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What is Emory University Known For?

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What is Emory known for? Emory is commonly thought of as one of the “Southern Ivies,” a term used for a handful of southern schools that rival their northern counterparts in prestige, academic vigor, and selective admissions. Whether you believe in the idea of a southern Ivy League or not, one thing is undisputed: Emory’s excellence. Emory is consistently ranked in the top 25 national universities, and has many outstanding resources to offer.


Overview of Emory Admissions


Location: Atlanta, GA

Undergrad Enrollment: 7,000

Acceptance Rate: 16.6%

Middle 50% SAT: 1410-1550 

Middle 50% ACT: 32-35


Emory is renowned for its diverse academics—it’s as well known for its liberal arts education as its Goizueta Business School and its pre-med advising. When it comes to admissions, the school tends to operate like a liberal arts college (LAC), placing a high value on essays and extracurricular accomplishments—this is especially true for applicants to Oxford College, which is an actual LAC within the university.


Because Emory admissions generally operate like an LAC, it’s possible for applicants to overcome subpar grades and test scores, so long as they have excellent extracurricular activities. 


Unique Aspects of Emory


From its acclaimed education to its superb Atlanta setting to its interesting extracurricular activities, there are a lot of qualities that make Emory stand apart from other colleges.




What is Emory University known for? First and foremost, its academics. The university is divided into nine schools and colleges, four of which serve undergraduate and graduate students. The four schools serving undergraduates are: 


  • Emory College of Arts and Sciences
  • Oxford College
  • Goizueta Business School
  • The Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing


Emory offers a multitude of educational opportunities to its students. The school offers 86 majors and 63 minors—from Accounting to Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies—along with ten pre-professional programs.


One of the distinguishing aspects of Emory academics is Oxford College, which is only for first- and second-year students. Oxford College is essentially an LAC that operates within Emory. Oxford College is the original site of Emory University and is located in Emory, Georgia, which is about 45 minutes away from the school’s main campus. Students can choose to start their Emory careers at either the main campus in Atlanta or at the small-town, close-knit community of Oxford College. No matter where a student starts, there is no limit to where their educational path can lead, whether it’s business, science, nursing, or the humanities. 


Emory’s Goizueta Business School is another highly respected institution at Emory, ranking 16th on our list of best colleges for business. Goizueta Business School offers five primary areas of study:


  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Information Systems & Operations Management 
  • Marketing 
  • Strategy and Management Consulting 


In addition to its in-depth topics, the Goizueta Business School also offers five secondary areas of study: 


  • Analytic Consulting 
  • Business & Society 
  • Entrepreneurship
  • International Business 
  • Real Estate 


Highlighting the broad interests of Emory scholars and the school’s wide-ranging academic offerings, it’s no shock that 27% of Goizueta Business School Students also complete a major in Emory College. 


Regardless of what major an undergraduate pursues or which school they attend, every Emory student must pass two physical education classes.


Famous Emory faculty include:


  • Former U.S. President and Nobel Prize winner Jimmy Carter
  • Author Salman Rushdie
  • CNN’s chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta




Emory is home to five secret societies; the oldest and best known is D.V.S., which only admits seven students a year based on qualities such as leadership, academic excellence, and dedication to Emory. The seven selected members are notified of their inclusion into this century-old society during their junior year and announce their new members at graduation. Emory’s other secret societies are: 


  • Ducemus
  • The Paladin Society
  • Speculum
  • The Order of Ammon


The Student Programming Council is a popular extracurricular activity at Emory. The group proclaims that they do Dooley’s (Emory’s mascot) dirty work and are responsible for organizing events and performances on campus such as Homecoming and Dooley Days.


Another popular student activity is Volunteer Emory, which collaborates with student organizations and community partners to make a difference in the Atlanta area, with opportunities ranging from environmental sustainability to cultural awareness to animal welfare. 


Greek life plays a central role at Emory. About 30% of undergraduates are involved in one of the 33 fraternities and sororities on the school’s campus. Don’t think Greek life is all fun and games at Emory, though—in the 2019 spring semester, the all-Greek GPA was 3.50.

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One of the most unique traditions at Emory is centered around a skeleton named Dooley which takes the first name and middle initial of the current university president. Each year a student represents Dooley, dressing as a skeleton and donning a black cape, a black top hat, and white gloves. The student’s identity is kept secret, but Dooley makes an appearance at notable campus events like the Annual Town Meeting and Dooley’s Week. 


The tradition of Dooley dates back more than a century to 1899. Today, Dooley is found on both Emory’s main campus and at Oxford College—the dueling Dooleys are known for their distinct personalities.  


Dooley’s motto is, “Presidents may come, presidents may go; professors may come, professors may go; students may come, students may go; but Dooley goes on forever!”




Emory highly values residential life. First- and second-year students are required to live on campus, and the majority of students live at Emory for all four undergraduate years. There are a variety of housing options available to Emory students, including themed housing, which provides living experiences centered around academic, cultural, organizational, and personal interests. Emory themed housing includes: 


  • Emory Bayit House (Jewish lifestyle) 
  • Black Student Alliance 
  • Casa Emory (Spanish and Portuguese-speaking environment)
  • German House 
  • Media, Literature, and Arts Outreach House 
  • Political, Ethical, Academic, Community Experience (P.E.A.C.E) Living Learning Community
  • Scientific Research and Mentorship 


Financial Aid


Emory practices need-blind admissions and is committed to meeting 100% of the demonstrated need of domestic students. Fifty-four percent of Emory undergraduates receive financial aid, which is often awarded as a combination of grants, loans, and work-study. 


One financial aid program of note is the Emory Advantage program, which eases the financial burden on students from families earning less than $100,000 annually and allows them to graduate with little or no debt.




Emory’s Pitts Theology Library is one of the premier theological libraries in North America and is internationally known for its rare book and archival collections. Collections included at the Pitts Theology Library include:


  • Over 3,870 books and several rare manuscripts documenting the history of the Protestant Reformation in Germany to 1570
  • About 11,000 early North European theological dissertations
  • Approximately 15,000 works of English and American hymnody and psalmody
  • Over 35,000 books and extensive archival materials related to English religious history from 1660 to 1920
  • Extensive institutional records of Methodist organizations and of organizations concerned with pastoral care and theological education


Novelist, poet, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Color Purple, Alice Walker’s archives are housed at Emory and include a collection of her literary and personal papers.


Emory also houses an extensive archive of Irish Poet and Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney’s papers and is the largest holding of Heaney material in the world. The collection includes everything from personal letters to handwritten essays and poems.  




Emory is a tale of two campuses. The main campus in Atlanta offers students easy access to one of the largest and best-known cities in the South. The Atlanta campus is known for its abundant green space and quiet atmosphere, while the city delivers everything a student would want from a major metropolis with numerous cultural and recreational opportunities. 


The Oxford campus is more comparable to a small liberal arts college and is known for forging strong relationships between its students. Its rural setting and smaller class size—under 1,000 students are on campus—create a distinctly unique experience compared to life at Emory’s main campus. 


What are Your Chances of Acceptance at Emory?


Competitive admission is a hallmark of Emory—applicants will need stellar grades, strong standardized test scores, and excellent extracurricular activities to gain admission to this Southern Ivy. 


CollegeVine’s free chancing calculator can add clarity to your college search by estimating your odds of acceptance at Emory along with 600 other colleges and universities. In addition to helping you better understand your probability of admission, our chancing calculator provides valuable insight on how to improve your college profile and bolster your chances of attending your dream school.


Short Bio
A graduate of Northeastern University with a degree in English, Tim Peck currently lives in Concord, New Hampshire, where he balances a freelance writing career with the needs of his two Australian Shepherds to play outside.