Duke University Secondary Application

Duke University Secondary Essay Prompts

(If you have updated prompts, please submit them at updatesecondaries.com)

Prompts have been updated June 2023. (Older essays, if available are below)


  • Advocacy 
    Describe a situation in which you chose to advocate for someone who was different from you or for a cause or idea that was different from yours. Define your view of advocacy. What risks, if any, might be associated with your choice to be an advocate? (400 words)
  • Coping with Disappointment
    Not achieving a goal or one’s desire can sometimes be disheartening. What have you learned/gained from your setbacks and disappointments and how does this translate to your current way of thinking? (400 words)
  • Value Systems
    Describe a situation in which you had to utilize your values to interact with people from different backgrounds. How did those values impact the relationship? (400 words)
  • Leadership
    Leadership, teamwork, and communication flow synergistically. What do you value most as a leader and as a contributor? What attributes do you possess as a leader and as a team member and how do you apply them on a daily basis? (400 words)
  • Critical Thinking
    Critical thinking involves a number of characteristics. Research experience enhances critical analysis skills. Describe any research experience or another situation in which you utilized critical thinking. How will critical thinking be important in your future career? (400 words)
  • Understanding the Need for Health Care Changes
    Potential sources of health inequities exist. Duke’s Moments to Movement (M2M) is a collective stand to address these issues. Describe your experience and reflection with race and its relationship to disparities in health, health care and society. Consider the values of justice, diversity, inclusion and equity. (400 words)
  • COVID-19 Implications
    How has the COVID-19 pandemic influenced your journey to medical school? Have these events changed your outlook on medicine’s role in society? (400 words)
  • Tell Us Who You Are 
    Tell us more about who you are. This is your opportunity to tell us how you wish to be addressed, recognized and treated. (500 words)
  • Race/Ethnicity/Geographic Origin/Socioeconomic Status/ Advantage/Disadvantage/ Religious Affiliation (Optional)
    Use the text box below to provide additional information on how these parameters have/will influence you. (200 words)
  • Community Engagement (Required only for Primary Care Leadership track applicants.)
    PCLT values community engagement. What is your understanding of community engagement and its value? How does community-engagement impact either research or working in a community to improve health outcomes? (200 words)
  • Why PCLT (Required only for Primary Care Leadership track applicants.)
    What distinguishes you from other applicants to the PCLT program? (200 words)

Primary Deadline: Usually around Oct 15th
Secondary Deadline
: Usually around Nov 15th
Secondary Fee: $100
FAP Waiver: Full Fee Waived
Casper Required: No
PREview Required: No
Screens Applications: No
Accepts Application Updates: Yes

Older Essays:

  • Tell us more about who you are. You may provide additional information that expands your self-identity where gender identification, racial and/or ethnic self­ description, geographic origin, socioeconomic, academic, and/or other characteristics that define who you are as you contemplate a career that will interface with people who are similar AND dissimilar to you. You will have the opportunity below to tell us how you wish to be addressed, recognized and treated. (500 words)
    How to Write About Diversity in Your Secondary Essays
  • Describe the community in which you were nurtured or spent the majority of your early development with respect to its demographics. What core values did you receive and how will these translate into the contributions that you hope to make to your community as a medical student and to your career in medicine? What improvements do you think might make the described community better? (600 words)
  • Describe a situation where you have chosen to advocate for someone who is different from yourself. What does advocacy mean to you and how has your advocacy developed? How do you see it linked to your role as a physician/leader? What risks, if any, might be associated with your choice to be an advocate? (600 words)
  • What has been your most humbling experience and how will that experience affect your interactions with your peers and patients? (600 words)
  • Describe a situation where you failed. What did you learn from the experience? Describe at least one functional impact of the experience. (600 words)
    How to Write About Your Obstacles, Challenges, and Problems in your Secondary Essays
  • Critical thinking involves many aspects including curiosity, comprehension, application and analysis. Describe a time when you have utilized critical thinking. How do you anticipate critical thinking being used as part of your career? (400 words)
  • Many view medical care as an undeniable right. What responsibility does the medical profession have in taking care of all persons? (600 words)