Duke University is a private research university in Durham, North Carolina. Founded by Methodists and Quakers in the present-day town of Trinity in 1838, the school moved to Durham in 1892. In 1924, tobacco and electric power industrialist James Buchanan Duke established The Duke Endowment and the institution changed its name to honor his deceased father, Washington Duke.
Known for its strength in clinical medicine and the social sciences, Duke is often ranked as one of the world’s top 20-25 universities. The Wall Street Journal has also named Duke as the best university for graduate outcomes for several years in a row (tied with Harvard University and Yale University).
Despite being a younger institution than its Ivy League peers, Duke rapidly established a strong research reputation and several faculty members, affiliates and alumni have been awarded the Nobel Prize in recent years. Notable examples since 2012 include Robert Lefkowitz, Brian Kobilka, Gregg L. Semenza, Paul Modrich, William Kaelin, and George Smith.
In 2019, Clarivate Analytics named 54 members of Duke’s faculty to its list of “Highly Cited Researchers”. That number places Duke 8th among the world’s universities behind Harvard, Stanford, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Max Planck Society, Broad Institute, UC Berkeley and WUSTL.
In May 2006 Duke researchers mapped the final human chromosome, which made world news as the Human Genome Project was finally complete. Reports of Duke researchers’ involvement in new AIDS vaccine research surfaced in June 2006. The biology department combines two historically strong programs in botany and zoology, while one of the divinity school’s leading theologians is Stanley Hauerwas, whom Time named “America’s Best Theologian” in 2001.
The graduate program in literature boasts several internationally renowned figures, including Fredric Jameson, Michael Hardt, and Rey Chow, while philosophers Robert Brandon and Lakatos Award-winner Alexander Rosenberg contribute to Duke’s ranking as the nation’s best program in philosophy of biology, according to the Philosophical Gourmet Report.
Duke’s research expenditures in the 2015 fiscal year were $1.037 billion, the seventh largest in the nation. In the 2013 fiscal year, Duke University Medical Center received $270 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health (exclusive of contracts and Economic Stimulus Program awards). Duke’s faculty is among the most productive in the nation. Throughout the school’s history, Duke researchers have made breakthroughs, including the biomedical engineering department’s development of the world’s first real-time, three-dimensional ultrasound diagnostic system and the first engineered blood vessels and stents.
In 2015, Paul Modrich shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. In 2012, Robert Lefkowitz along with Brian Kobilka, who is also a former affiliate, shared the Nobel Prize in chemistry for their work on cell surface receptors. Duke has pioneered studies involving nonlinear dynamics, chaos, and complex systems in physics.
Graduate school rankings
Duke has been named one of the top universities for graduate outcomes several years in a row, having tied with Harvard University and Yale University. In U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Graduate Schools 2018”, Duke’s medical school ranked tied for 7th in research and 34th in primary care.
The School of Law was ranked 10th in the 2018 rankings by the same publication, with Duke’s nursing school ranked 1st while the Sanford School of Public Policy ranked 5th in Public Policy Analysis for 2019.
Among business schools in the United States, the Fuqua School of Business is ranked tied for 10th overall by U.S. News & World Report for 2020, while BusinessWeek ranked its full-time MBA program 1st in the nation in 2014. The graduate programs of Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering ranked 24th in the U.S. by U.S. News & World Report in its 2020 rankings.