For all intents and purposes, they are identical in terms of reputation. Depending on who you talk to, you might find someone who leans one way or the other, but it's just as likely to go one way as it is the other.
In terms of finance placement, I believe that Darden has better connections to the Street. It's just something that has developed over time. I don't know if there is a material difference between the schools during recruiting; I do know that every major firm recruits on-campus at Darden for investment banking and that is not the case al many of the other elites. Not sure about Duke, but many of the major firms only recruit for private banking or other functions at many schools and not for investment banking. That said, fewer firms recruit on-campus at Darden for Sales and Trading, though probably still more than at Duke. For investment management, Darden Capital Management is one of the best known (probably the
best known) of the student run investment funds. It's certainly one of the best funded, with close to $8mm managed by students now, and allows for the most autonomy (student make decisions without review from any faculty or professionals).
Regarding culture, Duke is known for it's team Fuqua. Unfortunately, that's about all I know about that. Darden is known to have one of the strongest campus communities among all the top business schools. The rate of giving is second only to Tuck (no doubt their frozen isolation contributes to their closeness
), and the sense of community transcends the years. If you come to Darden, you'll definitely hear that alumni will almost always respond to your emails and requests - and I can personally confirm that this is 100% true. I don't know how it compares with Duke's, but Darden's community is unquestionably strong.
Honestly, the two schools are extremely similar in many ways. Your job prospects will be virtually the same across virtually all industries. Compared with other top schools, the environments are more similar than not. I think, between these two schools, it can truly be a decision based on where you feel more comfortable. I love it at Darden. I've made a lot of great friends, landed my top choice job, and am involved in activites that really excite me. I think I would have had a similar experience at Fuqua, because in the end, the biggest factor that will not change, no matter where you go, is you