Exploring Vanderbilt University

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

The Vanderbilt University school seal

Exploring Vanderbilt University

Founded in 1873, Vanderbilt University is a private institution. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 7,111 (fall 2021) and a campus size of 333 acres in an urban setting. A semester-based academic calendar is utilized.

Vanderbilt University is ranked thirteenth among national universities in the 2022-2023 edition of Best Colleges. Tuition and fees are $60,348 per year. Ann Moore, a former chairman, and CEO of Time Inc., Jay Cutler, a former NFL quarterback, and James Patterson, a novelist, are all Vanderbilt alumni.

What makes Vanderbilt University popular?

This institution is known worldwide for its exceptional education and research that brings about positive change.

It was founded in 1873 with a $1 million donation from “Commodore” Cornelius Vanderbilt to “contribute to strengthening the ties that should exist between all sections of our common country.” On a park-like campus in the heart of Nashville, Tennessee, the university’s ten schools foster a culture of collaboration that empowers the leaders of tomorrow.

Vanderbilt University building

Vanderbilt offers a residential undergraduate experience with programs in the liberal arts and sciences, engineering, music, education, and human development, and is ranked first in both academics and financial aid. In addition, the university is home to nationally and internationally renowned graduate schools of law, education, business, medicine, nursing, and divinity, and offers extensive graduate degree programs in a variety of fields.

Vanderbilt is committed to the strength of its interdisciplinary research enterprise and to inclusive excellence, believing that groundbreaking discoveries result from the collaboration of scholars with diverse perspectives, races, gender identities, ethnicities, and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Nobel Prize winners, members of Congress, governors, ambassadors, judges, admirals, CEOs, university presidents, physicians, attorneys, and professional athletes from the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball, PGA, and LPGA are among the notable alumni of the university.

Vanderbilt, an independent, privately funded university, and the affiliated non-profit Vanderbilt University Medical Center engage in frequent cross-disciplinary collaboration to promote innovation and positive social change in the greater community. Together, these two organizations employ more individuals than the largest private employer in the Middle Tennessee region.


U.S. News & World Report (2021)


  • 13 — National Universities
  • 8 — Best Value Schools
  • 6 — Learning Communities
  • 17 — Service Learning
  • 21 — Best Undergraduate Teaching
  • 68 — Most Innovative Schools

Graduate Schools, Academic Programs (2023):

  • 1 — Special Education (Peabody College)
  • 1 — Educational Administration and Supervision (Peabody)
  • 1 — Audiology (School of Medicine)
  • 1 — Speech–Language Pathology (Medicine)
  • 1 — Nurse-Midwifery (School of Nursing)
  • 2 — Nurse Practitioner: Psychiatric/Mental Health
  • 2 — Nurse Practitioner: Adult/Gerontology, Acute and Primary Care
  • 2 — Doctor of Nursing Practice Administration
  • 2 — Doctor of Nursing Practice Leadership
  • 2 — Education Policy (Peabody)
  • 3 — Nurse Practitioner: Family
  • 3 — Nurse Practitioner: Pediatric, Primary Care
  • 3 — Nursing Informatics
  • 3 — Doctor of Nursing Practice, Nurse Practitioner: Adult/Gerontology, Acute Care
  • 4 — Graduate Schools of Education (Peabody)
  • 4 — Educational Psychology (Peabody)
  • 5 — Elementary Teacher Education (Peabody)
  • 5 — Secondary Teacher Education (Peabody)
  • 5 — Curriculum and Instruction (Peabody)
  • 7 — Environmental Law (Law School)
  • 8 — Nursing Administration
  • 9 — Nursing Schools: Master’s
  • 10 — Medical Schools: Internal Medicine
  • 11 — World’s Top Universities for Oncology (Medicine)
  • 12 — Business/Corporate Law (Law)
  • 12 — Medical Schools: Anesthesiology
  • 12 — Clinical Psychology (A&S/Peabody)
  • 14 — Criminal Law (Law)
  • 14 — Graduate Programs in American Politics
  • 17 — Law Schools
  • 18 — Medical Schools: Research
  • 18 — Medical Schools: Surgery
  • 23 — Graduate Programs in History
  • 24 — Graduate Programs in Political Science
  • 25 — Graduate Business Schools (Owen Graduate School of Management)
  • 26 — World’s Top Universities for Clinical Medicine
  • 26 — Graduate Programs in Psychology
  • 27 — Graduate Programs in Biological Sciences
  • 27 — Graduate Programs in English
  • 31 — Medical Schools: Primary Care
  • 32 — World’s Top Universities for Surgery (Medicine)
  • 32 — Graduate Programs in Sociology
  • 34 — Undergraduate Engineering Schools (School of Engineering)
  • 35 — Graduate Programs in Economics
  • 40 — Civil Engineering (Engineering)
  • 43 — Graduate Engineering Schools

Money (2020)

  • 15 — Best Colleges in America, Ranked by Value

The Princeton Review (2021)

  • 1 — Students Love Their College, Great Financial Aid
  • 2 — Happiest Students, Best Quality of Life, Best-Run Colleges, College City Gets High Marks, Most Beautiful Campus
  • 3 — Best Counseling Services, Town-Gown Relations Are Great
  • 4 — Best Athletic Facilities

Where is Vanderbilt University located?

Vanderbilt University is located at 2201 West End Avenue, Nashville, TN 37235, USA. Read on to get a better sense of the surroundings.

Female students smiling at the camera.

Located in Nashville, also known as Music City, there are numerous off-campus dining, shopping, music, and entertainment options. The University of Vanderbilt offers a variety of student activities. Greek organizations play a significant role in campus social life, with more than 20% of students affiliated.

All undergraduate students at Vanderbilt are required to live on campus, and freshmen reside in The Commons, which contains numerous LEED Gold, and Silver-certified structures. The Commodores, named after “Commodore” Cornelius Vanderbilt, compete in NCAA Division I’s Southeastern Conference. More than forty percent of students participate in the more than thirty-five study abroad programs offered by Vanderbilt.

How can I get into Vanderbilt University?

The most important question is: “How do I get into Vanderbilt University?”

In 1999, Vanderbilt University received fewer than 10,000 applications and had a 61% acceptance rate. Annual incremental increases in selectivity at the turn of the millennium led to Vandy’s acceptance rate reaching an all-time low of 6.1% in 2022.

If you are a regular reader of our articles, you know that we frequently highlight the staggering declines in acceptance rates at elite universities over the past two decades. These statistics are provided not to frighten you, but to ensure that you and the influential people in your life (parents, family friends, peers, older siblings, teachers, and counselors) are aware of how competitive many top schools are today.

If you told an adult Commodore alum from another era or even just a decade ago that you have a 1400 SAT and mostly A’s in AP courses, they would congratulate you on joining the Vanderbilt family immediately. Based on previous standards, their optimism would be justified. Yet, a student with a SAT score of 1400 would be well below the 25th percentile of incoming freshmen.

If you intend to join the more than 47,000 Commodore hopefuls in the upcoming admissions cycle, you should be aware of the following.

  • Early Decision I and Early Decision II are available at Vanderbilt University. As previously stated in the blog, Early Decision acceptance rates are typically twice that of Regular Decision.
  • The University of Vanderbilt does offer optional alumni interviews. The interviews conducted as part of the Commodore Recruitment Programs are primarily informative in nature, but an evaluation of the interview is included in the applicant’s file.
  • The admissions process at Vanderbilt University does not take “demonstrated interest” into consideration. Despite the fact that their acceptance rate is below 50%, it is still worthwhile to follow them on social media, sign up for a virtual tour, or email an admissions officer with any questions you may have.
  • Ensure you devote enough time and energy to the Vanderbilt-required supplemental essay. In the 2021-22 cycle, it is as follows:
  • Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. (200-400 words).

For detailed advice on tackling this essay, visit our blog: Vanderbilt Supplemental Essays 2022-2023

How does Vanderbilt University rate applicants?

Vanderbilt receives tens of thousands of applications for approximately 1,600 first-year students. At Vandy, each application is reviewed by at least two readers. Typically, these are admissions officers assigned to your region, but occasionally, other officers weigh in on students from outside their territory.

a student writing on her notebook and looking at the camera

Seven factors are deemed “very important” in the admissions process at Vanderbilt: secondary school record rigor, class rank, GPA, standardized test scores (optional for the Class of 2022), essays, extracurricular activities, and character/personal qualities.

Important application components include letters of recommendation and talent/ability. The admissions interview (more on this shortly), first-generation status, alumni status, geographical residence, state residency, racial/ethnic status, and volunteer work are “considered” factors. It is advantageous to be recruited by one of Vanderbilt University’s 14 Division I sports teams as an athlete. Over 350 undergrads are varsity athletes. Those who excel in a particular sport can gain an admissions advantage.

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