Southeastern Conference—NCAA Division I Athletics

The Schools of the SEC Dominate the Southeastern U.S.

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.

Auburn University
Auburn University. Robert S. Donovan / Flickr

Located in the small town of Auburn, Alabama, Auburn 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: 28,290 (22,658 undergraduates)
  • SEC Division: Western
  • Team: Tigers
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LSU Campus
LSU Campus. Martin / Flickr

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 the education is a true value.

  • Location: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  • School type: Public
  • Enrollment: 31,409 (26,118 undergraduates)
  • SEC Division: Western
  • Team: Fighting Tigers
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Mississippi State University Library
Mississippi State University Library. Social_Stratification / Flickr

Mississippi State's main campus 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: 21,622 (18,090 undergraduates)
  • SEC Division: Western
  • Team: Bulldogs
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Kyle Field at 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: 66,632 (50,735 undergraduates)
  • SEC Division: Western
  • Team: Aggies
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University of Alabama Football Stadium
University of Alabama Football Stadium. maggiejp / Flickr

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: 37,663 (32,563 undergraduates)
  • SEC Division: Western
  • Team: Crimson Tide
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University of Arkansas Old Main
University of Arkansas Old Main at Night. Mike Norton / Flickr

The flagship campus of Arkansas' university system, 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: 27,194 (22,548 undergraduates)
  • SEC Division: Western
  • Team: Razorbacks
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Criser Hall at the University of Florida
Criser Hall at the University of Florida (click to enlarge). Photo Credit: Allen Grove

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: 52,367 (34,554 undergraduates)
  • SEC Division: Eastern
  • Team: Gators
  • Explore the Campus: University of Florida Photo Tour
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University of Georgia
University of Georgia. hyku / Flickr

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: 36,574 (27,951 undergraduates)
  • SEC Division: Eastern
  • Team: Bulldogs
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Young Library at the 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: 29,781 (22,621 undergraduates)
  • SEC Division: Eastern
  • Team: Wildcats
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University of Mississippi
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: 23,610 (19,213 undergraduates)
  • SEC Division: Western
  • Team: Rebels
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Jesse Hall at the 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: 33,239 (25,877 undergraduates)
  • SEC Division: Eastern
  • Team: Tigers
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Residence Hall at the 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: 34,099 (25,556 undergraduates)
  • SEC Division: Eastern
  • Team: Gamecocks
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University of Tennessee Football
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: 28,052 (22,139 undergraduates)
  • SEC Division: Eastern
  • Team: Volunteers
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Tolman Hall at Vanderbilt University
Tolman Hall at Vanderbilt University. Photo Credit: Amy Jacobson

Vanderbilt 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: 12,587 (6,871 undergraduates)
  • SEC Division: Eastern
  • Team: Commodores
  • Explore the Campus: Vanderbilt Photo Tour
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