Wake Forest vs Emory University: A Comprehensive Overview

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Wait Chapel and Hearn Plaza at Wake Forest University

Wake Forest vs Emory University: A Comprehensive Overview

If you’re deciding between Wake Forest University and Emory University, then you’re likely seeking a high-quality education from a prestigious institution. Both universities have a strong academic reputation, but how do they compare in terms of admissions requirements, academics, research opportunities, campus resources, athletics, career networks, rankings, cost of attendance, and more? In this comprehensive overview, we will compare Wake Forest vs Emory University and help you make an informed decision.


Let’s start by looking at Emory University. Founded in 1836, Emory is a private research university located in Atlanta, Georgia. Its undergraduate program ranks 21st among national universities according to U.S. News & World Report. Emory is known for its strengths in the health sciences and law, as well as its commitment to social justice and community engagement. Emory has a diverse student body, with 46% of undergraduates identifying as students of color.

Emory University has a strong focus on research, with over $700 million in research funding in 2020. The university has a number of research centers and institutes, including the Emory Vaccine Center, the Winship Cancer Institute, and the Center for the Study of Human Health. Emory is also home to the Carter Center, a non-profit organization founded by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn Carter, which works to advance peace and health worldwide.

Emory University name etched in stone

Admission Requirements: A Side-by-Side Comparison of Wake Forest and Emory

Both Wake Forest and Emory have highly-selective admissions processes. Wake Forest accepted just 29% of applicants in the most recent admissions cycle, while Emory accepted just 19%. Both universities require standardized test scores (either the SAT or ACT), transcripts, essays, and letters of recommendation as part of the application process. Additionally, Emory requires students to submit SAT Subject Test scores or an Advanced Placement Exam.

However, there are some differences in the admission requirements between the two universities. Wake Forest places a strong emphasis on extracurricular activities and community involvement, while Emory focuses more on academic achievements and research experience. Wake Forest also offers an optional interview for applicants, while Emory does not.

Furthermore, Wake Forest has a test-optional policy for applicants, meaning that students can choose not to submit standardized test scores if they feel that their scores do not accurately reflect their academic abilities. Emory, on the other hand, requires all applicants to submit standardized test scores, although they do offer a test-flexible option for students who have difficulty accessing standardized tests due to financial or other reasons.

Wake Forest vs Emory University: Academics

Wake Forest offers 45 undergraduate majors and 60 minors, while Emory offers 72 undergraduate majors across its four undergraduate schools. Both universities offer a wide range of majors, from the humanities to the sciences. However, Emory’s strengths lie in the health sciences and law, while Wake Forest is known for its strong business program. Additionally, Wake Forest has a unique liberal arts curriculum called the “Dialogue” program, which emphasizes discussion-based learning and interdisciplinary thinking.

Another notable difference between Wake Forest and Emory is their approach to research. Emory is a leading research institution, with a strong focus on biomedical research and public health. Wake Forest, on the other hand, places a greater emphasis on undergraduate research opportunities, with many students participating in research projects alongside faculty members.

Furthermore, both universities offer study abroad programs, but with different focuses. Emory has a strong presence in Europe, with programs in France, Spain, and the United Kingdom, among others. Wake Forest, on the other hand, has a strong focus on Latin America, with programs in Costa Rica, Argentina, and Chile, among others. Both universities offer opportunities for students to gain international experience and broaden their horizons.

four students lounging on the steps outside

Wake Forest vs Emory University: Faculty and Staff

Both Wake Forest and Emory have dedicated and experienced faculty who are committed to providing students with a high-quality education. Wake Forest has a student-faculty ratio of 10:1, while Emory has a slightly larger student-faculty ratio of 8:1. Both universities have Nobel laureates and other distinguished faculty members among their ranks.

However, there are some differences in the teaching styles and approaches of the faculty at these universities. Wake Forest emphasizes a more personalized approach to education, with small class sizes and opportunities for one-on-one interactions with professors. Emory, on the other hand, places a greater emphasis on research and encourages students to participate in research projects with faculty members. Ultimately, the choice between these two universities will depend on the individual student’s learning style and preferences.

Research Opportunities: A Comprehensive Look at Wake Forest vs. Emory

Emory is a major research institution, with over $627 million in sponsored research funding in 2020. Emory faculty and students conduct research in a variety of fields, including medicine, public health, law, and the humanities. Wake Forest also has strong research programs, particularly in the areas of health and wellbeing, sustainability, and neuroscience. Wake Forest students are encouraged to engage in research experiences through programs such as the Richter Scholars program and the Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities Center.

One of the unique research opportunities at Wake Forest is the Center for Amazonian Scientific Innovation (CINCIA), which focuses on studying the impact of gold mining on the Amazon rainforest. This interdisciplinary research center brings together scientists, engineers, and social scientists to address this complex issue.

Emory University also offers a variety of research opportunities for undergraduate students, including the SIRE program (Summer Institute in Research Education), which provides students with hands-on research experience in a variety of fields. Additionally, Emory’s Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Inquiry offers funding and support for students pursuing independent research projects.

Student Life: A Close Examination of the Differences Between Wake Forest and Emory

Wake Forest and Emory both offer a wide range of student activities and organizations. Wake Forest has over 250 clubs and organizations, while Emory has over 450. Both universities have active Greek life communities, a variety of intramural sports teams, and student-led service organizations. However, the two universities differ in terms of their locations and campus cultures. Wake Forest is located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, which offers a more suburban feel. Emory, on the other hand, is located in Atlanta, Georgia, which offers a more urban experience.

Another difference between Wake Forest and Emory is the size of their student bodies. Wake Forest has a smaller undergraduate population of around 5,200 students, while Emory has a larger undergraduate population of around 8,500 students. This difference in size can impact the sense of community and the opportunities for individualized attention from professors.

Additionally, the two universities have different academic strengths and focuses. Wake Forest is known for its strong programs in business, law, and medicine, while Emory is known for its strengths in the humanities, social sciences, and health sciences. This can impact the types of research opportunities and internships available to students, as well as the career paths pursued by graduates.

Group of students walking in the campus.

Wake Forest vs Emory University: Campus Resources

Both Wake Forest and Emory offer a wide range of resources to support students academically, socially, and emotionally. Wake Forest’s Student Success Center provides academic coaching, tutoring, and mentoring services, while Emory’s Office of Student Success Programs offers similar resources. Both universities have robust career services offices, which provide job search resources, networking opportunities, and career counseling. Additionally, both universities have state-of-the-art athletic facilities and offer a variety of wellness services, including fitness classes and mental health support.

However, there are some differences between the two universities when it comes to resources. Wake Forest has a dedicated Office of Personal and Career Development, which offers career exploration and planning services, as well as leadership development programs. Emory, on the other hand, has a Center for Women, which provides resources and support for women students, faculty, and staff.

Another notable difference is in the availability of research opportunities. Wake Forest has a strong emphasis on undergraduate research, with opportunities for students to work with faculty on research projects in a variety of fields. Emory also offers research opportunities, but they are more focused on graduate students and faculty members.

Athletics: Comparing the Athletic Programs at Wake Forest and Emory

Both Wake Forest and Emory have Division I athletics programs. Wake Forest is a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), while Emory is a member of the University Athletic Association (UAA). Wake Forest has a strong football and basketball program, while Emory has historically been successful in swimming and tennis. Both universities offer a variety of varsity and club sports programs, as well as intramural sports and fitness classes.

Despite Wake Forest’s success in football and basketball, Emory has also had notable achievements in these sports. Emory’s men’s basketball team has won multiple UAA championships and made several appearances in the NCAA Division III tournament. Emory’s football team has also had successful seasons, including a conference championship in 2018.

Additionally, both universities prioritize the academic success of their student-athletes. Wake Forest has a graduation success rate of 94% for its student-athletes, while Emory has a 98% graduation success rate. Both universities also offer academic support services, such as tutoring and study halls, to help student-athletes balance their athletic and academic commitments.

Wake Forest vs Emory University: Alumni Networks

Wake Forest and Emory both have strong alumni networks, which can offer valuable networking opportunities and career connections to recent graduates. Wake Forest’s alumni network includes over 64,000 alumni across the globe, while Emory’s network includes over 152,000. Both universities have active alumni associations and career services offices that provide job search support and networking events.

Additionally, Wake Forest and Emory alumni often hold leadership positions in various industries, providing graduates with access to influential professionals. These alumni also frequently participate in mentorship programs, offering guidance and advice to recent graduates as they navigate their careers.

Furthermore, both universities offer resources for alumni who are interested in continuing their education. Wake Forest and Emory provide graduate programs and professional development courses, allowing alumni to further their knowledge and skills in their respective fields. These programs also offer opportunities for alumni to connect with other professionals in their industry and expand their network even further.

Group of students walking in the stairs.

Rankings and Reputation: Which University Offers a Better Overall Reputation?

Both Wake Forest and Emory have strong academic reputations and consistently rank highly in national and international rankings. U.S. News & World Report ranks Wake Forest as the 28th best national university and Emory as the 21st best. Additionally, Emory is consistently ranked among the top universities in the world by Times Higher Education and QS World University Rankings.

However, there are some differences in the specific areas where each university excels. Wake Forest is known for its strong undergraduate business program, which is ranked in the top 25 by U.S. News & World Report. Emory, on the other hand, is renowned for its healthcare and medical programs, with its medical school consistently ranked in the top 20 by U.S. News & World Report.

Another factor to consider is the size and location of each university. Wake Forest is a smaller, more intimate campus located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Emory, on the other hand, is a larger campus located in Atlanta, Georgia. Depending on your preferences, one campus may be a better fit for you than the other.

Cost of Attendance: A Comprehensive Look at the Tuition Fees, Scholarships, and Other Costs Involved in Attending Wake Forest vs. Emory.

The cost of attendance for Wake Forest and Emory is similar, with Wake Forest’s tuition and fees totaling $58,718 in the most recent academic year and Emory’s totaling $57,348. However, both universities offer a range of need-based and merit-based scholarships and financial aid packages to help students offset the cost of attendance.

In addition to tuition and fees, there are other costs to consider when attending Wake Forest or Emory. These costs include room and board, textbooks, transportation, and personal expenses. At Wake Forest, the average cost of room and board is $14,000 per year, while at Emory it is $15,000. Textbook costs can vary depending on the courses taken, but students can expect to spend around $1,200 per year at both universities. Transportation costs will also vary depending on the student’s location and mode of transportation, but both universities offer shuttle services and public transportation options. Finally, personal expenses such as clothing, entertainment, and other miscellaneous items can add up to several thousand dollars per year.

Wake Forest vs Emory University: Student Success Rates

Both Wake Forest and Emory have high graduation rates and strong job placement outcomes for graduates. Wake Forest’s four-year graduation rate is 88%, while Emory’s is 86%. Additionally, both universities have solid reputations among employers, with Wake Forest graduates reporting a median starting salary of $65,000 and Emory graduates reporting a median starting salary of $66,000.

However, there are some differences in other metrics related to student success. For example, Wake Forest has a higher retention rate, with 94% of first-year students returning for their second year, compared to Emory’s 91%. Wake Forest also has a higher percentage of students who study abroad, with 75% of students participating in a study abroad program during their time at the university, compared to Emory’s 60%. These experiences can be valuable for students in terms of personal growth and career development.

Unique Programs: An Exploration of Special Programs Unique to Each University.

Wake Forest has a number of unique programs that set it apart from other universities. Its Entrepreneurship and Social Enterprise Program helps students develop skills and knowledge in entrepreneurship and social innovation. Emory, on the other hand, has a number of unique research centers, including the Carter Center and the Emory Vaccine Center.

Another university with unique programs is the University of Michigan. Its Prison Creative Arts Project provides incarcerated individuals with opportunities to express themselves through art, while also educating the public about the criminal justice system. Additionally, the University of Michigan has a program called the Michigan Community Scholars Program, which allows students to live and learn together in a community focused on social justice and community service.

At the University of California, Berkeley, students can participate in the Berkeley Underground Scholars program, which supports formerly incarcerated and system-impacted students in their pursuit of higher education. Berkeley also has a unique program called the Berkeley Food Institute, which brings together scholars, farmers, activists, and policymakers to address issues related to food systems and sustainability.

Community Engagement: A Look at How Each University Engages with the Local Community.

Both Wake Forest and Emory are committed to community engagement and social justice. Wake Forest has a number of initiatives aimed at promoting sustainability and community service, including the Pro Humanitate Institute, which supports service-learning and community-based research. Emory, meanwhile, has a strong commitment to global health and social justice, with initiatives such as the Rollins School of Public Health and the Emory Global Health Institute.

Overall, both Wake Forest and Emory offer outstanding academic programs, engaged faculty and staff, and a range of resources to support student success. However, they differ in location, campus culture, and areas of academic strength. Ultimately, the best choice for you will depend on your individual interests, goals, and priorities.

Another university that is highly committed to community engagement is the University of Michigan. The university has a number of programs and initiatives aimed at promoting social justice and community service, including the Ginsberg Center for Community Service and Learning, which supports service-learning and community-based research. The university also has a strong commitment to sustainability, with initiatives such as the Planet Blue program, which aims to reduce the university’s environmental footprint.

On the other hand, the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) has a strong focus on diversity and inclusion. The university has a number of programs and initiatives aimed at promoting diversity and social justice, including the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, which supports underrepresented students and promotes diversity in all aspects of campus life. UCLA also has a strong commitment to research, with a number of world-renowned research centers and institutes.

Group of students walking in the campus.

How AdmissionSight Can Help You With College Admissions

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