Nestled close to downtown Nashville, Tennessee, Vanderbilt University has stood as
a stronghold of higher education in the southeastern United States since its founding in
1873 by a gift from railroad and shipping magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt. In recent years
Vanderbilt has become one of the nation’s most engaging, lively, and balanced undergraduate
Characterized by a unique balance of academic rigor and social activity, the school
has always attracted the nation’s top students. These students come to learn in an intimate
and diverse academic setting; many of them have multiple majors or do research with their
professors. Because it is comprised of four undergraduate schools and several renowned
graduate programs, unique opportunities for academic exploration are provided.
Students from all fifty states and ninety countries also bring to campus a buzz of activity.
Their wide variety of extracurricular passions range from the more traditional (Division
I sports, community service, and student government) to the more obscure (hot air ballooning,
bowling, and disc golf). Students traditionally exhibit a thirst for service to
the world around them, and over half of the student body also participates in volunteer activities. Every year many students travel to destinations ranging from South
Dakota to New York City through the Alternative Spring Break program, which was founded in 1986.
A walk around Vanderbilt reveals one of the nation’s most beautiful campuses. A
national arboretum, its 330 acres are densely populated with leafy limbs under which students
(and squirrels) habitually nap, snack, or study. The student body lives amidst the various
species of trees and classic red brick buildings of the campus. Students find a
fantastic community through residence life, starting with the commons, a new residential
community dedicated to enhancing the first year experience.
A challenging and energetic university, Vanderbilt continues to seek students who
hope to engage in four years of both academic and social learning. These students will play
a vital role not only in contributing to Vanderbilt intellectually and socially, but also in
shaping the direction of the university.
Under the University umbrella lie four undergraduate schools: College of
Arts and Science, Peabody College of Education and Human Development, School of
Engineering, and Blair School of Music. With its four undergraduate schools and distinguished
graduate programs in arts and sciences, law, medicine, business, divinity, nursing,
and education, this school is uniquely suited to provide its students with lavish opportunity to
explore and research many fields of study. Every undergraduate has access to
the courses and resources of the entire university. At least one-third of students
have multiple majors across schools, and many create their own interdisciplinary programs.
College of Arts and Science
The oldest and largest undergraduate school at Vanderbilt, the College of Arts and
Science offers students a broad, liberal arts education, based on a multidisciplinary
curriculum in humanities, natural science, social science, languages, and math. Students
begin fulfilling this core curriculum in their first year and are not required to declare a
major until the spring of their second year. Thus, broad exploration and multidisciplinary
study characterize the Arts and Science student.
The first private school in the South to offer a degree in engineering, the
School of Engineering boasts exceptional facilities to offer every possible learning tool
for students in the field of engineering, including wireless connection, interactive computer classrooms, and advanced research and computer labs. Additionally, Engineering faculty
have recently claimed several notable awards in their fields. Engineering
students are highly sought after by corporations as well as graduate schools. Of those engineering
graduates seeking employment in a recent year, ninety-five percent had jobs within
six months of graduation.
Peabody College of Education and Human Development
Consistently ranked in the top five education schools in the nation, Peabody College is
home to the education and human development majors. With its focus on
experiential learning across the lifespan, Peabody requires internship and field placements
for most of its majors guaranteeing superb preparation for work upon graduation. The most
popular undergraduate major at Vanderbilt—Human and Organizational Development—
resides in Peabody College. Peabody has produced several renowned programs, including
the progressive Head Start program, and it also boasts the top Special Education program
in the nation.
Blair School of Music
The Blair School of Music addresses music through a broad array of academic, pedagogical,
and performing activities. Each student auditions as a part of the admissions
process and chooses to study performance (including all orchestral instruments), composition/
theory, musical arts, or musical arts/teacher education. Both students and faculty
enrich the campus with frequent performances on campus and in the greater Nashville
community. Blair’s facility includes a 618-seat performance hall with full staging capabilities,
recital hall, and generous rehearsal and studio space.
The university boasts not only an intimate, collaborative liberal arts-based learning experience,
but a small average class size (19) and impressive student-to-faculty ratio (8:1).
The prestigious learning environment also includes access to over $440 million of federally
funded research each year. With over 97% of classes being taught by faculty who have a PhD
in their respective field, students get the most of each classroom experience. Professors are
known for their accessibility, as it goes well beyond just having office hours; they also serve
as student academic advisors.
The prestigious learning environment here feels intimate not only because of the
faculty, but also because of the small class sizes. With an average class size of nineteen,
Vanderbilt’s undergraduate schools keep almost every class (ninety-three percent) below
fifty students, and a majority of them (seventy-eight percent) below twenty five students. In
some classes, graduate students assist professors as teaching assistants by leading small
group breakout sections and conducting review sessions. Professors also work hard to keep
classes lively and challenging. For example, a sunny spring day usually smiles
on several classes discussing the day’s material on the grassy lawns of the campus.
Recently, in order to continue challenging students and attracting prestigious faculty,
Vanderbilt has placed a renewed focus on interdisciplinary study and research funding.
Undergraduates have continually increasing exposure to teaching and research in
Approximately forty percent of students study abroad at some point in their
college careers. These students take advantage of the school’s unique partnerships
in various countries, usually for one or two semesters of junior year, or for summer study.
Vanderbilt has home-base programs in several countries, including England, Spain, Italy,
France, and Germany. Participants in the Study Abroad programs are guaranteed
that their financial aid packages will translate to the Study Abroad semester or year,
and courses in the programs have been evaluated for transferal of credit.
Additionally, the university belongs to a consortium of schools through which students can find alternative programs that may be better suited to their interests.
Applicants are offered unique academic opportunities for graduate study.
Undergraduates have the opportunity to apply early to the business and
medical programs. The medical school accepts a select number of undergraduates
at the end of their sophomore year. These students do not take the MCATs and proceed
directly to the Medical School upon graduation. The Owen Graduate School of
Management accepts undergraduates in their junior year; these students
complete their undergraduate studies in addition to an M.B.A. in five years.
Most Popular Fields of Study
An application to Vanderbilt is evaluated on the basis of five components through the
common application. The first and most important of these components focuses on a student’s
academic work in high school. Admissions officers look for a high school curriculum of
challenging, academic classes (with an emphasis on Honors, Advanced Placement, and
International Baccalaureate courses), rather than simply basing their evaluation on grade
point average. Additionally, applicants should submit standardized test scores, academic
teacher recommendations, a resume of extracurricular pursuits, the 1 common app. essay, and
the Vanderbilt Supplement.
Both the SAT and the ACT are accepted. All ACT students must complete the
optional writing tests. SAT subject tests are not required for admission; however, they
are strongly recommended. These subject tests are used not only for admission evaluation,
but may also be used for placement into language, math, and writing classes upon entrance
to the university (additional testing times are offered at academic orientations). The school
additionally requires the TOEFL and or IELTS for overseas applicants whose first language
is not English.
There are three decision plans: Early Decision I, Early Decision II, and Regular
Decision. Created for students who have decided upon Vanderbilt as their first choice,
Early Decision is a binding admission plan. Students who apply Early Decision sign a contract
to attend Vanderbilt and agree to withdraw all other applications if accepted. Early
Decision I applications are due by November 1 with notification mailed by December 15.
Early Decision II and Regular Decision applicants must be postmarked by January 3. Early Decision II students receive notification by February 15, and Regular Decision students
receive notification by April 1.
Financial aid package for incoming students beginning will
include no need-based loans. The amount of need-based
loans you would have been offered in the past
to meet your demonstrated financial need will now
be replaced with increased amounts of Vanderbilt
scholarship and/or grant assistance. Applicants must
complete the Free Application for Federal Student
Aid (FAFSA) and the CSS PROFILE by February 1.
The school makes the following commitments:
- Since talent and promise recognize no
social, cultural, economic, or geographic
boundaries, the admissions process is
- The school will meet 100% of a family’s
demonstrated financial need for all admitted
U.S. citizens and eligible non-citizens.
- Financial aid package for incoming and
current undergraduate students beginning
in the fall of 2009 will include no need-based
Student Financial Aid Details
Although students pursue academic success vigorously, they also pour
vast amounts of energy and time into extracurricular pursuits. This balance of academic
and social pursuits brings a friendly and energetic feel to campus life.
Nearly all of the 400-plus organizations are open to all students, who can join at
any point in their careers. These organizations cater to a variety of interests,
and they facilitate speakers, special events, community service projects and various
other campus activities.
Sarratt Student Center, the hub of campus life, houses office space, mailboxes, meeting
areas, and even faculty advisors for these campus organizations. Additionally, the Sarratt
Student Center is a sprawling home to student study spaces, a cinema, several dining options,
the bookstore, the post office, and a convenience store called Varsit/Market. Because of the
involved nature of campus life, the Student Center daily buzzes with activity. On
a sunny day, students congregate to advertise events, sell tickets, and socialize on “The Wall.”
Students can best sum up the undergrad experience with one word: balance.
Because all undergraduates are required to live on campus, the students who choose to
attend quickly become integrated into the Vanderbilt community. As of
2008, all freshmen will live together in the new Freshman Commons. This brand new complex
facilitates relationships between the incoming, diverse freshman class as they embark
on their educational careers. Critical to the first year experience is the new Vanderbilt
Visions program, which helps facilitate the transition into life on campus. The program
begins on move-in day with a comprehensive orientation program and continues until
December. Distinguished by weekly meetings with a 15-person Visions group co-led by professors
and upperclass students, Vanderbilt Visions allows first year students to discuss
issues of transition and the experience, traditions, and community. The
walking campus accommodates the needs of students through campus access to laundry
facilities, dining options, and a chapel.
Alternative Spring Break
The original program of its kind, the Alternative Spring Break (ASB) annually
sends students into needy communities over spring break. The ASB is also one of
the largest programs in the country. In 2007, over 500 students traveled to nearly thirty destinations across the United States, Canada, and Mexico to face issues ranging from Native
American issues to urban violence. The ASB Executive Board states, “Our mission is to promote
critical thinking, social action and continued community involvement by combining
education and direct service on the local, regional, national and international levels.”
While Greek life plays a significant role here, less than half of the student body participates
in fraternities or sororities. Unlike most southern schools, the university offers a
deferred recruitment process. New member recruitment occurs during the spring semester of
freshman year, giving new students a chance to adjust to college life and make friends in the fall
semester. Students can choose from nineteen fraternities and twelve sororities,
including Asian, Hispanic, and historically black Greek organizations. All parties are open to the
entire student body, and only officers (usually around six) live in the Greek houses on campus.
Student Enrollment Demographics
Student Graduation Demographics
A member of the Southeastern Conference, the school offers Division I athletics in addition
to club and intramural sports. Vanderbilt University maintains a proud tradition
of Black and Gold (the school colors) in intercollegiate sports, including six men’s and ten
women’s varsity teams. Students enjoy attending games to cheer and to socialize, and
although this is the smallest and only private member in a conference of giants, the
Commodores are becoming a stronger program each year. Specifically, in 2007, seven of the sixteen varsity teams were ranked in the top-25; men’s basketball made the Sweet Sixteen,
women’s bowling won a national championship, and men’s basketball was ranked #1 in the
nation for 18 weeks in a row. Their athletes strive for excellence both on the
field/court and in the classroom.
The original gates of Vanderbilt University, still
located at the main entrance to campus, have ushered
generations of students into the world with
great success. Graduates are equipped with
strong analytical, critical thinking and writing skills,
and they have many options upon graduation.
The Career Center assists students in the job search. Career counselors
offer standard services such as resume review, and recruiters also come on campus to conduct
information sessions and interviews at the Career Center. In fact, more than 300
recruiters came to campus in a recent year. Students also have access to career
testing, an alumni mentor search engine, and career workshops.
While the majority of graduates enter the workforce upon graduation, close
to 50% attend graduate programs – their rigorous academics and excellent reputation
make it a wonderful springboard for further education. Law, business, and medicine are popular
options for postgraduate study.
- Tom Schulman, ’72, Academy Awardwinning
screenwriter (Dead Poet’s
- Tipper Gore, ’76, Wife of Former
- Will Perdue,’88, ESPN Radio Commentator;
Former NBA World Champion with
Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs
- Fred Thompson,’67, Movie, TV Actor,
Former U.S. Senator
- Dr. Norman Shumway,’49, Transplant
Pioneer at Stanford
- Lamar Alexander, ’62, Current U.S.
Senator from Tennessee, Former
Secretary of Education, Former Governor
- Ann S. Moore, ’71, CEO and Chairwoman,
- James Neal, ’57, Watergate Counsel
- Karl Dean, ’81, Mayor, Metropolitan
- Perry Wallace, ’70, SEC’s First African-
American Basketball Player, Law
Professor, Washington, D.C.
- Sam Feist, ’91, Senior Executive
- The Late Grantland Rice, ’01 (1901),
- James Patterson, ’70, Best-selling Crime-
- Robert Penn Warren, ’25, Author
and Three-Time Pulitzer Prize Winner (All
The Kings Men)
- Dr. Mildred Stahlman, ’46, Neonatology
Pioneer at Vanderbilt
- Dr. Thomas Frist, Jr., ’61, Chairman,
Founder, Hospital Corporation of America
- Chantelle Anderson, ’03, Two-time First
A prestigious research institution, the university employs many professors who have received and are receiving notable recognition in their fields. However, professors here truly enjoy both the teaching and the research aspects of their profession. In fact, many professors choose to come here because it is a school where they can focus on teaching relationships in addition to conducting excellent research. To this end, almost all of the professors hold office hours, and they continually make themselves available via email, phone, or appointment.