Duke Kunshan University

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Duke Kunshan University
DKU Logo whitebackdrop.jpg
ChancellorYoumei Feng
DeanMarcia France
Executive Vice ChancellorDenis Simon
StudentsAbout 600 undergraduate (Fall 2019)
CampusSuburban/Urban, 200 acres (0.81 km2)
AffiliationsAALAU, Duke University, Wuhan University

Duke Kunshan University (DKU) is a Chinese-American partnership of Duke University (Durham, North Carolina, United States) and Wuhan University (Wuhan, Hubei, China) to create a liberal arts and research university offering academic programs for students from China and throughout the world.[2] DKU received approval from the Chinese Ministry of Education in 2013 and its curricula are also approved by the Jiangsu Provincial Education Bureau.

Students have the opportunity to study at both the DKU campus in Kunshan, China and at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, United States. Undergraduate students will have the opportunity to spend a summer and a semester on the Duke University campus in Durham, North Carolina. Students are awarded degrees from both Duke University and Duke Kunshan University upon graduation and become members of both institutions’ alumni organizations.[3]

Both Duke University and Wuhan University have been recognized in the top ten in respective national rankings.[4][5] The universities collaborate on academic programs and administration for Duke Kunshan University, while the city of Kunshan agreed to lease land for the DKU campus at no cost for 10 years and funded the construction of the US$200 million campus buildings.

History and timeline[edit]

  • Exterior of the Innovation Building
    Jan. 2010 - A Cooperation Agreement signed between Duke University and the People's Government of Kunshan[6]
  • Sep. 2010 - Construction of Phase 1 campus started
  • Jan. 2011 - Cooperation Principles Statement signed between Duke University and Wuhan University
  • Jun. 2011 - Application for Preparation Approval of Duke Kunshan University submitted to Jiangsu Provincial Bureau of Education
  • Aug. 2012 - Preparation Approval from the Chinese Ministry of Education
  • Sep. 2012 - Appointments of Duke Kunshan Chancellor and Executive Vice Chancellor
  • Dec. 2012 - Celebration Ceremony of Preparation Approval in Kunshan
  • Apr. 2013 - Application for formal establishment of Duke Kunshan University submitted to Jiangsu Provincial Bureau of Education
  • Sep. 2013 - Duke Kunshan Establishment Approval granted by the Chinese Ministry of Education
  • Nov. 2013 - First meeting of Duke Kunshan Board of Trustees held at Wuhan University
  • Dec. 2013 - Duke Kunshan legal entity registration completed
  • Jan. 2014 - Duke Kunshan Advisory Board established
  • Apr. 2014 - Second Meeting of Duke Kunshan Board of Trustees held in Kunshan
  • May 2014 - First meeting of Duke Kunshan Advisory Board held in Beijing
  • Jul. 2014 - Duke Kunshan MMS program began in Durham
  • Aug. 2014 - Inaugural Convocation and Orientation Week held at Duke Kunshan University
  • Aug. 2018 - Inaugural Undergraduate Program begins[7]
  • Aug 2019 - Innovation Building opened, construction of Phase 2 campus started

Administration and organization[edit]

Duke Kunshan University is governed by an independent Board of Trustees, with members from Duke University and Wuhan University.[8] Liu Jingnan, the university's first chancellor and a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, stepped down in August 2018.[9]

Youmei Feng, the current Chancellor, is the former executive vice president of Wuhan University and is one of a few female university chancellors in China.[9] Denis Simon, Executive Vice Chancellor, is an expert on U.S.-China bilateral science and technology relations and a member of the U.S. Experts Group within the U.S.-China Innovation Dialogue. Haiyan Gao, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at Duke Kunshan University, is also the Henry Newson professor of physics at Duke University.

Marcia France was appointed Dean of Undergraduate Studies in June 2018. France was previously the associate provost at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, USA.


Undergraduate admissions[edit]

Duke Kunshan University admitted its first undergraduate students as part of the Class of 2022. Significantly exceeding its original target of 1,500 applicants, the university received a total of 3,143 applications for an estimated 225 first-year spots, including 2,551 applications from China and 332 from the United States. There were 80 countries represented in the applicant pool, including Kazakhstan, South Korea, Pakistan, and Ethiopia.[10]

In March 2018, DKU admitted 251 students, or 7.98% of its inaugural applicant pool, a selectivity similar to the 8.3% acceptance rate at Duke University.[11]

All undergraduate applications for Duke Kunshan are submitted using the Common Application. Students applying to Duke University can also check a box to receive more information about applying to Duke Kunshan University.[12] Chinese students applying to DKU are required to take the Gaokao, the national college entrance exam of the People's Republic of China. The Gaokao enables students to list Duke Kunshan University as one of their college choices. International students, including those from the United States, submit transcripts, SAT or ACT standardized test scores, and application essays.[10]

Duke Kunshan University has planned to expand each undergraduate class to 500 students, for a total of 2,000 undergraduates upon completion of Phase 2, and will host 500-800 graduate students.[10][13]

Academic programs[edit]

Duke Kunshan University has signed legally binding agreements with Education Ministry of China that guarantee academic freedom on campus.[14]

Interior of the Academic Building

The university enrolled only graduate students from 2014 to 2018. DKU offers Master's programs in Medical Physics, Global Health, Environmental Policy, Management Studies and Electrical and Computer Engineering.

In 2018, DKU began enrolling undergraduate students for the Class of 2022, with an initial class size of roughly 225 students, although there is a planned expansion of the class size to 500 students. Undergraduate students declare their major in sophomore year.[15] There are 15 majors approved by the Chinese Ministry of Education so far, which span the natural sciences, social sciences, and arts and humanities.[15] Many of the majors have multiple tracks or concentrations that students choose between.

Each major consists of an "interdisciplinary set of courses that integrates different forms of knowledge and a distinct set of disciplinary courses that provides expertise in specific areas".[15] Additionally, international students, including those from the United States, are required to take Chinese language for the first two years and can continue with more advanced courses afterwards.[3]

In 2017, Duke Kunshan University selected PeopleSoft's Campus Solutions to manage its student records and transactions and Oracle Student Cloud to support student recruitment, enrollment and engagement.[16]


Panorama of the central business district of Kunshan, Jiangsu, China

Duke Kunshan is located in a 200-acre campus in Kunshan, a city in southeastern Jiangsu province. The campus will become the center of the Duke Creative Park, part of the city's “Five Zones, One Line” plan for urban renewal. The area will host the Sino-US (Kunshan) Technology Innovation Center and serve as a mixed-used project integrating R&D centers, business services, and ecological parks.[17]

Adjacent to campus is the Dayu Bay Commercial Street, which features a Starbucks, a dozen restaurants, convenience store, social hall, clothing and sporting good shops, and a Duke-themed sports bar.[18] The Blue Oasis, Duke Kunshan's student center, opened at Dayu Bay in October 2019.[19]

Kunshan's location between Shanghai and Suzhou allows easy access to these major metropolitan centers by highways and high-speed railway.[20]

The campus blends traditional Chinese elements with advanced educational technology in a spacious, modern setting. Extensive aquatic elements, including an aquatic quadrangle at the center of campus, symbolize the region's famous water towns and are integrated throughout the campus, while information technology and Telepresence systems provide connections to colleagues and classmates around the world. The site has a high water table, so designers elected to preserve 40 acres as community gardens.[21]

Panorama of Phase I of the "Water Feature", which separates the Academic Building (L), Conference Center (R) and Innovation Center (Background).

The campus is being constructed in phases, with Phase I designed by American design and architecture firm Gensler.[22] Phase 1 facilities include an academic building with a variety of classroom configurations, a 200-bed dormitory building, a conference center and hotel, a faculty residence, and an administration building. An innovation center equipped with a library, classrooms and team rooms will open in 2019.

Phase 2 is scheduled for completion in 2021,[23] designed by Perkins and Will,[24] and will feature an expansion of undergraduate, graduate, and faculty housing, a community center, recreation center, the WD Research Institute, and a library.[25] The 71.3 acre Duke Kunshan Gardens are also currently under construction, and are scheduled for completion in 2021.[26]

Later plans call for Phase III and IV construction to take place in the coming decade.[23] The Duke Kunshan University project is expected to last at least 50–100 years.

As part of the partnership between Duke University, Wuhan University, and the city of Kunshan, the municipal government has leased the Duke Kunshan University campus to the university at no cost for the first ten years as well as paying for construction of the buildings.[27]

Campus life[edit]

View of student and faculty housing

Clubs and organizations[edit]

  • Kunshan Student Ambassador Council (KSAC)[28]
  • Documentary&Arts (Doc&Arts)
  • International Association
  • Kun Opera Club
  • Student Volunteer Association
  • The Jester (Satirical magazine)

Research centers[edit]

View of the Academic Building
  • Global Health Research Center (1st research center at Duke Kunshan)[29]
  • Regional Ozone Sino-US Collaborative Research Center
  • WHU-DUKE Research Institute at Duke Kunshan
  • Center for the Study of Contemporary China
  • Humanities Research Center
  • Environmental Research Center[30][31]

The Global Health Research Center (GHRC), founded in 2013, is the first research center at Duke Kunshan University. The GHRC uses innovative approaches to research and solve important health and health policy challenges in China and around the world. The GHRC is built on the principles of scientific excellence and focuses on establishing interdisciplinary, mutually-beneficial collaborations with researchers from China. It will host national and international conferences to disseminate research findings and encourage dialogue among scientists, professionals, policy-makers and other key stakeholders engaged in global health.

The GHRC focuses on four research areas: emerging infectious diseases, environmental health, health policy and systems, and non-communicable chronic diseases. Between 2013-2018, researchers at the GHRC have published over 160 peer-reviewed papers in a variety of journals including the Lancet, Lancet Global Health, JAMA, JAMA Internal Medicine, Circulation, PLOS Medicine, American Journal of Public Health, and American Journal of Epidemiology.

The faculty and research activities complement the global health education programs offered at Duke Kunshan University, including the Master of Science in Global Health and the undergraduate semester courses in global health.

The Environmental Research Center draws knowledge from an array of fields together to tackle the most pressing environmental challenges in China, Asia and the world. Experts and scholars cooperate and inspire each other over the discussion and research on topics such as energy, climate change, water, ecosystem conservation, environment and public health. The center has become a platform where policy problems come for solutions and where knowledge and talents serve the society.


  • International Meteorite Conference, Meteorite China - Duke Kunshan University hosted China's first-ever international meteorite conference on 15 September 2017. Over 80 scientists from China, the U.S., the U.K., Australia, and Russia met at the three-day event. Enthusiasts and meteorite collectors also participated in the conference.[32]


  1. ^ McGuinness, William (2 January 2013). "Duke Kunshan University, China Campus, Marks Government Approval, Announces Next Steps". Retrieved 21 September 2017 – via Huff Post.
  2. ^ "About Duke Kunshan University".
  3. ^ a b "Duke Kunshan University Fact Sheet" (PDF). dukekunshan.edu.cn.
  4. ^ "Duke In Top 10 of Latest U.S. News Rankings". Retrieved 2018-06-26.
  5. ^ "2016中国大学排行榜700强,北京大学雄居榜首 艾瑞深中国校友会网(cuaa.net) -2016中国大学排行榜,2016中国独立学院排行榜,2016中国民办大学排行榜". cuaa.net. Retrieved 2018-06-26.
  6. ^ "Milestones of Duke Kunshan University | Duke Kunshan University". dukekunshan.edu.cn. Retrieved 2018-11-19.
  7. ^ "DUKE KUNSHAN UNIVERSITY WELCOMES ITS FIRST UNDERGRADUATE CLASS | Duke Kunshan University". dukekunshan.edu.cn. Retrieved 2018-11-19.
  8. ^ "About Duke Kunshan".
  9. ^ a b "Feng Youmei Named New Chancellor Of Duke Kunshan University". Retrieved 2018-11-07.
  10. ^ a b c "Applicants for slots at its Kunshan, China campus swamping Duke projections. See why". heraldsun. Retrieved 2018-06-25.
  11. ^ "Duke Kunshan University accepts 250 students to its class of 2022". The Chronicle. Retrieved 2018-06-25.
  12. ^ "13. What are the application requirements? | Duke Kunshan University". undergrad.dukekunshan.edu.cn. Retrieved 2019-11-08.
  13. ^ "Duke Kunshan University breaks ground on 47-acre expansion". The Chronicle. Retrieved 2019-11-08.
  14. ^ "Beijing vies for greater control of foreign universities in China". Financial Times. 2017-11-19.
  15. ^ a b c "Majors - Duke Kunshan University". Duke Kunshan University. Retrieved 2018-11-18.
  16. ^ Oracle. "Duke Kunshan University Selects Oracle to Optimize Student Experience". prnewswire.com. Retrieved 21 September 2017.
  17. ^ "Kunshan releases "Five Zones, One Line" plan for urban renewal". Retrieved 2018-11-17.
  18. ^ "Students From Around the World Move in at Duke Kunshan University". Retrieved 2018-11-19.
  19. ^ "Student hangout Blue Oasis opens at Dayu Bay | Duke Kunshan University". dku.edu.cn. Retrieved 2019-11-08.
  20. ^ "A Duke Kunshan University Virtual Tour". Duke Global.[permanent dead link]
  21. ^ "The Campus of Duke Kunshan University in China|Medical Physics|Global Health|Health Physics|DKU, dku.edu.cn". dukekunshan.edu.cn. Retrieved 2018-11-19.
  22. ^ "Duke Kunshan University | Projects | Gensler". Gensler. Retrieved 2018-11-17.
  23. ^ a b "DKU prepares for launch of undergraduate degree program". The Chronicle. Retrieved 2018-11-17.
  24. ^ "John Ji on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 2018-11-17.
  25. ^ Duke Kunshan (2018-05-06), A Campus for the Future, retrieved 2018-11-17
  26. ^ 江巍. "Duke Kunshan University begins work to expand campus - Chinadaily.com.cn". chinadaily.com.cn. Retrieved 2019-11-08.
  27. ^ "Duke's China Plan Sparks Doubts on Campus". The Chronicle of Higher Education. 2011-05-25. Retrieved 2018-06-26.
  28. ^ "Clubs & Organizations | Duke Kunshan University". dukekunshan.edu.cn. Retrieved 2018-11-19.
  29. ^ "Global Health Research Center".
  30. ^ hermes (20 September 2018). "Duke Kunshan Environment". Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  31. ^ hermes (3 September 2017). "China punishes 18,000 companies for pollution". Retrieved 21 September 2017.
  32. ^ Tone, Sixth. "Scientists and Meteorite Hunters Descend on Suzhou". Retrieved 21 September 2017.

External links[edit]

31°25′3.67″N 120°53′35.96″E / 31.4176861°N 120.8933222°E / 31.4176861; 120.8933222Coordinates: 31°25′3.67″N 120°53′35.96″E / 31.4176861°N 120.8933222°E / 31.4176861; 120.8933222