Getting accepted into a top graduate school like Duke University is no easy feat. With an average acceptance rate of just 14% across all programs, Duke is one of the most selective universities in the country.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The overall acceptance rate for Duke graduate programs is around 14%, but it varies significantly by department and degree program, ranging from under 5% in the most competitive programs up to around 30% in some master’s programs.

In this comprehensive guide, we will look at Duke’s graduate school acceptance rates in detail across different departments and degree levels. We’ll break down the stats and provide tips to strengthen your application.

Duke Graduate School Acceptance Rates by Program

Highly Competitive Programs (Under 10%)

Duke University’s graduate school offers a wide range of highly competitive programs that attract some of the brightest and most talented students from around the world. These programs have acceptance rates of under 10%, making them extremely selective.

Students who are interested in pursuing these programs should be prepared to demonstrate exceptional academic achievements, research experience, and a strong commitment to their chosen field. Some of the highly competitive programs at Duke include the Ph.D. programs in Computer Science, Biomedical Engineering, and Economics.

Moderately Competitive Programs (10-20%)

For students looking for programs that are still highly regarded but slightly less competitive, Duke offers a number of moderately competitive programs with acceptance rates ranging from 10% to 20%. These programs still require a strong academic background and impressive accomplishments, but the acceptance rates provide a slightly higher chance of admission.

Some of the moderately competitive programs at Duke include the Master’s programs in Public Policy, Environmental Management, and Nursing. These programs attract a diverse pool of applicants and offer excellent opportunities for professional growth and advancement.

Less Competitive Programs (Over 20%)

Duke’s graduate school also offers a selection of programs with acceptance rates over 20%, making them less competitive compared to the highly selective and moderately competitive programs. These programs provide a more accessible pathway for students who are passionate about their chosen field but may not have the same level of academic achievements or research experience as applicants to the highly competitive programs.

Some of the less competitive programs at Duke include the Master’s programs in Education, Public Health, and Arts Administration. These programs still offer rigorous academic training and valuable career opportunities for students.

It’s important to note that acceptance rates can vary from year to year and may also depend on factors such as the number of applications received and the available spots in each program. Prospective applicants are advised to thoroughly research their desired program, review the admission requirements, and prepare a strong application that highlights their qualifications and fit for the program.

For more information about Duke’s graduate school and its acceptance rates by program, you can visit the official Duke University website at

Acceptance Rates by Degree Type

When considering applying to Duke Graduate School, it is important to understand the acceptance rates for the different degree programs. Duke University offers a wide range of graduate programs, including doctoral, master’s, and professional programs.

Let’s take a detailed look at the acceptance rates for each degree type.

Doctoral Programs

Doctoral programs at Duke Graduate School are highly competitive, attracting some of the brightest minds in their respective fields. The acceptance rate for doctoral programs can vary depending on the specific discipline. On average, the acceptance rate for doctoral programs at Duke is around 10-15%.

However, it is important to note that acceptance rates can fluctuate from year to year and across different departments. Prospective students applying to doctoral programs should demonstrate exceptional academic achievements, research potential, and a strong fit with the faculty and department they are applying to.

Master’s Programs

Duke Graduate School offers a diverse range of master’s programs across various disciplines. The acceptance rate for master’s programs is generally higher compared to doctoral programs. On average, the acceptance rate for master’s programs at Duke is around 20-25%.

Prospective students applying to master’s programs should have a strong academic background, relevant work experience, and a clear motivation for pursuing a master’s degree in their chosen field. It is also important to carefully review the admission requirements and prerequisites for the specific master’s program of interest.

Professional Programs

In addition to doctoral and master’s programs, Duke Graduate School also offers professional programs in fields such as business, law, and public policy. These programs are designed for individuals seeking specialized training and expertise in their respective professions.

The acceptance rate for professional programs can vary depending on the specific program and its competitiveness. For example, the acceptance rate for Duke Law School is around 20%, while the acceptance rate for Duke Fuqua School of Business is around 25%.

Prospective students applying to professional programs should have relevant work experience, strong letters of recommendation, and a compelling personal statement that highlights their career goals and aspirations.

It is important to note that the acceptance rates mentioned above are approximate figures and can vary from year to year. For the most accurate and up-to-date information on acceptance rates for specific programs, it is always recommended to visit the official Duke Graduate School website or contact the respective department directly.

How to Get Accepted into Duke Graduate School

Getting accepted into Duke Graduate School is a highly competitive process, but with the right approach and preparation, it is definitely achievable. Here are some key steps you can take to increase your chances of acceptance:

1. Have a Strong Academic Background

One of the most important factors that Duke Graduate School considers is your academic performance. Maintaining a high GPA throughout your undergraduate studies is crucial. Additionally, taking challenging courses and excelling in them will demonstrate your ability to handle the rigorous curriculum at Duke.

It is also beneficial to have relevant coursework in your intended field of study.

2. Get Research Experience

Duke values research experience as it showcases your ability to think critically and contribute to the advancement of knowledge. Engaging in undergraduate research projects, internships, or assisting professors in their research can greatly enhance your application.

This experience not only demonstrates your passion for your field but also allows you to develop valuable skills that will benefit you in graduate school.

3. Excel on Standardized Tests

Duke Graduate School requires applicants to submit scores from standardized tests such as the GRE, GMAT, or MCAT, depending on the program. It is essential to prepare thoroughly for these exams to achieve competitive scores.

Consider taking preparatory courses, utilizing study materials, and practicing with sample tests to improve your performance. Remember, strong test scores can significantly boost your chances of acceptance.

4. Write a Compelling Personal Statement

Your personal statement is an opportunity to showcase your passion, motivation, and fit for Duke Graduate School. Take the time to reflect on your experiences, goals, and why you are interested in your chosen field of study.

Craft a well-written and engaging personal statement that highlights your unique qualities and demonstrates how you will contribute to the academic community at Duke.

5. Secure Strong Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation provide insight into your abilities, work ethic, and potential for success in graduate school. Choose recommenders who can speak to your academic performance, research experience, and personal qualities.

It is important to establish strong relationships with professors or mentors who know you well and can provide detailed and positive recommendations.

By following these steps and putting in the necessary effort and dedication, you can increase your chances of being accepted into Duke Graduate School. Remember to start the application process early, as it allows you ample time to gather all the required documents, write a compelling personal statement, and secure strong letters of recommendation.


With an average acceptance rate of just 14%, Duke graduate programs are highly competitive. Acceptance rates vary widely depending on the specific program and degree type, from under 5% in top Ph.D. programs up to around 30% in some master’s degrees.

By focusing on academics, test scores, research experience, essays, and recommendations, you can maximize your chances of getting into a Duke graduate program. With strategic planning and a strong application, you can beat the odds and earn admission to one of the top graduate schools in the nation.

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