Duke Readies to Graduate 6,900 students

Ceremony in Wallace Wade Stadium set for 9 a.m., Sunday, May 12

Because of COVID, the Class of 2024 is unique in having its class photo taken on West Campus a year later when they were sophomores.

An expected 1,934 undergraduates will receive their degrees Sunday, including more than 320 from North Carolina. These students had a truly atypical college journey.

Their Duke careers began in 2020 at the height of the pandemic. They lived on campus but without roommates. They masked in public and sat far apart in socially distanced classrooms. Most attended the traditional start-of-the-semester convocation not huddled together in Duke Chapel – as is the custom – but virtually, on their laptops.

“The undergraduate members of the Class of 2024 have had an entirely unique experience at Duke,” Price said. “Throughout their time here, they -- as well as our graduate and professional students -- have proven to be strong, resilient and impressive in myriad ways. I am so proud of them.”

Two students will give remarks Sunday as well. Senior Zahra Hassan, a Trinity College senior, will represent undergraduates, while Kayla Thompson, who is earning a joint MD/MBA, will represent graduate students.

In addition to delivering the address, Seinfeld will also receive an honorary Doctor of Arts degree. Now in his fifth decade as a stand-up comedian, Seinfeld is best known for playing a fictionalized version of himself in the eponymous sitcom he cocreated with Larry David for NBC. He graduated from Queens College, City University of New York, with a degree in communications and theater in 1976. His career has included numerous stand-up specials and documentaries. His interview series, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, which featured Seinfeld interviewing fellow comedians and other public figures while driving to get coffee, ended in 2019 after 11 seasons.

Duke will also award four other honorary degrees Sunday. The recipients are:

  • Claudius “C.B.” Claiborne, Duke’s first African American student athlete. The Danville, Virginia, native played three seasons of varsity basketball and graduated in 1969 with a degree in engineering and later earned advanced degrees from Dartmouth College, Washington University and Virginia Polytechnic University. He is a professor of business and marketing in the Jesse H. Jones School of Business at Texas Southern University.
  • Rhiannon Giddens, musician. The Greensboro native, MacArthur Fellow and winner of two Grammy Awards, can be heard playing the banjo on Beyoncé’s “Texas Hold ’Em,” which made history as the first song by a Black woman to top Billboard’s Country Music Song chart. An alumna of the N.C. School of Science and Mathematics in Durham, and a 2000 graduate of Oberlin Conservatory at Oberlin College, where she studied opera, Giddens also co-wrote the recent opera “Omar,” which won the 2023 Pulitzer Prize in music. It is based on the autobiography of Omar ibn Said, a 19th century West African Muslim scholar enslaved and brought to North Carolina.
  • Rose Marcario, CEO and board member of Patagonia, Inc. Marcario joined the company in 2008 as chief financial officer and chief operating office after a career in finance and operations. In the next 12 years, Patagonia’s profits quadrupled and its sales surpassed a billion. At the same time, the company became a corporate leader in responsible business and environmental and workplace innovation. She was promoted to CEO in 2013.
  • Desmond Meade, attorney. Meade was homeless and squatting in a home in 2001 when police arrested him for possession of a firearm in the house that didn’t belong to him. In prison, he studied the law, appealed his conviction and was released after three years. While living in a shelter, he took classes, graduating summa cum laude from Miami Dade Community College and earning his law degree from Florida International University College of Law. While working toward his degrees, he joined the grassroots organization Florida Rights Restoration Coalition. In 2009 he became the coalition’s executive director.

On Sunday, there will be ample general parking available in close proximity to Wallace Wade Stadium, the majority of which will be in the Science Drive Parking Garage. Graduates should park and drop-off in the Blue Zone. Additional guest parking will be available in the Blue Zone, PGIV & Chemistry lots. A parking map is available on the Commencement website.

Guests with mobility impairments can park in the Grounds Lot. Duke will provide overflow parking on Level 2 in the Science Drive Garage. Both lots are accessible via NC-751. ADA vans will be available to transport guests with mobility issues from these areas to the respective entrances to Wallace Wade Stadium.

In addition, park-and-ride shuttles will be available from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. People using a taxi or any other hired car service should be dropped off at the Whitford Drive Circle.  You may find this by entering “Whitford Drive, Durham, NC 27708” into your GPS. 

Individual professional schools and programs will hold their own graduation ceremonies all weekend as well. More information on those celebrations is available on Duke’s commencement website.


Duke will award degrees to about 1,934 undergraduates and 4,964 graduate and professional students who finished their course work in September or December 2023 or this spring.

The estimated degree breakdowns for the graduates are as follows:


  • Trinity College of Arts & Sciences -- B.A. 676; B.S. 984.
  • Pratt School of Engineering -- B.S.E. 274.


  • School of Nursing -- M.S.N. 212; D.N.P. 112; B.S.N: 135.
  • Duke Divinity School -- M.Div. 97; Th.M. 11; M.T.S. 25; M.A.C.P. 14; Th.D. 5; D.Min. 34.
  • Fuqua School of Business -- MBA 629; MSQM 389; M.M.S. – 256.
  • Graduate School -- M.A. 216; M.S. 407; M.F.A. 11; M.A.T. 17; Ph.D. 414.
  • School of Law -- J.D. 281; LL.M. 116; S.J.D. 1.
  • Nicholas School of the Environment -- M.E.M. 153; M.F. 13.
  • Pratt School of Engineering -- M.Eng.M. 298; M.Eng. 242.
  • Sanford School of Public Policy -- M.I.D.P. 36; M.P.P. 93; M.N.S.P. 21.
  • School of Medicine -- M.D. 133; M.H.S. 185; M.H.S.-R 15; D.P.T. 94; M.B.S. 54; M.M.C.I. 5; M.S.B.S. 54.