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DKU Gets Final Approval, Begins Student Recruitment

DKU plans to open in fall 2014 offering three master's degree programs

Part of the Duke in China Series
The DKU campus site under construction.  The school will enroll its first students in fall 2014.
The DKU campus site under construction. The school will enroll its first students in fall 2014.

China's Ministry of Education has formally approved the establishment of Duke Kunshan University (DKU), a new joint venture institution created by Duke University and Wuhan University.

DKU will offer both degree and non-degree academic programs for students from China and around the world.

"DKU will be a world-class center for teaching and learning, helping to develop a new model of global education," said Duke University President Richard H. Brodhead. "It will be a vibrant place of inquiry where Duke faculty and students can have a deeper level of engagement with China, a part of the world that is rapidly increasing in significance. We look forward to welcoming students from all corners of the world to the new campus in Kunshan." 

Li Xiaohong, president of Wuhan University, said, "With the establishment of DKU, Wuhan University and Duke University have joined together in a pioneering effort to drive Chinese higher education to new levels of quality, diversity and internationalization. The creation of this new university should be a meaningful step in establishing and completing China's modern university system, and it will open up a new world for higher education cooperation between China and the U.S."

DKU will enroll its first students in fall 2014, and initially plans to offer master's degree programs in global health (through the Duke Global Health Institute) and management studies (through the Fuqua School of Business), as well as a proposed degree in medical physics. Additional graduate degree programs that will be offered in future years are now being developed.

DKU's graduate degree programs will lead to Duke University degrees.

For undergraduate students currently enrolled at other universities in China and around the world, the DKU Undergraduate Global Learning Semester will provide them with the opportunity to study at DKU and earn Duke University credit across several disciplines. Undergraduate courses in global health, the humanities, physical and natural sciences, and social sciences are planned for the 2014-15 academic year.

DKU's initial academic programs -- in global health, business and undergraduate liberal arts education, as well as a graduate program in medical physics that is awaiting final approval from Duke -- bring to China fields for which Duke is widely recognized for excellence, and provide a new set of options for Chinese and international students pursuing higher education in China.

With more than 50 Duke faculty members planning to teach at DKU during its first two years of operation, all DKU programs are expected to deliver world-class educational experiences, said Peter Lange, Duke's provost and chair of the DKU Board of Trustees. DKU students will have a significant international learning experience -- by attending school with students from many countries and through opportunities most DKU programs will provide to study or conduct research in the U.S. -- that will make them competitive when they graduate and embark on a career.

"We are deeply grateful to receive establishment approval for DKU. The thorough process helped strengthen our academic programs, deepen our faculty support and broadened our engagement in China," Lange said. "The goal of DKU has always been to create a liberal arts vision and outstanding professional training and we look forward to the opening of this new university next September."

The university is now accepting applications for admission for fall 2014. Program details and applications are available at

DKU has been in development since 2010 and the university received preliminary approval from the Ministry of Education in August 2012. The city of Kunshan is constructing the DKU campus on a 200-acre site within the Kunshan Yangcheng Lake Science Park. The 750,000-square-foot residential campus includes state-of-the-art classroom facilities, library resources, student and faculty housing, dining, spaces for individual and small-group study, and recreational facilities.

DKU is governed by an independent board of trustees that includes representatives of the parent universities and founding partners, and operates under a set of guiding principles that includes academic freedom and open access to information. Liu Jingnan, DKU's chancellor, is a distinguished scientist, the former president of Wuhan University and a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering. Mary Brown Bullock, the executive vice chancellor, is a scholar of U.S.-China relations and the former president of Agnes Scott College in Atlanta.

"Creating a comprehensive, prestigious, international and world-class institution is not as simple as combining two universities," said Liu. "We are creatively integrating complementary strengths from two universities, as well as two countries and their cultures and perspectives. Our faculty, students, facilities and curriculum will all be of the very highest quality, and our teaching methods and learning experiences will challenge our students to learn and grow not only as scholars, but also as citizens of the world."

Added Bullock, "We will first bring in Duke's advanced educational philosophy, management model, teaching methods and curricular system. Through further integration and innovation, we will eventually build a top university that is deeply rooted in China and embodies the essence of Chinese and American cultures. The DKU campus provides a perfect setting for transformative learning experiences. We're creating a global learning community that will encourage intellectual engagement and development inside and outside of the classroom."

The city of Kunshan has provided a full range of support for DKU. Lu Jun, mayor of Kunshan, said, "DKU's establishment has profound significance in supporting the city's social and economic development. Kunshan is committed to continuing its cooperation with Wuhan University and Duke University to build DKU into a world-class university."

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