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Low Student Debt at Duke Cited in New Rankings

Duke is tied for 10th among national universities that offer doctoral degrees in the latest US News & World Report Best Colleges rankings, which were released Tuesday.

Duke was singled out as providing one of the best values among national universities. Duke rated 8th in that listing, which considers both a school’s academic quality and the net cost of attendance for students receiving need-based financial aid.

Duke was also listed as 3rd among national universities for lowest amount of student debt at graduation. The median average of debt for a Duke student was $9,200.

In a new measure that focuses on student success, Duke ranked highly in seven of the eight categories. According to US News, “some colleges and universities are much more determined than others to provide undergrads with the best possible educational experience, recognizing that certain enriched offerings, from learning communities and internships to senior capstone projects, are linked to success.”

The seven categories in which Duke was ranked, based on a survey of college presidents, chief academic officers and deans of admission (with Duke’s ranking in parentheses and the US News’ summaries of the categories in quotation marks), were:

  • Writing in the Disciplines (2nd). “These colleges typically make writing a priority at all levels of instruction and across the curriculum.”
  • Senior Capstone (4th). “Whether they’re called a senior capstone or go by some other name, these culminating experiences ask students nearing the end of their college years to create a project that integrates and synthesizes what they’ve learned.”
  • Service Learning (tied for 5th). “Required (or for-credit) volunteer work in the community is an instructional strategy in these programs.”
  • Internships (8th). “Schools nominated in this category require or encourage students to apply what they’re learning in the classroom to work in the real world through closely supervised internships or practicums, or through cooperative education, in which one period of study typically alternates with one of work.”
  • Undergraduate Research/Creative Projects (tied for 9th). “Independently or in small teams, and mentored by a faculty member, students do intensive and self-directed research or creative work that results in an original scholarly paper or product that can be formally presented on or off campus.”
  • Study abroad (tied for 16th).
  • Learning Communities (tied for 17th). “In these communities, students typically take two or more linked courses as a group and get to know one another and their professors well.”

Duke was also listed as one of the top 20 national universities that make a strong commitment to teaching excellence, and was among the top 30 for most innovative schools.

The U.S. News rankings are based on a combination of quantitative data, such as graduation and retention rates and student selectivity, and qualitative assessments from academic peers and high school guidance counselors.

For more information about the US News ranking, click here.


Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Rankings

Cited for how it influences students’ post-academic careers, Duke placed 10th in the 2020 Wall Street Journal/Times Higher ED (THE) rankings, which were announced last week.  

Duke finished in a tie for 3rd with Yale when assessing how much value the school adds to its students' future financial lives, which colleges can open doors with name recognition, and which have a good record of placing graduates into high-paying jobs while limiting debt and allowing students to complete their degrees quickly.

The rankings noted that Harvard, Princeton and Duke leave students who participate in federal financial-aid programs with the second-, third- and fourth-lowest amount of student debt in the country, respectively.

The WSJ/THE rankings emphasize how well a college will prepare students for life after graduation. The overall ranking is based on 15 factors across four main categories: Forty percent of each school’s overall score comes from student outcomes, including measures of graduate salaries and debt burdens, 30% from the school’s academic resources, 20% from how well it engages its students and 10% from its diversity.

This year’s rankings take into account roughly 174,000 responses from students to survey questions including whether they feel inspired and motivated by their classmates, whether they think their college is worth what they and their families are paying, and if they’d choose the same school if they had to start all over again.