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Duke statistics PhD interview

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I'm going to Duke in a couple weeks for what was described to me as a "small group applicant visit." A couple questions for anyone who's been through this in the past:

What are the odds of getting an offer given that they're paying for me to visit? Is this actually just another interview round, or do I have a pretty good shot at this point?  I saw one person from April 2009 got flown down, waitlisted and then rejected. Any ideas as to how many people get paid visits?

Secondly, what do you wear to something like this? For a normal interview I would go with suit and tie, but that seems out of place for something like this. Khakis and a tie? 

Thanks everyone.

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No one probably knows, but from a cursory look at past results it seems like you have a good shot.


Khaki and a dress shirt would probably suffice. No need for suit/tie.


On another note, I've yet to hear back from Duke (I am assuming/preparing for the worst). Do you mind sharing your stats? Also, did they mention anything like # of applicants invited etc.?

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Hey h.ude,

My information is from one of the Professors there in charge of admissions. He told me they had 240 admissions, 40 shortlisted, and in fact were going to take approximately 11 people (not 10, my mistake). Although yeah, that number might be their intended number of acceptances, rather than offers, based on that previous data. Admitting 15 or so per year wouldn't add up, as they would have more students in total than they do if they let in that many every year. So I guess 15 or 16 offers makes sense, especially if they include offers made to waitlisted people as actual offers (e.g. they'll make 11 intially, 4 people won't take the offer, so the next four will get offers. One of those won't take it, and one more waitlisted person gets an offer, for a total of 16 offers).

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Did they save if all the 40 shortlisted people habe been contacted? I.e. if I haven't heard back from Duke yet then I can safely say I am rejected?


Statsfrommaths, it seems like you've pretty much gotten into all the programs you've applied to. Any thoughts on where you would like to go? (I'd think it would be crazy to pass up on Stanford, but that's just me :P)

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No problem. I can't imagine they would, but I hope the professors don't mind this information being shared.

Hey DMX, I'm not 100% sure that they've contacted all 40, but unfortunately my guess would be that they have contacted at least most of them.

Also I haven't quite decided yet! Hard to pass on Stanford for sure, but I hope to find out more from visiting a few places.

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I wouldn't wear a pit-stained baggy math t-shirt and white athletic socks, but I definitely wouldn't wear a tie. Button down shirt or nice sweater and non-denim pants for men, somewhere around business casual.


IIRC last year they said they would admit about half of the people they interviewed between flyouts and Skype calls to internationals. So I'd say you have a good chance, of course, but far from a sure thing.


Last year they had candidates meet just about every professor in the department in 30 minute meetings, typically the whole group meeting with one or two faculty at a time in their offices. The profs do most of the talking and describe the program, their research, life in the Research Triangle, etc., but you will have a lot of time for questions so make a nice long list. You'll also spend some time socializing with current students and will most likely go to dinner with some of them. They're great, pick their brains as much as you can.


You're not getting interviewed in a traditional sense, but you will definitely get asked by the director and probably quite a few of the faculty about potential topics/areas you are interested in, why you want a PhD, that sort of thing. (Not that you still don't get asked about these things on other visits even after getting in! It was very similar to the accepted student days I went to elsewhere but for the fact that I wasn't sure if I was admitted yet.) I had the impression they were screening for personality fit within the department and some degree of maturity/seriousness in purpose, so be yourself but be your best self.


Good luck, it's more fun than you think!

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