Best Colleges in America 2022
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Overall Score: 86.03

Duke University

One of the most selective colleges in the South, Duke accepted only 4.6% of regular-decision applicants in 2022. Though a major research institution, Duke offers its nearly 7,000 undergrads an extraordinary amount of direct interaction with professors. The student-faculty ratio – 6:1 – is one of the lowest in Money's rankings, and about half of students work on research projects with faculty members. The most popular majors include computer science, economics and public policy. Many professors are at the top of their fields, including the economist Dan Ariely, Nobel-winning chemist Robert Lefkowitz and – we are not making this up – scientists who spent several years developing an invisibility cloak. (To be fair, scientists at the universities of Rochester and Central Florida have also contributed to the advancement of the science behind invisibility cloaks.) All of these advantages are wrapped in quintessential collegiate trappings. Duke's towering architecture has earned its almost 9,000-acre campus in Durham, North Carolina, the nickname "Gothic Wonderland." Undergrad social life, meanwhile, tends to revolve around fraternities and athletics. As any sports fan knows, the Blue Devils men's basketball team is a perennial winner with a passionate national following. Students from Duke, which has a 95% graduation rate, also tend to do well outside academia: Students go on to earn median salaries of $93,000 annually, according to the federal College Scorecard.

Costs

Est. full price 2022-2023
$79,200
% of students who get any grants
58%
Est. price for students who receive aid
$28,400
Average price for low-income students
$370

Admissions

Acceptance rate
8%
Median SAT/ACT score
1530/32
SAT/ACT required?
No
Undergraduate enrollment
6,550

Financial Aid

% of students with need who get grants
99%
% of need met
100%
% of students who get merit grants
2%
Average merit grant
N/A

Student Success

Graduation rate
96%
Average time to a degree
4.1 years
Median student debt
$13,500
Early career earnings
$93,120
% earning more than a high school grad
86%

Notes: Students who get merit grants are full-time undergraduates who had no financial need and were awarded grants. Graduation rate measures degree completion within six years for both transfer students and first-time students. Early career earnings are the median earnings for both graduates and non-completers, 10 years after they first enrolled.

Sources: U.S. Department of Education, Peterson’s, Money/Witlytic calculations.

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