Waitlist Information

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When do you expect to make offers of admission from the waiting list? How many people do you expect to admit?

The number and timing of admission offers to waitlist candidates is unpredictable from year to year. It depends on what choices applicants currently admitted to Duke (and to other schools) make, and when they make them.

Applicants who have been admitted to Duke's JD program have until May 4, 2020 to make their tuition deposit and confirm their intent to enroll at Duke. By mid-May, we will have a sense of how the class is shaping up. At that time, it's possible that we may be able to offer admission to some of the people on our waiting list. (Check this page for updates.) Whether or not we are able to admit people at that point, we will maintain an active waiting list throughout the rest of the summer, since we know that some of the people who have committed to attend may change their plans. If this happens in sufficient numbers, we would be able to admit additional waitlist candidates, a few at a time, at unpredictable points through the summer. Although we would hope not to make last-minute offers of admission, it does happen in some years that there are late withdrawals from the class (or even orientation no-shows), and we are able to admit people who we know are still interested and able to attend. Our orientation begins on August 18 , and 1Ls begin their first class (LARW) on August 19

How many people are on the waiting list?

We initially offer a spot on the waiting list to several hundred people. Many of these will accept this offer, at least initially. As time passes, some of them will notify us that they no longer wish to be considered for admission. We may reduce the size of the waitlist at some point during the summer once we have a better sense of what our class looks like, and how many offers of admission we are realistically likely to make. By the end of the summer, the number of people who we are seriously considering and who are still interested and able to come at the last minute is fairly small.

Is the waiting list ranked? How do you choose who to admit from the waiting list? What can I do to improve my chances?

Our waiting list is not ranked. If we determine that we are able to admit people from our waitlist, we will conduct a review of all remaining candidates in light of the makeup of the class.. We are particularly interested in people who seem enthusiastic about Duke and eager to enroll. Please feel free to update your application with additional information about your interest in Duke (e-mail to Even if you don't have specific information to add to your file, it's worthwhile to check in with us periodically so we know you're still interested.

What if I am admitted from the waiting list? How will I be notified?

Depending on the number of seats we have available and the timing of this availability, we may make a round of initial phone/e-mail contact to a small number of candidates to invite additional expressions of interest. When an offer of admission is made, we will e-mail notification and overnight an admission packet. If you will be traveling during the summer, please keep us updated on the best way to reach you quickly.

May I defer an offer of admission from the waiting list?

No. When we are admitting people from the waiting list, it is because we have a seat available in this year's class.


June 16, 2020: Not much has changed since the last update. There are signs that things may be moving in the coming weeks (indications that peer schools are admitting from their waitlists, requests for deferrals) and of course we will contact individual students right away if there is any change in the status of their applications. This process is driven by many external factors, so please be patient as we see how things develop.

May 22, 2020: All deposit deadlines for admitted students have now passed. Going forward, we expect to be able to admit people from the waitlist when students we expect to enroll let us know that their plans have changed. As noted elsewhere on this page, this generally does happen (and we expect a higher than usual level of volatility in this unusual year) but the timing is highly unpredictable. We appreciate your continued patience, and encourage you to keep in touch, whether with substantive updates to your application or simply to let us know that you remain interested.