FAQ - Duke Kunshan University

As a research-oriented, interdisciplinary liberal arts and sciences university located in China, our primary mission is to provide the highest quality undergraduate and graduate education and enable our students to lead purposeful and productive lives. The core of our educational offering is a four-year undergraduate degree program featuring an integrated and multi-disciplinary curriculum, with a strong Chinese, American, and global focus. In a culture of academic excellence and freedom, we prepare students for professional and academic leadership roles across the globe.

As a highly selective Sino-U.S. joint-venture university, we promote innovative scholarship in service to society. We embrace the integration of global, national, and local traditions of thought, promoting cross-cultural understanding and cross-border collaborations.

Duke Kunshan is different in three ways. First, we offer an innovative liberal arts curriculum that is at the cutting edge of knowledge and practice. The curriculum was developed after careful consideration of the key strengths and weaknesses of higher education in China and the U.S. The curriculum is derived from the academic excellence associated with Duke University, consistently ranked among the top ten universities in the U.S. according to U.S. News & World Report.

Second, Duke Kunshan is a research-oriented university. We take great pride in the fact that our faculty are known for excellence in teaching and research. With special relevance to China, including global health, environment, innovation, and research & development management.

Third, on our state-of-the-art campus, we offer a total student experience second to none. We go the extra mile to ensure that each student has exciting extracurricular "outside the classroom" experiences that complement the innovative learning environment within the classroom.

Duke Kunshan offers students the opportunity to immerse themselves in a highly diverse, internationally-oriented learning environment. The advantage of this environment is that our students have ample opportunities to learn from one another as well as to share and exchange ideas based on their unique backgrounds and cultures. Duke Kunshan students become not only more deeply grounded in their own history and culture, but also become more globally aware - an important prerequisite for career success in the globalized world of the 21st century.

Duke Kunshan students will be responsible for the normal costs of housing, meals, health insurance, and other customary fees at Duke during their stay.

Duke Kunshan will establish additional opportunities in the United States and elsewhere for students enrolled in the Duke Kunshan undergraduate program to study abroad, including existing Duke programs and new opportunities to be developed by Duke Kunshan that are consistent with Duke study abroad standards.

The city of Kunshan lies in the heart of the Yangtze River Delta Region, one of the most developed areas in China. Bordering Shanghai, a large international metropolis, to its east and Suzhou, one of the country’s most renowned cultural and historical cities, to its west, Kunshan is an emerging industrial and commercial city with a history dating back more than 2,000 years. As an important county-level city in the southeastern part of Jiangsu province, Kunshan occupies an area of 931 square kilometers (359 square miles), one quarter of which is covered by lakes and rivers. Kunshan’s superior natural and urban living environment has attracted people from all over the world to live and work. Widely considered a successful model for China’s social and economic development, Kunshan has won many titles, including the top ranking in Forbes China’s list of best county-level cities in Mainland China for six consecutive years, and the 2010 UN-Habitat Scroll of Honor Award. A number of Fortune 500 companies and other leading enterprises have established operations in Kunshan’s three national-level development zones, two provincial-level development zones, and within its eight townships. Kunshan is located approximately 60 kilometers west of Shanghai, within a 90-minute drive of Shanghai’s city center and about 50 minutes from Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport. There are more than 100 high-speed bullet trains running between Kunshan and Shanghai every day with each trip lasting less than 20 minutes. A new subway system will be completed in 2021, adding another convenient option for transportation between Kunshan, Shanghai and Suzhou.

International students will need to apply for a Temporary Resident Permit within 30 days of entering China; this process takes about one month and costs 800 RMB. This permit will allow international students to travel in and out of China freely without further visa requirements. However, some destination countries may require their own visa, and students will need to apply for such visas through the embassies or consulates of the destination country.

International students will need to apply for the X2 visa to study in China. Before entering China, international students must apply for a Chinese visa through the Chinese embassy or consulate located in their home country. Duke Kunshan maintains a specific office providing personalized service for international students applying for Chinese Temporary Resident Permits, and also assists domestic Chinese students in transferring their Hukou to Kunshan. Detailed information including procedures and materials for applying for a visa and transferring Hukou can be found on the Duke Kunshan website.

Yes,you are very welcome to visit the campus. For individual visits, our admissions counselors are available for consultation as well as trained student campus guide volunteers who can provide campus tours upon reservation. Please send your visit request to undergrad-admissions@dukekunshan.edu.cn at least 48 hours before arrival. For group visits, please send the request 7 days in advance.

We invite you to join us for one of our many live information session online, or for a local information session in one of several cities around the world. Times and locations for these sessions will be posted on our website and official social media channels.

You can also take a virtual campus tour by clicking here.


The application process and admission criteria will be similar to those of Duke University. International students from outside of China are required to submit either their SAT, ACT or equivalent test scores.

  • High quality academic credentials;
  • Strong English language competency;
  • Strong interest in Duke Kunshan's innovative, integrated and interdisciplinary liberal arts curriculum;
  • An 'adventurous' spirit and creative thinking orientation;
  • Highly motivated, with a demonstrated desire to succeed in life;
  • The ability to overcome obstacles in various forms, as demonstrated through your personal essay, interview, co-curricular and extra-curricular activities, and letters of recommendation.

Early Decision: the application deadline is November 4, 2018. International applications will be reviewed by an Admissions Committee and shortlisted applicants will be invited for video interviews in late November 2018. It is anticipated that the admission offers will be released by the middle of December 2018.

Regular Decision: the application deadline is January 2, 2019. International applications will be reviewed by an Admissions Committee and shortlisted applicants will be invited for video interviews between February and March 2019. It is anticipated that the all admission offers will be released by the end of March 2019.

A limited amount of elective course credit may be awarded on the basis of advanced placement (AP) and international placement credit (IPC). For detailed information, please consult the Office of Undergraduate Advising prior to the orientation week.

International testing school codes for Duke Kunshan University: SAT – 7059, ACT – 0621, TOEFL – B624

Yes. Students’ language proficiency in English and Mandarin Chinese will be assessed upon entrance, and a sequence of required courses tailored to their particular needs will be determined.

No, all students will begin their studies in the fall semester.

The ability to communicate in English at a high level is necessary for success in the program. The admissions committee will be able to assess an applicant's writing abilities through their materials, and ultimately their speaking and listening abilities through an interview.

We encourage applicants to submit TOEFL or IELTS test scores with their applications, as it will be one more data point for the admissions committee to take into consideration as they review an applicant's package. However, applicants will not be penalized if they do not submit any of these test scores. Please note that for applicants whose secondary education was obtained from a country/region where English is not the language of instruction and does not include an ‘English language’ component, they would be required to fulfill the English language proficiency requirements.

Shortlisted applicants will be invited to a video interview by an admissions panel.

All Chinese mainland citizens must take the Gaokao, whether they are studying in China or in another country. They should take the Gaokao in the year in which they apply.

Students from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan should provide scores of the Joint Entrance Examination for Universities in PRC (JEE). Students from Taiwan can choose to provide the score from General Scholastic Ability Test (GSAT) in Taiwan.

Yes. For applicants from outside of the Chinese mainland, their test scores must still be valid. Please check the expiration date of all test results.

For international students, there are no minimum requirements in terms of scores. Their test scores will be considered in the context of their application materials.

For international students, results from other independently-administered national examinations approved by the Admissions Committee as equivalence will also be considered. Applicants are suggested to officially submit their application and provide all relevant information about the qualification for consideration.

Applicants can find the application essays on Duke Kunshan University’s undergraduate program website or the Common Application Page.

Applicants may contact the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid for technical issues related to Common Application by email (ug-application@dukekunshan.edu.cn).

Tuition & Fees

International tuition is anticipated to be in the range of $53,000 for 2018/19, subject to the approval of the University Board and the relevant government bodies. Duke Kunshan University wants to admit a high caliber yet diverse cohort of students and thus we have a substantial pool of funds to support both need-based financial aid and merit-based scholarships. The University will endeavor to assist all qualified students who are admitted to attend Duke Kunshan University so that money is not a major obstacle. Qualified students are encouraged to apply based on the understanding that the University will endeavor to assist students with proven financial needs.

In addition, Duke Kunshan University has an active fund raising team in place whose highest priority is to raise funds to support student scholarships, both need based financial aid and merit based awards.

Citizens of Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan are qualified for the same tuition rates as Chinese mainland students.

There is NO application fee or deposit for admission for the class entering in Fall 2018. A nominal security deposit of RMB 1,000, or $150, is needed for on-campus housing.

Expenses beyond tuition will depend on the tastes and habits of each individual. In general, students from outside Chinese mainland can plan for a US$12,000 annual budget that will cover student fees, health insurance, and other living expenses.

Tuition and fees are due before the start of each semester. Students can pay via wire transfer or online bankcard debits, in the currency in which they are invoiced.

Financial Aid & Scholarship

Admission decisions are based on the overall assessment of all application materials and interviews. Applying for financial aid will have no impact of your admission application and decision, and a candidate’s financial need will not be taken into consideration when deciding to admit, wait list or deny an applicant.

Applicants are expected to provide details about their financial situation for consideration. When applying to Duke Kunshan via the Common Application website, all applicants must indicate a “yes” in the financial aid interest box in order to be considered for need-based financial aid.

China (Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan) and international students must submit the CSS Profile online by February 12, 2019. The CSS code for Duke Kunshan University is 7059.

Mainland Chinese students who indicated an interest to apply for need-based financial aid will receive a DKU designated financial aid form after the letters of intent are sent. Forms and methods of submission will be sent via email and the application deadline is April 17, 2019.

Our expectation is that more than half of our students will receive some level of scholarship. Duke Kunshan University wants to admit a high caliber yet diverse cohort of students and thus we have a substantial pool of funds to support both need-based financial aids and merit-based scholarships. The University will endeavor to assist all qualified students who are admitted to attend Duke Kunshan so that financial situation will not be a major obstacle. Qualified students are encouraged to apply based on the understanding that the University will endeavor to assist students with proven financial needs. In addition, Duke Kunshan University has an active fund raising team in place whose highest priority is to raise funds to support student scholarships, both need-based financial aid and merit-based scholarships.

At Duke Kunshan University, all applicants will automatically be considered for merit-based scholarships. In addition, we will have need-based financial aid available for all students. Scholarship amounts will vary up to and including full tuition. Our mission is to create a global learning community and the richest learning environment possible by bringing together students with diverse perspectives and experiences.

We anticipate that the applicants will be notified with the result of merit-based scholarship decisions at the time of the issuance of admissions offers. For need-based scholarships, it depends on the completeness of information provided by the applicants for consideration.


Students who complete Duke Kunshan’s 4-year undergraduate curriculum will receive two degrees, one from Duke University and one from Duke Kunshan University. Graduates will join the global alumni networks of both institutions.

As a Sino-foreign Cooperative University with independent legal status approved by the Ministry of Education, Duke Kunshan University confers a Graduation Certificate and a Bachelor’s degree recognized by China’s Ministry of Education in addition to a Duke University degree. As one of the most prestigious universities in the United States and the world, Duke University degrees are well recognized all over the world by governments and employers. Duke University is accredited by Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and is certified by the Chinese Service Center for Scholarly Exchange, the degree certification organization of China’s Ministry of Education.

Our innovative, integrated and interdisciplinary liberal arts curriculum in a residential, personable, all-English, and interactive learning and teaching environment with great research opportunities will prepare our students extremely well for advanced studies in graduate schools. Graduates of our undergraduate degree program are expected to be highly competitive for some of the best graduate programs in the world.


A liberal arts and sciences education relies not on a formula for choosing and combining courses but on a culture of pedagogy that is immersive and dynamic, in which teachers and students work closely together to approach open questions, articulate hypotheses, test out ideas, and challenge one another. This approach to education builds critical and problem-solving skills, simultaneously conferring a broad base of knowledge and fostering the ability to question that knowledge and apply it flexibly.

A liberal arts and sciences education provides students with knowledge and skills that shapes their lives, enhances their roles as citizens, and increases their competitiveness for jobs. It develops their creativity and leadership and is deeply cross-cultural in its orientation, giving all participants the ongoing experience of learning to see from multiple points of view and to work together across cultural boundaries—a crucial skill for the future.

To learn more about the curriculum, please visit: http://undergrad.dukekunshan.edu.cn/what-to-study/

The undergraduate degree program features a 21st century curriculum built around liberal arts principles and imbued with the hallmarks of a Duke education. The program incorporates interdisciplinary approaches, engagement with research questions, problem-based and team-based learning, and opportunities for students to craft individual pathways and deepen their intellectual engagement over time.

At Duke Kunshan, our liberal arts and sciences education fosters the freedom to explore academic interests while developing a breadth of knowledge and key skills including creativity, independent thinking, teamwork, written and oral communication, and evidence-based reasoning. Our approach combines theoretical and practical knowledge, delivered in small classes and taught in an open, participatory style that offers significant co-curricular and applied learning opportunities, including civic engagement and leadership opportunities.

Duke Kunshan also has a unique focus on producing a significant signature product and an emphasis on character development and rooted globalism. We foster an especially close connection between faculty and students, promote the intermixing of students with different interests, and provide direct access to research opportunities for undergraduates.

Other unique features of the Duke Kunshan undergraduate program include:

  • Majors that have interdisciplinary and disciplinary components, with the former serving as the entry point and primary definition of a students’ academic focus, and the latter providing specialized training as well as divisional foundation courses that prepare students for advanced study and signature work that addresses a specific question, problem or issue. The disciplinary component includes independent research, a senior thesis or creative production.
  • Common Core courses that focus on big questions and critical challenges.
  • Electives that broaden students’ educational experience via distributional requirements and enable them either to develop greater specialized knowledge or to further broaden the scope of their study.
  • Experiential opportunities that align the formal curriculum with practical experiences. Internships and other hands-on offerings are required and available as electives.
  • Intensive 7-week terms enable students to take two in-depth courses with the flexibility to take some courses in 14-week blocks.
  • Fridays and inter-session mini-terms are designed for field trips, internships, civic engagement and credit/no credit short courses.
  • Seminars of fewer than 20 students make for intensive, mind-on-mind education.

Undergraduate students will declare their majors in their second year. Duke Kunshan currently offers 15 majors approved by the Chinese Ministry of Education, and more majors are under development. Some of the MOE approved majors have multiple tracks.

Current majors include:

  • Applied Mathematics and Computational Sciences/Math
  • Cultures and Movements (Tracks: Sociology and Cultural Anthropology)
  • Data Science
  • Environmental Science/Chemistry
  • Environmental Science/Public Policy
  • Ethics and Leadership (Tracks: Philosophy and Religious Studies)
  • Global China Studies/History
  • Global Cultural Studies/Literature
  • Global Health/Biology
  • Global Health/Public Policy
  • Institutions and Governance/Economics
  • Material Science/Physics
  • Media and Arts (Tracks: Creative Practice and History)
  • Political Economy (Tracks: Political Science and Economics) 
  • US Studies (Tracks: History and Literature)

Please click here to see more majors and courses information.

The simple answer is YES. As a matter of fact, each major consists of two important major related studies – interdisciplinary area of study and disciplinary area of study. Disciplinary area of study can be understood as a traditional major. To some extent, one may think this is already towards a double major. Certainly, if a student is extremely inclined to do a double major, he/she can choose to use the electives to meet the requirement of another disciplinary area of study or another interdisciplinary area of study.

One of the advantages of liberal arts education is to encourage a student to explore and discover his/her passion. Therefore, students are not required to declare a major until the second semester of their sophomore year. Students can still declare in the first semester of his/her sophomore year.

Students can switch majors. However, they are not encouraged to switch too late, as this may make it difficult to meet the degree requirements in 4 years. Students need to complete their degree requirements within 6 years.

The faculty to student ratio will be roughly 1:11. Most of Duke Kunshan’s faculty will be globally recruited resident faculty members who have been selected by a Duke Faculty search committee. The other faculty members will be from Duke University, Wuhan University and other top universities around the world.

Course instruction will be delivered primarily in small classes taught in an open, participatory style. The vast majority of courses will be seminar-style with fewer than 20 students. These seminars are the primary means by which excellence in writing, speaking and listening are nurtured.

Two of the core courses (China in the World and Critical Global Challenges) will be taught in 125 and 60-student classes, appropriate to their function in developing a shared community of learning among students and teachers. Hybrid class designs utilizing flipped classrooms and team-based learning will provide opportunities for students to gain exposure to course content prior to class and provide in-class activities that focus on higher-level cognitive learning.

Duke Kunshan will provide undergraduate students access to research opportunities and encourage students to work with leading faculty members and researchers. The university’s existing and future research centers and institutes such as Global Health Research Center, Environment Research Center, Institute of Applied Sciences and Engineering, Camputer Laboratory, and Data Science Research Center will be open to all students. Students can also utilize research resources and opportunities available through Duke Kunshan’s founding partners Duke University and Wuhan University.

We offer English for Academic Purposes (EAP) Courses for ESL students. We are also developing various programs such as a language studio for students who want to learn more about how to build their foreign language skills.

The general academic calendar will be similar to that of Duke University’s. The fall semester will start in late August, and end in the middle of December. The spring semester starts in early January and will usually end around May 15. The spring break week will coincide with the Chinese Spring Festival holiday week. The one-week mini-term will take place immediately after the spring semester or right before the fall semester each year.

Please click here to see academic calendars at Duke Kunshan University.

Advising and mentoring is an essential part of the student experience at Duke Kunshan University. Students will be assigned a primary faculty advisor based on their interests. The advisor/mentor will discuss a student’s interests and goals while advising on how to navigate academic and social life, in addition to aiding in the selection of courses, majors, signature pathways and experiential activities.

The primary advisor will be assigned to a student normally for the duration of study. A second advisor will be assigned to the student when he or she selects an interdisciplinary area of study or a disciplinary area of study. The responsibilities of the second advisor will focus on the student’s areas of study and career path.

The initial language study options will be English and Chinese. Other language study options will be offered in the future.

Each year, Duke University accepts a very small number of transfer students. Duke Kunshan University students interested in transferring to Duke University should apply in the same way as all others. Duke Kunshan University does not accept transfer students.

Campus Life

First-year undergraduate students will be required to reside on campus. Student residence halls are available to accommodate the student-residents.

Students of the same gender are assigned in the same suite. Most student suites have four single rooms. Based on the information provided on the Suite Assignment Form completed by students before arrival, Residence Life matches students with similar habits, such as early risers vs. later sleepers, students that prefer the room is a study space vs. students that prefer the room is a social space, among other factors.

All rooms in most suites are single rooms except a limited number of suites that may have two single rooms and one double room. Due to the limited number of double bedrooms, these rooms are assigned on a first-come-first-served basis. All suites share one living room and two bathrooms.

All undergraduate students are required to live on-campus.

International and Chinese meals are available in the University Dining Hall.

Orientation is generally held one week before classes start.

Besides a two-floor gym on campus, Duke Kunshan offers sports activities such as basketball, table tennis, badminton, soccer, tennis, softball, volleyball, Frisbee, sailing, running, and hiking. Additional sports will be offered depending on student interests and available facilities/resources.

Off-campus athletic facilities are also available at the nearby Kunshan Sports Center.

Current clubs include Varsity, International Association, Arts &Culture, LeanIN, Student Volunteer Association (DKU-V), Photography club, Kun Opera, Music Group (led by student, faculty and staff), student media group (as a part of KSAC), and Next Idea Speech Club, Duke Kunshan Student Ambassador Council (KSAC). Previous GLS clubs included: Outdoor club, Debate club , Fashion club/Model club, Language Club, Literary club, Dancing club, Green Club, Food Club, Film Club, Business club, and Model United Nations. Student Affairs team supports students establishing new clubs based on student interests and leadership.

Locally and internationally, we aim to provide suitable, high quality volunteering and community service programs.

There are churches in Kunshan and Shanghai as well as mosques in Suzhou and Shanghai.

Duke Kunshan’s student health center provides basic primary care medical services. Currently, there is one full-time and one part-time physician, and one nurse onsite for walk-in care or through medical appointments via telephone. Clinic hours are 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. from Monday to Friday.

Psychological counseling is provided by a full-time counselor. Services include individual or group counseling, family interviews, emergency services, and referral services, as well as available consultations and workshops.

The No.1 People’s Hospital in Kunshan is about 10 km away from campus, and bilingual clinics are available in nearby Suzhou. Limited numbers of psychological counselors are available in Kunshan, but others are located in Suzhou and Shanghai. Duke Kunshan has a contracted service with Jiahui Mental Health Hospital for emergency care and referral when necessary.