We’re covering everything you need to know as you consider applying to the Duke University School of Medicine. You’ll learn about acceptance rates, application deadlines, average MCAT scores, tuition, curriculum, and more.
All About The Duke University School of Medicine
Duke University School of Medicine is located in Durham, North Carolina– a city aptly referred to as the “City of Medicine.” Established in 1930, Duke University School of Medicine was the first to establish a brain tumor program (1937), a unique Center for Aging (1955), and a Physician’s Assistant Program (1965), and was one of the first two hospitals to conduct human trials of AZT, a drug that improves the quality of life of those with AIDS.
Over 2,500 full-time faculty, including two chemistry Nobel Laureates, are employed at Duke University School of Medicine across 40 departments. Thanks to its relatively small MD student body of approximately 500 students, Duke has a remarkable faculty-to-student ratio of 3:1. Duke received $384.6 million dollars in research funding from NIH in 2019.
Medical students have opportunities to train at many different sites, both on and off Duke’s medical campus. Duke’s training sites include Duke University Hospital, Duke Training Hospital, Duke Raleigh Hospital, Durham VA Medical Center, and Duke Outpatient Clinic.
Duke School of Medicine offers an MD program, a Doctor of Physical Therapy program, 5 master’s degrees, and 16 PhD programs, in addition to programs for physicians’ assistants and pathologists’ assistants. Of the ~500 Duke MD students, about 17% enroll in the Medical Science Training Program (MSTP), which leads to a combined MD and PhD, and about 40% total graduate with a second degree of some kind.
The Curriculum at The Duke University School of Medicine
In an effort to give students time to pursue their own research interests and/or complete a second degree, the Duke University School of Medicine condenses the core curriculum into three years instead of the traditional four. Students spend the remaining year pursuing their research interests and completing additional degrees.
Students spend one year, not two, studying the core sciences. There are two main first-year courses that cover all the necessary science: Human Structure and Function & Body and Disease. In addition to the core science courses, students participate in the Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) program, which trains students to be patient-focused, critical-thinking leaders in healthcare through coursework, team learning activities, clinical skills foundations, and workshops.
Students take two longitudinal LEAD courses: Cultural Determinants of Health and Healthcare Disparities (CDHD) & Clinical Skills Foundations (CSF). CDHD focuses on sociocultural influences on healthcare and health disparities. CSF provides clinical experiences, first through simulated patient-doctor interactions with standardized patients—people trained to simulate the patient role—in the Clinical Skills Lab, which contains ten simulated clinic rooms and two simulated hospital rooms. CSF1 meets 4 hours/week and focuses on doctor-patient interactions, with a special focus on performing physicals.
The second year is made up of clinical rotations. Students begin their second year with a three-week Clinical Skills Intensive that provides a foundation for the upcoming clerkships. Once they begin their clerkships, students continue to meet with their Clinical Skills Course group twice every month for more applied practice.
Below are the required clerkships for each Duke medical student:
- Medicine (8 weeks)
- Surgery (8 weeks)
- Obstetrics and Gynecology (6 weeks)
- Pediatrics (6 weeks)
- Family Medicine (4 weeks)
- Psychiatry (4 weeks)
- Neurology (4 weeks)
In addition to clerkships, students take CSF2 with the same groups as in CSF1. In CSF2 they reflect on their clinical experiences as they relate to ethics, spirituality, delivering bad news, and other topics surrounding doctor-patient relationships. Students also take CDHD2, which dives deeper into health disparities based on students’ clinical experiences.
In their second year, students also take two 2-week selectives, which are experiences in subspecialties not covered by clerkships.
Duke’s year 3 medical school curriculum is particularly unique. Because of the condensed scientific core in year 1, students have the opportunity to spend 10-12 months in their third year completing a scholarly research project that aligns with their interests or completing a dual degree—even one at another university. They’ll also spend time studying for the USMLE Step 1.
Students complete their clinical electives in Year 4. These electives are tailored to each student’s goals and interests. In addition to clinical electives, students complete the following three Year 4 requirements:
Students interested in Primary Care can opt at the start of medical school to follow the Primary Care Leadership Track, a 4-year community-based curriculum aimed at helping students develop leadership skills and understand the reasons for health disparities. Students participate in a 7-month longitudinal clerkship during their second year in which they learn all the clinical basics of primary care. Students who follow this track and match for residencies in primary care are eligible for loan repayment up to $40,000.
How has Duke University School of Medicine Made an Impact?
Duke is part of the Partnership for a Healthy Durham coalition, whose goal it is to improve the mental, social, and physical health of Durham residents. It focuses on topics such as HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, access to healthcare, substance abuse, etc.
Duke School of Medicine also has partnerships with two universities abroad: the National University of Singapore Medical School and Wuhan University in China. Duke-National University of Singapore Medical School (Duke-NUS) is the only graduate-level medical school in Singapore, and Duke Kunshan University, the partnership with China’s Wuhan University, offers undergraduate and master’s degrees in global health, medical physics, and other, non-medical fields.
The Duke Global Health Institute (DGHI) has partnerships with 30 different countries in order to perform research about various aspects of global health. 49% of DGHI faculty are from the School of Medicine, and through this program, students can complete an undergraduate or graduate degree in global health.
By way of medical accomplishments, Duke has made an impact in many ways. Just three of Duke’s major contributions to the medical field, as mentioned above, are as follows:
Duke University School of Medicine – Notable Programs
- Cardiothoracic Surgery
- Obstetrics and Gynecology
- Family Medicine
Duke University School of Medicine: Enrollment, Acceptance, Tuition, and more
Duke University School of Medicine has an extremely low acceptance rate of just 3.2%. Of the 129 students in the matriculating class of 2019, 49.5% were minority students, 19.2% were underrepresented minority students, and 54.7% were female. 29 states and 60 undergraduate schools were represented, and 40% of matriculated students received undergraduate degrees in the biological sciences.
How expensive is tuition for the Duke School of Medicine?
Annual tuition is $61,170, not including various expenses depending on the year.
When is the application deadline for the Duke University School of Medicine?
Here is the application cycle for Duke University School of Medicine:
- June 1: AMCAS releases primary applications
- 2nd Week of July: Duke begins sending out secondary applications and then interview invitations to those who have already submitted their primary applications
- October 15: Primary applications due
- November 15: Secondary applications due
- Early September through the end of July: Interviews are conducted
You’ll be required to submit four letters of recommendation with your application, and at least two need to be from science faculty members. Duke’s application fee is $85.
The interview format is MMI, or Multiple Mini Interviews. You’ll have 8-10 nine-minute interviews centered on different scenarios. You won’t need to display any hard scientific or medical knowledge; the purpose of these scenarios is to see how you approach problems.
Average MCAT Scores for the Duke University School of Medicine
Unfortunately, Duke does not publish the average MCAT scores of its accepted students. With a very low acceptance rate, you’ll likely have to have incredibly strong MCAT scores to remain competitive.
What to Expect After Graduating from Duke University School of Medicine
Based on 2019 numbers, the most popular matches to residency and specialty programs for graduates of the Duke University School of Medicine are:
- Internal Medicine (21.4%)
- Surgery (8.5%)
- Pediatrics (6.8%)
- Dermatology (6%)
- Orthopedics (6%)
- Anesthesiology (5.1%)
- Ophthalmology (5.1%)
- Plastic Surgery (5.1%)