Southeastern Conference—NCAA Division I Athletics

In recent years, the NCAA Southeastern Conference is considered by many to be the strongest Division I athletic conference in the country. The member universities, however, are much more than athletic powerhouses. These 14 comprehensive universities also offer impressive academic opportunities.

If you're interested in attending one of these schools, keep in mind that admissions criteria vary widely from an extremely selective school such as Vanderbilt University to less selective schools like Mississippi State University. All member schools, however, will be looking for students who have grades and standardized test scores that are at least average.

The SEC was first formed in 1933 with ten members: Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt. All ten schools are still members, representing a level of stability that is highly unusual among athletic conferences. The SEC has added members twice: Arkansas and South Carolina in 1991, and Missouri and Texas A&M in 2012.

The conference supports 13 sports: baseball, basketball, cross country, equestrian, football, golf, gymnastics, soccer, softball, swimming & diving, tennis, track & field, and volleyball.

01
of 14

Auburn University

Auburn University
Robert S. Donovan / Flickr

Located in the small town of Auburn, Alabama, Auburn University frequently ranks among the top 50 public universities in the country. Particular strengths include engineering, journalism, math and many of the sciences.

  • Location: Auburn, Alabama
  • School type: Public
  • Enrollment: 30,460 (24,594 undergraduates)
  • SEC Division: Western
  • Team: Tigers
02
of 14

Louisiana State University (LSU)

Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge Louisiana LA

Kruck20 / iStock / Getty Images

LSU, the main campus of the Louisiana university system, is well known for its Italian Renaissance architecture, red roofs, and abundant oak trees. Louisiana has lower tuition than most states, so education is a true value.

  • Location: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  • School type: Public
  • Enrollment: 31,756 (25,826 undergraduates)
  • SEC Division: Western
  • Team: Fighting Tigers
03
of 14

Mississippi State University

South Carolina v Mississippi State
Wesley Hitt / Getty Images

The main campus of Mississippi State University sits on over 4,000 acres in the northeastern part of the state. High achieving students should check out the Shackouls Honors College.

  • Location: Starkville, Mississippi
  • School type: Public
  • Enrollment: 22,226 (18,792 undergraduates)
  • SEC Division: Western
  • Team: Bulldogs
04
of 14

Texas A&M

Kyle Field at Texas A&M
Stuart Seeger / Flickr

Texas A&M is far more than an agricultural and mechanical college these days. It is a huge, comprehensive university where business, humanities, engineering, social science, and the sciences are all extremely popular with undergraduates.

  • Location: College Station, Texas
  • School type: Public
  • Enrollment: 68,726 (53,791 undergraduates)
  • SEC Division: Western
  • Team: Aggies
05
of 14

University of Alabama ('Bama)

The University of Alabama campus in the spring surrounded by blooming trees

sshepard / iStock / Getty Images

The University of Alabama frequently ranks among the top 50 public universities in the country. Business is particularly popular among undergraduates, and strong students should definitely check out the Honors College.

  • Location: Tuscaloosa, Alabama
  • School type: Public
  • Enrollment: 38,100 (32,795 undergraduates)
  • SEC Division: Western
  • Team: Crimson Tide
06
of 14

University of Arkansas

University of Arkansas Old Main
Mike Norton / Flickr

The flagship campus of Arkansas' university system, the University of Arkansas can boast of high-level research and a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for its strengths in the liberal arts and sciences.

  • Location: Fayetteville, Arkansas
  • School type: Public
  • Enrollment: 27,559 (23,025 undergraduates)
  • SEC Division: Western
  • Team: Razorbacks
07
of 14

University of Florida

Auditorium and Century Tower at the University of Florida
irinka-s / Getty Images

With over 51,000 students (graduate and undergraduate), the University of Florida is one of the largest schools in the country. Preprofessional programs such as business, engineering, and the health sciences are particularly popular.

  • Location: Gainesville, Florida
  • School type: Public
  • Enrollment: 52,407 (35,405 undergraduates)
  • SEC Division: Eastern
  • Team: Gators
  • Explore the Campus: University of Florida Photo Tour
08
of 14

University of Georgia

University of Georgia Consumer Science Building
University of Georgia Consumer Science Building.

David Torcivia / Flickr /  CC BY 2.0

The University of Georgia has the distinction of being the oldest state-chartered university in the United States. For the student who wants small, challenging classes, be sure to check out the Honors Program.

  • Location: Athens, Georgia
  • School type: Public
  • Enrollment: 38,920 (29,848 undergraduates)
  • SEC Division: Eastern
  • Team: Bulldogs
09
of 14

University of Kentucky

Young Library at the University of Kentucky
J654567 / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

The University of Kentucky is the flagship campus of the state's university system. Look for particular strengths in the Colleges of Business, Medicine, and Communication Studies.

  • Location: Lexington, Kentucky
  • School type: Public
  • Enrollment: 29,402 (22,2361 undergraduates)
  • SEC Division: Eastern
  • Team: Wildcats
10
of 14

University of Mississippi (Ole Miss)

University of Mississippi
Southern Foodways Alliance / Flickr

The largest university in Mississippi, Ole Miss can boast of 30 research centers, a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, and an honors college for high-achieving students.

  • Location: Oxford, Mississippi
  • School type: Public
  • Enrollment: 21,617 (17,150 undergraduates)
  • SEC Division: Western
  • Team: Rebels
11
of 14

University of Missouri

Jesse Hall at the University of Missouri
bk1bennett / Flickr

The University of Missouri at Columbia, or Mizzou, is the flagship campus of Missouri's university system. It is also the largest university in the state. The school features many excellent research centers and a strong Greek system.

  • Location: Columbia, Missouri
  • School type: Public
  • Enrollment: 30,014 (22,589 undergraduates)
  • SEC Division: Eastern
  • Team: Tigers
12
of 14

University of South Carolina

Residence Hall at the University of South Carolina
Florencebballer / Wikimedia Commons

Located in the state capital, USC is the flagship campus of the South Carolina university system. The university has strong academic programs and can boast of a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, a nationally respected honors college, and pioneering work in its programming for first-year students.

  • Location: Columbia, South Carolina
  • School type: Public
  • Enrollment: 35,364 (27,502 undergraduates)
  • SEC Division: Eastern
  • Team: Gamecocks
13
of 14

University of Tennessee

University of Tennessee Football
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District / Flickr

The flagship campus of Tennessee's university system, UT Knoxville features high-level research and academics. The university has a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, and its business school frequently does well in national rankings.

  • Location: Knoxville, Tennessee
  • School type: Public
  • Enrollment: 29,460 (23,290 undergraduates)
  • SEC Division: Eastern
  • Team: Volunteers
14
of 14

Vanderbilt University

Tolman Hall at Vanderbilt University
Photo Credit: Amy Jacobson

Vanderbilt University is the only private university in the SEC, and it is also the smallest and most selective school in the conference. The university has particular strengths in education, law, medicine, and business.

  • Location: Nashville, Tennessee
  • School type: Private
  • Enrollment: 13,131 (6,886 undergraduates)
  • SEC Division: Eastern
  • Team: Commodores

Last Updated: December 2015