Davidson College


Davidson College (DC) was founded in 1837 with the belief that a strong liberal arts education prepares students for lives dedicated to leadership and service. Davidson continues to instill a sense of honor and responsibility in each individual who passes through its hallowed halls. Retaining the highest degree of selectivity and scholarship, this college enrolls students with academic promise, strength of character, dedication to service, and an open-minded diversity of interests.

Students exhibit enthusiasm for learning not only in the classroom, but also in the everyday adventures that shape the college experience. A single day may transport a DC student from reflections in a discussion-based Gandhi seminar to the neuroscience lab for cutting-edge research on Alzheimer’s disease. After class, community organizations welcome students as mentors to local children and volunteers at a free medical clinic. And whether scoring on the Division I playing field or rolling kayaks on the lake, students are constantly on the go, thriving in an environment that encourages vigorous and engaged learning both inside and outside the classroom. Although faculty, staff, and community provide an invaluable support network, their students are independent, creative individuals who thrive on giving back to their community.

Students celebrate opportunities for meaningful relationships and cross-cultural discussion. Close proximity to the booming metropolis of greater Charlotte balances the benefits of a small college town setting with easy access to all the cultural and professional opportunities that the city has to offer. The school’s ideal location on Lake Norman offers a network of cross-country trails, and central access to both the mountains and the Carolina coast. In addition, approximately seventy percent of the student body will study abroad at some point during their career at the school. Extensive travel, study, and service encourage students to reflect on their position as local and global citizens.

Davidson’s Honor Code serves as the foundation for a strong environment of academic and personal freedom. Take-home tests and self-scheduled exams enhance classroom study by combining an interactive, discussion-based classroom atmosphere with academic evaluation based on knowledge and thought, not test-taking know-how. Your signature on the Honor Code pledge represents dedication to a place where unlocked doors signify the immense trust that governs each interaction. Through the Code students cultivate a unique sense of responsibility to the greater community, The City of Charlotte.

Charlotte’s vibrant community allows students to retain a global perspective in their daily lives. Attending cultural events and professional sporting contests, along with taking advantage of internship opportunities creates an ideal balance for students between their home base in Davidson and the resources of the city. Whether serving the greater Charlotte community of 1.3 million at Urban Ministries, catching a movie at the IMAX theater, or racing in the annual Reindeer Romp, students find themselves with plenty of opportunity to take advantage of all Charlotte has to offer.

My favorite Honor Code story happened in the Baker Sports Complex. Over my four years at Davidson, I swam laps in the pool in the Sports Complex each morning. I kept my goggles, swimsuit, and towel in a locker in the locker room and I never thought to put a lock on my locker. In the rush of graduating, I forgot to clean out my locker. When I returned two years later for Homecoming, I went to visit my old locker. Although a little dusty after two years, I discovered all of my belongings just as I had left them. Indeed, the most important aspect of my four years at this college was the Honor Code. There is an immense sense of freedom derived from living and learning in a community where you know that you are trusted and you know that you can trust those around you.

E. H. Little Library houses extensive resources including 631,000 volumes and an inter-library loan system that allows students to have access to virtually any resource their academic explorations may require. A comprehensive collection of journals is housed on-line, permitting students to access resources using the wi-fi in their room or a by using a library computer. High-tech music and art slide libraries complete with sound recordings, music scores, music reference works, multimedia listening stations, DVDs, and videotapes supplement the main library. The Sloan Music Center, complete with sound-proof practice rooms, electronic music and recording studios, and performance space compliments the light-filled visual arts center and Duke Family Performance Hall. Students drawn to the sciences thrive in extensive research facilities and state-of-the-art laboratories. Internet access is comprehensive, with two wireless facilities and personal Internet ports for each student. Nationally recognized for its careful roommate pairing system (welcome to the world of the Myers Briggs personality test), Davidson’s highly residential campus houses ninety-four percent of the student body in doubles, singles, suites, and apartments.

Their application asks two simple short-answer essay questions. The first focuses on its foundation: the Honor Code. The second cuts straight to the heart of it all: Why Davidson? Why, after all the colleges and universities you have explored; why, when there are so many fine institutions of higher education available to you; why will you choose Davidson? The answer? It is not in the million dollar facilities for art, sciences, and athletics. It is not in the fully wired network that allows students access to equipment, materials, and facilities not found at institutions ten times our size. It is not even the fact that Davidson does your laundry (although, admittedly, that doesn’t hurt . . .). It is the people. At the true heart of what makes DC unique is the community.

Grounded in the ideals of the Honor Code and anchored in a tremendously talented faculty, the school retains simple, basic values that embrace a commonality of spirit and celebrates the differences of each individual. “Let learning be cherished where liberty has arisen,” continues to serve as Davidson’s motto and perhaps even more true for those who have studied in its halls, liberty arises through the mind-opening collaboration and challenge this dedicated group of scholars brings to daily life.

As a student who didn’t know a whole lot about Davidson before visiting, I sometimes wonder what life would have been like had I stayed on my New England-centered path in the college search. The thought that I would have chosen otherwise makes me more than grateful that Davidson entered my life when it did. Simply put: Davidson is different. Without hesitation I wholeheartedly encourage you to seriously consider Davidson, but be forewarned—it may just change your life.

Information Summary

Ranks 1st in North Carolina and 27th overall. See the entire top 2,000 colleges and universities list
Overall Score (about) 98.2
Total Cost On-Campus Attendance $68,594
Admission Success rate N/A
ACT / SAT 75%ile scores 33 / 1450
Student Ratio Students-to-Faculty 9 : 1
Retention (full-time / part-time) 95% / N/A
Enrollment Total (all students) 1,843


Dedicated to a traditional liberal arts and sciences curriculum combined with the most up-to-date methods in research and technology, Davidson’s academic strength lies in an interdisciplinary course of study. Students, motivated by strong ambition and inspiring faculty, choose from a myriad of academic opportunities. With special emphasis placed on writing, analytical and critical thinking, and eloquent communication skills, classroom learning extends beyond the traditional college lecture into a rare undergraduate experience of intellectual discourse.

A strong core curriculum encourages students to choose initial courses in literature, foreign language, writing, history, natural sciences, mathematics, social science, religion and philosophy, and fine arts. In addition, a cultural diversity and physical education requirement reminds students of DC’s dedication to the whole person. Thorough and rigorous examination of each area in a discussion-based environment affords students the opportunity to not only strengthen their academic foundation, but also discover new areas of intellectual pursuit. Flexibility and individualized guidance characterize an advising system that works with students from orientation to post-graduation. Cutting-edge research gives students a competitive margin over their counterparts with exposure to graduate study techniques and methods in a fully undergraduate environment.

At this institution, learning is approached as a lifelong endeavor, placing great importance on molding students into global citizens with the skills to lead in whatever field they choose to pursue after graduation. Challenging the mind and engaging the heart make Davidson’s classroom environment a unique and highly stimulating place to pursue academic study.

The results are priceless; not only do students leave with an exceptional liberal arts education, but they are highly sought after by businesses and graduate and professional schools. Their students are regarded as some of the most highly competitive candidates in the workplace and beyond. Davidson students truly are the “go-to” leaders in their communities.

Concentrations provide the opportunity to pursue more specific interests through interdisciplinary study in an area such as Gender Studies, Applied Mathematics, Computer Science, Genomics, and International Studies. In addition to the strong traditional liberal arts curriculum, Davidson offers students the opportunity to engage in professional programs in the areas of Pre-law, Pre-medicine, Pre-ministerial, Education, and the dual degree Engineering Program.

Off-Campus Study Programs

In a community where a global perspective is valued, seventy percent of students are eager to pursue a portion of their studies abroad. Davidson sponsors a wide variety of programs, taking students from the monasteries and museums of India and Nepal to the storied history of Cambridge University and over to Kenya for medical studies and volunteer work. Although Davidson programs span the globe, students are permitted to enroll in non-Davidson programs through the Office of Study Abroad, an important part of the Dean Rusk International Studies Program.

Study Abroad

In addition to a plethora of options available through agreements with other colleges, universities, and international programs, several students choose to study on one of Davidson’s own programs: fall semester in India and Nepal; year or semester in Tours, France; year in Wurzburg, Germany; summer in Cambridge, England; summer at The University of Cape Coast, Ghana; summer premed program in Kikuyu, Kenya; summer program in Mwandi, Zambia; summer archeological dig in Cyprus; summer in Moscow, Russia; summer in Monterey, Mexico; spring semester in Classical Humanities in Greece, Sicily, Italy

Rusk, supports a wide variety of international opportunities both on and off campus. Throughout the year, the community is enriched by visits from international speakers and government officials to conferences organized through the Dean Rusk Program. A generous monetary pool also allows students to dream up independent global adventures and academic experiences with more than $100,000 in grants given annually for international pursuits.

I arrived at Davidson with the study skills to make the grade; I left with a fiery passion for the written word. My adviser was not only an accomplished scholar in her chosen area of study but a true mentor who listened, challenged, and led me in an intellectual journey to push toward the outer reaches of my potential.”

Most Popular Fields of Study


Davidson College
Davidson College


Davidson seeks to gather an intellectually rigorous, well-rounded, open-minded community of learners with the highest degree of academic achievement and promise. In evaluating a student’s application for admission, the Office of Admission and Financial Aid examines both academic performance and potential. Each application is carefully reviewed, with special attention paid to the rigor of the high school record, contributions to school and community, recommendations from teachers, counselors, and peers, essays, and test scores. Admission to Davidson is highly selective with about one third of the applicants earning a place.

Nearly three-quarters of first-year Davidson students have graduated in the top tenth of their high school classes, with a strong academic curriculum of at least sixteen credits (four English units, three units of math, two units of the same foreign language, two units of history/social sciences, and two sciences). Suggested high school courses may include additional courses in science, history, mathematics (ideally through calculus), and foreign language, with competitive candidates acquiring twenty academic credits during high school. The middle fifty percent of those accepted score 640–740 (writing), 650–750 (critical reading), and 650–740 (math) on the SAT; the middle fifty percent of ACT scores fall between 28 and 32. Standardized test scores continue to play a role in the admission process but are not used as a single factor in the decision-making process. While SAT Subject Tests are not required, they are recommended, with one in mathematics and one other of your choice strongly encouraged. Students may receive credit for AP classes with a score of a 4 or a 5 in the academic areas (or a 3 in Calculus AB and BC) or for higher-level examinations in the International Baccalaureate Program.

An important factor in the evaluation of a student’s high school curriculum is the amount of rigor present. While a strong GPA certainly plays a role in the evaluation process, course choice has significant impact on the evaluation of the application. Strong applicants also demonstrate a loyal commitment to school and community activities. As an applicant approaches the DC admission process he or she should understand that admission counselors seek not only academic motivation and potential but also personally compelling students who will contribute significantly to the Davidson community both inside and outside the classroom. Thus, in addition to placing emphasis on academics, each admission counselor works to evaluate the whole person in areas including leadership, personal character, service, and motivation. Personal recommendations often contribute keen insight to this side of the admission process. In an ever-increasingly diverse society, counselors are also aware of students who represent diverse ethnic, cultural, economic, and religious backgrounds as well as evaluating the differences among secondary schools.

Decision Plans

Because first-year students are admitted for the fall semester, standardized tests should be taken no later than November of the senior year. Students are welcome to apply to Davidson under either one of the two Early Decision Plans or under Regular Decision. Both Early Decision Plans are binding, and therefore, students who make Davidson their first choice are encouraged to apply. Early Decision candidates should take standardized tests no later than October of their senior year. The first Early Decision deadline is November 15, with notification in mid-December. The second Early Decision Plan deadline is January 2, with notification in early February. A requirement of the Early Decision plan is the Early Decision candidate’s agreement stating that Davidson is the student’s first choice and if accepted he or she will enroll and withdraw any other applications from other colleges and universities. The Regular Decision plan requires that students submit application materials to the school no later than January 2; admission decisions are mailed by the first week of April. In addition to accepting its own application, available in both a paper and electronic form, Davidson encourages the use of the Common Application, provided the student completes the necessary supplementary information.

Campus Visits

Although the college does not require a campus visit for admission, it is strongly recommended. Sometimes the deciding factor in the college decision; the campus visit provides valuable insight to a student’s process and allows him or her to have direct contact with members of the Admission and Financial Aid staff. Students are encouraged to call and schedule an appointment ahead of their visit. Tours and information sessions are offered daily in both group and individual settings.

Prospective applicants are welcome to visit classes and encouraged to have conversations with faculty, coaches, and current students. Seniors are invited to stay overnight in the residence halls on selected evenings. To schedule time on campus, please call the Office of Admission and Financial Aid at least one week prior to your planned visit.

Financial Aid

As an institution that practices need-blind admission, Davidson is committed to making education affordable to all qualified applicants, thereby supporting a diverse community from which all students benefit. In accordance, all application decisions are made without regard to a student’s financial situation.

The school offers both need-based and merit-based financial aid to its applicants. Approximately one third of the student body receives some sort of need-based aid, usually in the form of grants, loans, and work-study positions. At the heart of the college’s financial aid philosophy is the Davidson Trust. Through the Davidson Trust 100 percent of demonstrated need is met through grants and student employment.

To apply for financial aid, applicants will need to complete the College Scholarship Service/Financial Aid PROFILE Application and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA). These forms are available through high school guidance offices and Davidson sends these forms to each applicant. The timetable for need-based aid is as follows:

  • Early Decision: CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE Application due by mid-November
  • Regular Decision: CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE Application due by mid-February

Merit scholarships are also available in varying dollar amounts to stellar applicants, regardless of need. Characteristics including outstanding academic and leadership potential, ability, character, and potential contributions to the Davidson community all play a role in the selection process. No application is necessary for general merit aid. A small pool of special application scholarships recognize excellence in specific academic and art areas that require the submission of a portfolio, writing sample, an audition or an interview, which take place during Scholars Weekend in April.

Student Financial Aid Details

Ranks 4060th for the average student loan amount.
Secrets to getting the best scholarships and financial aid in North Carolina.


A DC student’s only limitation to the pursuit and cultivation of their passions is the short twenty-four hours in each day. Building on a diverse array of interests and talents, the Davidson student body dedicates time and energy to lead over two hundred student organizations. Active in a variety of ways, students learn not only the importance of community involvement, but effective leadership skills through involvement in student government policy, campus life, the organization of campus events, and promotion of social causes and multicultural interests.

Supported by outstanding facilities, student activities and gatherings are enhanced by the Alvarez College Union. Fueled by a constant buzz of activity, this student haven boasts a twenty-four hour a day workout facility, a rock-climbing wall (part of the popular Davidson Outdoors organization, which hosts a variety of trips and training sessions in everything from hang gliding on North Carolina’s Outer Banks to skiing in West Virginia to canoeing in the Everglades), the Duke Family Performance Hall (which hosted the Royal Shakespeare Company in an ongoing campus residency), and a cafe with grill open to students and the surrounding community. Music enthusiasts also find a haven in the concert committee, active in not only bringing local acts to campus but also supporting diverse acts from Ludacris to Counting Crows. Both the Davidsonian and Libertas, Davidson’s premier publications, hold offices in this space. From an active SGA that governs everything from the tax activities council to the Vamonos Van, students have endless opportunities for involvement.

Patterson Court

Comprised of thirteen houses, the self-selecting Patterson Court social system is unique to Davidson College. Unlike a traditional Greek system, students join houses through a self-selecting process that invites each student to spend time in the houses before choosing membership in an organization. The majority of houses (eight national fraternities for the men and four eating houses for the women) are single-sex, with two of the houses offering open membership to both sexes (one coed house and the Black Student Coalition). Houses offer the opportunities for social interaction, shared meals, and service projects. The houses also support court-wide projects such as the annual Project Life Pasta Dinner (to benefit Bone Marrow Transplants) and the recent Habitat for Humanity Gala (in conjunction with the Union Board and several other campus organizations to support a Davidson College Habitat House). About sixty percent of the women and forty percent of the men choose to join a house.

Perhaps the best thing about Davidson is not the opportunities that already exist, but those that you, with a little determination and creativity, create on a daily basis. As a prospective student I searched out female a cappella groups on each campus I visited. Although Davidson was the only campus without an existing group, I wasn’t deterred. By the end of my freshman year The Davidson Delilahs were headlining concerts alongside the established male a cappella group and by midway through my junior year we were working in a recording studio on our first CD!

Music and Theater

Bolstered by state-of-the-art facilities in both music and theater, the performing arts enjoy great popularity at the school. Students gain valuable performing experience through active participation in the writing, directing, and producing of theatrical productions. An annual visiting Artist Series and plethora of events enhance the cultural community. Through ensembles, performances, lectures, individual instruction, and academic courses, the theater and music departments provide both the college and the community with invaluable resources that strengthen the human spirit and intellect. Whether jamming with a group of friends in your freshman hall or listening to the a cappella concerts under the stars, participating in an opera workshop, or performing in the improv comedy group, there is a hardly a student that remains untouched by the vibrant cultural pulse of these departments.

Community Service

This school’s commitment to community service is reflected in the twenty-six student-run programs that comprise United Community Action. From day one, the Freshman Service Experience introduces students to service in and around the Davidson community with a focus on poverty, the environment, children, and senior citizens. Reflecting the diversity of the student body, opportunities range from scaling roofs with Habitat for Humanity, translating for recent immigrants at a local medical clinic to working with CROP to organize an annual hunger-awareness week. Four annual grants for environmental service and summer programs total upwards of $75,000 to make student projects a reality.

Student Enrollment Demographics

Student Graduation Demographics


Success and high levels of performance stretch beyond the classroom walls to the Division I playing field. Nearly a quarter of DC’s students engage in rigorous competition with the same tenacity that they approach their academic studies. Their students balance their hard work with fierce efforts on the fields; eighty percent are involved in athletics at either a club or intramural level. Size does not stunt the high level of performance students bring to this college’s playing field. This is evidenced by the many conference championships captured by their varsity teams in recent years. Often pitted against larger universities, they succeed in not only making the Division I experience a reality but coupling it with the finest academics around.


In an increasingly educated and specialized society, some question the value of a liberal arts education; citing the pressure to specialize in one single track, thereby imaginably increasing their marketability in the professional world. At Davidson, the community remains fiercely loyal to the ideals of a liberal arts education, which allows students to not only build skills in a highly focused area but also attain a broader foundation that makes them both versatile and desirable in today’s society.

To ask what their “typical” graduate pursues in his or her post-Davidson life is to open a floodgate; graduates pursue innumerable paths but share the common motivation not only to reach for the highest realms of the professional world but also to give back to the community. Although popular professional paths center on traditional fields such as medicine, law, and business, a strong number of students also pursue the ministry, academia, and nonprofit fields. Graduates are often known as the “go-to” people in their communities, emerging as leaders and facilitators—they are the people who others look to in order to get things done. With strong writing and communication skills, extensive leadership experience, and a vested interest in their communities, alums find themselves recruited by the top organizations in a spectrum of industries. A rich history of graduate fellowships also paves the way for students to make possible the continuation of their studies at the graduate level.

An extensive alumni network and the Career Service Office allow students maximum exposure to opportunities for internships and jobs both during their experience at the school and in their post-grad lives. Beginning in the freshman year and continuing through graduation, Career Services plays a significant role. Offering career workshops, alumni panels, and professional job fairs throughout the year increases the exposure students have to the working world and allows them to explore various fields while still under the guidance of the professional Career Services staff.

Fortunately for current students and the institution, their alums are passionate about their alma mater and are notorious for their willingness to help fellow graduates explore different career and life paths. A Davidson connection is one of the strongest a graduate can have and a strong ally in an anonymous world.


Although some students will tell you that the most passionate intellectual discussion often takes place at 3:00 A.M. in the residence halls, an outstanding faculty is truly the core of what makes them a premier institution of higher education. Noteworthy achievements and credentials aside, the most exceptional characteristic of each faculty member is an absolute passion for and dedication to undergraduate learning. Full professors in each classroom (nearly 100 percent of whom hold a Ph.D. in their area of study) facilitate learning in a dynamic discussion-based environment. The absence of teaching assistants and graduate students creates an atmosphere of engaging intellectual challenge that encourages students to pursue their interests to the highest degree.

Individual attention heightens the effectiveness of the average class size of fifteen students, with some seminars numbering as few as five. Independent research projects ground students in a practical experience, which few of their counterparts at larger colleges and universities can boast. Students geared toward graduate study and other postgraduate pursuits benefit greatly from an in-depth approach to study alongside accomplished faculty scholars.

Open office hours, meetings held at the local coffee shops, and faculty and staff who serve as activity advisers fully incorporate educators into the student life. Students find their professors accessible and eager to engage their minds in the current issues of the day and the past events that have shaped history. A student-to-faculty ratio around 10:1 ensures highly personalized attention with relationships that often stretch beyond the classroom walls. Several students note professors’ willingness to open up their homes for dinner discussion and advising meetings. From the moment students set foot on campus their experience is shaped with the help and insight of a faculty adviser. Each works to ensure success from class selection to the graduate study that eighty-five percent of alumni undertake at some point.

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