Duke University was created by James Buchanan Duke as a memorial to his father, Washington Duke. The Dukes were a Durham, North Carolina family who built a worldwide financial empire in the manufacture of tobacco products and developed electricity production in the Carolinas. The Duke family had long supported Trinity College, which traced its roots to 1838 when local Methodist and Quaker communities opened Union Institute. In 1924, James Duke’s family philanthropic foundation, the Duke Endowment, provided for the expansion of Trinity College into Duke University.
Duke University encourages its students to find their own academic paths by offering them opportunities to learn in new ways. As a distinguished research university, Duke has the resources to allow each undergraduate his or her own process of exploration and discovery. The school provides an array of academic offerings, a challenging campus culture, world-class facilities and resources, and opportunities to engage faculty members in small class settings or on an individual basis. In every major or program of study, the focus is on interdisciplinary exploration. The university believes that every aspect of Duke should be international in concept and character. Internationalization is not a discrete set of activities or classes, but is an integral part of all its endeavors. In many respects Duke already represents the internationalized research university it strives to be. Almost fifty percent of Duke undergraduates study abroad – a higher rate of participation than any of the top ten private research universities.
Duke teaches 31 foreign languages – and requires a foreign language and international courses as part of the core curriculum. The DukeEngage program provides funding for Duke University undergraduates who wish to pursue an intensive civic engagement experience within a community that has an identified need. The program allows Duke students to address societal issues within the U.S. and abroad.
The Focus Program gives students the unique opportunity to explore a theme or issue from multiple perspectives through a cluster of related courses in different fields. The program offers small classes taught by some of Duke’s most distinguished faculty. The university ensures that freshmen have access to small classes as well as upperclassmen; the Trinity College First-Year Seminar Program offers small, discussion-based courses that introduce topics in a wide range of academic disciplines.
The Duke community believes that education is not only a gateway to personal development, but also as a pathway for improving society. The school offers varied opportunities to serve the community – both locally and globally – through the Service Learning Program and to develop leadership skills through programs such as the Hart Leadership Program. The university is always striving to give its students a lifelong love of learning and appreciation for the obligations and rewards of citizenship.
Outside the lecture hall, students can delve into issues they want to learn more about, get a taste of future career possibilities, and gain insight into the broader picture. Duke students intern in molecular genetics laboratories at the Duke University Medical Center, examine Renaissance paintings in Florence, study the finer points of entertainment law in Los Angeles, track birds on coastal estuaries, and conduct groundbreaking research alongside faculty members – even during their first year on campus.
The famous Blue Devils compete in the 15-member Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and field teams in 27 NCAA Division 1 varsity sports. Duke’s men’s basketball team consistently is ranked among the nation’s elite and won the national championship in 1991, 1992, 2001, 2010 and 2015. Sports are a big part of the college atmosphere and games are enthusiastically attended. And, those who attend Duke University get to live in Durham – which US News & World Report has named as one of the best places to live in the U.S. The campus offers mild winters, stunning architecture and some beautiful vistas.