Vanderbilt University: A Legacy of Academic Excellence and Innovation

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Peabody Lawn on the Vanderbilt University campus

Founded in 1873, Vanderbilt University is a private research institution known globally for its strong academic programs and research opportunities. This close-knit campus community is located in the heart of Nashville, Tennessee, and offers a college experience unlike anything else. While not an Ivy League school, Vanderbilt is known as a “Southern Ivy” because of its highly selective admissions process and stellar academic reputation.

Why Is Vanderbilt Famous? 

Vanderbilt also known as Vandy or VU has a reputation as one of the most innovative universities in the world in terms of its efforts to advance science and technology. It’s also well-known for its park-like campus, which is considered one of the most beautiful in the U.S. Additionally, Vanderbilt University has many notable alumni that include four Nobel Laureates, three US Poets Laureate, several professional athletes, and many U.S. and world leaders.   

Vanderbilt University has been around for 150 years and is known worldwide for its amazing education and research opportunities. It’s highly ranked in both academics and financial aid, so you can get the best education possible without breaking the bank. Vanderbilt offers exceptional programs that are recognized internationally, and you can get the full experience by living on campus as an undergraduate student.

What Are the Best Reasons to Attend Vanderbilt University? 

There are many good reasons to attend Vanderbilt University. Its location allows students to enjoy a rich college experience that is enhanced by the proximity of campus to downtown Nashville and all it has to offer. Additionally, students are encouraged to study across disciplines, and the atmosphere on campus is collaborative and supportive. The student-to-faculty ratio is small, allowing students to work closely with and get to know their professors.   

In the tradition of Oxford and Cambridge Universities in England, Vanderbilt offers residential colleges college halls where undergraduate students live with a member of the faculty. This style of living promotes community building and faculty engagement outside of the classroom. All first-year students are assigned to college halls within the Martha Rivers Ingram Commons, which is part of the residential college system. 

It’s a highly sought-after education, so if you want to learn how to get into Vanderbilt University we have a number of resources to help.

Watch the video to find out more: 

Why Is Vanderbilt So Prestigious? 

Vanderbilt is highly regarded for its excellent academic programs such as sciences, engineering, humanities, and social sciences some of which are among the best in the U.S. It’s also known for its spirit of collaboration, unique residential college system, and state-of-the-art facilities. The university partners with prominent institutions all over the world and has made a global impact in research and innovation.

IvyWise admissions counselor Carolyn, a former admissions officer at Vanderbilt University, offers this advice for students who are about to start the application process. “It can be easy to get yourself caught up in the process. But you want to make sure all of your decisions come back to what are the things that you enjoy, what are you passionate about, what you want to do with your life.”

Academic Excellence: What Majors & Academics Are Vanderbilt Recognized For? 

Vanderbilt is particularly known for its undergraduate programs in economics, engineering, music, human development, education, and humanities. Some of the nation’s leading programs for graduate students are offered through Vanderbilt Law School, the School of Medicine, the School of Nursing, the Peabody College of Education, and the Owen Graduate School of Management.

The university has also boasted a long commitment to research and innovation and recently launched the Discovery Vanderbilt initiative, which has three outcomes: engagement, reach, and funding. This initiative involves collaborating across disciplines, developing partnerships to extend and promote their research on a national and global scale, and expanding and diversifying funding for research.   


Vanderbilt University ranks consistently high in various national and global rankings, including second for happiest students and best athletic facilities. The U.S. News ranked Vanderbilt 13th nationally on its 2023 list of Best Colleges and 78th globally. Forbes also ranks VU 13th on its Top Colleges 2022 list, as well as 11th in private colleges, 12th in research universities, and third in the South.   

Vanderbilt Peabody College of Education and Human Development 

Peabody College is one of the top-ranked schools of education in the U.S. It’s ranked sixth overall in the nation in the most recent U.S. News rankings, and several of its programs are ranked in the top 10. Undergraduate students can choose among programs in human and organizational development, child development, early childhood and elementary education, secondary education, special education, child studies, and cognitive studies. Graduate students have several degree and program options, including 21 master’s programs and several Ed.D. and Ph.D. programs.

The faculty members at Peabody are experts in a range of disciplines and have received numerous awards and recognitions. Among them include 15 American Educational Research Fellows, four National Academy of Education members, and 24 Association for Psychological Science fellows.  

What Is Vanderbilt Medical Center Known For? 

Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) is nationally ranked in several adult and pediatric specialties and is the leading provider of medical care in the Southeast. VUMC is renowned for its teaching hospital and is ranked in the top 10 nationally for research by the National Institutes of Health. The VUMC health system treats more than 3 million patients annually and offers a range of services.  

Other Unique Aspects of Vanderbilt University 


Known as the Commodores, Vanderbilt’s student-athletes are known as much for their athletic skill as they are for their academic excellence. The university has 16 varsity teams — six men’s and 10 women’s — and 14 compete in NCAA Division I as part of the Southeastern Conference. Vanderbilt has won six NCAA national championships, including two for men’s baseball, three for women’s bowling, and one for women’s tennis.  

Campus Culture 

Vanderbilt has a reputation for fostering a diverse and inclusive community, which the university considers its “greatest source of strength.” Various cultural and social events take place on campus including the annual Commodore Quake homecoming concert, student art exhibitions, music recitals, lectures, and more. Students are also encouraged to get involved in one or more of the 500+ clubs and organizations on campus, including sororities and fraternities, student government, running club, and piano society, among others. 


Like most universities, Vanderbilt celebrates its own traditions, including the Founders Walk during Move-In Weekend and the strawberries and champagne served to graduates and their families after the commencement ceremony. Students make the “VU” hand sign during various campus events. And at football games, an anchor is carried in a procession to the stadium and then dropped at midfield to start the game.

What Are Your Chances of Acceptance at Vanderbilt? 

Vanderbilt is a great option for students who want an immersive college experience at a world-class university that integrates on-campus living with learning, research, collaboration, and social activities. The emphasis on diversity and inclusion means that students are exposed to different viewpoints and voices, which enhances learning and critical thinking skills. And Vanderbilt’s commitment to excellence in all aspects of academics, research, healthcare, athletics, and community culture means that students will receive a top-notch education and experience a good quality of life. 

If you’re considering applying to Vanderbilt, you will have stiff competition for admission. These admission statistics for Vanderbilt University demonstrate how selective it is, so it is important to emphasize in your application how you’re a strong fit academically and socially.  

Applying to selective schools like Vanderbilt can be a long and challenging process, but seeking expert guidance early on can make a big difference in gaining admission. At IvyWise, we help students build a balanced college list of best-fit schools and guide students through every step of the application process. Learn how to get started with IvyWise so we can help you achieve both your academic and personal goals.   


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