Microsoft Office Activation FAQ for Students

If you can't find the answer to your question below, please contact the OIT Service Desk at (919) 684-2200.

This page includes Office Activation information for Duke students.  If you are a faculty or staff member, visit the Faculty/Staff Office Activation Page.

  • Which version of Office is right for me?
  • How do I download Microsoft Office through 365?
  • How do I get and activate the graduation copy?
  • What if I already graduated and forgot to get my graduation copy?

Which version of Office is right for me?

While enrolled at Duke - Office 365 - Current Duke students are entitled to download Microsoft Office for their personally owned computers and mobile devices through the Duke Office 365 license. Under this license, Office software can be installed on up to five computers and mobile devices simultaneously.  This version activates with Duke netID authentication, so it will stop working when you leave Duke.

About to Graduate - Graduation Copy - Students are entitled to a free, perpetual graduation license of Microsoft Office, which will allow the installation of Office on one Mac or PC. This license will work after a student graduates. It is recommended that students only access the graduation copy during their final semester since only one download and installation of one version is permitted.

Should I use the 32-bit version or the 64-bit version of Office for Windows?

The recommendations for which edition of Office (2019 or later for Windows) to install are as follows: 

If users in your organization depend on existing extensions to Office, such as ActiveX controls, third-party add-ins, in-house solutions built on previous versions of Office, or 32-bit versions of programs that interface directly with Office, we recommend that you install 32-bit Office 2019 (the default installation) on computers that are running both 32-bit and 64-bit supported Windows operating systems.

If some users in your organization are Excel expert users who work with Excel spreadsheets that are larger than 2 gigabytes (GB), they can install the 64-bit edition of Office. In addition, if you have in-house solution developers, we recommend that those developers have access to the 64-bit edition of Office so that they can test and update your in-house solutions on the 64-bit edition of Office.

How do I download Microsoft Office through 365?

  1. Visit
  2. Click the gear symbol in the top-right corner of the screen after you log in.
  3. Select Office 365 Settings
  4. Click Software
  5. Download the products you want to use
  6. Office 365 will start downloading the files
  7. Once you see the Welcome screen, select Sign in to an existing Office 365 Subscription
  8. Then, enter your [] email address, and sign in with your netID and password.

Office 365 Education for Faculty, Staff, and Students is an Office 365 plan that is available for free to Duke faculty, staff, and students who attend or work at academic institutions that have purchased Office for faculty and staff. This plan allows Duke students and employees to install Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and OneNote on up to 5 PCs or Macs and Office apps on other mobile devices including Windows tablets and iPads. The plan also includes 1TB of OneDrive for Business storage, managed by the school, and employees and students can edit and collaborate using Office Online, Yammer, and SharePoint sites.

Students can use the plan until they graduate or are no longer enrolled at a qualified school, and faculty/staff may use the plan until they leave Duke. Duke affiliation may be re-verified at any time by Microsoft. At expiration, the Office applications enter a reduced-functionality mode, which means documents can be viewed but it isn't possible to edit or create new documents. In addition, online services associated with the school email address, for example Office Online and OneDrive for Business, will no longer work. For this reason, prior to graduation, students should download a graduation copy of Microsoft Office, which will allow them to continue to use Microsoft Office on a single Mac or PC at no cost. The graduation license is perpetual and does not expire.

How do I get and activate the graduation copy?

Before graduating, visit and order Microsoft Office. Various versions will be available on the Students->Microsoft tab.  Note that this page is not accessible after you lose your student affiliation.

After you check out, you'll need to download and install Microsoft Office within 30 days (or before graduating, whichever is sooner) or you will lose access to the download permanently.

The graduation copy is a retail version of Office 365.  You'll need to sign in with a personal Microsoft account to activate, so if you don't already have one, you must create one.  Do not use Duke credentials to sign into this copy of Office. 

The Extended Access Guarantee is an optional service provided by Kivuto that will allow you to access the key and the download through the site for 2 years rather than 30 days for a fee.  If you write down your key and back up your downloaded installer file, this is not necessary.  If you leave Duke, it does not matter if you purchased the extended access guarantee because the site uses netID for authentication.

What if I already graduated and forgot to get my graduation copy?

The graduation copy distribution page is netID-protected, so you will not be able to access it.  For this reason, it is important to access the graduation copy during your final semester at Duke.  

Article number: KB0024448

Valid to: February 6, 2025