Dartmouth and Vassar: A Look at the Differences Between Two Elite Institutions

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

A woman writing on a table next to a large glass window.

Dartmouth and Vassar: A Look at the Differences Between Two Elite Institutions

As high school seniors start the college admissions process, many are drawn to elite institutions. Two such schools are Dartmouth and Vassar. Both are renowned for their academic excellence and prestige.

Academic Programs: How Dartmouth and Vassar Differ

While both Dartmouth and Vassar offer a liberal arts education, they differ in their academic programs. Dartmouth is known for its strong programs in the sciences and engineering, while Vassar is known for its programs in the humanities and social sciences.

Dartmouth offers 57 majors, while Vassar offers 50. Dartmouth is unique in that it has a quarter system, which means students take three terms per year instead of two semesters. Vassar, on the other hand, operates on a semester system.

Another difference between Dartmouth and Vassar is the size of their student bodies. Dartmouth has a total undergraduate enrollment of around 4,400 students, while Vassar has around 2,400. This means that Dartmouth has a larger variety of extracurricular activities and clubs, while Vassar has a more intimate and close-knit community.

College students walking in the campus.

In terms of research opportunities, Dartmouth has a strong focus on undergraduate research, with many students participating in research projects with faculty members. Vassar also offers research opportunities, but they are more limited in comparison to Dartmouth. However, Vassar has a strong emphasis on internships and experiential learning, with many students completing internships in their fields of study.

Admissions Criteria: What Sets Dartmouth and Vassar Apart

Admissions to both schools are highly selective, with acceptance rates below 10%. Dartmouth has a slightly lower acceptance rate than Vassar, but the average standardized test scores and grade point averages of admitted students are similar at both schools.

One difference is that Dartmouth is a need-blind institution, meaning it does not consider a student’s ability to pay when making admissions decisions. Vassar, on the other hand, is need-aware, which means a student’s financial need may be taken into consideration.

Another difference between Dartmouth and Vassar is their location. Dartmouth is located in Hanover, New Hampshire, a small town in the Upper Valley region of New England. Vassar, on the other hand, is located in Poughkeepsie, New York, a mid-sized city in the Hudson Valley. This difference in location can impact the campus culture and opportunities available to students, such as access to internships and cultural events.

Faculty and Student Body: A Comparison of Two Elite Institutions

Dartmouth has approximately 4,400 undergraduate students, while Vassar has around 2,500. Despite the difference in size, both schools have small class sizes and low student-to-faculty ratios. Dartmouth has a ratio of 7:1, while Vassar has a ratio of 8:1.

Both schools have notable faculty members, including Pulitzer Prize winners, MacArthur Fellows, and members of the National Academy of Sciences. Dartmouth is also home to the Tuck School of Business, which offers an MBA program.

In addition to their academic programs, both Dartmouth and Vassar offer a wide range of extracurricular activities for students. Dartmouth has over 350 student organizations, including a student-run radio station and a ski team. Vassar has over 100 student organizations, including a student-run farm and a literary magazine.

Furthermore, both schools have a strong commitment to community service and social justice. Dartmouth has a Center for Social Impact, which connects students with local non-profit organizations, while Vassar has a Community Works program, which provides opportunities for students to engage in community service projects.

Campus Life and Extracurricular Activities: Dartmouth vs. Vassar

Dartmouth has a strong Greek life presence, with over 60% of students participating in fraternities or sororities. Vassar, on the other hand, does not have any Greek organizations. Vassar has a strong tradition of student activism and social justice initiatives, with organizations such as the Vassar Student Association for Mental Health Advocacy and the Vassar Greens.

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Both schools offer a wide range of extracurricular activities, including music ensembles, theater productions, and sports teams. Dartmouth is known for its exceptional skiing facilities and competitive skiing team, while Vassar has a strong equestrian program.

Additionally, Dartmouth offers a variety of outdoor adventure programs, such as hiking, rock climbing, and kayaking, through its Outdoor Programs Office. Vassar also has a strong arts community, with opportunities for students to participate in art exhibitions, poetry readings, and film screenings.

Cost of Attendance: Which School is More Affordable?

The cost of attendance at both schools is significant, with tuition and fees totaling over $70,000 per year at both institutions. However, Dartmouth offers need-based financial aid and meets 100% of demonstrated need for admitted students. Vassar also offers need-based financial aid, but it does not guarantee to meet the full demonstrated need of all admitted students.

It is important to note that the cost of attendance goes beyond just tuition and fees. Other factors such as room and board, textbooks, and personal expenses can also add up. Both Dartmouth and Vassar offer on-campus housing and meal plans, but the cost may vary.

Additionally, Dartmouth has a strong commitment to reducing textbook costs for students through initiatives such as the Dartmouth College Library’s Open Dartmouth: Faculty-Authored Books program.

Alumni Networks and Career Outcomes: The Post-Graduation Experience at Dartmouth and Vassar

Both schools boast impressive alumni networks and strong career outcomes for graduates. Dartmouth has a robust alumni network in finance and consulting, while Vassar has a strong network in the arts and nonprofit sectors. According to the schools’ career center data, both Dartmouth and Vassar graduates have high rates of employment and graduate school placement after graduation.

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However, the two schools differ in terms of the industries that their graduates pursue. Dartmouth graduates tend to gravitate toward careers in finance, consulting, and technology, while Vassar graduates are more likely to pursue careers in the arts, education, and social justice.

Despite these differences, both schools offer extensive career resources and support for their alumni. Dartmouth’s career center provides access to job postings, career fairs, and networking events, while Vassar’s career development office offers career counseling, resume and cover letter reviews, and alumni mentorship programs.

Diversity and Inclusion Efforts: How Dartmouth and Vassar Address These Issues

Both schools have made efforts to prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion on their campuses. Dartmouth has a center for student diversity and inclusion, which offers programming and resources for underrepresented students. Vassar has a similar center, as well as a bias response team to address incidents of bias on campus.

In addition to these centers, Dartmouth and Vassar have also implemented diversity and inclusion training for faculty and staff. Dartmouth’s Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity offers workshops and training sessions on topics such as unconscious bias and microaggressions. Vassar’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action provides similar training for faculty and staff, as well as resources for creating inclusive classrooms.

Both schools have also taken steps to increase diversity among their student populations. Dartmouth has implemented a need-blind admissions policy, which means that a student’s ability to pay for tuition is not a factor in the admissions decision.

Vassar has also made efforts to increase diversity, including partnering with organizations that support underrepresented students and offering scholarships specifically for students from underrepresented backgrounds.

Athletics Programs: Comparing the Athletic Programs at Dartmouth and Vassar

Dartmouth is a Division I school with a strong athletic program, particularly in skiing, football, and hockey. Vassar is a Division III school with a more low-key athletic program, but it has a strong presence in sports such as squash and fencing.

Despite the differences in division level and sports focus, both Dartmouth and Vassar offer a wide range of athletic opportunities for their students. Dartmouth has over 30 varsity teams, as well as numerous club and intramural sports. Vassar also has a variety of club and intramural sports, in addition to its 23 varsity teams.

Both schools prioritize the importance of balancing academics and athletics. Dartmouth has a strong academic support system for its student-athletes, including tutoring and study halls. Vassar also emphasizes the importance of academic success, with a high percentage of its student-athletes earning academic honors each year.

History and Tradition: The Legacy of Two Elite Institutions

Both Dartmouth and Vassar have rich histories and traditions. Dartmouth was founded in 1769 and has a long tradition of excellence in teaching and research. Vassar was one of the first women’s colleges in the United States and has a strong legacy of promoting women’s education.

View of a woman using a laptop.

Despite their different origins, both institutions have made significant contributions to higher education. Dartmouth has produced numerous notable alumni, including six Nobel laureates and 170 Rhodes Scholars.

Vassar, on the other hand, has a history of promoting social justice and activism, with notable alumnae such as Jane Fonda and Meryl Streep. Both institutions continue to uphold their legacies and strive for excellence in education.

Study Abroad Opportunities: A Comparison Between Dartmouth and Vassar

Both schools offer robust study abroad programs, with over 60% of Dartmouth students studying abroad at some point during their undergraduate careers. Vassar offers study abroad programs in over 50 countries and has a strong partnership with the Institute for the International Education of Students.

However, there are some differences between the two schools’ study abroad programs. Dartmouth has its own study-abroad centers in various locations around the world, including Spain, Germany, and New Zealand. These centers offer students the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in the local culture and language, as well as take courses taught by Dartmouth faculty.

On the other hand, Vassar’s study abroad programs are more focused on partnering with local universities and institutions. This allows students to take courses alongside local students and experience the academic culture of the host country. Vassar also offers a unique program called “Exploring Transfer,” which allows students to spend a summer at a different college or university in the United States before studying abroad.

Research Opportunities for Students: What Makes Dartmouth and Vassar Unique?

Both Dartmouth and Vassar offer research opportunities for undergraduate students. Dartmouth is unique in that it has a strong focus on undergraduate research, with a variety of opportunities available in areas such as biomedical engineering and neuroscience.

Writing in a table beside a laptop.

Vassar is also known for its undergraduate research opportunities, particularly in the humanities and social sciences. The school offers a program called the Ford Scholars, which provides funding for students to pursue independent research projects over the summer.

Additionally, both Dartmouth and Vassar have faculty members who are actively engaged in research and are eager to involve undergraduate students in their projects. This provides students with the opportunity to work closely with experienced researchers and gain valuable hands-on experience in their field of interest.

Campus Resources for Students: A Look at the Libraries, Health Centers, Career Centers, Etc.

Both schools have extensive campus resources available for students. Dartmouth has a comprehensive health center, multiple libraries, and a career center that offers job and internship opportunities for students.

Vassar has a well-regarded counseling service, multiple libraries, and a career development office that offers career counseling and employer connections.

In addition to these resources, Dartmouth also has a robust athletic program with state-of-the-art facilities for students to use. The athletic center offers fitness classes, intramural sports, and varsity sports teams for students to participate in.

At Vassar, students can take advantage of the Writing Center, which offers one-on-one writing consultations and workshops to help students improve their writing skills. The center also provides resources for students who are non-native English speakers.


Ultimately, the decision to attend either Dartmouth or Vassar depends on individual preferences and priorities. Some students may prefer the close-knit community at Vassar, while others may thrive in the more competitive atmosphere at Dartmouth.

Both schools have passionate and engaged student bodies, with a wealth of opportunities available for students to pursue their interests and passions.

Segue to AdmissionSight

At AdmissionSight, we firmly uphold the conviction that every student is entitled to the chance to pursue their dreams at their preferred college. Our mission is to equip you with the expert advice and unwavering support you need to secure a place at the schools you aspire to attend.

Don’t let your future hinge on uncertainty. Reach out to AdmissionSight today to arrange a complimentary consultation and embark on the journey toward realizing your dreams. With our expert mentorship and steadfast support, the sky’s the limit.


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