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COVID Testing and Vaccination Updates for Graduate School Students

This page shares updates about COVID testing for Graduate School students, as well contact information and links to Duke-wide testing information.

Testing and Vaccination Updates Specific to Graduate School Students

[7/30/21] Fall 2021 Protocols
  • Important policies on fall semester entry testing, vaccination, surveillance testing, and DukeCard have been sent to all active Graduate School students.


[6/29/21] Fall 2021 Protocols
  • Duke announced protocols for the start of the fall 2021 semester, addressing vaccinations, testing, symptom monitoring, masking, and social distancing.


[6/15/21] Vaccination Options
  • All Duke staff, faculty and students can receive the COVID-19 vaccine at no cost, either by scheduling an appointment at the clinic at the Karsh Alumni and Visitors Center or by going to the walk-in clinic (no appointment needed) at the Duke Medicine Pavilion (Room 2 West 91) from 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Monday to Friday. | Details


[4/27/21] Summer 2021 Plans
  • The university sent an email to all students who will be on campus in summer 2021, outlining community expectations, summer plans for COVID entry and surveilliance testing, and directions for updating COVID vaccination records.


[4/26/21] Vaccination Requirement for Fall 2021
  • Duke announced that it plans to require all new and returning Duke students to present proof of vaccination to Student Health before they can enroll for the fall 2021 semester. This policy will cover all undergraduate, graduate, and professional students—in all degree programs—who intend to be on the Duke campus for any period of time starting with the fall 2021 semester. Documented medical and religious exemptions will be accommodated.
  • Duke has offered every current Duke student the opportunity to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Those students who have not yet received a vaccination from Duke are urged to schedule an appointment as soon as possible through the message they received earlier. Duke cannot guarantee that its supply of vaccines will continue at the same rate. If you miss this opportunity, you will have to get vaccinated through another health care provider or a public health agency and provide confirmation to Student Health.


[3/25/21] Vaccination Update

Starting March 31, Duke will offer the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to all currently enrolled undergraduate and graduate/professional students in the Durham area.

All students must continue to follow the Duke Compact and behavioral guidelines for the rest of the semester even after vaccination. Students who have been participating in spring surveillance testing will be required to continue.

See the university email that went out to all graduate/professional students for more details.

[3/8/21] Vaccination FAQs

If I receive the vaccine, do I still need to complete surveillance tests?

YES, although vaccinated individuals may not become seriously ill with COVID themselves, they may still carry/transmit the virus to others.


In this video, GPSG President Jay Lusk answers some frequently asked questions about vaccination for Duke graduate and professional students:


[3/8/21] Spike in COVID cases Among Undergrads

The week of March 1-7 saw a noticeable one-week increase in positive COVID tests among undergraduates. A total of 46 undergraduates (28 on campus) tested positive, compared to 22 total undergraduates (8 on campus) the prior week. This increase poses a significant risk to Duke's efforts to stop COVID’s spread and to maintain some semblance of normal university life. Please continue to remain vigilant in following the university's public-safety measures, participating in surveillance testing, and continuing daily symptom monitoring. 


[2/5/21] Doing Your Part

Via a February 4 message from Provost Kornbluth and Executive Vice Provost Francis:

Literally hundreds of people at Duke are working around the clock to keep the community safe. We monitor data throughout the day, every day, adapting our testing as needed. We know that surveillance testing is not always convenient, but it is critical to our success so far—and will remain so in the weeks and months ahead. All of our work, our testing, our insistence on proper distancing, masking and hygiene are geared to keeping the Duke campus open and to allow for as much in-person learning and interaction as possible. If necessary, we are prepared to take more serious steps to slow the spread of COVID-19 on campus and in the surrounding community. That would likely involve "sheltering in place" and a return to a completely online instruction mode. 

What we need you to do:

We sincerely believe this outcome can be avoided if everyone will continue to do the following:

  • Go to surveillance testing on the day you are assigned. 
  • Use the SymMon app to accurately report any symptoms.
  • Avoid all unnecessary travel; if you must travel, please follow CDC guidelines for quarantining when you return (CDC Travel Guidelines)
  • Avoid gathering for watch parties and other events; even small gatherings are evidencing significant virus spread.
  • Follow all guidelines regarding facial coverings, social distancing and hygiene.
  • Encourage your friends, classmates and neighbors to do all of the above.


[2/2/21] Surveillance Testing Updates
  • Students should expect to receive a request from Duke United to be surveillance-tested once per week, unless an outbreak occurs and more frequent testing is required.
  • Tests should be completed on the date requested, but if you cannot make that date, it is acceptable to test the day before the requested test date or one business day after. If you miss a test, your Duke Card is deactivated on the afternoon of the missed test and is reactivated after you have made up the test and the test sample is scanned into the system using the SymMon app. Students who make up tests more than one day after the scheduled test date will have their Duke Card activated, but they will still appear on the “no-show” missed test report.
  • All emails related to surveillance testing should be sent to, which is overseen by Graduate School staff members who coordinate with Duke United Testing.

Video: GPSG President Jay Lusk Answers FAQs About Surveillance Testing for Spring 2021


[1/12/21] Late-Arrival Baseline/Entry Testing for Graduate Students

Students unable to participate in baseline/entry testing until after January 13 need to email to be included in a late-arrival baseline test request group (SOM-based students should email January 14-19 are reserved for undergraduate testing. Duke United has not finalized plans for late-arrival testing, but once they notify The Graduate School of the schedule, we will update all graduate students in the late-arrival group.


Graduate Student Contacts for COVID Testing

Graduate School students who have questions about COVID testing should contact, with the following exception:

If you are an M.S. or Ph.D. student in a program based in the Duke School of Medicine, contact the Office of Biomedical Graduate Education at if you have questions about testing. These programs include:

  • Biochemistry
  • Biostatistics
  • Cell and Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Computational Biology and Bioinformatics
  • Developmental and Stem Cell Biology
  • Genetics and Genomics
  • Immunology
  • Integrated Toxicology and Environmental Health
  • Medical Physics
  • Medical Scientist Training
  • Molecular Cancer Biology
  • Molecular Genetics and Microbiology
  • Neurobiology
  • Pathology
  • Pharmacology and Cancer Biology


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