Total Undergraduate Enrollment: 6,682
Institutional Type: Private
Curricular Flexibility: Somewhat Flexible
Academic Rating: 5
1. 4170 Trading LLC
2. Cornerstone Advisors LLC
3. National Security Agency
1. Carlyle Group
5. Goldman Sachs
1. Raleigh-Durham, NC
2. New York City
3. Washington, DC
4. San Francisco
College Scorecard (Early Career): $84,400
EOP (Early Career): $87,500
PayScale (Mid-Career): $132,100
Duke is a place where students can be, at once, fanatical, face-painted members of the Cameron Crazies as well as studious, career-minded young people in an Ivy League-caliber academic environment. Close to 6,700 undergrads are joined by more than 9,900 graduate students on this picturesque, 8,800-acre campus in Durham, North Carolina. Nineteen percent go on to earn degrees in the social sciences followed by engineering (15 percent), biology (14 percent), public administration and social services (9 percent), and psychology (7 percent).
The academic offerings at Duke include fifty-three majors, fifty-two minors, and twenty-six interdisciplinary certificates. More than 4,000 undergraduate courses run each semester in the College of Arts & Sciences alone. Rarely do students concentrate solely on one major —83 percent either double major, add a minor, or pursue an additional certificate. Undergraduates encounter a good number of unique academic requirements. All freshmen in the Trinity College of Arts & Sciences must take a first-year seminar and first-year writing course. Before graduation, each individual must take two small group learning experiences that can involve an independent study and/or constructing a thesis. Foreign language and multiple courses under the umbrellas of Areas of Knowledge and Modes of Inquiry also must be tackled.
Class sizes are on the small side—71 percent are nineteen or fewer, and 27 percent are less than ten. A stellar 6:1 student-to-faculty ratio helps keep classes so reasonable even while catering to almost five- figures of graduate students. The Undergraduate Research Support Office does great work connecting students with opportunities to conduct research, either over the summer or during the regular school year. All told, more than half the undergraduates conduct research. More than any other top-ten research institution, Duke students pursue a semester abroad—48 percent elect to venture off to one of the school’s 300 partner programs scattered around the world.
Duke has a sterling reputation for academics across the board. The Department of Biology is world class and a leading producer of successful medical school applicants. Programs in economics, English, and public policy consistently earn top ranking as well. Blue Devils win prestigious postgraduate fellowships on a regular basis. The university has produced an incredible forty-three Rhodes Scholars in its illustrious history, more than Emory and Vanderbilt combined.
When you enter campus through Duke Gardens, it can feel like you’re strolling through a perfectly manicured Disney theme park; everything is pristine and aesthetically pleasing. Thus, no one is anxious to live anywhere other than the university’s grounds and 100 percent of freshmen and 85 percent of the entire student body live on campus. With thirty-nine recognized Greek chapters, fraternities and sororities play a major role in social life at Duke. Almost 42 percent of women and 29 percent of men become Greek affiliated. Those who occupy dorms are generally pleased, and the food at Duke is universally praised. Big-time sports is a staple of life on campus as the Blue Devils compete in twenty-three sports in NCAA Division I’s vaunted Atlantic Coast Conference. Since the beloved Coach K took over in 1980, the men’s basketball squad has made the Final Four a dozen times and has won five national championships.
One of the most popular non-sports-related, campus-wide events is the annual Last Day of Classes (LDOC) celebration that draws a large percentage of the student body for activities, beverages, and music. More than 400 student organizations run on campus, including a high-performing mock trial team and The Chronicle, an award winning student newspaper with a seven-figure budget. The culture of volunteering is strong with an 80 percent participation rate as Blue Devils perform community service in the city of Durham in programs like Engineers Without Borders.
The Career Center at Duke is staffed by eight undergraduate career advisors and six employer relations specialists. Not counting other full-time employees who do not work directly with students or the career ambassadors, who are current students, Duke’s student-to-advisor ratio calculates to 477:1, which is slightly below average compared to other schools in its weight class. Yet, this is not indicative of anything less than outstanding career services offerings. This assessment can be delivered by one quick fact: An astounding 95 percent of graduating seniors who had lined up their first jobs were hired by companies that work in some capacity with the Duke Career Center.
Undergrads each have their own assigned career counselor, and the school recommends establishing a relationship as a freshman. Two- thirds of graduates reported meeting with a career center staff member at least once over their four years of study. Regular events held include Practice Interview Day, Ignite Your Internship Search, and the Fall Career Fair that includes over one hundred top companies, many of which recruit and offer interviews on campus. Despite having a higher student-to-advisor ratio than the average school profiled in this book, the career center at Duke is among the best in the country at preparing students for high-paying employment and admission into prestigious graduate/professional programs.
At graduation, 71 percent of surveyed seniors last year were set to enter the world of work, 20 percent were continuing into graduate schools, and 2 percent were starting their own businesses. The industries that attract the largest percentage of Blue Devils are finance, IT, health care, business and consulting, and science/research. Companies employing a minimum of three of last year's Duke grads include Google, Capital One, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Oracle, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Accenture, and a host of other top-shelf corporations in the areas of technology, finance, and consulting. Thirty-four percent of Duke alumni elect to stay in North Carolina. New York, California, DC, and Massachusetts follow in popularity. The top foreign destinations for employment are the United Kingdom and China. Duke students, on average, do exceptionally well financially, bringing home the eleventh highest salary by age thirty-four of any school in the country, ahead of schools like Georgetown, Stanford, and Caltech.
Of the 20 percent headed into graduate school, a hefty 22 percent are attending medical school, 18 percent are in PhD programs, and 12 percent are entering law school. The med school acceptance rate is 85 percent, more than twice the national average. Eventually, 84 percent of Duke undergraduates will go on to earn an advanced degree. Last year's class saw 146 members apply to law school, scoring an average of 165 on the LSAT, among the highest in the country. Those applicants found their way into just about every top- ranked law school in existence. In the last few years, Blue Devils have pursued a JD at Stanford Law School, University of Chicago Law School, and Harvard Law School, among others.
• “It’s a small community so you can get to know the community members who live around you.”
• “Durham was named ‘the foodie capital of the South’ by the NY Post.“
• “We aren’t too far from lakes, mountains, or beaches.”
• “There is a lot of history and interesting architecture to explore in downtown Durham.”
• “The transportation is lacking if you don’t have a car.”
• “It’s not a city. There’s not much to do outside of Duke. A lot of my life revolves around Duke, which is great because I love Duke.”
• “It has a pretty amazing alumni network. There will always be people you can reach out to who will help you. When I graduate, I will definitely want to help any students who reach out to me.”
• “The types of opportunities Duke has forces you to be outgoing in terms of networking on campus. That may not be where everyone is most comfortable, and it certainly sometimes feels disingenuous, but it is an important life skill to learn.”
• “It’s fun. There is a good social network and a good balance between academics and social life. Without it, I would be drowning from work.”
• “Socially it can be hard.” [If you’re not part of an SLG or Greek life organization, it can feel like you are not getting the full Duke experience.]
• “The pre-professional culture can sometimes be a lot and will make you feel like the only reason you’re doing something is to get to the next place.”
• “The academic rigor can be a problem
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