Preparation for Graduate and Professional Schools

Students planning to enter a graduate or professional school should consult published information from the relevant advising programs or offices for guidance (i.e., Office of Pre-Law Advising at, Prebusiness Advising at, Pregraduate Advising at, and Office of Health Professions Advising at For specific information regarding courses and curriculum choices, students should seek input from their faculty advisors and pregraduate or preprofessional advisors where appropriate. Information specific to particular graduate and professional schools can be obtained from the website of each school. Graduate and professional schools require standardized tests for students seeking admission. Information on the tests can be obtained from the appropriate preprofessional school or pregraduate school advisor in Trinity College of Arts & Sciences.

Graduate Schools of Arts and Sciences

Students interested in obtaining a master of science, master of arts, or doctor of philosophy degree should discuss their plans as early as possible with faculty in the proposed field of advanced study and refer to the pregraduate advisor’s website. As undergraduates, they should become involved in research which may involve laboratory work, advanced seminars, or independent study. Graduate schools look favorably upon evidence that a student has conducted mentored research such as an honors thesis, leading to Graduation with Distinction. Many graduate schools require a reading knowledge of a foreign language. Information on this and other requirements is available in the bulletins of specific graduate programs and websites. It may also be available via the major department. A research mentor, a faculty advisor, and the PhD advisor in the major department are the best resources for advice about graduate school in the arts and sciences. General advice may be sought from the advisor for pregraduate study, 011 Allen Building.

Graduate Schools of Engineering

Students interested in graduate work in engineering should consult the associate dean of Pratt School of Engineering or the director of graduate studies in one of the engineering departments. Most engineering graduate schools require that a candidate have the equivalent of a bachelor of science in engineering degree; however, students in the natural and social sciences may obtain conditional admission if they have a sufficient background in mathematics.

Graduate Business Schools

Students seeking information about graduate business schools should consult the Graduate Business Advisor in Trinity College. In preparing for graduate business school, students should gain a good liberal arts background, by choosing courses that will help them develop communication skills and an understanding of human nature. Students should sharpen their analytical and quantitative skills. Most often this is done through courses in calculus, statistics, microeconomics, accounting, and computer science. Calculus, however, is the course of choice. Students should seek to develop their leadership skills through participation in classroom projects and by becoming active in any student organization of their choice. For further information visit the Graduate Business School Advisor in 011 Allen Building.

Medical and Dental Schools

Students planning to enter schools of medicine and dentistry can prepare for admission by completing any of the regular departmental majors in Program I or by completing Program II and taking those courses required by the professional schools of their choice. Health professions schools place a priority on well-rounded achievement. For most professional schools, you will need a baccalaureate degree from a four-year college and a solid background in science courses. You should meet the requirements for your major with demonstrated excellence and rigor.

In the past, medical schools and most dental and veterinary schools have had a relatively simple set of required courses, which included: two semesters each of inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, biology and physics (each with corresponding labs), and English. A few schools also required or recommended biochemistry, math and/or statistics, or additional biology courses. You will still see these requirements on many websites and in publications. However, MCAT 2015, which was first administered in April 2015, requires students to have, in addition to the above courses, a background in biochemistry, statistics, psychology, and sociology. Additionally, many medical schools are transitioning to “competency-based admissions,” which means that applicants will be expected to demonstrate competency rather than just completing a list of required courses. The intent is to allow applicants more flexibility and diversity in choosing courses and preparing for medicine. This is a period of change. Not all medical schools have transitioned to competency-based admissions and will still expect applicants to have the traditional semesters of chemistry, biology, and physics as a foundation. And even medical schools that are diverging from a “list” of required courses will still expect applicants to have taken coursework in biology, chemistry, and physics. Since Duke students generally apply to more than 20 medical schools, you will need to meet the course prerequisites for all the schools to which you plan to apply. For a complete listing of these and any additional course requirements set by each school, you should consult the Medical School Admissions Requirements, published by the Association of American Medical Colleges, or the Official Guide to Dental Schools, published by the American Dental Education Association. Students should discuss their programs of study with their major advisors, academic deans, and with an advisor for the health professions from the Office of Health Professions Advising.

Graduate Programs in the Health Professions

Students interested in careers as physical therapists, health administrators, or others of the allied health professions should prepare with coursework in the natural sciences and behavioral sciences within a liberal arts curriculum. Up-to-date information on allied health professions and programs is best accessed through the Internet. An advisor in the Office of Health Professions Advising is available to meet with students interested in allied health professions.

Law Schools

Students who plan to prepare for law school and a career in law should seek breadth in their undergraduate courses. They may choose to major in any field. Students should select courses that encourage thinking analytically and synthetically, as well as courses that strengthen oral and written communication skills.

For a fuller discussion of undergraduate preparation for the study of law, students should refer to the Duke Pre-Law Handbook or the Law School Admission Council (LSAC). For more information, visit the Office of Pre-Law Advising in 04 Allen Building.

Theological Study and Professional Religious Work

Students interested in studying theology are encouraged to enroll in a Duke Divinity School course to explore topics of interest and engage with faculty members and other administrative staff about possibilities for further study. Theological schools often affiliate with a particular denomination and specialize in areas of study and practice. If students have a denominational (or other tradition) affiliation, they may wish to confer with denominational representatives prepared to answer questions about theological study and qualifications for professional opportunities.

Preparation for graduate theological study often prioritizes a strong background in the humanities with broad knowledge in the areas of biblical and modern languages; religion, both in the Judeo-Christian and in the Near and Far Eastern traditions; English language and literature; history, including non-Western cultures as well as European and American; and philosophy, particularly its history and its methods. However, students with strong writing skills who have majored in other fields (such as the natural sciences, both the physical and the life sciences; psychology, sociology, and anthropology; and the fine arts and music) also thrive within theological studies. Most theological schools do not require languages for admission at the master degree level; however, doctoral programs in theological fields ordinarily require proficiency in two modern languages such as German and French prior to completing the program. Additionally, doctoral programs in biblical studies ordinarily require biblical language skill in Greek and Hebrew as a prerequisite for admission.

While theological degrees have most often been sought by persons desiring training for ordained ministry or other professional religious roles, theological degrees are also pursued by persons in other disciplines such as medicine, nursing, law, business, public policy, education, environmental studies, and social work to complement their studies and training.

More detailed information about theological study may be obtained from the Duke Divinity Office of Admissions by calling (919) 660-3436, sending an email to, or visiting