Duke accepts record-low 7.3 percent of regular decision applicants

Duke accepted 2,255 high school seniors regular decision this year, the University announced Wednesday.

The University received its highest number of applicants this year, with more than 34,400 students applying for admission. Almost 31,000 applied regular decision, and 7.3 percent were accepted—a record-low acceptance rate. Another 58 students who applied early decision—but were deferred—have now been admitted as well.

“The Regular Decision applicants were so impressive, not just in their academic accomplishments but even more in their engagement in learning and in contributing to their communities,” said Christoph Guttentag, dean of undergraduate admissions, in a Duke Today release. “Being able to admit only about 7 percent of them made the selection process particularly challenging for us. It was difficult to choose among the many exceptional young women and men who included Duke on their college lists.”

Last year, the University's regular decision acceptance rate was 8.7 percent. An additional 49 students who applied early and were deferred were admitted last year.

The admission rate for early decision this year was 24.5 percent, which was the second most selective early decision process in Duke's history. A record number of 3,516 students applied early decision and will make up 50 percent of the Class of 2021. Last year, 3,455 students applied early decision, and 813 were admitted—an acceptance rate of 23.5 percent.

The University participated in the QuestBridge Scholars program for the first time this year. The program is designed specifically for low-income and first-generation college students, and 36 students admitted early decision are QuestBridge scholars.

All admitted students are invited for Blue Devil Days, which will be held this year during the weekends of April 13-14, April 17-18 and April 23-24.

Some students on campus expressed their surprise at the acceptance rate, which is lower than when they were admitted.

First-year Natalie Popowics noted that she felt bad for the qualified students who did not get accepted.

"Sometimes I wonder if I were even like a year younger, would I not have gotten in?” she said.

The record-high number of applicants could result from more people knowing about high-ranking schools and being more willing to apply, explained first-year Thien Hoang.

“People aren’t getting smarter," he said. "You’re still getting the same caliber of people, it’s just you’re getting more people who are applying, so the rate of acceptance is lower.”

Editor's note: This article was updated at 6:00 p.m. Thursday to include student quotes. 


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