Vanderbilt vs. Dartmouth: A Comparison of Two Elite Universities

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

View of students walking in the school campus

Vanderbilt vs. Dartmouth: A Comparison of Two Elite Universities

When it comes to choosing a college, there are many factors to consider. Two of the most prestigious universities in the United States are Vanderbilt University and Dartmouth College. In this article, we will compare Vanderbilt vs. Dartmouth in a variety of categories, including location, academic offerings, student life, admissions, tuition, graduate outcomes, athletics, diversity, historical background, alumni networks, campus safety, study abroad programs, research opportunities, and faculty-student ratio.

a female student smiling in front of the camera and carrying her stuff

Location and Campus Environment: Nashville vs Hanover

Vanderbilt University is located in the heart of Nashville, Tennessee, a vibrant city known for its music scene, food, and culture. The campus itself is a mix of historic and modern buildings, with green spaces and beautiful architecture. Dartmouth College, on the other hand, is located in Hanover, New Hampshire, a small town surrounded by mountains and forests. The campus has a classic New England feel, with Georgian-style buildings and a picturesque setting. While both locations have their own unique charm, it ultimately comes down to personal preference and what type of environment you prefer.

One of the advantages of attending Vanderbilt University is its proximity to the city’s many attractions. Students can easily explore the city’s music venues, restaurants, and museums during their free time. Additionally, Nashville is home to many internship and job opportunities, particularly in the healthcare and entertainment industries.

On the other hand, Dartmouth College’s location in Hanover offers a quieter and more secluded environment, which can be beneficial for students who prefer a more focused and peaceful atmosphere. The surrounding natural beauty also provides opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, skiing, and camping. Additionally, Hanover’s location in the Northeast makes it easily accessible to other major cities such as Boston and New York City.

Academic Offerings and Faculty Quality: Which University Comes Out on Top?

When it comes to academics, both Vanderbilt and Dartmouth, have a lot to offer. Vanderbilt has ten schools and colleges, including a highly-ranked School of Medicine and a School of Law. Dartmouth, meanwhile, is known for its liberal arts education and has a strong focus on undergraduate teaching. Both schools have distinguished faculty and a diverse range of majors and programs. In terms of faculty quality, it’s difficult to compare directly as both schools have renowned professors in their respective fields.

However, there are some differences in the academic offerings of these two universities. Vanderbilt has a strong emphasis on research, with numerous research centers and institutes, while Dartmouth has a focus on experiential learning, with opportunities for students to engage in hands-on projects and internships. Additionally, Vanderbilt offers a wider range of graduate programs, while Dartmouth primarily focuses on undergraduate education.

a female student sitting and appears to be thinking

When it comes to faculty quality, both universities have highly accomplished professors. However, Vanderbilt has a higher percentage of faculty members who hold prestigious awards and fellowships, such as the National Academy of Sciences and the MacArthur Fellowship. Dartmouth, on the other hand, has a higher percentage of faculty members who have won teaching awards and are recognized for their excellence in undergraduate education.

Student Life and Extracurricular Activities: Comparing the Social Scene

College is not just about academics but also about social experiences and extracurricular activities. Vanderbilt has a lively campus culture, with over 500 student organizations, a Division I athletics program, and a bustling downtown area. Dartmouth, being a smaller school, has a tight-knit community and a focus on outdoor recreation, with opportunities for skiing, hiking, and other outdoor activities. Both schools offer a range of clubs and activities, and it ultimately comes down to what kind of social scene you’re looking for.

One unique aspect of Vanderbilt’s social scene is its Greek life. With over 30 fraternities and sororities on campus, Greek life plays a significant role in the social scene at Vanderbilt. Many students choose to join a fraternity or sorority to make friends and participate in social events. On the other hand, Dartmouth does not have a large Greek life presence, and instead, students often participate in social activities through their residential communities or outdoor clubs.

Another factor to consider when comparing the social scene at Vanderbilt and Dartmouth is the location. Vanderbilt is located in Nashville, Tennessee, a city known for its music scene and vibrant nightlife. Students have access to a variety of restaurants, bars, and music venues in the surrounding area. In contrast, Dartmouth is located in Hanover, New Hampshire, a small town with limited options for nightlife. However, the school is situated in the beautiful Upper Valley region of New Hampshire, with easy access to outdoor activities and natural beauty.

Admissions and Acceptance Rates: Which School is More Selective?

When it comes to admissions, both Vanderbilt and Dartmouth are highly selective. Vanderbilt has an acceptance rate of around 10%, while Dartmouth’s is around 9%. Both schools look for well-rounded students with strong academic records and extracurricular activities. The application process is quite competitive for both schools, so it’s important to put your best foot forward when applying.

Young woman talking to an interviewer.

However, there are some differences in the admissions process between the two schools. Vanderbilt places a greater emphasis on demonstrated interest, meaning that they prefer applicants who have shown a genuine interest in attending the school through campus visits, interviews, and other interactions. Dartmouth, on the other hand, places more weight on essays and personal statements, as they believe these give a better indication of a student’s character and potential fit for the school’s community.

Tuition Costs and Financial Aid Packages: A Closer Look

College tuition is a major expense, so it’s important to consider the costs and financial aid options. Vanderbilt’s tuition for the 2021-2022 academic year is $54,158, while Dartmouth’s is $60,117. However, both schools are committed to providing financial aid to eligible students. Vanderbilt meets 100% of demonstrated financial need, while Dartmouth has a need-blind admissions policy and meets 100% of demonstrated need for admitted students.

It’s important to note that financial aid packages can vary greatly between schools and even between individual students. Factors such as family income, assets, and number of dependents can all impact the amount of aid a student receives. Additionally, some schools offer merit-based scholarships in addition to need-based aid. It’s important to research and compare financial aid options when considering different colleges and universities.

Graduate Outcomes and Career Opportunities: Analyzing the Data

Ultimately, the goal of attending college is to prepare for a successful career. Both Vanderbilt and Dartmouth have strong career resources and networks. According to data from the National Association of Colleges and Employers, Vanderbilt has a 98% job or graduate school placement rate for their graduates, while Dartmouth’s is 96%. Both schools also have impressive alumni networks, with graduates going on to successful careers in a variety of fields.

However, it’s important to note that the job market is constantly evolving and becoming more competitive. In response, both Vanderbilt and Dartmouth have adapted their career services to better prepare students for the current job market. Vanderbilt, for example, offers a program called “Design Your Life,” which helps students explore different career paths and develop skills to succeed in their chosen field. Dartmouth has a similar program called “The Dartmouth Edge,” which focuses on developing leadership skills and providing hands-on experience through internships and research opportunities.

Additionally, both schools have strong partnerships with employers in various industries. Vanderbilt has partnerships with companies such as Amazon, Deloitte, and Goldman Sachs, while Dartmouth has partnerships with organizations like the National Institutes of Health and the United Nations. These partnerships provide students with valuable networking opportunities and often lead to job offers or internships.

Athletics Programs and School Spirit: Vanderbilt vs. Dartmouth

For sports fans, athletics programs and school spirit can be important factors in choosing a college. Vanderbilt is a Division I school and has strong athletics programs in football, basketball, baseball, and more. Dartmouth is a member of the Ivy League and has a rich history in sports, including winning 18 NCAA team championships. Both schools have active student sections and a strong sense of school pride and spirit.

Close up view of baseball equipments placed on the ground.

However, Vanderbilt’s athletics programs have been more successful in recent years, with their football team consistently ranking in the top 25 and their baseball team winning the College World Series in 2019. Dartmouth, on the other hand, has a strong focus on individual sports such as cross country, skiing, and track and field, with many of its athletes competing at the national level.

Despite their differences, both schools offer a variety of opportunities for students to get involved in athletics and school spirit. Vanderbilt has a student-run organization called the Anchor Dash that promotes school spirit and hosts events such as tailgates and pep rallies. Dartmouth has a unique tradition called the “Ledyard Challenge,” where students hike up a nearby mountain and paint a rock with their class year and other symbols of school pride.

Diversity and Inclusivity: How Do the Universities Compare?

As our society becomes more diverse and inclusive, it’s important to consider a school’s commitment to diversity and equity. Both Vanderbilt and Dartmouth have taken steps to promote diversity and inclusivity on campus through initiatives such as student groups, student support services, and diversity training for faculty and staff. Vanderbilt has a diverse student body, with students from all 50 states and over 100 countries. Dartmouth has a commitment to increasing diversity among its faculty and staff, and has made progress in recent years.

In addition to these initiatives, Vanderbilt has also implemented a program called “Project Dialogue,” which brings together students from diverse backgrounds to engage in meaningful conversations about social justice issues. This program has been successful in promoting understanding and empathy among students from different backgrounds.

Dartmouth has also established a center for the study of race and ethnicity, which provides resources and support for students and faculty interested in exploring issues related to race and ethnicity. The center hosts events and workshops, and also offers research opportunities for students interested in these topics.

Historical Background of Vanderbilt vs Dartmouth: an Overview

Both Vanderbilt and Dartmouth have rich histories and traditions. Vanderbilt was founded in 1873 by Cornelius Vanderbilt, one of the wealthiest businessmen in American history. Dartmouth was founded in 1769 and is one of the oldest colleges in the country. Both schools have a strong commitment to academic excellence and service to their communities.

Vanderbilt University was originally named the “Central University of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South” and was located in Nashville, Tennessee. The university was established to provide higher education opportunities for the people of the South after the Civil War. Vanderbilt has since grown to become a leading research university with a diverse student body and a wide range of academic programs.

Dartmouth College was founded by Eleazar Wheelock, a Congregational minister who wanted to establish a school to educate Native Americans. The college was originally located in Hanover, New Hampshire, and was named “Dartmouth” after William Legge, the Earl of Dartmouth, who provided financial support for the school. Today, Dartmouth is a highly selective Ivy League institution known for its undergraduate liberal arts program and its commitment to research and scholarship.

Alumni Networks: Which University Offers Better Networking Opportunities?

One important factor in choosing a college is the potential for networking and career connections. Both Vanderbilt and Dartmouth have active alumni networks, with graduates in a wide range of fields. Vanderbilt has over 140,000 living alumni, while Dartmouth has over 75,000. Both schools have career resources and networking events for alumni and current students.

However, Vanderbilt’s alumni network is known for its strong connections in the business and finance industries. Many Vanderbilt graduates have gone on to work for top companies such as Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, and McKinsey & Company. The university also has a well-established mentorship program where alumni can connect with current students and offer guidance and advice.

On the other hand, Dartmouth’s alumni network is known for its strong connections in the technology and startup industries. Many Dartmouth graduates have gone on to found successful startups, such as Dropbox and Venmo. The university also has a strong entrepreneurship program, which provides resources and support for students and alumni looking to start their own businesses.

Campus Safety and Security Measures: A Comparative Analysis

Campus safety is a top priority for colleges, and both Vanderbilt and Dartmouth have measures in place to ensure the safety of their students. Vanderbilt has a comprehensive safety and security program, including a 24/7 police department, a SafeVU app for reporting incidents, and safety escorts for students. Dartmouth has a similar range of safety measures, including a student-run safety and security organization and a transparent reporting process for incidents.

Male student standing near the columns of a building.

However, there are some differences in the safety and security measures implemented by Vanderbilt and Dartmouth. Vanderbilt has a system of emergency blue light phones located throughout the campus, which can be used to quickly contact the police in case of an emergency. In addition, Vanderbilt has a program called VUPS (Vanderbilt University Public Safety), which provides safety education and training to students, faculty, and staff. On the other hand, Dartmouth has a system of outdoor sirens that can be activated in case of an emergency, and they also have a program called Safety and Security Services, which provides safety education and training to the campus community.

Study Abroad Programs at Vanderbilt vs Dartmouth

Many students are interested in studying abroad during college, and both Vanderbilt and Dartmouth have strong study-abroad programs. Vanderbilt has over 115 study abroad programs in more than 55 countries, with a focus on immersive and experiential learning. Dartmouth has its own study abroad programs in Barcelona, Berlin, and Edinburgh, as well as over 60 exchange programs with other universities.

One unique aspect of Vanderbilt’s study abroad programs is its Global Education Office, which provides resources and support for students before, during, and after their study abroad experience. This includes pre-departure orientations, on-site support, and re-entry programming to help students integrate their study abroad experience into their academic and personal lives.

Dartmouth’s study abroad programs also offer opportunities for students to engage in research and internships while abroad. For example, the Dartmouth Foreign Study Program in Paris includes a research component where students work with a faculty advisor to conduct independent research on a topic related to French culture or society. Additionally, Dartmouth’s exchange programs allow students to take courses and gain professional experience in fields such as business, engineering, and public policy.

Research Opportunities for Students at Vanderbilt vs Dartmouth

Research experience can be a valuable part of a college education, and both Vanderbilt and Dartmouth have opportunities for students to get involved in research. Vanderbilt has a strong focus on undergraduate research, with opportunities for students to work directly with faculty on projects. Dartmouth has a number of research centers and initiatives, including in the areas of healthcare, energy, and sustainability.

At Vanderbilt, students can participate in research through programs such as the Vanderbilt Undergraduate Summer Research Program, which provides funding for students to conduct research over the summer. Additionally, Vanderbilt has a Research Ambassadors program, where students can serve as ambassadors for research on campus and help promote research opportunities to their peers.

Dartmouth also offers research opportunities through its undergraduate research program, which allows students to work with faculty on research projects. In addition, Dartmouth has a strong focus on interdisciplinary research, with initiatives such as the Institute for Energy and Society, which brings together faculty and students from different disciplines to work on energy-related research projects.

Faculty-Student Ratio at Vanderbilt vs Dartmouth

The faculty-student ratio is one measure of a school’s commitment to undergraduate teaching. At Vanderbilt, the ratio is 7:1, meaning there are seven students for every faculty member. At Dartmouth, the ratio is 7.2:1. Both schools have a strong commitment to undergraduate teaching and a focus on personalized attention.

However, it is important to note that the faculty-student ratio is not the only factor that determines the quality of undergraduate education. Other factors, such as class size, availability of research opportunities, and the quality of teaching, also play a significant role. Both Vanderbilt and Dartmouth have a reputation for providing excellent undergraduate education, and students at both schools have access to a wide range of resources and opportunities to enhance their academic experience.


Choosing between Vanderbilt vs Dartmouth is not an easy decision, as both schools have a lot to offer. Ultimately, it comes down to your personal preferences and priorities. Consider factors such as location, academic offerings, student life, admissions, tuition, graduate outcomes, athletics, diversity, historical background, alumni networks, campus safety, study abroad programs, research opportunities, and faculty-student ratio. By weighing these factors carefully, you can make an informed decision and find the right fit for you.

One important factor to consider when choosing between Vanderbilt vs Dartmouth is the size of the student body. Vanderbilt has a larger undergraduate population, with over 6,800 students, while Dartmouth has a smaller undergraduate population of around 4,400 students. This can impact the overall campus culture, and the level of individual attention students receive from faculty and staff.

Another factor to consider is the availability of resources and support for students. Both Vanderbilt and Dartmouth offer a range of academic and personal support services, such as tutoring, counseling, and career advising. However, the specific programs and resources available may differ between the two schools, so it’s important to research and compare these offerings to determine which school can best meet your needs.




Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign up now to receive insights on
how to navigate the college admissions process.