Duke University: Acceptance Rate and Admissions Statistics

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

Located in Durham, North Carolina, Duke University is an elite private university with a 10% acceptance rate. This makes it one of the most selective universities in the country. If you are thinking of applying, here you will find admissions statistics you should know including average SAT scores and ACT scores for admitted students.

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.

Acceptance Rate

For students entering Duke in the 2017-18 academic year, the acceptance rate was 10%. This means that for every student who is admitted, 9 students receive rejection letters.

Admissions Statistics (2017-18)
Number of Applicants 33,077
Percent Admitted 10%
Percent Admitted Who Enrolled 54%

SAT Scores and Requirements

Duke University requires all students to submit either SAT or ACT scores. For students who entered Duke in the 2017-18 academic year, 31% submitted SAT scores.

Duke University SAT Range (Admitted Students)
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. The great majority of admitted students rank among the top 7% of test-takers according to national SAT score data. The middle 50% of admitted students scored between a 670 and 750 on the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing exam. This tells us that 25% of admitted students scored a 670 or lower, and the upper quartile scored a 750 or higher. The math scores were even higher. The middle 50% scored between a 710 and 790, and this tells us that 25% got a 710 or lower, and 25% earned either a 790 or perfect 800. The most competitive applicants to Duke will be in the top 25% and have a combined score of 1540 or higher.

Requirements

Duke no longer requires the writing section of the SAT as it joins the long list of universities moving away from the optional essay. However, the university does still recommend the essay. SAT Subject Tests are not required either, but Duke "strongly recommends" students submit scores from two Subject Tests. This suggests you would be wise to do so. If you have taken the SAT more than once, Duke invites you to use the SAT Score Choice option and submit only your highest scores. Duke with superscore your exams using the highest score from each section.

ACT Scores and Requirements

All applicants must submit scores from either the ACT or SAT, and the ACT is by far the more popular exam at Duke. For students who entered the university in the 2017-18 academic year, 70% submitted ACT scores.

Duke ACT Range (Admitted Students)
Section 25th Percentile 75th Percentile
English 32 35
Math 30 35
Composite 31 35

You'll find that Duke's ACT scores are comparable to ACT of other top private universities. When compared to national ACT averages, you'll find that the great majority of Duke students rank among the top 5% of test-takers. The middle 50% of Duke students scored between a 31 and 35 (36 is a perfect score). This tells us that the bottom 25% scored a 31 or lower, and the top 25% scored either a 35 or 36. The most competitive Duke applicants will be at the upper end of this range.

Requirements

Duke University recommends but does not require the optional ACT writing exam. Students who take the ACT are also not required to submit SAT Subject Test scores, but the university will consider those scores if you do choose to submit them. Note that Duke does superscore the ACT. If you took the exam more than once, the admissions folks will recalculate your score using your strongest scores from each section regardless of the test date.

GPA and Class Rank

Duke University does not publish GPA data for admitted students, but you can see from the graph below that the great majority of admitted students have grades in the "A" range. An unweighted average of 3.8 or higher is the norm. Class ranks are also high. 90% of Duke students were in the top 10% of their high school classes, and 97% were in the top 25%. High grades in challenging classes will be the most important part of your Duke application.

Self-Reported GPA/SAT/ACT Graph

Duke University Applicants' Self-Reported GPA, SAT, and ACT Data
Duke University Applicants' Self-Reported GPA, SAT, and ACT Data.  Graph courtesy of Cappex

The GPA, SAT score, and ACT score data in the graph is self-reported by applicants to Duke University. GPAs are unweighted. Find out how you compare to accepted students, see the real-time graph, and calculate your own chances of getting in with a free account at Cappex.

Admissions Chances

Most students who get into Duke have "A" grades and standardized test scores that are significantly above average. That said, realize that many students with a 4.0 GPA and extremely high standardized test scores still 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. A strong Common Application essay and/or supplemental essays, glowing letters of recommendation, and a strong alumni interview can all strengthen your application, and of course the university will be looking for meaningful extracurricular activities.

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).

Sources: Graphs courtesy of Cappex; all other data from the National Center for Education Statistics and the Duke University Office of Admissions.