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Application Review Process

After you submit your online application, it will be made available to your department of interest within one to two business days. The actual in-depth review of your file is conducted by graduate faculty, usually an admissions committee headed by the Director of Graduate Studies. All applications are reviewed with respect to openings in the department and the strength of other applicants. Attention is given to every aspect of an application, with an attempt made to evaluate past achievement as well as scholarly potential. Academic records, letters of recommendation, GRE scores, and your statement of purpose are all taken into consideration.

Admission to the Duke University Graduate School is a competitive process, and your chances of being admitted will differ from year to year depending on the strength of the applicant pool. In recent years, approximately one in five applicants has been offered admission; however, admission rates vary significantly by department.  Admissions and enrollment statistics for graduate programs can be found in the Statistics section of our site.

Application review schedules vary significantly by department. Decisions about fall admission are generally made by February and March. Most decisions about spring admission will be made by early November. Questions about the timetable for decisions or the reasoning behind those decisions should be addressed directly to the department to which you applied.

Duke's Approach to Academic Disruptions from COVID-19

Because the COVID-19 pandemic has severely disrupted the lives of students around the world, Duke is adopting the following approach in considering applicants to its graduate and professional programs so that we take into account the effects of the disruption.

Many institutions have adopted Pass/No Pass grading policies for the Spring 2020 semester. Duke will not penalize applicants whose transcripts show Pass/No Pass or other similar grading options from Spring 2020, regardless of whether it was the individual student or the institution that chose a particular option.

When examining academic records such as transcripts, we will focus primarily on an applicant’s performance before and after Spring 2020 rather than during this time of unprecedented disruption.

Duke’s review of academic records focuses on whether applicants pursued a rigorous curriculum that was relevant to their graduate or professional school plans. We are interested in the potential of our graduate students to make significant research contributions, which is often not reflected in grades, and certainly not in one semester’s achievements. Accordingly, Duke takes a holistic approach in evaluating applicants, one that examines a combination of many factors. Academic records are only one of these factors and are considered alongside letters of recommendation, personal accomplishments, personal statements, and test scores, among others.

How We Notify You of the Decision

All applicants are notified of admission decisions via e-mail (we do not mail paper copies of notifications). The notification e-mail will provide instructions for accessing the online decision letter.

Only the Dean has the authority to extend offers of admission. An email or phone call from a graduate department stating that you have been recommended for admission does not constitute a formal offer of admission.

If You Are Accepted

If you are offered admission, unless otherwise indicated, you must notify The Graduate School of your enrollment through your applicant portal within 15 days of your receipt of the admission letter. Applicants for Fall enrollment have until April 15, 2020, to accept their offer if admitted before April 1, 2020. If we do not hear back from you by then, we will assume that you have declined the offer of admission, and your application record will be withdrawn.

Instructions on how to submit your decision

Deferral of Admission

The Graduate School has a policy of granting deferrals to students who experience personal medical emergencies, military deployment, or Visa application delays. You may submit your deferral request after April 15th.  Should you wish to pursue the deferral option, please follow the steps below:

  1. Accept your offer of admission through the Slate Status Portal if you have not already done so. Your deferral request will only be considered after you have accepted your offer of admission.
  2. Our window for accepting deferral requests begins April 16, 2020, and ends August 3, 2020.
  3. Please note that if your deferral request is approved, it is a final decision.  You will not be able to reactivate your application for Fall 2020 but will be scheduled to start in 2021.
  4. Email your department directly with your request and provide a summary of your situation.
  5. Your department will review your request and submit it to The Graduate School on your behalf .
  6. You will hear from us as soon as your request has been reviewed.