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How To Get Into Duke Medical School: The Complete Guide

August 18, 2022
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Duke Medical School ProgramsDuke Medical School RequirementsDuke Medical School Secondary EssaysDuke Medical School Acceptance RateDuke Medical School Interview FormatDuke Medical School TuitionDuke Medical School Application TimelineFAQs: How to Get Into Duke Medical School


Reviewed by:

Luke Hartstein

Former Admissions Committee Member, NYU Grossman School of Medicine

Reviewed: 5/13/22

Interested in joining a top-ranking medical school to make your dream of becoming a doctor a reality? Read on to learn everything you need to know about how to get into Duke Medical School.


Dedicated to “preparing the next thought leaders in medicine, research, and patient care,” the Duke University School of Medicine is a respectable choice for aspiring doctors. Ranking as the sixth-best medical school for research, this university has created a reputation for itself as a prestigious med school giant.

If you would like to join this impressive medical school that is known for producing excellence, this comprehensive guide will tell you everything you need to know about getting into Duke University Medical School.

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Duke Medical School Programs

If you’re certain you’d like to join the medical field but aren’t completely set on becoming a doctor, you can explore your options at Duke Medical School. Here is a list of their various medical programs:

Depending on where you are in your journey to becoming a doctor, it is important you explore all your options to see which path is best for you.

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Duke Medical School Requirements

If you’re set on joining Duke Medical School’s MD program, the next step is submitting your application. To get into Duke Medical School, you’ll need to meet the following requirements:

Coursework and Competency Prerequisites:

While Duke does not require any prerequisite courses in prospective students’ undergraduates, they strongly recommend students have these courses and competencies to better prepare them for Duke’s rigorous medical curriculum:

Duke Medical School GPA Requirements

If you’re wondering how hard it is to get into Duke Medical School, based on the GPA requirements alone, the answer is it’s pretty difficult! The average GPA range of the students that were offered admission in 2021 was around 3.78 to 3.96!

Before your heart drops, you stop scrolling, and you give up on your dreams of getting into Duke University Medical School forever, note that while these high ranges were the average GPAs, there were a few students with much lower GPAs that were offered admission! In fact, students with GPAs as low as 3.12 were offered admission!

So, all hope is not lost if you have a lower-than-average GPA – it just means you’ll have to make up for it in other parts of the application, like the secondary essays that we will discuss further below.

Duke Medical School MCAT Requirements

Much like the GPA requirements, Duke University Medical School expects high MCAT scores from its applicants. The average MCAT scores of the students offered admission in 2021 was around 515-522.

Again, there were a few students offered admission with lower-than-average scores. Duke Medical School offered admission to students with scores as low as 503.

Regardless, it is important you get well-prepared for the MCAT so that you have a competitive advantage.

To gain a better understanding of the range of GPA and MCAT scores of the 2021 applicants, view the following graphs:

Duke MCAT and GPA score ranges graphic
Source: Duke University School of Medicine

Duke Medical School Letters of Recommendation

Along with your application, to get into Duke Medical School, you must submit a minimum of four letters of recommendation from people that can attest to your character. Two of these must be from science faculty members.

Duke Medical School Secondary Essays

Another important part of the application process is the supplemental application that all prospective students must submit. In this application, you can expect to answer multiple short essay prompts.

The essay prompts work to humanize applicants by giving the admissions committee deeper insight into students’ character, values, and experiences, so they are not simply assessed on their numerical scores.

As such, these essays are extremely important to make you stand out amongst all the other candidates!

So, if you want to know how to get into Duke Medical School, the answer is you learn how to write some incredible essays!

Luckily, this guide will go through each of Duke Medical School’s essay questions and provide you with tips on how to properly answer them to ensure your individuality shines through!

Question 1

“Tell us more about who you are. You may provide additional information that expands your self-identity where gender identification, racial and/or ethnic self-description, geographic origin, socioeconomic, academic, and/or other characteristics that define who you are as you contemplate a career that will interface with people who are similar AND dissimilar to you. You will have the opportunity below to tell us how you wish to be addressed, recognized, and treated. (500 words)”

What to Consider Before Writing

As you only have 500 words to tell the committee about yourself, you’ll want to condense all of your ideas and consider the following before answering the question:

Tips on How to Answer

This essay question is a combination of a “tell us about yourself” and a diversity essay prompt. Students should not use this essay as a glorified resume!

The committee does not want to hear about the time you won a leadership award in Grade 7 or how you nobly spent every minute of your free time volunteering for various agencies. Stick to only one or two relevant experiences when discussing your diversity.

This is a great place to talk about challenges or obstacles you have faced that make you a diverse candidate and how you overcame these challenges.

As this essay specifically mentions that you will be dealing with diverse patients, mention how these experiences will facilitate better empathy and communication with your patients.

Remember, you do not have to necessarily prove how these experiences will make you a better physician. Instead, you should use this essay to talk about the life you have led, your passions, and your ability to persevere. You may also talk about how this experience inspired you to become a doctor or ignited your interest in medicine.

Question 2

“Describe the community in which you were nurtured or spent the majority of your early development with respect to its demographics. What core values did you receive, and how will these translate into the contributions that you hope to make to your community as a medical student and to your career in medicine? What improvements do you think might make the described community better? (600 words)”

What to Consider Before Writing

Before answering this question, ask yourself the following questions:

Tips on How to Answer

For this answer, it is important to be honest.

If you grew up in a gated, privileged community, say that! You can always mention how life was outside your community and how your community turned a blind eye to it, perhaps relating it to socioeconomic health disparities and your feeling of obligation to do more than what your community did.

If you hated your community, explain why. You can always talk about negative core values your community perpetuated that you completely disagree with. Provide your alternative values and how you hope to use these values in your medical career.

Question 3

“Describe a situation where you have chosen to advocate for someone who is different from yourself. What does advocacy mean to you, and how has your advocacy developed? How do you see it linked to your role as a physician/leader? What risks, if any, might be associated with your choice to be an advocate? (600 words)”

What to Consider Before Writing

To make your answer concise and to the point, ask yourself the following:

Tips on How to Answer

The admission committee isn’t looking for a heroic fabricated story of how you advocated for someone so much that you saved their life or helped them become the first-ever prominent figure of their race, class, or age.

Your act of advocacy can be as small as addressing discrimination within your own friend group or family. Regardless, focus on a realistic experience you had; even if it was a relatively small interaction, you might have still learned a lot from it.

Remember to answer all aspects of this question! When defining advocacy, do not simply use a definition you found online (and on that note, do not start this essay with “the dictionary defines advocacy as…” as it is too cliché and overdone).

Think about what advocacy means to you, use a dictionary definition as a foundation if you’re stuck, and build on it to make it more personal.

Question 4

“Describe a situation where you failed. What did you learn from the experience? Describe at least one functional impact of the experience. (600 words)”

What to Consider Before Writing

Humans fail all the time! We’re imperfect, and that’s what helps us grow and become better people. To narrow your failures down, consider the following:

Tips on How to Answer

Again, be honest. Everyone fails! Focus on a real failure without trying to obviously just list a failure you can turn into a strength.

It might seem counterproductive, but if you focus on a relatively big failure, you are showing vulnerability and humility, which is important as long as you show how this failure helped you grow.

Question 5

“Critical thinking involves many aspects, including curiosity, comprehension, application, and analysis. Describe a time when you have utilized critical thinking. How do you anticipate critical thinking being used as part of your career? (400 words)”

What to Consider Before Writing

Before answering this question, ask yourself the following questions:

Tips on How to Answer

Considering this question has the shortest word limit, you’ll want to ensure you only pick one important time you utilized critical thinking skills.

Ensure you do not spend the majority of the answer only describing this experience! The second part of the question is equally, if not more, important than the first part.

Question 6

“Many view medical care as an undeniable right. What responsibility does the medical profession have in taking care of all persons? (600 words)”

What to Consider Before Writing

Before answering this question, ask yourself the following questions:

Tips on How to Answer

Answer this question honestly and explain your reasoning. Try going beyond just stating that it is a fundamental right; add more to the discussion.

Avoid being cliché and avoid circular reasoning (i.e., because people have the right to live healthily, healthcare is a fundamental right – here, your evidence and point are practically interchangeable).

Duke Medical School Acceptance Rate

Now that you’ve gone through the secondary essays, you might be wondering how many people actually make it past the application process and how hard it really is to get into Duke University Medical School.

Well, it’s hard, and not many people are offered admission. Duke Medical School has a relatively low acceptance rate of only 3.2%!

The following graph represents the 2021 applicants and how many actually matriculated. Note, the number of students that were extended admission is 3.2%, but only about 1.5% of the students who applied actually accepted and matriculated. 

Duke University application statistics
Source: Duke University School of Medicine

Don’t be disheartened by this acceptance rate! With enough dedication and preparation, you can make it into this 3.2%.

Duke Medical School Interview Format

The final component of the application that students must prepare for when considering how to get into Duke Medical School is the interview. Duke calls this their “fit” day, as applicants are reviewed to see if they would be a good match and fit in at this medical school.

These virtual interviews take the Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) format. The MMI is a series of 8-10 interview stations or encounters that last approximately 9 minutes and are actually centered on a "scenario."

Fortunately, these interviews will not test applicants’ specific knowledge in the field of medicine! 

These questions are intended to assess your thinking process and provide more insight into your empathy, problem-solving skills, insight and integrity, and compassion.

While we’ve all attended virtual meetings in our pajamas, you’ll want to take care to dress professionally and be prepared for this interview to make a good impression!

Duke Medical School Tuition

Obtaining an MD from Duke Medical School will not come cheap. Students can expect to pay at least $69,765 in tuition and fees in their first year of medical school and $69, 376 in the subsequent academic years.

Fortunately, there are various medical school scholarships that can ease the financial burden of medical school! These scholarships offer full and partial funding for tuition.

Duke Medical School also offers selective needs-based financial aid in the form of grants and low-interest loans.

Duke Medical School Application Timeline

The medical school application for Duke University Medical School is quite lengthy! Be sure to pay attention to the following dates and make a note of them to ensure you apply in a timely manner:

June 25th: AMCAS releases new applications

July – October 15th: Duke receives completed applications, and by late July, Duke sends out invitations to complete the supplemental application (with the essay questions)

Mid-July – November 15th: All supplemental applications are received, reviewed, and qualified applicants are invited to interview starting late August to early January

Early September to Early February: Virtual interviews take place

Mid-Late February: Final decisions will be made, and applicants will receive a phone call. Those that are waitlisted or not being considered will receive an email

April 15th: Applicants should have no more than three acceptances at this time, contacting those schools that they wish to withdraw from by this day

April 30th: Applicants must “plan to enroll” at Duke University School of Medicine and withdraw all other offers

June 15th: Applicants must “commit to enroll” at Duke University School of Medicine and withdraw all other waitlist offers

FAQs: How to Get Into Duke Medical School

If you still have questions about how to get into Duke University Medical School, read on to find the answers.

1. What GPA Do You Need to Get Into Duke Medical School?

The average GPA of the 2021 matriculated class was 3.78 to 3.96. However, a few applicants with lower GPAs were offered admission.

2. Is it Hard to Get Into Duke Medical School?

As a prestigious medical school with a low acceptance rate of 3.2%, Duke Medical School is extremely competitive! Applicants must have the best possible scores, well-written secondary essays, and have aced the interview to be considered for admission.

3. How Do I Get Into Duke Medical School?

Do your best to maintain a high GPA in your undergraduate degree, try gaining useful experience that will make you stand out, study hard for the MCAT to do well, learn how to write excellent essays, and prepare for your interview.

But most importantly, ask for help if you need it! Inspira Advantage gives you the necessary resources and support to significantly increase your chances of getting into Duke Medical School or any other medical school you’re interested in.

4. What MCAT Score Do I Need to Get Into Duke?

You should aim to score between 515-522 on the MCAT.

5. What is the Interview Format for Duke Medical School?

The interview consists of 8-10 virtual Multiple Mini Interviews.

6. When Should I Write My MCAT to Get Into Duke Medical School?

For applicants applying for entry in the fall of 2023, MCAT scores from 2018 at the earliest will be accepted. You must complete the MCAT by September 2022 at the latest to be considered for application.

Final Thoughts

This guide has provided you with all the information you need to know about how to get into Duke Medical School.

Despite the intimidating MCAT and GPA score requirements and the low acceptance rate, if you put in the work and are dedicated, you too can become a Duke Blue Devil and take the first big step towards realizing your dream of practicing medicine!

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