Vanderbilt University Admissions Statistics

Learn About Vanderbilt and the GPA and the SAT/ACT Scores You'll Need to Get In

Tolman Hall at Vanderbilt University
Tolman Hall at Vanderbilt University. See more Vanderbilt University photos. Photo Credit: Amy Jacobson

Admission to Vanderbilt University is highly selective: in 2016, the university had an 11 percent acceptance rate. To be admitted, applicants will need to be strong in all areas: high grades in challenging classes, strong SAT or ACT scores, meaningful extracurricular activities, and winning admissions essays. The university allows several application options including the widely used Common Application.

Why You Might Choose Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt University is a private university located a little over a mile from downtown Nashville, Tennessee. The university tends to place well in national rankings with particular strengths in education, law, medicine, and business. Academics are supported by a healthy 8 to 1 student / faculty ratio. Because of its strong emphasis on research, Vanderbilt is a member of the Association of American Universities. Its strengths in the liberal arts and sciences earned the school a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.

Student life at Vanderbilt is active, and the university is home to 16 sororities, 19 fraternities, and over 500 clubs and organizations. On the intercollegiate front, Vanderbilt is the only private university in the NCAA Division I Southeastern Conference. The Commodores compete in six men's and nine women's varsity sports. 

With all its strengths, it isn't surprising that Vanderbilt is among the top Tennessee colleges, top South Central colleges, and top national universities. While not a member of the Ivy League, Vanderbilt certainly competes the nation's most prestigious universities.

Vanderbilt GPA, SAT and ACT Graph

Vanderbilt University GPA, SAT Scores, and ACT Scores for Admission
Vanderbilt University GPA, SAT Scores, and ACT Scores for Admission. To see the real-time graph and calculate your chances of getting in, use this free tool from Cappex.

​Discussion of Vanderbilt's Admissions Standards

Vanderbilt is one of the most selective universities in the United States. To get in, applicants are going to need grades and standardized test scores that are well above average. In the graph above, the blue and green dots represent accepted students. As you can see, most successful Vanderbilt applicants had averages in the "A" range, SAT scores (RW+M) of about 1300 or higher, and ACT composite scores of 28 or higher. A large number of applicants had 4.0 GPAs. Clearly the higher your grades and test scores, the better your chance of an acceptance letter.

Keep in mind that there are a significant number of red and yellow dots (rejected and waitlisted students) mixed in with the green and blue. Many students with grades and test scores that were on target for Vanderbilt did not get in. Note also that a few students were accepted with test scores and grades below the norm. This is because Vanderbilt, like many of the country's most selective colleges, has holistic admissions. The folks in the admissions office are interested in much more than raw numbers. Rigorous high school courses, strong extracurricular involvement, glowing letters of recommendation, and a winning application essay are all important parts of the Vanderbilt's admissions equation.

Admissions Data (2016)

  • Percent of Applicants Admitted: 11 percent

Test Scores: 25th / 75th Percentile

  • SAT Critical Reading: 700 / 790
  • SAT Math: 720 / 800
  • ACT Composite: 32 / 35
  • ACT English: 32 / 35
  • ACT Math: 30 / 35

Rejection and Waitlist Data for Vanderbilt University

Rejection and waitlist data for Vanderbilt University
Rejection and waitlist data for Vanderbilt University. Data courtesy of Cappex.

When we strip away the blue and green acceptance data from the scattergraph, we get a much better view of Vanderbilt's selectivity. Many students with 4.0 GPAs and high standardized test scores get rejected. No matter how strong an applicant you are, you should consider Vanderbilt a reach school

Why Does Vanderbilt Reject Strong Students?

The painful reality with Vanderbilt University is that the school must reject many students who are perfectly well qualified to attend. The university attracts strong students, and with over 32,000 applicants for fewer than 2,000 positions in the incoming class, the math isn't in an applicant's favor.

The school's selectivity is why applicants need to focus on more than grades and test scores. The admissions folks at Vanderbilt are looking for impressive students who are likely to contribute to the campus community in meaningful ways. An applicant's leadership experience, community service, and extracurricular accomplishments need to suggest that he or she brings value to the community.

More Vanderbilt University Information

As you work to create your college wish list, be sure to consider factors such as cost with aid, graduation rates, and academic offerings.

Enrollment (2016)

  • Total Enrollment: 12,587 (6,871 undergraduates)
  • Gender Breakdown: 49 percent male / 51 percent female
  • 99 percent Full-time

Costs (2016–17)

  • Tuition and Fees: $45,610
  • Books: $1,294 (why so much?)
  • Room and Board: $14,962
  • Other Expenses: $2,788
  • Total Cost: $64,654

Vanderbilt University Financial Aid (2015–16)

  • Percentage of New Students Receiving Aid: 68 percent
  • Percentage of New Students Receiving Types of Aid
    • Grants: 64 percent
    • Loans: 14 percent
  • Average Amount of Aid
    • Grants: $40,382
    • Loans: $7,901

Academic Programs

Graduation and Retention Rates

  • First Year Student Retention (full-time students): 97 percent
  • 4-Year Graduation Rate: 87 percent
  • 6-Year Graduation Rate: 92 percent

Intercollegiate Athletic Programs

  • Men's Sports: Football, Golf, Tennis, Track and Field, Basketball, Baseball
  • Women's Sports: Track and Field, Basketball, Bowling, Swimming, Lacrosse, Soccer

If You Like Vanderbilt University, You May Also Like These Schools

Applicants to Vanderbilt tend to apply to other prestigious private universities. In the South, popular options include Emory University, Tulane University, and Rice University. Among the Ivies, Princeton University and Yale University tend to capture the interest of Vanderbilt applicants. All are highly selective, so be sure to have a couple options with a lower admissions bar.

If you're also looking at public university options, be sure to consider the University of Virginia and UNC at Chapel Hill. These universities are slightly less selective than the smaller private universities listed above, but keep in mind that the admissions bar tends to be higher for out-of-state applicants than for in-state applicants.

Data Source: Graphs courtesy of Cappex; all other data is from the National Center for Educational Statistics