Best Colleges

32. Duke University

Location: Durham, NC
Value Grade/Ranking Score: A-/3.68
Enrollment: 6,655
Net Price of Degree: $192,804
Acceptance Rate: 14%
Average H.S. GPA: 4.5
Avg. Annual Salary Within 5 Yrs: $55,900
Duke University
Rachael Nedrow—Duke Photography

One of the most selective colleges in the South, Duke accepts only about 13% of applicants and the typical student scored in the mid 700s on the SAT. Students who clear the bar get a very fine education: Though a major research institution, Duke offers undergrads an extraordinary amount of direct interaction with professors. More than two-thirds of classes have fewer than 20 students and about half of students work on research projects with faculty members. And many of those profs are the tops in their field, including rock star economist Dan Ariely; Nobel-winning chemist Robert Lefkowitz; and — we are not making this up – scientists who are supposedly developing an invisibility cloak.

All this is wrapped in quintessential collegiate trappings. Its towering architecture has earned the Duke campus the nickname “Gothic Wonderland.” Undergrad social life, meanwhile, tends to revolve around fraternities and athletics. As any sports fan knows, Duke’s Blue Devils — particularly the basketball team – are perennial winners and have a passionate national following.

Non-athletes from Duke also tend to do well outside academia: Recent Duke graduates report making almost $56,000 within five years, 12% more than alums of similar institutions.

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at