Graduate Life / Durham County

Duke Chapel in distance

Children and Family

Duke's family-friendly policies and Durham's kid friendly atmosphere make it a great place to start and raise a family. Don't believe us? Get a Second Opinion: Duke Named Among Top Family-Friendly Workplaces, Duke Today, August 23, 2011.

Check out: Duke's Family Friendly Benefits

Spouses and Partners

Spouses or same sex spousal equivalents of graduate students and employees can get a Duke ID card which allows access to residence halls, academic buildings, recreational facilities, athletic events and parking gates. Spouses of undergraduate students are not eligible.

The Duke International House welcomes all relocating Spouses/Partners – both International and U.S., male or female – to their support network which includes a mailing list and events.


On campus housing does not allow pets except for fish. If you have pets you need to bring, be sure to find off campus housing that allows them. Dogs can be walked on a leash on campus. Durham does have some dogs parks available and there are many great hiking trails near by.


Day Care/Child Care (0-5) >Schools (3-18 yrs) Family Friendly
Duke Child Care Partnership Durham Public Schools Parks
  Elementary Schools Museums
  High Schools Carolina Parent


Communities come in all shapes and sizes. Durham has many tightly knit local communities and provides a welcoming reception to people of many different backgrounds and orientations. Whatever your interests, there is a group with whom you can share your time.

Among top university cities and the Triangle region, Durham has a relatively low ACCRA composite cost of living index. In 2008, Durham came in at 93.5 which is lower than Atlanta (97.2), Boston (133.6), Chicago (112.5) and San Francisco (172.1). The composite cost of living considers prices for housing, groceries, health care, utilities, goods & service, and transportation combined.

Duke Communities Durham Communities Festivals/Events
Duke Chapel Faith Communities Signature Events
Black Culture LGBT Durham Culture
International House Civic Clubs and Organizations  
Jewish Life    
Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity    
Muslim Life    

Eat and Drink

The Triangle, and Durham specifically, have a fantastic number of interesting restaurants. Durham/Chapel Hill was named America’s Foodiest Small Town by Bon Appétit Magazine. The region has an abundance of restaurants specializing in short seasonal menus.

Long ago, tobacco and textile industries shaped Durham, but now the historic brick mills and repurposed factories form the backdrop of North Carolina’s re-energized Bull City. The flourishing downtown area features bakeries, pizzerias, tapas bars and food trucks in a cool mix of culture and food that is uniquely Durham.

Dining At Duke

There are over 30 great places to dine on Duke's campus. All Duke eateries take Food Points and Plans with your ID card. Most also take cash or credit cards. There are also some delivery and non-delivery Durham restaurants that take Duke points as payment for late study sessions.

Vegetarians and Vegans

Be sure to check out these Duke resources and groups. One dining choice with some great healthy vegetarian and vegan meals is the environmentally-friendly Divinity Cafe located in the Divinity School, between Duke Engineering and Duke Chapel.

Groceries/Fresh Food Markets Dining Pubs/Bars Study Breaks
Supermarkets On Duke's Campus Beer Food Trucks
Fresh Local Foods In Durham Wine Bars Sweets
Wholesalers In Chapel Hill Live music (Durham) Treats
    Live music (Chapel Hill)  

Health and Wellness

Medical Insurance for Students

All students are required to maintain adequate medical health insurance during their enrollment at Duke University. Enrollment in the Duke Student Insurance Plan can be waived if your alternative plan meets specific criteria. If enrollment in the Duke Student Medical Insurance plan is not waived, enrollment in the Duke plan will be automatic. For all international students holding a F1 or J1 visa, the enrollment is mandatory.

Can I Waive Insurance? A Student might waive if:

  • The Claims administrator is based in the United States and has a U.S. telephone number and address for submission of claims.
  • The plan provides both emergency and non-emergency health care and mental health benefits in the Durham, NC area.
  • Out-of-state Medicaid and state Children’s Health Insurance Plans do not cover non-emergency care in Durham.
  • The plan has participating hospitals, physicians, pharmacies, and mental health providers in the Durham, NC area to include Duke Medicine.
  • The plan provides inpatient and outpatient mental health care (with at least 30 visits per year) and chemical dependency benefits are comparable to the coverage provided by the Duke SMIP.
  • The plan provides coverage for prescription medication.
  • The lifetime benefit is at least $500,000 or more.

Please direct all health insurance related questions to:

Duke Student Health Center

If you are enrolled in a program that requires the payment of the student health fee, the student health center is a source for general medical care, basic nutrition counseling, immunizations, allergies, etc. Most services are covered by the student health fee. Check with them for details.

Medical Care Related Links

Duke Health Services Clinics/Hospitals Fitness
Duke Student Health Duke Hospitals Duke Recreation
Duke CAPS Duke MyChart (manage your healthcare account) Duke Faculty Club
Duke Student Wellness Center Find a Physician YMCA
    Levin JCC
    Crossfit Training


Durham, NC, is a colorful, creative, and entrepreneurial community and the proud home of Research Triangle Park, Duke and North Carolina Central Universities. Durham is consistently ranked among the greatest places to live and work in the nation. There are lots of wonderful housing options available within walking or biking distance to campus. From brand new urban loft apartments, to historic homes, to eco-friendly cooperatives you should be able to find a space that meets your needs, budget and lifestyle.

Duke graduate students look for housing off campus in an apartment or home. Looking for a place to live in a new city can feel daunting. Here are some helpful tips:

  • If you want to avoid driving to and parking on campus, you should try to look for a place either within a couple miles of where you will be taking your classes, or find a place within walking distance to a Duke Bus stop or the free Bull City Connector. Both buses generally stop at least 4x an hour during school hours.
  • You can look for rooms to rent and properties to rent on Duke's Off-Campus Housing Site. There are many affordable options in the $500 - $1500 range.
  • Try to talk to someone on campus about the area you are going to rent in before you sign a lease. To find someone to talk to, get in touch with the Administrative Assistant for the Department you will be associated with.
Area Find a Rental/Share Real Estate Specialists
Duke Campus Duke Campus Housing Apple Realty (rentals)
Cost of Living Duke Off-Campus Housing Site Red Door (rentals)
Durham Maps DukeList Urban Durham Realty (house sales)
Neighborhoods 501 Realty (house sales)

Safety and Security

Duke Police

Duke University has a 24hr police department on campus. Learn about crime prevention efforts from Duke Police.

  • Emergency 911
  • Non-Emergency: 919-684-2444

Duke Van Safe Rides

Duke Safe Rides are available to all students, faculty and staff and provide safe rides to locations without bus service within the van service boundaries.

On Campus In Durham In Chapel Hill
Duke Police Durham Police Chapel Hill Police
Duke Safe Rides Durham Fire Department Chapel Hill Fire Department
Request Event Security    
Emergency Assistance    

Sports and Culture

Whether you are in the mood to admire, applaud, or cheer, the Triangle offers a wide variety of outstanding opportunities.

From intense college basketball and football rivalries to the regions professional hockey team and minor league baseball team and iconic stadium, sports is a strong part of our culture.

But there are also Broadway productions at the Durham Performing Arts Center, professional ballet performances, orchestral and chamber productions, comedy clubs, and headliner singers at indoor and outdoor venues.

Duke Local Sports Local Culture
Nasher Museum of Art In Durham American Dance Festival
Duke Performances In Chapel Hill Carolina Theater
Duke Sports In Raleigh Durham Performing Arts Center
    Full Frame Film Festival
    North Carolina Museum of Art
    Visual & Performing Arts

Transportation and Getting Around

Getting around Durham

Students who live on campus or near campus and don't need to leave often can get around Durham without a car. The Bull City Connector, a free bus, takes students between campus and downtown Durham. The Duke buses travel between east campus, west campus and UNC in Chapel Hill.

One helpful resource for students without cars is the Enterprise Share available on west campus to anyone over 18. These rentals available on an hourly and a daily basis. You need a membership to use them.

Most students living off campus will likely want a car to get around. While there is public transportation in Durham, most residents need the flexibility of a car. Lots of people bike on campus, but in general the roads in Durham have narrow shoulders and there aren't many paved biking or walking trails for commuters.

Parking at Duke

Parking on Duke's campus requires a permit. Many options are available in various locations and price ranges. Metered parking is available at multiple locations on campus. It is not safe to park on the street on campus as you may be ticketed.

Duke Safe Ride Van Services

Duke Safe Rides are available to all students, faculty and staff and provide safe rides to locations without bus service within the van service boundaries during times.

Getting to and from Duke and Durham

Duke University is located about 20mns from the RDU international airport. In general, you will need to grab a cab to Duke or find a ride to and from RDU, but during Fall Break, Spring Break, and Thanksgiving free shuttles from campus are available. There is also a Greyhound and Amtrak station nearby.

Duke Transit Public Transit Taxis, Airport, Trains >Rentals
Duke Buses Go Pass (Free Pass on public transit throughout the Triangle) RDU Airport Shuttle Enterprise Share
Parking Bull City Connector (Free) Amtrak Zip Car
Robertson Scholars Bus (Duke/UNC Connector) Triangle Transit Greyhound Bus Car Rentals
Safe Rides Go Durham / DATA (Durham Area Transit Authority) Megabus  
Ride Share Chapel Hill Buses Taxi Services  
Biking at Duke   Uber & Lyft  

Working Spaces

Durham has many great hangouts for graduate students, scholars, artists and entrepreneurs all wanting a great place to work, read, write, and collaborate.

With mild, comfortable weather nearly all year long, it's easy to spend your time in the great outdoors, and lovely, creative architecture and living spaces abound.

Here are some local favorites for working.

Libraries Cafes/Bookstores Co-Work Spaces
Duke On Campus Mercury Studio
University of North Carolina Durham Cafes  
Durham Public Library Local Bookstores