Meet Duke's Class of 2026: The Chronicle's first-year survey results

Editor's note: This story is part of a series about the Class of 2026 based on a survey conducted by The Chronicle. You can read more about our methodology and limitations here, or see all of our survey coverage here. Data analysis was completed by the first-year survey team.


We asked respondents in the Class of 2026 about their race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation; from where and what type of community they are from; whether they are first-generation college students; and their family income. 

In our survey, 51.2% of students identified as white, 12.7% identified as Hispanic/Latinx, 8.8% identified as Black, 0.8% identified as Native American or Alaska Native, 39.7% identified as Asian, 0.8% identified as Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander and 1.7% identified as other. Students could select multiple identities.

The survey also found that 63% of respondents were women, 36% were men, 0.8% were nonbinary or genderqueer and 0.2% were agender.

Among students that chose to share their sexual orientation, 79.7% identified as heterosexual, 2% identified as asexual, 8% identified as bisexual, 5% identified as gay or lesbian, 0.5% identified as pansexual and 4% were questioning. About 4% of respondents preferred not to share their sexual orientation.

For the first time, we introduced survey items about whether students identified as disabled or immunocompromised. About 2.5% of students identified as disabled and about 3.6% identified as immunocompromised.

Nearly 70% of respondents who shared what type of community they lived in said they were from suburban areas, while 23% were from urban areas and 7.7% were from rural areas. About 11.6% of respondents are first-generation college students. 

About 42% of respondents said they receive financial aid from Duke. Seven percent of respondents have family incomes below $40,000, while 11% have family incomes between $40,000 and $80,000, 17% have family incomes between $80,000 and $125,000, 23% have family incomes between $125,000 and $250,000, 21% have family incomes between $250,000 and $500,000, and 21% have family incomes over $500,000.

Our survey consisted of 87.5% domestic students and 12.5% international students.

Paths to Duke

Students varied in their paths to Duke. The survey asked the Class of 2026 if they applied Early Decision, whether Duke was their first choice, whether they have legacy status, the type of high school they came from, whether they took a gap year and why they chose Duke.

The top five states from which students came were North Carolina (15%), California (11%), Texas (8%), New York (7%) and Florida (6%). The top five countries outside of the United States were India, China, Brazil, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates.

While only 53% of students applied early decision, 63% said Duke was their first choice. Less than 3% of students took a gap year, with those students originally being admitted to the Class of 2025. About 30% of students hired college admissions counselors. The most common reason for choosing Duke was academics and interdisciplinary curriculum. About 15% of students said their parents or siblings attended Duke.

A majority of students (58%) attended public non-charter high schools. Additionally, a quarter of students attended private non-denominational high schools, 11% attended private religious schools and 5% attended public charter schools. About one in ten students went to residential schools.

Plans at Duke

The survey asked first-years to tell us what they plan to major in; their interest in Greek life, selective living groups and living learning communities; and opinions on QuadEx.

About 83% of students are in Trinity and 17% are in Pratt. About a third of students were enrolled in FOCUS in their first semester. 

The top ten intended majors are economics, computer science, biology, public policy, biomedical engineering, neuroscience, political science, psychology, mechanical engineering, and electrical and computer engineering, respectively.

About 69% of students said they would be interested in pursuing a minor and about 46% said they would be interested in pursuing a certificate. About one in five students were unsure about either and 2.7% weren’t interested in minors or certificates.

About 41% of respondents said they had no interest in joining Greek life, while 37% were “slightly” or “moderately” interested and 22% were “very” or “extremely” interested. 

In contrast, 29% of respondents said they were not interested in joining selective living groups, 61% said they were “slightly” or “moderately” interested and 9% said they were “very” or “extremely” interested.

About 27% of respondents said they had no interest in joining a living learning community, about 65% said they were “slightly” or “moderately” interested and 8% said they were “very” or “extremely” interested.

About 41% of students had “somewhat” or “strongly” favorable opinions of QuadEx, while over a quarter had “somewhat” or “strongly” unfavorable opinions of the system and about a third were neutral.


We asked the Class of 2026 to tell us about their beliefs, lifestyle and choices — from religion to drug use to whether they have sought mental health treatment before.

About half of students have drank alcohol, 16% have had sex, 12% have obtained a fake ID, and 21% have used drugs.

About a third of students observe Christianity, with Catholic and Protestant students about equally represented. About one in five respondents were atheists, while 14% were agnostic, one in ten were Jewish, 9% were Hindu, 2% were Muslim, 1.34% were Buddhist and less than 1% were Mormon. About 11% of students said they observed another religion not listed.

While a variety of religions were represented in The Chronicle’s survey, over 50% of students said they were not very religious or were not religious at all. One in five said they were “somewhat” religious, and only 6% said they were “very” religious.

About 60% of students do not attend religious services at Duke, while 17.5% attend services at least once a week and the remainder attend services at least once a month or on special occasions.

Over a quarter of students have received mental health treatment before, with about 13% of students currently receiving treatment.


We asked students to share their political beliefs, where they plan to vote, whether they voted in the recent midterm elections and for whom they voted.

Nearly 72% of students said they were “somewhat” or “very” liberal, while 18% identified as moderates and nearly 10% identified as “somewhat” conservative or conservative.

Eight in ten students said they were registered to vote in the United States, while 12% said they were ineligible. About 15% of students have been involved in efforts to increase voter turnout, and 95% of students said they had been asked about their voter registration status while at Duke.

Among students registered to vote, 90% planned to vote in the November 2022 midterm election. About six in ten of those students voted in Durham, while 8% voted in another part of North Carolina and 29% voted in other states.

Among students that voted in North Carolina, about 87% planned to vote for Cheri Beasley for senator, while about 7% planned to vote for Ted Budd, 2.3% planned to vote for Shannon Bray, 1% planned to vote for Matthew Hoh, and 3% did not choose any of the candidates.

Among students that voted in Durham, 88% planned to vote for Valerie Foushee for U.S. House of Representatives, 7% planned to vote for Courtney Geels, and 5% chose neither.

Campus resources

We asked students to tell us which campus amenities they frequented, as well as which campus resources they knew about and which they had personally used or visited.

Academic Resources

Cultural Centers


Mental Health

The top five most-used resources were Student Health (45.54%), weight and exercise rooms at Wilson Recreation Center (38.59%), Campus Pharmacy (33.44%), the Arts Annex (24.15%) and the Freeman Center for Jewish Life (23.31%).


A majority of students thought that COVID-19 testing was at least somewhat accessible on campus. Similarly, most students were at least somewhat aware of Duke’s COVID-19 policies. Over half of respondents said those policies had no impact on their academic or social lives, while about 29% said it had a little impact. About 95% of respondents had not tested positive for COVID-19 while on campus but 72% knew someone who had. 

Only 2% of students relocated rooms because they or a roommate tested positive, while 1% had their roommate relocate and 6% stayed in their housing assignment after testing positive.

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this article said 95% of respondents had never tested positive for COVID-19. The survey asked if respondents had tested positive for COVID-19 while on campus, not if they had ever tested positive. The wording has been updated to reflect this.

Nadia Bey profile
Nadia Bey | Digital Strategy Director

Nadia Bey, Trinity '23, was managing editor for The Chronicle's 117th volume and digital strategy director for Volume 118.


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