Duke University

#52 / #21
Global Influence / U.S. Influence
Most Desirable School
Private university in Durham, North Carolina, United States

Duke University Featured Rankings

About Duke University

By James Barham, PhD

Duke began life as Brown’s Schoolhouse, on a site in what is now the town of Trinity in Randolph County, North Carolina, a little over 70 miles west of its current location in the city of Durham.

The small school experienced rapid growth in the years leading up to the Civil War, and underwent a succession of name changes: to Union Institute Academy (1841), Normal College (1851), and Trinity College (1859). In its cultural roots, the Methodist and Quaker faiths both loom large.

Finally, in 1892 the still-growing college was gifted with a major endowment from the wealthy tobacco entrepreneur, philanthropist, and devout Methodist, Washington Duke. It was at this time that its location was transferred to Durham.

A little later, Washington Duke’s son, James B. Duke, substantially increased the university’s endowment, to a total sum of about $40 million (around $580 million in today’s dollars). In honor of the contributions of the Duke family, in 1924the school changed its name one last time.

Washington Duke’s educational vision was to transform the modest teacher and minister training college into a major research university on the German model that would be capable of intellectually rivalling its Northern peers. In this, he succeeded beyond all expectation. Today, Duke is one of the premier private research universities in the South, and among the top tier of private schools in the country—effectively, the equivalent of an Ivy League school.

In addition to the influence flowing from the German research university model, Duke’s direction was also strongly shaped by its Methodist and Quaker roots, which toward the turn of the new century gave the school a decidedly progressive social impetus.

For example, Trinity College’s 1892 charter stipulated that the university’s doors be open to women on an equal basis with men. Also, in 1900, Duke became the first university in the country to host the renowned African American educator Booker T. Washington as an invited speaker. Native Americans also began to be included among its graduates around this same time.

There are some 15 Nobel laureates with Duke connections, including the:

  • Physicists, Charles Townes and Gerardus ’t Hooft
  • Biochemist, Robert Lefkowitz
  • Cancer researcher, William Kaelin, Jr.
  • Nigerian playwright, Wole Soyinka

Among other notable, Duke-associated scientists, we may mention the physicist and evolutionary theorist, Adrian Bejan. Duke can also boast of three Turing Award–winners:

  • Frederick Brooks
  • Edmund Clarke
  • John Cocke

Among the many other famous people who have been connected to Duke, the following are very notable:

  • Philosopher, Alasdair MacIntyre
  • Novelists, William Styron & Reynolds Price
  • Historian, John Hope Franklin
  • Literary theorist, Stanley Fish
  • Psychologists, Jerome Bruner, Roy Baumeister, & Dan Ariely
  • Economist, Allan Meltzer
  • Television personalities, Judy Woodruff & Charlie Rose
  • Father and son Libertarian politicians, Ron & Rand Paul
  • Lawyer, judge, and Clinton-era special prosecutor, Kenneth Starr

Duke also administers two international sister colleges: a medical school in Singapore and Kunshan University in China.

According to Wikipedia, Duke University is a private research university in Durham, North Carolina. Founded by Methodists and Quakers in the present-day town of Trinity in 1838, the school moved to Durham in 1892. In 1924, tobacco and electric power industrialist James Buchanan Duke established The Duke Endowment and the institution changed its name to honor his deceased father, Washington Duke.

Duke University Admissions, Retention, and Graduation Information

Annual Applications Acceptance Graduation Rate Median SAT Score Median ACT Score
39,639 8% 96% 1525 34

How Much Does Duke University Cost To Attend?

Tuition (in-state)
Price by Family Income
Income Average Net Cost
0 - 30K $-7,808
30K - 48K $-1,314
48K - 75K $4,150
75K - 110K $18,375
110K+ $48,680

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

How Much Do Duke University Graduates Make?

If you graduate from Duke University, then you can expect to earn an average of $114,500 per year. You also have a 93% chance of being employed after 10 years.

Duke University's Demographics

Demographic data is for full-time, on-campus students.

Student Body Under-Grads Graduates
15,079 8,351 6,728

Where is Duke University?

Duke University is located at 103 Allen Bldg, Durham NC 27708

How Safe is Duke University?

Duke University has a violent crime rate of less than .01% and a property crime rate of less than .01%.

What Is Duke University Known For?

Duke University is known for it's academic work in the following disciplines:

Duke University's Top Areas of Influence With Degrees Offered

Who Are Duke University's Most Influential Alumni?

Duke University's most influential alumni faculty include professors and professionals in the fields of Medical, Business, and Political Science. Here are some of Duke University's most famous alumni:

Fred Brooks
Fred Brooks
An American computer scientist.
Jerome Bruner
Jerome Bruner
An American psychologist and scholar.
Ken Wilber
Ken Wilber
An American writer and public speaker.
Charlie Rose
Charlie Rose
An American TV interviewer and journalist.
John W. Campbell
John W. Campbell
An American science fiction writer .
Paul Farmer
Paul Farmer
An American anthropologist, 1959-2022.
Dan Ariely
Dan Ariely
An Israeli American professor of psychology and behavioral economics.
Tim Cook
Tim Cook
An American business executive.
Charles H. Townes
Charles H. Townes
A 20th-century American physicist.
Robert Lefkowitz
Robert Lefkowitz
An American physician and biochemist.
Russell Kirk
Russell Kirk
An American political theorist and writer.
Brian Kobilka
Brian Kobilka
An American physiologist.

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