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History Spotlight: Welcoming the World to Durham

April 12, 2016

As The Graduate School celebrates its 90th anniversary in 2016, we are taking a look at various aspects of the school’s history. Visit for more information about the 90th anniversary celebration, as well as other Graduate School history spotlights as they are published.


When the Duke University Graduate School was established in 1926, it had all of one student from outside the United States. Fast forward 90 years, and 40 percent of the school's students hail from abroad. Here are snapshots from three points in the school's history showing how its international student population has grown and where the students came from.

The First Year: 1926-1927

Twenty-four of The Graduate School's 84 students in its first year came from North Carolina. The rest came from 17 other states and one foreign country—Korea. (See interactive map)

1926-27 map


The 45th Year: 1970-1971

The school had 202 international students from 41 countries. In comparison, it had 371 students from North Carolina alone that year. (See interactive map)

1970-71 map



The 90th Year: 2015-2016

International students now make up nearly 40 percent of The Graduate School's student body, with a significant percentage coming from China. North Carolina accounted for 408 students. (See interactive map)

2015-16 map


Data and maps by Mark Dudley