Merit Scholarship Programs: The Duke Difference


There are other undergraduate scholarship programs in the U.S. There are honors colleges. And there are “scholarships”—lucrative financial inducements—that have no programmatic components or coherence. But there isn’t anything quite like Duke’s Office of Undergraduate Scholars and Fellows, the umbrella organization for several academic scholarships that offer both merit programs and merit awards.


The various programs are all designed to put paying for tuition, room, and board out of the equation when it comes to the decision to embrace all that Duke has to offer. With the exception of the Robertson Scholars program, there is no supplemental application or nomination process: students who apply to Duke will be considered for one of our prestigious merit awards—and a corresponding scholarship program.


Recipients of these awards ($200k or more over eight semesters) belong to scholar communities that highlight and concentrate the best of Duke’s cultural and economic diversity, innovative academic and leadership development, and vibrant interdisciplinarity.


These scholar communities are shepherded by faculty and administrators; their members collaborate on projects, travel abroad together, plan and sponsor campus events, host talks and meals with guest speakers. Everyone has supervised access to “educational enrichment funding” that supports research interests, conference presentations, service, and other career-enhancing endeavors. It is no wonder that Duke’s merit scholars regularly go on to win the “change-agent” Truman award, the Rhodes and Marshall and Goldwater scholarships.  


On a typical day at OUSF, a B. N. Duke scholar from the Carolinas may run into a Karsh scholar from Nepal and discover they both know the A. B. Duke scholar from Wyoming who spent the summer at Oxford. The biochemistry major from Kenya, a Reggie Howard scholar, may sit down for a while with the University scholar who studies opera. The pre-med student who captains the women’s swim team may stop in for a mock-interview (she’s applying for a Marshall scholarship) and, though she is not a merit scholar, she feels at home among the merit scholarship constituency and its support staff.


The Duke difference: its merit scholarship programs recognize individual, even eccentric potential; at the same time, they bring together the intellectual and civic energies of a wide spectrum of top-notch undergraduates from all over the U.S. and the world.


The Duke difference: its merit scholarship programs fund an undergraduate education at a renowned research university where undergraduate education inside and outside the classroom truly matters. 

    • OUSF
    • Photo Credit: Jim Wallace
    • Entrance to OUSF
    • Photo Credit: Jim Wallace
    • Entrance to OUSF
    • Photo Credit: Jim Wallace
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