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How to get into Duke University-General Information

Duke University is a private research university originally founded by Quakers in 1838 before it was relocated to its current home of Durham in 1892. The Duke enrollment is 6700 undergraduates in total.

What we’ll cover in this How to Get Into Duke University guide:

  • Duke GPA requirements
  • Duke enrollment statistics
  • Optimal Duke SAT scores
  • Details on Duke Early Decision
  • Duke application deadline
  • Duke interview
  • Perfecting your Duke supplemental essays
  • And more!

If you’re planning your path for how to get into Duke University, start preparing early. In your freshman year, you should begin building the foundation for a strong GPA and engaging extracurriculars. 

By the time the Duke application deadline rolls around, you can rest assured that you surpass the Duke GPA requirements and Duke SAT scores. This will let you focus instead on the Duke interview and Duke supplemental essays. Early preparation is the best advice for how to get into Duke University.

Figuring out how to get into Duke University takes strategy. We can help. CollegeAdvisor.com’s network of 300+ Admissions Experts (and former admissions officers) includes Duke graduates. Want to maximize your Duke admissions odds? Create your free account or schedule a free advising consultation by calling (844) 343–6272.

How hard is it to get into Duke?

Duke’s class of 2025 saw a more competitive admissions cycle than ever before. Almost 50,000 students applied for a mere 2,855 places—an acceptance rate of just 5.8%. This is a 25% increase in applicants from the year before, and admissions are only becoming more competitive. Given the relatively low Duke enrollment, you can expect this acceptance rate to remain low.

That’s a lot of numbers—but what does it mean for a student wondering how to get into Duke University? Essentially, it means that no matter what you do, there will inevitably be a degree of luck in Duke admissions. You have to view Duke as a “reach” school and plan your college list accordingly. 

However, you can still optimize your chances of securing Duke enrollment. Keep reading to learn more about how to surpass the Duke GPA requirements, meet the average Duke SAT scores, plan effective extracurriculars, and more so that you have the best chance of getting past the 5.8% acceptance rate.

What is the average GPA for Duke University?

Students planning their “how to get into Duke University” strategy are often curious about the Duke GPA requirements. The GPA is an important metric for applicants, used as a measure of how prepared a student is for rigorous coursework.

Duke doesn’t publish their average GPA nor any Duke GPA requirements. Based on the quality and quantity of their applicants, however, you can assume the average is close to 4.0. You should consider these numbers as the unofficial Duke GPA requirements. 

So, are there Duke GPA requirements? Not exactly. However, with how competitive admissions have become, a high GPA is no longer enough to ensure Duke enrollment. Instead, think of it more like a box that you’re trying to check off in the application; don’t give Duke a reason to pause on your GPA. 

What does the Duke application look like?

To strengthen your “how to get into Duke University” strategy, you should familiarize yourself with the application far in advance of the Duke application deadline. 

Duke accepts applications via any one of three platforms: 

Once you have picked your application, you can decide to apply to Duke before one of two deadlines:

  • Duke Early Decision — November 1
  • Duke Regular Decision — January 4

If you apply to Duke Early Decision, keep in mind that this decision is binding. An offer of admission via Duke Early Decision commits you to Duke enrollment.

Regardless of which Duke application deadline you choose, you will need to ensure you have each of the following:

  • Application fee or waiver
  • High school transcript
  • Counselor recommendation
  • 2 teacher recommendations
  • Duke SAT scores or ACT scores (optional)
  • Duke supplemental essays

Be sure to schedule meetings with your guidance counselor and teacher recommenders well before the Duke application deadline. Give yourself time to ensure you understand the requirements and can upload them to your chosen platform.

Finally, note that while the Duke SAT scores and ACT scores are now optional, we advise that you send standardized test scores if possible. 

What extracurriculars does Duke look for?

Aside from the numbers used in your application—the Duke GPA requirements and Duke SAT scores—your extracurriculars make a huge difference to Duke admissions. Still, it can be hard to choose the right extracurriculars. For instance, students often pursue activities they don’t care about because they think it’s how to get into Duke University. However, the best extracurriculars for college admissions—at Duke or anywhere else—are the ones that matter to you. 

So, how should you select your extracurriculars? First, note that there’s no such thing as the perfect set of extracurriculars. So, don’t choose activities in an effort to become a picture-perfect applicant. This won’t help you stand out.

Instead, find what makes you tick. What are you passionate about? What problems keep you up at night? Determine these early in your high school career. Then, find ways to take these passions to the next level. Show initiative. Go above and beyond—this is how to get into Duke University or any top school.

What is the acceptance rate for Duke?

As you think about how to get into Duke University, you’re probably wondering about the acceptance rate. Duke has an overall acceptance rate of 5.8%. Suffice it to say: the acceptance rate is low. However, let’s break this down for each Duke application deadline. 

For the class of 2025, Duke received 49,555 applications total, spread out across two application deadlines. Duke Early Decision received 5,036 applications, of which 840 were offered Duke enrollment. This comes to a 16.7% Duke Early Decision acceptance rate.

Regular Decision, on the other hand, received 44,519 applications and 2,855 students were offered Duke enrollment. This represents a 6.4% acceptance rate.

As you can see, demonstrated interest does matter at Duke—this is why the Duke Early Decision acceptance rate is far higher. However, regardless of which Duke application deadline you select as you plan how to get into Duke University, expect Duke to be a “reach” school.

Want to learn more about acceptance rates? Check out our expert guide.

Does Duke University require interviews?

The Duke interview is an optional component of the Duke application. However, you should plan on a Duke interview if you’re serious about your “how to get into Duke University” strategy. 

Any student with alumni presence in their area will receive an invitation for a Duke interview. If you do not receive a Duke interview, this is not an indication of your application status. Also, note that you won’t be offered a Duke interview until after the Duke application deadline. 

So, should you attend the Duke interview? Absolutely. This is your chance to supplement your GPA and Duke SAT scores by showing Duke who you are as a person. A Duke interview captures your personality in a way that few written parts of the application can. 

The Duke interview also lets you show your interest in the school. Duke looks for students who genuinely want to attend. They want to see that you care about Duke for reasons beyond prestige.

As you prepare, try to think of your Duke interview as a conversation. While your interviewer will ask you many questions, you can also use your Duke interview to learn more about the university. So, come prepared to talk about your key accomplishments as well as why Duke interests you.

Tips to write a Duke supplemental essay

The Duke supplemental essays give you a unique chance to stand out. You should view your Duke supplemental essays, then, as a vital part of how to get into Duke University.

First, let’s take a look at the Duke supplemental essays themselves. There is one required supplemental essay and two optional Duke supplemental essays. 

The required essay asks students to discuss why Duke is the right school for them. For this prompt, make sure that you do your research. You should discuss both what you offer Duke and, in turn, what Duke offers you. Use as many specific details as possible—this shows that you’ve taken time to research what makes Duke unique.

The optional Duke supplemental essays let you discuss your background and identity. If you want to strengthen your application, you should respond to both optional Duke supplemental essays. 

Overall, the key to writing strong Duke supplemental essays is to make sure your unique voice comes through. Some students make the mistake of being too stiff or formal in their responses. However, Duke wants to get to know you and what makes you unique. Often, the strongest responses are those that tell stories and have powerful narrative voices. Leveraging your writing skill is a great tactic for your “how to get into Duke University” strategy. 

Finally, your Duke supplemental essays should be free of any typos or grammatical mistakes. We recommend leaving ample time before the Duke application deadline to write your essays. This lets you review and edit your responses.

For more tips on the Duke supplemental essays, check out our Duke essay guide.  

How does Duke University review applications?

Students who want to know how to get into Duke University often wonder what occurs once they press submit. So, what happens after you’ve sent your Duke SAT scores but before you hear back about your Duke enrollment status?

Duke reviews applicants the same way for both Duke Early Decision and the RD Duke application deadline. 

First, your application is read by an admissions officer who specializes in your geographic region. At this point, 50% of applications are labeled as competitive. Those that are competitive get an additional two reads. A fourth assessment is then done, at which point a mere 5% of applicants are admitted. The rest are brought to the committee. 

This means, in order to even be considered for Duke enrollment, your application will be read at least four times. So, you should pay attention to every part of your application in order to stand out. 

Will Duke look at my social media accounts?

Many students wondering how to get into Duke University are concerned that admissions officers will look at their social media profiles. So, will Duke look at your Instagram or Twitter?

The truth is, admissions officers have thousands of applications to get through in a very short amount of time. This means they largely don’t have time to search for individual applicants on social media. 

With that said, you should always be aware of what you put on the internet. Even if Duke doesn’t use it as a factor, future employers might. While you don’t have to put all of your accounts on private or wipe the internet of your presence, always use careful judgment.

Is Duke the school for me?

Before you send in your Duke application and Duke SAT scores—and especially if you are considering Duke Early Decision—think about whether Duke is truly the school for you. Some students get so caught up in how to get into Duke University that they forget that not every school is right for every student, regardless of prestige.

Duke students note the pride that infuses the school and its social life. Students at Duke are proud of their school, from classes to sports and everything in between. Students who prefer to keep their distance from athletics and parties, then, may find Duke’s school spirit to be overwhelming. 

In addition, students at Duke are passionate about learning for the sake of learning. Students who are focused on a specific career track or don’t find an interest in the more generalized education that comes with a liberal arts degree may feel frustrated at Duke.

Duke is known as a high-energy school full of passionate individuals. So, if that sounds like a match for you, read on for a few last tips on how to get into Duke University!

Additional tips to get into Duke University

So you’ve surpassed the Duke GPA requirements and you’re confident in your Duke SAT scores. How else can you optimize your “how to get into Duke University” plan?

The best advice we can offer Duke hopefuls is to start planning early. Duke’s admissions process is competitive, and there is very little room for error. Plan your extracurricular track early, commit yourself to advanced classes, and try to craft thoughtful essays that tell your story. Every part of your application should showcase what kind of student you would be on Duke’s bustling campus. 

Finally—and we can’t emphasize this enough—be yourself! Admissions are stressful, and sometimes students get caught up in trying to project a crafted, performative version of themselves. However, this is not how to get into Duke University or other top schools. Duke doesn’t want you to be anyone other than yourself. Challenge yourself, but stay true to what makes you happy.


This guide was written by Becky Weinstein. If you want to know how to get into Duke, we’ve got you covered. CollegeAdvisor.com’s network of 300+ Admissions Experts (and former admissions officers) includes Duke graduates. Create your free account or schedule a free advising consultation by calling (844) 343-6272.