Lehigh and Duke: A Look at the Rivalry

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

University students walking in the hallway.

Lehigh and Duke: A Look at the Rivalry

The rivalry between Lehigh and Duke universities dates back to the early 1900s when the two schools began competing in football. The first game was played in 1901, and since then, the rivalry has grown to include a range of academic and non-academic aspects of student life at both institutions.

The Origins of the Lehigh and Duke Rivalry

The Lehigh-Duke rivalry has its roots in sports, specifically football. The two universities first played each other in 1901, and the games between the two teams quickly became a source of pride for both schools. Over the years, the rivalry has expanded beyond athletics to encompass academics, campus culture, and even alumni success.

One of the most memorable moments in the Lehigh-Duke rivalry occurred in 2012 when the Lehigh men’s basketball team upset the Duke Blue Devils in the NCAA tournament. The 15th-seeded Mountain Hawks shocked the second-seeded Blue Devils with a 75-70 victory, marking one of the biggest upsets in NCAA tournament history. The win not only solidified Lehigh’s place in college basketball history but also added another layer to the already intense rivalry between the two schools.

A Brief History of Lehigh University

Lehigh University was founded in 1865 in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The university has a long history of innovation and excellence in research. Lehigh is known for its strong engineering and business programs, as well as its robust research portfolio.

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Over the years, Lehigh University has expanded its academic offerings to include a wide range of disciplines, including the arts, humanities, and social sciences. Today, the university offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate programs and has a diverse student body representing all 50 states and more than 80 countries. Lehigh is also committed to sustainability and has implemented numerous initiatives to reduce its carbon footprint and promote environmental stewardship.

A Brief History of Duke University

Duke University was founded in 1838 in Durham, North Carolina. The university has a long history of academic excellence, and is consistently ranked among the top institutions of higher learning in the country. Duke is known for its strong medical and law schools, as well as its commitment to interdisciplinary research.

Over the years, Duke University has undergone significant changes and expansions. In the early 1900s, the university moved from its original location in Trinity, North Carolina to its current location in Durham.

In the 1920s, Duke established its graduate school and began offering doctoral programs. In the 1960s, the university underwent a major transformation with the construction of the Duke Medical Center, which is now one of the largest and most prestigious medical centers in the world.

Today, Duke University is a leading research institution with a diverse student body and faculty. The university offers undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree programs in a wide range of fields, including engineering, business, public policy, and the arts.

Comparing the Academic Programs at Lehigh and Duke

While both Lehigh and Duke are recognized for their academic excellence, there are some key differences between the two universities. Lehigh is known for its strong engineering and business programs, while Duke has a reputation for its medical and law schools. However, both schools offer a wide range of majors and minors, as well as opportunities for independent research and study.

View of computer engineers working on a project.

Lehigh University has a unique Integrated Business and Engineering (IBE) program that combines business and engineering courses, providing students with a comprehensive understanding of both fields.

Duke, on the other hand, offers a Global Health program that allows students to study health issues from a global perspective, with opportunities for fieldwork and research in countries around the world.

Another difference between the two universities is their approach to undergraduate research. Lehigh emphasizes hands-on research experiences for its students, with opportunities to work with faculty on research projects as early as freshman year.

Duke, on the other hand, has a strong focus on interdisciplinary research, with many research centers and institutes that bring together faculty and students from different departments and disciplines.

Sports Culture at Lehigh and Duke: A Comparative Analysis

The sports culture at Lehigh and Duke is equally robust, and both schools have a strong athletic tradition. However, there are some key differences between the two universities. Lehigh is known for its strong wrestling program, while Duke has a strong basketball team. Additionally, Duke students are known for their enthusiasm and school spirit, while Lehigh students tend to be more laid-back about their sports teams.

View of a coach using a whistle during practice.

Another difference between the sports culture at Lehigh and Duke is the level of investment in their athletic facilities. Duke has state-of-the-art facilities for all of their sports teams, including a brand-new football stadium and a renovated basketball arena.

Lehigh, on the other hand, has older facilities that are in need of renovation. Despite this, Lehigh has a strong sense of community within their athletic department, with athletes from different sports often supporting each other at games and events.

The Impact of Location on Student Life: Comparing Bethlehem and Durham

The location of a university can have a significant impact on student life, and this is certainly true for Lehigh and Duke. While both universities offer students a rich academic and social experience, the two campuses are located in very different environments.

Lehigh is located in a small town, while Duke is located in a bustling city. This can affect everything from the types of off-campus activities available to students, to the types of internships and job opportunities they have access to.

One major advantage of attending a university in a small town like Bethlehem is the sense of community that it fosters. Students at Lehigh often feel a strong connection to the town and its residents, and many local businesses offer discounts and special deals to Lehigh students. On the other hand, students at Duke have access to a wider range of cultural events and entertainment options, thanks to the city’s vibrant arts scene.

Another factor to consider when comparing the two locations is the cost of living. Living expenses in Durham tend to be higher than in Bethlehem, which can be a significant consideration for students on a tight budget. However, Duke’s location in a major city also means that there are more opportunities for part-time work and internships, which can help offset these costs.

Alumni Success Stories from Lehigh and Duke

Both Lehigh and Duke have produced a range of successful alumni, who have gone on to make significant contributions in their respective fields. From business leaders and entrepreneurs to politicians and academics, the alumni of these two universities have made a lasting impact on the world.

One notable Lehigh alumnus is Robert A. F. Thurman, who is a renowned Buddhist scholar and author. He has written numerous books on Buddhism and has been a professor of religion at Columbia University for over 30 years. Thurman is also the co-founder of Tibet House US, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving Tibetan culture.

Duke University has also produced many successful alumni, including Melinda Gates, who co-founded the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the world’s largest private charitable organization. The foundation focuses on improving global healthcare and reducing poverty. Gates has also been a strong advocate for women’s rights and has worked to empower women and girls around the world.

Campus Resources: What Each University Offers Its Students

Both Lehigh and Duke offer a wide range of campus resources and services to students. From state-of-the-art research facilities and libraries to wellness centers and career services, these universities are committed to providing their students with everything they need to succeed academically and professionally.

Lehigh University offers a variety of resources to its students, including a Writing Center that provides one-on-one consultations to help students improve their writing skills. The university also has a Center for Career and Professional Development, which offers career counseling, job search assistance, and networking opportunities to help students prepare for life after graduation.

Duke University provides its students with access to a number of specialized research centers, such as the Duke Global Health Institute and the Duke Energy Initiative. The university also has a Student Wellness Center, which offers a range of services to promote physical and mental health, including counseling, health education, and fitness classes.

Admissions Process: How to Get into Lehigh vs Duke

The admissions process for Lehigh and Duke can be highly competitive, with both universities receiving a large number of qualified applicants each year. However, there are some key differences between the two schools when it comes to their admissions criteria. Lehigh tends to place a greater emphasis on academic achievement, while Duke also takes into account a student’s extracurricular activities and personal qualities.

Close up of students smiling at the camera.

Another important factor to consider when applying to Lehigh or Duke is the acceptance rate. Duke has a lower acceptance rate than Lehigh, making it more difficult to get accepted. However, both schools have holistic admissions processes, meaning they consider a variety of factors beyond just grades and test scores.

It’s also worth noting that both Lehigh and Duke offer early decision and early action options for applicants. Early decision is a binding agreement, meaning if you are accepted, you must attend the school.

Early action is non-binding, allowing you to apply to multiple schools and make a decision later. However, both early decision and early action can increase your chances of acceptance at both schools.

Cost of Attendance: Comparing Tuition, Fees, and Financial Aid Options

The cost of attending Lehigh and Duke can vary significantly, depending on a student’s financial situation and other factors. However, in general, both universities are considered to be relatively expensive, with tuition and fees running into the tens of thousands of dollars per year. Fortunately, both schools also offer a range of financial aid options and scholarships to help make the cost of attendance more manageable for students and their families.

Group of students walking in the campus.

It’s important for students and families to carefully consider the different financial aid options available at Lehigh and Duke. This can include need-based aid, merit-based scholarships, work-study programs, and student loans.

Students should also be aware of any deadlines for submitting financial aid applications and be proactive in seeking out additional resources, such as private scholarships or grants. By taking advantage of these opportunities, students can reduce the overall cost of attendance and make their college education more affordable.

Faculty Profiles: Learning from the Best at Lehigh and Duke

Both Lehigh and Duke are home to world-class faculty members, who are experts in their respective fields. From Nobel laureates and MacArthur fellows to top researchers and scholars, these universities are committed to providing their students with the highest quality education possible.

At Lehigh, students have the opportunity to learn from faculty members who are not only experts in their fields but also passionate about teaching. Many professors at Lehigh have won awards for their teaching excellence and are dedicated to helping their students succeed both inside and outside of the classroom.

Similarly, at Duke, faculty members are not only leaders in their fields but also mentors and advisors to their students. They are committed to fostering a collaborative and supportive learning environment, where students can thrive and reach their full potential.


Overall, the rivalry between Lehigh and Duke is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon, encompassing everything from academic programs and campus culture to athletics and alumni success.

By taking a comprehensive look at each of these factors, we can begin to understand what makes these two universities so special, and why their rivalry continues to captivate students, faculty members, and alumni alike.

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