Duke University Admissions Statistics

Learn About Duke and the GPA, SAT Scores and ACT Scores You'll Need to Get In

Duke University Chapel at sunrise
Duke University Chapel. uschools / Getty Images


Duke University, with an 11 percent acceptance rate in 2016, is one of the most selective universities in the country. Successful applicants will need grades and standardized test scores well above average, strong writing skills, and meaningful extracurricular involvement. In addition to submitting an application, students will need to send in scores from the SAT or ACT, two teacher recommendations, and a high school transcript. 

Why You Might Consider Duke University

Located in Durham, North Carolina, Duke is one of the most prestigious and competitive universities in the south. Duke is part of the “research triangle” with UNC-Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University in Raleigh. The area boasts the highest concentration of PhDs and MDs in the world.

Because Duke is highly selective, has a multi-billion dollar endowment, and is home to numerous impressive research centers, it consistently does well in national rankings. Not surprisingly, Duke made our lists of top national universitiestop southeastern colleges, and top North Carolina colleges. The university is also a member of Phi Beta Kappa because if its many strengths in the liberal arts and sciences. On the athletic front, Duke competes in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).

Duke University GPA, SAT and ACT Graph

Duke University GPA, SAT and ACT Data for Admission
Duke University GPA, SAT Scores and ACT Scores for Admission. See the real-time graph and calculate your chances of getting in at Cappex.

Discussion of Duke University's Admissions Standards

In the graph above, the blue and green dots representing accepted students are concentrated in the upper right corner. Most students who got into Duke had GPAs in the "A" range (typically 3.7 to 4.0), SAT scores (RW+M) above 1250, and ACT composite scores above 27. Test scores well above these lower ranges will improve your chances measurably.

Also, realize that a lot of red dots are hidden beneath the blue and green (see the graph below). Many students with a 4.0 GPA and extremely high standardized test scores get rejected from Duke. For this reason, you should consider a highly selective school like Duke to be a reach school even if your grades and test scores are on target for admission.

At the same time, keep in mind that Duke has holistic admissions. Duke's admissions folks are looking for students who will bring more than good grades and standardized test scores to their campus. Students who show some kind of remarkable talent or have a compelling story to tell will often get a close look even if grades and test scores aren't quite up to the ideal.

To learn more about Duke University, high school GPA, SAT scores, and ACT scores, be sure to check out the Duke University admissions profile.

Admissions Data (2016)

  • Duke University Acceptance Rate: 11 percent
  • Test Scores: 25th / 75th Percentile
    • SAT Critical Reading: 680 / 770
    • SAT Math: 700 / 800
    • ACT Composite: 31 / 34
    • ACT English: 32 / 35
    • ACT Math: 30 / 35

Rejection and Waitlist Data for Duke University

Rejection and Waitlist Data for Duke University
Rejection and Waitlist Data for Duke University. Data Courtesy of Cappex

When you look at the graph at the top of this article, you might conclude that an "A" average and high SAT scores give you a good chance of being admitted to Duke University. When we strip away the acceptance data points, however, we can see that a lot of extremely strong students were not admitted.

The reasons why a strong student gets rejected are many: a flawed Common Application essay and/or supplemental essays; letters of recommendation that raise concerns (Duke requires two letters and a counselor recommendation); a weak alumni interview (note that the interview isn't required of all applicants); a failure to take the most challenging courses available (such as IB, AP, and Honors); a lack of depth and accomplishment on the extracurricular front; and so on.

Also, you can improve your admissions chances if you highlight true artistic talent in an artistic supplement, and by applying to the university early decision (do this only if you are 100% sure that Duke is your first-choice school).

More Duke University Information

Duke has the financial resources to offer significant grant aid to qualifying students. You'll also find that the university admits extremely well-prepared students and, as a result, has high retention and graduation rates.

Enrollment (2016)

  • Total Enrollment: 15,735 (6,609 undergraduates)
  • Gender Breakdown: 50% Male / 50% Female
  • 100% Full-time

Costs (2016 - 17)

  • Tuition and Fees: $51,265
  • Books: $1,260 (why so much?)
  • Room and Board: $14,438
  • Other Expenses: $2,206
  • Total Cost: $69,169

Duke Financial Aid (2015 - 16)

  • Percentage of New Students Receiving Aid: 63 percent
  • Percentage of New Students Receiving Types of Aid
    • Grants: 45 percent
    • Loans: 39 percent
  • Average Amount of Aid
    • Grants: $47,055
    • Loans: $6,167

Academic Programs

  • Most Popular Majors: Biology, Biomedical Engineering, Economics, English, Political Science, Psychology, Public Policy
  • What major is right for you? Sign up to take the free "My Careers and Majors Quiz" at Cappex.

Retention and Graduation Rates

  • First Year Student Retention (full-time students): 97 percent
  • 4-Year Graduation Rate: 86 percent
  • 6-Year Graduation Rate: 95 percent

Intercollegiate Athletic Programs

  • Men's Sports: Football, Tennis, Wrestling, Basketball, Fencing, Track, and Field, Cross Country, Golf, Lacrosse, Soccer, Swimming, and Diving
  • Women's Sports: Track and Field, Lacrosse, Rowing, Soccer, Volleyball, Tennis, Basketball, Swimming and Diving, Field Hockey, Cross Country, Fencing

Like Duke University? Then Check Out These Other Top Universities

    If you're a big fan of Duke University, you may like other highly competitive universities in the Middle Atlantic states such as Vanderbilt UniversityGeorgetown UniversityWake Forest University, and Emory University. Wake Forest can be a great choice for students with an excellent academic record but less-than-ideal standardized test scores—the school has test-optional admissions.

    If you're open to attending college anywhere, you might want to also look at the Ivy League schoolsWashington UniversityStanford University, and the University of California at Berkeley. Just remember to choose a few match and safety schools as well.

    Data Source: Graphs courtesy of Cappex; all other data from the National Center for Educational Statistics

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    Grove, Allen. "Duke University Admissions Statistics." ThoughtCo, Jan. 27, 2018, thoughtco.com/duke-gpa-sat-and-act-data-786457. Grove, Allen. (2018, January 27). Duke University Admissions Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/duke-gpa-sat-and-act-data-786457 Grove, Allen. "Duke University Admissions Statistics." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/duke-gpa-sat-and-act-data-786457 (accessed March 23, 2018).