Duke Accepts 861 Early Decision Applicants

Thirty-six of the admitted students are QuestBridge Scholars

The 861 applicants accepted through Early Decision will account for half of the incoming class of 2021. Photo by Duke Photography

On Wednesday evening, 861 high school seniors will find out that they are the first members of Duke University's Class of 2021. 

This year, 3,516 students applied under Duke's Early Decision program, a record number and two percent more than last year. By applying Early Decision, students indicate that Duke is their first choice, and commit to enroll at the university if they are admitted. 

Students admitted through Early Decision this year will represent 50 percent of next fall's incoming class.

Of the 861 students offered admission, 691 will enroll in the Trinity College of Arts & Sciences and the remaining 170 will enroll in the Pratt School of Engineering. 

New York is the state with the greatest representation among students admitted through Early Decision, followed closely by North Carolina and Florida.

Students of color comprise 41 percent of those admitted, a record high, and international students make up seven percent. 

For the first time this year, Duke participated in the QuestBridge Scholars program, a recruitment program geared specifically toward low-income and first-generation students; 36 of the admitted Early Decision students are QuestBridge Scholars.

Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Christoph Guttentag said the inclusion of QuestBridge students in this year’s Early Decision process was particularly notable.

“These are exceptional young women and men; becoming a QuestBridge Scholar is a real accomplishment,” Guttentag said. “These are very strong students, deeply engaged in their schools and communities and very accomplished both in the classroom and in their activities, typically in spite of some very significant challenges in their lives. 

“Our participation in QuestBridge has allowed us to attract students who otherwise would not have been in our applicant pool, and we felt very comfortable increasing the number of students admitted Early Decision so that we could include them.”

With the increase in the number of applicants, the admit rate for Early Decision was 24.5 percent, the second most selective Early Decision process in Duke's history.

“Overall, this year’s group of students admitted Early Decision will create a wonderful foundation for the Class of 2021 -- talented, enthusiastic, diverse and interested in taking full advantage of what Duke has to offer,” Guttentag said.

Starting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, students will be able to receive their decisions online. Typically several hundred students view their decisions in the first several minutes, with most viewing their decisions within an hour. Those admitted students who applied for financial aid will also receive information about much aid they will be awarded. 

Of those who applied via Early Decision this year, 671 were deferred to the spring Regular Decision process. Last year, Duke received more than 28,000 Regular Decision applications. 

The deadline for Regular Admission applicants is Jan. 3, and final decisions will be made available to students March 30.