Continuing Studies by calling (919) 684-5375.

Readmission of Former Students. All undergraduate students (including those of The Pratt School of Engineering) applying to return to Duke from a leave of absence, withdrawal, dismissal, or suspension must apply directly to the Office of Student Returns located in Trinity College Office of the Academic Deans. Students on leave of absence or who have been dismissed are not eligible to enroll in classes through the Office of Continuing Studies. For additional information, visit the Time Away Office website at Also, see the section “Changes in Status.”