Growth in early applications

Interactive by Likhitha Butchireddygari

In December, Duke announced that it accepted 875 high school seniors into the Class of 2022 after receiving a record number of 4,090 Early Decision students. Last year, there were a total of 3,516 Early Decision applicants, indicating a 16.3 percent increase in applications from 2016 to this year. 

Compared to many of its peers, Duke saw one of the highest increases in Early Decision or Early Action applicants from 2016 to 2017—second only to Cornell University, which had a slightly higher 17.4-percent increase.

Some schools, however, did not see such a substantial increase. Harvard University, for example, saw one of the smallest increases—less than three percent—in Early Action applications. And one less student applied to Columbia University through Early Decision than last year.

Early decision acceptance rate

Interactive by Likhitha Butchireddygari

With the increase in applications, Duke, as well as many of its peers that have an Early Decision program, saw a decrease in the acceptance rate for this year. Last year, the University saw a slight uptick in the percentage of students it accepted through the program, with the rate rising from 23.6 percent in 2015 to 24.5 percent in 2016, before dipping to 21 percent in 2017. 

The University of Pennsylvania, however, has had a consistent decrease in its Early Decision acceptance rate through the past five years. Columbia has not yet released its Early Decision acceptance rate for this year. 

Percent of class made up of early decision applicants

Interactive by Likhitha Butchireddygari

For the past decade, students accepted into Early Decision programs have made up a greater portion of the total class each year. This is especially true at Penn and Duke, where Early Decision students now make up more than half of the total class. 

At Duke, the percentage of Early Decision students making up all new enrollees jumped to 44 percent for the Class of 2017 from 38 percent for the Class of 2016. 

Next school year, 51 percent of Duke's first-year beds will be filled by Early Decision students—more than ever before.