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Duke University
Duke University
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Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

What is Vanderbilt University Known For?

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What’s Covered:


Vanderbilt is a top-ranked school often known as a “Southern Ivy.” In this post, we’ll cover some unique features of Vanderbilt University, including academics, extracurriculars, traditions, and more.


Overview of Vanderbilt Admissions


Location: Nashville, Tennessee

Undergrad Enrollment: 7,057

Acceptance Rate: 9.1%

Middle 50% SAT: 1470–1570

Middle 50% ACT: 33–35


As a highly selective university, Vanderbilt values many of the same factors as Ivy League in its admissions process, such as academic excellence and conventional extracurricular achievements (leadership positions, awards, etc.). However, unlike the Ivies, Vanderbilt does not have a slight bias against students from populous Southern and Midwestern states like Texas and Illinois. 

Unique Aspects of Vanderbilt University




The most popular majors at Vanderbilt are Economics, Liberal Arts and Humanities, Social Science Research Methods, Mathematics, Computer Science. Vanderbilt offers (but does not require) minors; students can combine any minor with any major, but must take at least 15 credit hours of classes that are being counted only towards that minor. 


In addition, Vanderbilt has a few special programs. For one, the university offers teacher licensure to College of Arts and Science students; depending on the requirements for the license the student is pursuing, they can participate in education programs at Peabody College 


Vanderbilt has two kinds of honors programs:


  • The dean selects a limited number of freshmen with an exceptional academic record, or who excel during their first semester, to be part of the College Scholars program. The College Scholars program allows these students to participate in special courses and independent study projects.
  • During their junior and senior year, students can choose to do departmental honors work–independent studies that give them the opportunity to present their work within the department and sometimes at professional meetings


The 4 + 1 Program is an accelerated path for earning a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts in 5 years. The program is available for the following areas of study:


  • English
  • French
  • History
  • History of Art
  • Latin American Studies
  • Mathematics
  • Medicine, Health and Society
  • Philosophy
  • Political Science
  • Psychology


Maymesters abroad are Vanderbilt courses taught by Vanderbilt faculty in other countries during the month of May. They count for 3 credit hours. Some past courses include:


  • History and Economics of French Film: From Paris to Cannes
  • Health and Well-Being at the Margins of Indian Society
  • Above and Below the Surface: The Caribbean between Climate Change and Tourism
  • Corals, Koalas, and Cassowaries: The Great Barrier Reef and Tropics of Australia




Vanderbilt has a notable athletic presence. Its sports teams, the Commodores, are D1 sports teams in the Southeastern Conference. Several of Vanderbilt’s football coaches have earned honors in the College Football Hall of Fame.


In addition to sports, Vanderbilt has a generous offering of extracurricular activities to suit students’ interests. Here’s a sampling of the unique ones:


  • Wilderness Skills (WilSkils) offers outdoor trips every weekend led by students
  • ACE is a design club that provides free graphic design to student organizations at Vanderbilt. They create posters, t-shirts, social media posts, and stickers, among other things.
  • The Aviadores is a club dedicated to aviation, giving students opportunities for things like flying and skydiving
  • Data Brains is a club for students interested in data science and artificial intelligence. The club provides resources for students to learn more about these topics and give talks




Every year, during an event called the Founder’s Walk, incoming freshmen gather to walk through the gates of Vanderbilt to begin their college careers. Four years later, they walk out the gates to symbolize the completion of their undergraduate years.


Commodore Quake is an annual concert that kicks off Homecoming weekend. The event features up-and-coming and popular artists. Past performers include Megan Thee Stallion, The Band Perry, Kendrick Lamar, and Passion Pit.


Similarly, Rites of Spring is a musical festival that takes place every year the weekend before finals.

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Vanderbilt has a variety of on-campus living options. All freshmen are randomly placed in one of ten dorms on the Martha Rivers Ingram Commons. Additionally, there are several unique living-learning communities:


  • Mayfield Place is the physical site of the Mayfield Living Learning Lodge Program, which allows groups of ten students to create a self-generated, self-directed group project supervised by a faculty advisor of their choice. Mayfield Place has 20 lodges, each of which accommodates 10 students. 
  • McGill Hall is the building site of the McGill Project, a joint program with the Department of Philosophy that provides a space for students and faculty to engage in discussions about controversial topics.
  • McTyeire Hall promotes language and cultural exchange, with faculty and native speakers serving as coordinators of individual language groups.


Financial Aid


Vanderbilt’s admissions is need-blind; once accepted, the school will meet 100% of demonstrated need with no loans. Vanderbilt is one of the few schools in the nation to adopt all three of these policies.


Some aid is available to international students, but admissions is need-aware. 




Vanderbilt University is located a mile from downtown Nashville, a burgeoning Southern metropolis. Nashville is known as the friendliest city in America, America’s music city, and was named by Fortune magazine as one of the 15 best U.S. cities for work and family. Nashville is equal parts southern hospitality and metropolitan, with pleasantly warm climate.


What Are Your Chances of Acceptance at Vanderbilt?


If Vanderbilt is your dream school, it might be disheartening to see that the acceptance rate is only 9%. But your personal chances of being accepted to Vanderbilt may be higher or lower than the reported acceptance rate depending on data in your application. 


To get a more accurate estimate of your chances of acceptance at Vanderbilt, we recommend using our free admissions calculator. Just input your grades, test scores, and extracurriculars, and we’ll give you a more complete picture of your odds of acceptance, as well as feedback on how to improve your application.


Our admissions calculator is also a great way to refine your entire admissions strategy, beyond your application to Vanderbilt. You can search for schools based on size, location, majors, your chances of acceptance, and more.


Short Bio
Alura Chung-Mehdi graduated from Amherst College with a degree in English. When she's not writing, she enjoys cooking, rock climbing, and daydreaming.