Frequently Asked Questions


How much does it cost to apply and what are the major deadlines?

The final deadline to submit an application for Fall 2024 admission to the doctoral program in Chemistry is mid-night (EST) December 4, 2023. The application fee is $95 (non-refundable). 

How do I apply?

You must apply through the Graduate School website here. The Department of Chemistry can review and make an admissions decision on an application based on the scanned unofficial transcript and electronic letters of recommendation submitted by the recommenders. The applicant may mail in the official transcript once they are admitted, and we will accept hard copies of signed letters of recommendation if they cannot be submitted electronically. Applications can also be reviewed with self-reported GRE and TOEFL scores while we wait for ETS to submit the official scores to Duke University.

What graduate degrees are available in the Department of Chemistry?

> The Department of Chemistry offers admission only to the doctoral program and does not offer a terminal M.Sc. Program. However, in cases where a student either chooses to terminate their Ph.D. studies or fails to advance to candidacy, the Department may allow the student to defend a M.Sc. thesis.

Can I apply for Spring or Summer admission?

The Department of Chemistry offers Fall admission only.

How many people apply each year to the doctoral program and how many get admitted? Is there a quota or limit on how many international students are accepted?

Each year about 300 applications are received by the department, from students from all over the world. In a typical year, 20-22 new graduate students matriculate into the Department in the Fall semester. The Chemistry Department accepts the most qualified and talented applicants, regardless of country of origin, and we are proud of the gender and ethnic diversity in our research community. There is no quota or limit on the number of international vs. domestic students. Approximately 50% of all graduate students at Duke are international students.

What are the GRE, GPA and TOEFL requirements for admission?

The typical profile of successful applicants to the doctoral program in Chemistry at Duke can be found here. While the department does not have minimum score requirements, the typical applicant who gains admission has an overall UGPA of 3.2 or higher, combined GRE Verbal and Quantitative scores over 1200 (scoring system used until Summer 2011) or 308 (Fall 2011 onwards scale), and previous research experience in chemistry or a related area. International applicants must submit a TOEFL exam demonstrating facility with English. The minimum TOEFL scores for admission is 90 (iBT). The IELTS exam is also accepted, and a minimum score of 7.0 is necessary in order to be considered for admission.  The GRE subject test in chemistry is recommended, but not required. Absence of a GRE subject test in chemistry will not have a negative impact on an application.

My GRE and/or TOEFL scores are out of date. Can I still apply?

ETS will not submit official GRE scores older than 5 years or TOEFL scores older than 2 years from the testing date to any university. As long as ETS will send your scores, Duke will accept them as official. Duke will accept official scores on the old 800-point GRE scoring system as well as the new grade scale implemented in Fall 2011. You may attach scanned unofficial photocopies of your in-date test scores to your application while waiting for official scores to be reported by ETS. However, if the Department of Chemistry wishes to tender an offer of admission and your official GRE and/or TOEFL scores have not yet arrived from ETS, that offer will be pending receipt of the official scores.  Failure to supply any form of  GRE scores, or TOEFL scores when required, will prevent the consideration of your application.

Can I receive a TOEFL/IELTS waiver if I have studied at an English speaking university in the past? Can I submit a TSE score?

The Department of Chemistry does not have the power to offer TOEFL waivers. Only students who have either lived a significant period of time in an English speaking country or have attended at least 2 years of college at an English speaking institution may petition the Graduate School for a TOEFL/IELTS waiver. The Test of Spoken English (TSE) cannot be accepted in lieu of a TOEFL or IELTS score.

What financial aid is available, and how do I apply?

Financial aid for graduate school is not based on financial need but on the academic strength of the candidate. Therefore, no proof of financial need is required to apply. In order to apply for any and all available financial aid, an applicant need only to indicate “YES” on the financial aid section of the online application. The Department of Chemistry financial aid package for doctoral students is typically composed of a 5 year tuition and fee waiver and a stipend. The stipend is made up a combination of Teaching and Research Assistantships and fellowships.
What documents are required for a complete application?

The following are required:

  • Online application and application fee submitted by the  December 4 deadline
  • Academic transcripts from all institutions from which one has earned a degree
  • General GRE scores
  • TOEFL/IELTS scores for international student for whom English is not their first language
  • A minimum of 3 letters of recommendation
  • A personal statement.
  • CVs, resumes, and writing/research samples, while appreciated, are not required. The GRE subject test in chemistry is recommended but not required. 

When can I expect to hear whether my application has been accepted? 

Offers of admission are typically announced from mid-January to mid-April, but the majority of offers are extended before the end of February.

Where should I mail hard copy application materials?

Do not mail any application materials. All application materials should be attached to the online application.