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Writing Samples

Some departments require writing samples from applicants. Check your department’s requirements.

How to Submit

If you need to submit a writing sample for your application, contact your department to determine whether the sample should be uploaded to the application, sent directly to the department, or emailed to the graduate admissions office. If the department instructs you to email the writing sample to the graduate admissions office, follow these instructions:

  • Include your name on the writing sample.
  • Eliminate unnecessary graphics.
  • Save all the pages of the writing sample as a single PDF attachment. Do not send Microsoft Word documents, JPEG files, Google docs, documents shared via Google drive, links to a drop box, or multiple PDF attachments.
  • Optimize the PDF in Adobe Acrobat by following these instructions:
    • Select PDF Optimizer under Advanced menu options.
    • On the PDF Optimizer screen, go to “Image Settings” and select “Compression:  JPEG”.
    • On the same screen, go to “Grayscale Images” and select “Quality: Low”.
    • Click OK.
  • Scan your document at the lowest DPI that produces a legible image (usually less than 200 DPI).
  • Make sure your file does not exceed 1.5 MB (1,500 kb) in size.
  • E-mail it to grad-admissions-center@duke.edu. Include your name and the words “Writing Sample” in the subject line of the e-mail.