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Duke Kunshan University To Launch Undergraduate Degree Program In 2018

The university will offer a new liberal arts and sciences curriculum

The Duke Kunshan University campus. The undergraduate degree program will launch in August 2018.
The Duke Kunshan University campus. The undergraduate degree program will launch in August 2018.

DURHAM, NC, & KUNSHAN, CHINA -- Duke Kunshan University in Kunshan, China, will welcome the first students in its undergraduate degree program in August 2018.

The four-year bachelor’s degree program is based in the liberal arts and sciences tradition, allowing students to explore a variety of subjects and build a broad base of knowledge before selecting a major. Designed by faculty at Duke University, a leading world university, and with input from Chinese higher education experts, Duke Kunshan’s curriculum develops deep subject matter expertise while integrating coursework from multiple disciplines, ensuring that graduates are well prepared for employment or advanced study in their chosen field. Courses will be taught in English and will be primarily conducted in small-sized, discussion-based classes. Overall, Duke Kunshan will have a student-faculty ratio of 10:1.

Undergraduate students will participate in a university community that fosters learning inside and outside of the classroom. The Duke Kunshan campus opened in 2014 and features classroom and lab space, housing and dining facilities for students and faculty members, arts and recreation areas, and current educational technology.

Duke Kunshan students and faculty will come from all over the world, creating an international environment on campus. In addition, students will have the opportunity to study abroad at Duke University in the United States.

Graduates of the program will receive a bachelor’s degree from Duke University, an institution consistently ranked among the top universities in the world, as well as a degree from Duke Kunshan University approved by China’s Ministry of Education.

They will join Duke’s global network of more than 170,000 alumni, many of whom are widely recognized for their leadership in business, government, technology, athletic and philanthropic activities. Charlie Soong, the father of the well-known Soong sisters in China, was the first international student at Duke.

Duke Kunshan University was jointly founded by Duke University, China’s Wuhan University and the City of Kunshan in 2013 and has offered master’s degree programs in business, global health and medical physics, and a Global Learning Semester program for undergraduates, since 2014.  A new master’s program in environmental policy will begin later this year.

“The undergraduate degree program at Duke Kunshan University will open in 2018 with an innovative curriculum specially designed to educate and challenge students in this unique global setting,” said Duke University President Richard Brodhead. 

“I look forward to joining my faculty colleagues in the fall of 2018 to take part in teaching the incoming class at Duke Kunshan," added Brodhead, who will step down from the Duke presidency this June. Brodhead is also member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and an expert in 19th-century American literature.

Duke faculty member Wayne Norman teaches in a Duke Kunshan classroom.

Duke Kunshan will initially offer eight undergraduate majors designed to equip students for either further study or immediate employment in settings where they will be expected to draw on knowledge from multiple fields in order to succeed. The initial eight majors are:

  • material science with a focus in physics
  • political economy with a focus in political science
  • environmental science with a focus in chemistry
  • environmental science with a focus in public policy
  • global health with a focus in public policy
  • global health with a focus in biology
  • global China studies with a focus in history
  • applied mathematics with a focus in computation

Additional majors are under development, including humanities majors that integrate history, philosophy, literature, and the arts, as well as social science majors integrating economics, sociology, anthropology, and psychology.

“After the successful launch and operation of our master’s programs since 2014, we are now fully prepared to offer the undergraduate degree program,” said Liu Jingnan, chancellor of Duke Kunshan and academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering.  “We are confident of helping students become citizens of rooted globalism who put knowledge and discoveries to use for the good of society.” 

Duke faculty member Curt Richardson leads a field trip to a nearby wetland Denis Simon, executive vice chancellor of Duke Kunshan and an expert on U.S.-China science and technology relations, added, “As China grows on the international stage, we are delighted to offer a unique international learning experience for students from across the world. Our program is designed to help students not only have greater access to international opportunities, but also define and create new jobs for the 21st century.”

Dou Xiankang, president of Wuhan University, said, “Wuhan University will work closely with partners to help cultivate students who think globally and act firmly, and help build Duke Kunshan University into a world-class university with a top-notch undergraduate program.”

Duke Kunshan University will offer merit-based and need-based scholarships for qualified Chinese and international students, reflecting the university’s commitment to recruiting a cohort of highly talented students from a diverse set of backgrounds and experiences.

Applications for admission will be accepted beginning in August 2017 through the university and Common Application websites.  Students with PRC citizenship are required to take the Gaokao as a replacement for standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT. Further information about the undergraduate degree program is available at