Duke University Essay

The Requirements: One required 150-word essay, one required 250-word essay and one optional 250-word essay.
Supplemental Essay Type(s): Topic of your choice, Community

Duke University 2017-2018 Application Essay Question Explanations

If you are applying to the Trinity College of Arts and Sciences/Pratt School of Engineering as a first year applicant, please discuss why you consider Duke a good match for you. Is there something particular about Duke that attracts you? (Please limit your response to no more than 150 words.)

This is a classic why essay, albeit a short one. Your answer should be personal and, if possible, unexpected. This is not the place to detail your love of the campus or dining hall. And Duke already knows it has “world-class” professors. Admissions wants to know what excites you about the specific school within Duke to which you are applying — something that is aligned with your interests and academic background. Since this is a short essay, try to narrow your focus to one or two elements and make a bridge from Duke’s resources to your own experiences and goals for the future. Is there is a professor in your department who has done research you admire that you hope to work with? Is there a program that combines your unique interests that is not offered at any other school?  Get specific. Let Duke know what resources you will take advantage of that others might not think of or know about.

Duke University seeks a talented, engaged student body that embodies the wide range of human experience; we believe that the diversity of our students makes our community stronger. If you’d like to share a perspective you bring or experiences you’ve had to help us understand you better-perhaps related to a community you belong to, your sexual orientation or gender identity, or your family or cultural background-we encourage you to do so. Real people are reading your application, and we want to do our best to understand and appreciate the real people applying to Duke. (250 word limit)

This is a classic community essay, through and through. Admissions Officers want to know what or who has made you into the person you are today. Where do you come from? What has shaped you as a person, and how has that made your perspective unique? What you focus on here can be reflective of larger cultural constructs or specific to you and only you. Admissions is looking to add diverse perspectives to the melting pot that is their student body. Is there anything you can teach your classmates about your hometown, traditions, culture, cuisine, orientation, identity, race, or ethnicity that they might not already know? Also consider why your particular background or experience will be useful in an academic setting. How will it help inspire and/or inform others? Were you raised in a Muslim family? Do you identify as genderqueer? Were you adopted as a child? What has influenced your identity? What do you believe and how will your worldview bring something of value to the community at Duke?

(Optional) If you would like the opportunity, we invite you to share more about your sexual orientation either below or in the Duke optional essay. (250 words)

Duke was one of the first schools to embrace the subject of sexual orientation in their essay questions (see the community essay prompt), and this is yet another step in their overt attempt to recruit a truly diverse pool of applicants. The school wants you to know that they are embracing all sexual orientations, and if you are open to discussing your own history and identity, feel free to share your story. Note that this question will likely not be applicable to all students, so if you don’t have a related story to tell, this is one of the few “optional” supplemental essays that we would encourage you to skip.

Transfer Students

We welcome your interest in transferring to Duke.  Every fall, approximately 30 students transfer into either the Trinity College of Arts & Sciences or the Pratt School of Engineering.  Most will enroll as sophomores, although the selection committee will also admit a small number of juniors.  

While transfer students are new to the Duke community, they bring with them the same characteristics of talent and engagement as the rest of their undergraduate peers.  Transfer students add a tremendous amount to campus life – all while pursuing their unique, intellectual interests at one of America’s leading universities.   

Eligibility

Please consult the following guidelines to determine your eligibility to transfer to Duke:

• If you have attended any college or university in the past four years and will have successfully completed at least one full year of transferrable college work by the August in which you hope to enroll, you qualify to apply to Duke as a transfer applicant.
• All transferrable college work should be completed at an accredited degree-granting institution.  College work completed at a vocational, technical, performance, or professional program will not be considered.
• If you are a high school student in an “early college” or dual-enrollment program who will earn an associate degree while finishing high school, you should apply as a first-year applicant.
• If you have already completed an undergraduate (bachelor’s) degree at a four-year college, you cannot be considered for transfer admission.
• Unfortunately, you may not apply for transfer to Duke as a part-time student.  Instead, we encourage you to contact Duke Continuing Studies for information on taking courses on a non-degree basis.  
• The admissions committee seeks applicants who can provide evidence of academic preparation within the past four years.  If you have not recently attended high school or college, we strongly encourage you to do so prior to applying for transfer, either through Duke Continuing Studies or an accredited degree-granting institution in your local area.

Veterans

Duke offers military veterans a high level of support as they transition to our campus community. For more information about the resources available to veterans, please visit the following resources: 

• Office of the University Registrar 
• Student Affairs

Evaluation

Duke offers a multitude of opportunities to its undergraduates.  We’re looking for students ready to respond to those opportunities intelligently, creatively and enthusiastically.  We like ambition and curiosity, talent and persistence, energy and humanity.

When we read an application and then discuss an application in our Admissions Committee, we consider both the academic and the personal qualities of each student. We think about what a student has accomplished within the context of the opportunities and challenges he or she has faced. And we seek those students who will bring a variety of experiences, backgrounds, interests and opinions to the campus. We especially appreciate students who love thinking hard about things and who like to make a difference in the world.  Our admissions process is guided by our assessment of six primary factors:

• The rigor of a candidate’s academic program
• Academic performance as measured by grades in academic courses
• Letters of recommendation
• Extracurricular activities
• The quality of thought and expression in the application essay
• Standardized test scores (Transfer applicants must submit scores from either the SAT or ACT, without exception.) 

Transfer admission to Duke is highly selective, with the admission rate ranging from 3% to 7% over the past five years.  Transfer applicants are expected to have demonstrated a high level of academic talent, both at their current higher education institution and in high school.  The most successful applicants will have a minimum college GPA of 3.7 in a challenging academic program.  Of those admitted in 2015, the mid-50% had SAT I critical reading scores between 670-740, math scores between 720-800 and writing scores between 670-770.    

Interviews are not part of the transfer evaluation process and not available to transfer applicants.

Required Materials and Deadlines

Your application must be submitted electronically through either the Common Application or Coalition Application. Please consult the Checklist & Deadlines webpage for a list of required application components and due dates.

If you intend to apply through the Common Application, please visit their website for instructions on where to find the College Report/Mid Year Report/Final Report in your transfer account. 

If your current college/university does not allow the submission of recommendation forms through the Common Application portal, you can find Duke-specific PDF versions of the recommendation forms below. These forms should be either mailed or faxed to our office.
College Instructor Recommendation
Registrar or College/University Report

Optional Arts Supplement

If you have exceptional talent in dance, theater, art, music, photography or film/video/digital media, you may submit supplementary material to be evaluated by an appropriate faculty member.  You may begin to submit artistic materials on February 15.  All submissions are due by March 20.  Please click here for more detailed instructions.

Transfer of Credit

• Duke will grant credit for no more than two years of coursework completed elsewhere, regardless of the number of credits a student has previously earned.  In order to earn a Duke degree, a transfer student must spend at least two years at Duke. 
• We do not offer a preliminary credit evaluation to applicants prior to the release of admissions decisions.  Instead, credit evaluations are completed upon matriculation by an academic dean.  Please see the Duke University Undergraduate Bulletin for more information on how transfer credits are evaluated.
• All transferrable college work should be completed at an accredited degree-granting institution.  College work completed at a vocational, technical, performance, or professional program will not be considered.
• We do not accept credits for courses that have been taken online. 

Financial Aid

Duke University views its financial aid program as an investment in students and their futures. We seek a diverse student body and are committed to ensuring aided students can take full advantage of the Duke experience. To that end, Duke admits transfer applicants who are U.S. citizens and permanent residents without regard to financial circumstance or aid eligibility and meets 100 percent of each admitted student's demonstrated need throughout their undergraduate enrollment.  Unfortunately, need-based financial aid is not available for international transfer students.  In addition, Duke does not offer merit-based scholarships to transfer students. 

The number of semesters of aid eligibility for students transferring to Duke is based on the policy of up to nine academic semesters less the number of semesters studied elsewhere.  This also includes financial assistance for one summer term, if needed.  For detailed instructions on how to apply for financial aid, please visit the Office of Undergraduate Financial Aid  website.

Transfer Student Housing

Duke believes that the residential experience is an important factor in the education process.  The Board of Trustees mandates that all undergraduates live on campus for three years.  As an extension of this practice, transfer students are required to live on campus for two years.  Exceptions to the housing requirement include:

• Transfer students who enter as juniors may request to live on campus for only one year. 
• Non-traditional transfer students (married students, military veterans, and those students older than most undergraduates) may request the housing requirement be waived entirely. 

The housing application will be available in mid-May and is due on July 1.  Visit the Housing, Dining, and Residence Life  website for more information on student housing options.

To assist with your transfer application process, we have compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions.  Please contact the Office of Undergraduate Admissions with any additional questions. 

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