Duke Gets Record Number of Applications for Fifth Year in a Row

Duke University has received a record-setting 19,282 applications for just 1,640 places in the class that will enter Duke this fall, meaning that students seeking to become Blue Devils will face the most selective admissions process in the university’s history.

The university has seen a steady increase in applications during the last decade. This year represents a marked increase in the number of applications received -– 1,193 more than the university received last year, 2,541 more than two years ago and 4,572 more than five years ago.

“For a long time we’ve been fortunate to have many more students applying than we can admit, but we have seen a particularly sharp increase in applications the last several years,” said Christoph Guttentag, dean of undergraduate admissions.

“I think this is due in part to Duke’s enhanced visibility and recognition among the country’s elite schools. It is also partly a result of our increased recruiting efforts. Our admissions officers travel on average six weeks a year to meet with top high school students.

“And in the past five years, we have completely revamped our publications and our website to reflect Duke’s sense of energy, opportunity and academic rigor. The word is out that our undergraduates truly can create an educational experience that reflects their unique interests and passions.”

During the next two months, admissions officers will read and evaluate each of the 19,000-plus applications. “While people sometimes think we care only about academic qualifications, the selection process takes so long because the staff is dedicated to understanding each applicant as an individual, not just as a student,” Guttentag said.

High school seniors apply either to the university’s Trinity College of Arts and Sciences or the Pratt School of Engineering. This year’s applicant pool includes more than 1,000 students with SAT scores above 1550, more than double the number who had similar scores just four years ago.

Other high-growth areas include applicants to the Pratt School of Engineering, international applicants and students of color. This year, the university received 3,343 applications from students who want to pursue engineering, an increase of more than 1,000 from five years ago. The number of Native American applicants almost doubled from last year’s total. And this year’s pool of applicants included 1,221 Latino students, a 13 percent increase from last year; 2,085 African-American students, a 12 percent increase from last year; and 4,718 Asian and Asian-American students, a 17 percent increase from last year.

In addition, 1,985 international students have applied for admission, nearly double the number of international applicants five years ago.

“Since the university expanded the financial aid program a few years ago to include a number of international students, we’ve seen a steady increase in the number of students from foreign countries who are interested in Duke,” Guttentag said.

In early April, slightly more than 3,000 top high school students from across the country and around the world will receive letters of acceptance to Duke.

As in previous years, the admissions office will notify applicants of their admissions decisions online as well as through the mail. The university expects 1,640 of the admitted students to enroll this fall, including 470 who were admitted in December through the Early Decision program.

Although it is too soon to assess the overall strength of the applicant pool, indications are this will be the most qualified group of applicants in Duke’s history, Guttentag said.

“That is something of a good news-bad news situation,” he said. “It’s wonderful that so many intelligent, accomplished students are interested in attending Duke, but it means we’ll need to deny admission to a good number of students whom we would have admitted just a few years ago.”

As in previous years, many of the applicants applied for financial aid. More than 40 percent of Duke undergraduates receive financial assistance from the university in the form of grants, loans and work-study jobs. The annual average grant to a financial aid recipient for the 2004-05 academic year was $21,592. The cost to attend Duke, including room and board, was $41,239 in 2004-05.

For U.S. citizens and permanent residents, Duke’s admissions policy is “need blind,” which means that applicants are accepted regardless of their ability to pay for college. Duke will meet 100 percent of demonstrated financial need for all admitted students requiring aid.