Duke University
#31 Overall Influence#12 Desirability Rank

Duke University

Private university in Durham, North Carolina, United States

About This School

How does this school stack up?

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.

Admissions

What does this school look for?

Annual Applications

35,786

Acceptance

9%

Graduation Rate

95%

Median SAT Score

1510

Median ACT Score

34

Costs

How much does it cost to attend?

Tuition (in-state)

$53,760

Fees (in-state)

$1,935

IncomeAverage Net Cost
0-30K$-3,260
30K-48K$-3,395
48K-75K$3,398
75K-110K$14,925
110K+$45,529

After Graduation

Averages for 10 years after enrolling

Avg Earnings

$114,500

Employed

93%

Campus Life

What's it like to attend this school?

The People

Full time on-campus stats

Student Body

15K

Under-Grads

8K

Graduates

7K

The Campus

Where will you be attending?

Location

103 Allen Bldg, Durham NC 27708

On Campus Crime Rates

Property Crime

29k per 100k

Violent Crime

1k per 100k

Influence Rankings by Discipline

How’s this school influential?

#13 World Rank #10 USA Rank
Nursing
#19 World Rank #16 USA Rank
Political Science
#22 World Rank #9 USA Rank
Religious Studies
#23 World Rank #19 USA Rank
Business
#24 World Rank #16 USA Rank
Medical
#28 World Rank #22 USA Rank
Engineering
#28 World Rank #19 USA Rank
Biology
#30 World Rank #17 USA Rank
Psychology
#30 World Rank #23 USA Rank
Education
#31 World Rank #18 USA Rank
Law
#34 World Rank #21 USA Rank
Economics
#35 World Rank #26 USA Rank
Computer Science
#36 World Rank #32 USA Rank
Communications
#39 World Rank #32 USA Rank
Criminal Justice
#41 World Rank #15 USA Rank
Earth Sciences
#41 World Rank #23 USA Rank
Anthropology
#49 World Rank #25 USA Rank
History
#54 World Rank #18 USA Rank
Philosophy
#54 World Rank #26 USA Rank
Literature
#57 World Rank #22 USA Rank
Chemistry
#59 World Rank #49 USA Rank
Social Work
#72 World Rank #34 USA Rank
Sociology
#80 World Rank #27 USA Rank
Physics
#94 World Rank #33 USA Rank
Mathematics

Influential People

Who are Duke University's Most influential alumni?

Duke University's most influential alumni faculty include professors and professionals in the fields of Nursing, Political Science, and Religious Studies. Duke University’s most academically influential people include David G. Bromley, Charlie Rose, and John W. Campbell.

David G. Bromley

American sociologist

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Charlie Rose
Charlie Rose

American TV interviewer and journalist

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John W. Campbell
John W. Campbell

American science fiction writer and editor

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Ken Wilber
Ken Wilber

American writer and public speaker

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Jerome Bruner
Jerome Bruner

American psychologist and scholar

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Tim Cook
Tim Cook

American business executive

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James E. Boyd
James E. Boyd

American physicist and administrator

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Russell Kirk
Russell Kirk

American political theorist and writer

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William Styron
William Styron

American novelist and essayist

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Fred Brooks
Fred Brooks

American computer scientist

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Richard B. Spencer
Richard B. Spencer

American white supremacist

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Anne Tyler

American novelist

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