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 a 10 percent acceptance rate in 2017, 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.

 Because of its many strengths, Duke ranks among the top national universitiestop southeastern colleges, and top North Carolina colleges.

Why Duke University?

  • Location: Durham, North Carolina
  • Campus Features: The stunning stone architecture of Duke's main campus is just a small part of the university's 8,693 acres. The school has a 7,000+ acre forest, marine lab, golf course, and medical campus.
  • Student/Faculty Ratio: 7:1
  • Athletics: The Duke Blue Devils compete in the NCAA Division I Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).
  • Highlights: Duke rivals the Ivies for selectivity. The school has an $8.5 billion endowment and is part of the "research triangle" with UNC Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University. The area has the highest concentration of PhDs and MDs in the world.

Duke University Admissions Statistics 2017-18

For the class that entered Duke University in the 2017-18 academic year, the acceptance rate was just 10 percent. Below are SAT and ACT score percentiles for admitted students.

SAT Score Percentiles
Section 25th Percentile 75th Percentile
ERW 670 750
Math 710 790
ERW=Evidence-Based Reading and Writing

The SAT scores needed to get into Duke are comparable to the Ivy League. To be competitive, applicants will need to earn scores that are significantly above average.

ACT Score Percentiles
Section 25th Percentile 75th Percentile
English 32 35
Math 30 35
Composite 31 35

The ACT is more popular than the SAT for Duke applicants. An average score is about 21, so as with the SAT, you can see that successful applicants nearly always have scores that are well above the norm.

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 Score, and ACT Score Graph

Duke University GPA, SAT scores, and ACT scores for admission
Duke University GPA, SAT scores, and ACT scores for admission.

 Graph courtesy of Cappex

The GPA, SAT score, and ACT score data in the graph was self-reported by the actual applicants to Duke. You can see the real-time graph and calculate your own chances of getting into Duke with a free account 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 (ERW+M) above 1250, and ACT composite scores above 27. Test scores well above these lower ranges are typical and 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.

Rejection and Waitlist Data for Duke University

Rejection and waitlist data for admission to Duke University.
Rejection and waitlist data for admission to Duke University.

Graph 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 (2017)

  • Total Enrollment: 16,130 (6,696 undergraduates)
  • Gender Breakdown: 50% Male / 50% Female
  • 100% Full-time

Costs (2017 - 18)

  • Tuition and Fees: $53,500
  • Books: $1,260 (why so much?)
  • Room and Board: $14,798
  • Other Expenses: $2,206
  • Total Cost: $71,764

Duke Financial Aid (2016 - 17)

  • Percentage of New Students Receiving Aid: 68 percent
  • Percentage of New Students Receiving Types of Aid
    • Grants: 49 percent
    • Loans: 44 percent
  • Average Amount of Aid
    • Grants: $47,836
    • Loans: $6,114

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: 88 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