Frequently Asked Questions

In addition to reviewing the information below, we also encourage you to contact current graduate students.

Do you have other questions not answered here? Please send your question to EMAIL and we will respond as quickly as possible.

What is a competitive GPA for applicants?

Applicants must have a GPA of at least 3.0. Competitive applicants generally have a GPA of 3.5 or above.  

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What kind of GRE scores are you looking for?

The average GRE percentiles achieved by students admitted to Duke Biology are:
Verbal (>90%)
Quantitative (>80%)
Writing (>90%)

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When should I take the GRE, and do I need any subject tests?

Take the GRE enough in advance so that your scores are available at the time of application. Subject test is not required, but recommended.

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What are the TOEFL scores you are looking for?

90 minimum; 100 recommended

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If I have studied in an English-speaking country priority to applying to Duke, can the TOEFL requirement be waived?


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How selective is the process of being admitted?

The admission process is extremely selective. Usually there are more than 100 applicants, and fewer than 10% matriculate into the program.

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What are the teaching assistant and research assistant opportunities with this department?

Once accepted, teaching assistant and research assistant opportunities are available through the student’s 6th year.

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What is RCR - Responsible Conduct of Research?

ìRCRî stands for "Responsible Conduct of Research." At Duke, RCR training embodies the full range of ethical responsibilities of those engaged in research and teaching. It encompasses not only the obligation to conduct research and teach with integrity, but also to ensure that the rights and interests of original sources, human subjects, and/or animal subjects are protected. All PhD students in biology are required to attend 12 contact hours of RCR training. Learn more about RCR.

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What career development services are available for graduate students?

In addition to the support provided through faculty advising within the department, the Duke Career Development Center offers assistance and extensive resources for graduate students. These services include counseling during graduate studies, and also professional and career counseling and support for exploration of employment opportunities upon completion of graduate study. The Duke Career Center offers confidential advising services, electronic magazine and scholarly society links, fellowship and grant links, graduate school and thesis/dissertation guides, networking information, research directories, writing and research online resources, and career and employment resources, among others.

As program completion nears, graduate students may choose to use the Duke Career Center resources to explore a broad range of employment sectors, including higher education, government, or the corporate world. There is information and training on career planning, interviewing and job search skills, resume and cover letter writing, academic and industry job searches, job listings and employment opportunities, employer research and profiles, on-campus recruiting and graduate student career symposia, and one-on-one resourcing with a PhD career counselor and through periodicals and journals widely available at the Center. The Career Library and Job Room provide a wealth of printed and database materials on career fields and specific employers. In addition, by signing up for the Career Center's mailing lists, news of career-related workshops, employment sector trends, job announcements and strategies for job hunting, or tips for exploring employment options can be delivered to your personal e-mail box.

The goal of the Duke Career Development Center is to assist graduate students in exploring career options and in locating employment opportunities that match their special interests and expertise. Career-related information and advice are readily available, and Career Counselors will work with degree candidates to develop strategies for handling transition from graduate study into college/university teaching, administration, or other professional careers. Advising on career-related concerns is confidential, and feedback on the format and content of the cv, resume, cover letter, abstract, or grant proposal is also provided.

To explore the many services offered through the Duke Career Development Center, you may visit their website at