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When? How? Why?


Check out the following FAQs for everything you want to know about the DukeEngage selection process. Still confused? Send us an email at


Any student who has completed at least two semesters at Duke, who will be on active status at Duke during the summer of participation, and who will spend at least one semester back on campus after the DukeEngage experience is eligible to participate. This includes students enrolled in study abroad before or after DukeEngage. As post-program engagement back on campus is a central tenet of DukeEngage, the application process is restricted to current first-year students, sophomores, and juniors. Seniors are not eligible to participate.

Students accepted to DukeEngage are asked to submit a binding statement of intent within a few days of receiving notification from our office. If you are accepted and choose not to participate, simply decline the offer, and you will be eligible to apply again in the future. If you do submit a statement of intent to participate and later withdraw, you will be ineligible to re-apply.

If you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident who has lost your social security card, apply for a replacement card as soon as possible. If you are an international student accepted to a DukeEngage program, the DukeEngage team will help you apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). The completed ITIN document is not required at the time of application, but it is required to successfully enroll if you are accepted into the program.

Generally, students may only receive funds from one Duke source for any DukeEngage program. If you expect to receive funding from other Duke programs for the same summer you plan to participate in DukeEngage, you must obtain written permission from DukeEngage prior to accepting the other funding, and you must let the other program know you have been accepted into DukeEngage. You may be able to obtain two grants for the same summer if the programs do not overlap.

Yes, students studying abroad may apply as long as all other eligibility requirements are met. If you are chosen to interview, your interview will be conducted via phone or Zoom.

Double-check these two things:

  • Your passport must be valid for 6 months past the end date of your program. (Most countries will not permit a traveler to enter their country unless their passport is set to expire at least six months after the final date of travel.) If this is not the case, see the next question.
  • Additionally, some countries require a minimum of one un-stamped passport spread (facing pages) upon entry to the country. Please check your passport to make sure you meet this requirement. If you do not, you may want to apply to for additional pages.

You should apply for a passport before submitting your application, however your application will be accepted without the passport in hand. If you’re accepted to an international program, you’ll be required to supply your passport information to DukeEngage in mid-January to register for your program. DukeEngage does not cover the cost of applying for student passports.

Important: Please note that the standard passport application process can take as long as six weeks. If you don’t have a valid passport by registration in mid-January, you may not be able to participate in DukeEngage.


A strong, persuasive DukeEngage application presents a compelling case for your suitability. This should include your goals and how your DukEngage program choice/s relate to them, your past work and volunteer experiences, and your releveant classwork.

You’ll need your passport name and expiration date (for those wishing to travel internationally), the name of a qualified reference (i.e., someone who is not a friend, roommate or family member), and contact information for your parent or guardian.

Please note that DukeEngage staff can’t help students with application writing, editing, or review. We can, however, answer questions such as “What is an example of a teamwork experience?” or “Can my high school track coach serve as a reference?” If you would like an outside opinion on your application, we recommend making an appointment with the Thompson Writing Studio.

Finally, we highly recommend that you don’t wait until the last minute to start your application as it will probably take you several hours to complete. Start your application as soon as you have determined the program(s) to which you would like to apply. Likewise, don’t wait until the last minute to submit! Applications will not be accepted after the noon (Eastern Standard Time) deadline, and you should give yourself time to review.

Over the course of spring semester, all students are required to attend registration, any relevant health appointments (for international programs), group meetings set by faculty leaders, and four Fortin Foundation DukeEngage Academy training sessions that take place once a week over the course of four weeks during the semester.

DukeEngage programs take place throughout the summer and last eight consecutive weeks. Dates are set by faculty leaders and must be adhered to by students. Students must remain at their sites for the entire eight weeks of the program.


Application options:

  • One U.S. program
  • One international program
  • One U.S. program and one international program
  • Two U.S. programs

*Please note that students may not apply to more than one international program

Please note that you’ll receive only one acceptance offer. If you’ve applied to two programs and are chosen by both program leaders, we will issue an offer to the program you ranked as your first choice on the application.

Watch this Zoom presentation for general information on DukeEngage Program specific information will be available later in fall semester. Notifications about dates and locations will be announced on our website, on Facebook and Instagram, and via the DukeEngage email list.


Our application does not allow returns (separate paragraphs), or any text formatting.

Also note that some punctuation marks don’t translate correctly when pasting from Word – and that you may not see these errors until you save or even try to submit your application. Save regularly, and leave yourself plenty of time to review before you submit. You may not submit a text document in lieu of an application.

Yes. Your reference should be someone who can speak to your character and work and/or community engagement experience. Ideally, this person is someone who’s seen you in action, like a coach, a supervisor, a club advisor, or a mentor. Your reference should not be a friend, roommate, or family member. Additionally, your reference should know they’re being listed on your application and be comfortable receiving a phone call or email from the faculty director of the program/s to which you apply.

No. In fact, your reference does not need to do anything unless/until he or she is contacted by the faculty director. Not all directors choose to contact references. Of those who do, some do so before interviews, others after. Whether or not your reference has been contacted should not be interpreted as an indication of the status of your application.

DukeEngage participants who study away/study abroad during the spring semester are not excused from participating in the Fortin Foundation DukeEngage Academy. If you can’t join by video conference, there will be a full set of comprehensive assignments to complete. This online Academy option will be approved only on a case-by-case basis by the Assistant Director for Training & Student Development.

Language ability will be assessed and evaluated by your faculty director. If you have concerns about your level of proficiency, please contact him or her for more information.

Academic departments determine which DukeEngage programs satisfy their particular requirements for internships and certificate programs. To confirm whether your DukeEngage Program is eligible, please contact the host department directly. Form more information about linking DukeEngage to your academic coursework, please review our Curricular Connections page.


DukeEngage is competitive, with an overall acceptance rate of approximately 50%. Your chances of being accepted increase when you apply to programs that match your skills and interests. Do you have the skills needed on the ground and have you demonstrated through coursework or co-curricular activities that you will be a strong contributor? A good team member? Are you applying based on genuine interest in a program theme, or are you applying based only on location? Participate in advising and DukeEngage info sessions to help inform your choices.

Each year, approximately 25% of DukeEngage participants are first-year students, 50% sophomores, and 25% juniors. This isn’t planned or preferred; it’s just played out this way over time. The program overall does not have a preference for any particular year, but some faculty leaders may look for students who demonstrate maturity and mastery of certain skills.

In different years, the programs with the highest application rates change, so last year’s numbers aren’t likely to be helpful in your decision-making. Some programs attract a broad swath of students, while some appeal to specific interests. The real question is: Do you bring skills, experience and motivation for the programs and themes in which you’re interested?

All dates and deadlines are advertised on our website. DukeEngage sends acceptance notifications to students via an email to their address on Notification Day, approximately one month after the application deadline. All applicants will receive notification of application status: accepted, alternate, or not accepted.

There are mandatory pre-departure activities which take place over the course of spring semester:

  • Registration (with all accompanying paperwork and visa requirements)
  • Student health/vaccination/prescription appointments if needed
  • Online training modules and surveys
  • Two site-specific orientation sessions scheduled by your faculty director
  • The Fortin Foundation Academy which includes:
    • Four two-hour training classes. Accepted students must be available for a two-hour session the same day each week for four consecutive weeks during spring semester. Sessions will occur between the hours of 5:00-9:00 pm, Monday-Thursday, and 12:00-5:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday
    • DukeEngage Spring Convocation
    • DukeEngage Fall Reunion

Failure to meet all requirements may result in removal from the program.

No, but if you remain a student in good standing and meet all eligibility requirements, you’re welcome to re-apply the next year. Re-application does not guarantee preference or acceptance.

If you’re eligible to apply to DukeEngage again during the current year or in the future, we suggest participating in a drop-in advising session or making an appointment with a DukeEngage advisor to discuss ways to strengthen your application.

Although we very rarely cancel programs, we will do so if a location becomes a security risk for our students and staff, as might be the case following a natural disaster or military action, among other possible concerns. Risk levels are constantly monitored and assessed by our program leadership and by the Duke Global Travel Advisory Committee, with consultation from International SOS and the Duke Office of Corporate Risk Management.

In the event that program is cancelled before it begins, DukeEngage will advise a student participant about other possible options but makes no guarantee of a placement in another DukeEngage program or project.


Due to the number of applications that programs receive, not every student who applies will be invited for an interview. Interviews can take place any time during the application review period and may be conducted in person or via phone/Zoom. Not all program directors conduct interviews at the same time, nor do they send out all of the interview invitations at the same time.

If you are studying abroad, it is important that you check your email address regularly during the application review period so that you can respond promptly to any program-related communication. If contacted for an interview, you should immediately let your faculty director know that you are abroad and ask for a Zoom or phone interview.

Studying abroad does not affect your chances of getting into a program, nor do you have to be on campus for the interview (see question above). If you’re studying off-campus the spring before your DukeEngage program begins, you’ll be expected to participate in all of your group pre-departure meetings to the extent that it’s possible and complete all DukeEngage required on-line modules. If you’re studying away at an international or out-of-state location, arrangements will be made for you to complete the DukeEngage Fortin Foundation Academy online.