Early decision applicants will make up 48 percent of Duke's Class of 2020—the same proportion of students admitted through the early decision process as last year.

This Fall, 3,455 students applied to Duke early, which represents an 11 percent increase from last year and a record high for the University. Of those applicants, who will be able to view their admissions decisions at 7 p.m. Thursday, 813 will be accepted. This acceptance rate—23.5 percent—is the lowest the University has posted in the early decision process, said Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Christoph Guttentag. The early decision acceptance rates for the Class of 2019 and Class of 2018 were 26 percent and 25 percent, respectively.

“This appears to be academically the strongest group of students admitted early that we’ve had,” Guttentag said. “It’s a more diverse and more interesting group than in past years. I think it’s going to be a terrific foundation for the Class of 2020.”

He noted that students admitted through early decision were more socioeconomically diverse than in past years—48 percent of admitted students indicated they would apply for financial aid, compared to 43 percent last year.

Critics of early decision point out that because the process is binding, applicants are not able to compare financial aid packages from different schools and may be deterred from applying. Guttentag noted that although this is gradually changing, the early decision pool remains less diverse than the regular decision pool.

“That’s one of the reasons we don’t admit more students through the early decision process,” Guttentag said. “Diversity of students is incredibly important to us, and we don’t want to feel limited by having admitted too many students through the early decision process.”

In recent years, as the number of early decision candidates has grown, so has the number of students admitted. Early decision applicants made up 38 percent of the Class of 2016, 44 percent of the Class of 2017, 47 percent of the Class of 2018 and 48 percent of the Class of 2019.

Guttentag said that at this point, the percentage of students admitted early will likely stay near where it is.

“We think it’s appropriate to have at least half of the class or a little more chosen through the regular decision process,” he said. “Unless something significant changes, I would prefer to keep the percentage of students admitted early at or under 50 percent.”

He explained that no single factor can explain the increased number of early decision applicants, attributing it partly to a general rise in interest in the early decision process from students applying to Duke and its peer institutions.

“The admissions process in general has become more selective,” Guttentag said. “More students applying to Duke and schools like it are deciding their best chance is to apply ED. And we’re the beneficiary of it."

This year, 37 percent of those admitted early were students of color—which ties the Class of 2018 for the record. Guttentag said 66 admitted students are black, 70 are Latino/a, 158 are Asian and five are Native American. Nine percent of admitted students are international.

The states most highly represented are California, New York and North Carolina—with students from those three states making up 31 percent of the admitted applicants.

Guttentag also noted that the early acceptance rate was slightly higher for applicants to Pratt than for applicants to Trinity.