Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

General Admissions Questions

Standardized Tests

What is the minimum TOEFL or IELTS score required to apply?
Duke Kunshan University requires a minimum 90 (internet-based test) TOEFL score and a minimum 7.0 IELTS score.

Who is required to provide TOEFL or IELTS test scores?
Duke Kunshan University requires any applicant whose first language is not English to submit scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test.

To what address should my IELTS score be mailed?
The IELTS score should be mailed to: Ms. Ge. Conference Center 1080, No.8 Duke Ave, Kunshan, Jiangsu, China. 215316

What institution code should I use when send my scores via ETS? Do I need to include a department code?
Use the institution code for Duke Kunshan University. For GRE scores, use institution code 7554. For TOEFL scores, use institution code B624. A department code is not needed. If ETS requires you to enter a department code, select any one of the department codes listed on their site. Regardless of the department code selected, your scores will come to Graduate Admissions, as long as you use the correct institution code.

What are the minimum GRE requirements?
There is no specific minimum GRE requirement; GRE scores is considered alongside several other factors during the application review process.

Do you accept Chinese graduate school entrance exam scores in lieu of GRE scores?
Scores from Chinese graduate school entrance exams are not accepted in lieu of GRE scores.

What is the difference between self-reported and official test scores?
Any scores reported by an applicant - including paper copies of score reports submitted by an applicant - are considered self-reported and are not sufficient to complete an application. Scores sent directly from ETS (or other testing agencies) to Graduate Admissions are considered official.

What is the waiver policy for TOEFL/ IELTS test?

To be eligible for a TOEFL/IELTS waiver, you must have studied fulltime for two years or more at a college or university where the sole language of instruction is English and in a country where English is the primary spoken language. The two years of study must be completed prior to application submission.

If you believe you qualify for a TOEFL/IELTS waiver based on the above criteria, upload a written request for the waiver in the Additional Information section of your online application. In your request, be sure to state where you completed the two-year study requirement. Due to the volume of applications we receive, we will not examine, confirm the status of, or grant any waiver requests prior to extending an offer of admission.

Keep in mind that any admitted student whose first language is not English must take oral and written English placement exams conducted by the English for International Students program at the beginning of the term of matriculation. This is required regardless of whether a TOEFL/IELTS waiver is granted.


What is a transcript?
The academic record that we refer to as a transcript should provide a listing, year by year, of all courses taken and the grade or mark received for each one. Do not submit transcripts from secondary schools. If your Social Security Number (SSN) appears on your transcripts, please mark out all except the last four digits of the number before uploading the transcripts to your application.

What makes a transcript unofficial or official?
Unofficial transcripts: Transcripts uploaded to the application are unofficial. An unofficial transcript is also one that:

  • Has been opened by the student
  • Did not come directly from the school
  • Is an uncertified photocopy of the original
  • Was not produced by the school
  • Was translated by the student or a non-professional translation service

Notarized transcripts are considered unofficial unless they are mailed directly from the educational institution and bear the institutional seal.

Official Transcripts: Official transcripts are only required if an offer of admission is made. Do not send official transcripts unless and until you are offered admission. The transcript is official if it is sent directly by the institution to Graduate Admissions. Transcripts must bear an official signature in ink of the appropriate official at your institution, such as the registrar or recorder of records, and must bear the institutional seal. Certified true copies must be stamped and signed by the institution.

My transcript is not in English. Do I need to provide a translation?
Yes. Please provide BOTH the original transcript AND a translation from either the school issuing the transcript or a professional translation service.

When should I mail my official transcripts?
If you are offered admission and accept, we will contact you to request that you send your official transcripts by mail. Do not send your official transcripts until you are contacted.

Application Process

Can I submit my application before all of my recommendations or official language test scores are received?
Yes. You should submit your application as soon as you have completed each section, sent recommendation requests to your recommenders, and requested that ETS send your scores. After you submit your application, the Graduate Admissions Office can add recommendation letters and official test scores to your application as they are received.

NOTE: While it is fine for recommendations and official test scores to arrive after you submit your application, it is important that we receive them by or before the application deadline.

Should I mail application materials or supplemental documents?
All application materials should be submitted electronically. Supplemental documents can be uploaded to the Additional Information section of the online application. Please do not mail paper copies of application materials or supplemental documents unless we specifically request that you do so. Mailing materials will create duplicate records in your file and delay the processing of your application.

Recommendations Letter

Can I submit my application before all of my recommendations arrive?
Yes. Submit your application as soon as you have completed each section and sent recommendation requests to your recommenders. After you submit your application, the Graduate Admissions Office can link recommendation letters as they are received.

NOTE: While it is fine for recommendations to arrive after you submit your application, it is important that we receive them by or before the application deadline.

Can I change one of my recommenders or add a new one after my application has been submitted?
You cannot change a recommender that is already listed in a submitted application. If you have already submitted your application and need to add a new recommender because one of your original recommenders is unavailable, please email  In your email, be sure to specify your name, the name and email address of the new recommender. We will then reply to you with detailed instructions for submitting the new recommendation.

Is it OK to list more than three recommenders in my application?
We strongly discourage you from requesting more than the required number of recommendations unless the department to which you applied has asked to see additional recommendations. Rather than improving your chances of admission, an excessive number of recommendation letters may actually cause application reviewers to view your file unfavorably.

What does it mean to waive your right to examine a letter of recommendation?
Waiving your right to examine a letter of recommendation gives the recommender confidence that the letter will remain confidential. If you waive your right, you will not be able to view the letter at any time.


How do I apply for a scholarship?

All applicants are automatically considered for merit-based scholarships during the admissions process.

Review and Notification

Who reviews my application?
The actual in-depth review of your file is conducted by the admissions committee of the department to which you are applying.

When are decisions made?
This is entirely up to the individual programs. For Fall admissions, the earliest decisions may be made in January, but, in general, decisions are made beginning in February or March.

How can I check the status of my application?
Within two weeks of application submission, you will receive a status email message. This message will state which items are included in or missing from your application. Once a decision has been made on your application, you will receive an email with instructions for accessing the decision letter.

I have a question that has not been addressed in the waitlist FAQs. What should I do?  

Should you have an inquiry regarding the waitlist process, please feel free to contact  us through . We would be happy to address any questions or concerns you have regarding your application status.

Language Learning Opportunities

Students whose native language is not English

It is required by Duke that all the students whose native language is not English need to take an English proficiency exam (writing & speaking) when entering the program. Most students will be enrolled in an English class in the first academic year.

Students who would like to learn Chinese

Duke Kunshan University encourages students to take advantage of the environment and learn more about Chinese language and culture. Through the Writing and Language Programs, experienced professors, lecturers and instructors will help beginners start learning Chinese and provide individual tutoring to students with a more advanced level. 

Degree Certifications (applies to Chinese citizens only)

Any student graduated from Master of Environmental Policy program will receive a degree awarded by Duke University, signed by the President of Duke University, Secretary of Duke University, Chair of the Board Trustees, Dean (Sanford School of Public Policy) and Dean (Nicholas School of the Environment).

Chinese students who would like to have their degree certified by the Ministry of Education should notice that according to the current policy:

  • The degree will be certified under the category of “Overseas Degree” if the applicant studied in a foreign country for over six months (determined by the entrance and exit stamps).
  • The degree will be certified under the category of “Chinese-Foreign Cooperative Education Degree” if the applicant studied in a foreign country for shorter than six months (determined by the entrance and exit stamps).

For more information, please contact