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Duke is now more selective than Penn with record-low 8.3 percent acceptance rate

Although Duke accepted a record low number of students for the Class of 2022, the University is not alone in its diminishing admission rates.

Last month, Duke accepted just 6.4 percent of its regular decision applicants. This admittance rate beat out last year’s regular decision acceptance rate of 7.3 percent and the 8.7 percent for regular decision applicants to the Class of 2020. At the time, both were record lows for regular decision. However, peer schools have reported similar record-breaking admittance rates.

Harvard University, Georgetown University, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, Brown University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Northwestern University, Stanford University and New York University all broke records with all-time-low admittance rates.

Overall acceptance rate

Interactive by Likhitha Butchireddygari

For the Class of 2021, Duke and the University of Pennsylvania—which Duke fell one place behind in the most recent U.S. News and World Report annual college rankings—tied with 9.2 percent overall admittance rates. This year, Duke managed to just beat out Penn in terms of selectivity, with a 8.3 percent acceptance rate to Penn’s 8.4 percent.

Duke’s 8.3 percent acceptance rate is also lower than schools such as Georgetown, Cornell and Dartmouth. However, it is still higher than Harvard’s 4.6 percent, Stanford’s 4.3 percent or Brown’s 7.2 percent acceptance rates.

These universities also received a record high number of applications. Duke received 37,302 submissions—an eight percent increase from the previous year. Several colleges faced similar growths—Harvard matched Duke’s growth with 42,742 applicants for its incoming first-year class. Yale saw a seven percent increase with 35,305 applicants, and Northwestern had 40,418 applicants, up 8.5 percent from the previous year.

In a previous interview with The Chronicle, Stephen Nowicki, dean and vice provost for undergraduate education, noted that students are taking advantage of the Common Application to apply to as many schools as they can. This practice, he said, creates an unfortunate positive feedback loop where the number of applications rise at top schools and acceptance rates subsequently drop, causing anxious students to apply to more schools.

“I still think I would have been admitted to Duke,” sophomore August Ning said. “I couldn’t see myself anywhere else. I feel like I’m able to add to the quality of Duke, like all the students here.”


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