Frequently Asked Questions
After you submit your application, you may email additional information to your admissions counselor and he or she will add it to your application file.
Vanderbilt admissions officers do not conduct interviews and interviews are not a required part of the admissions process. We do offer interviews with local alumni as an optional component of the application process. Through our CoRPs (Commodore Recruitment Programs) Interviewing program, applicants are invited to request an interview from an alumnus/a in their local area. After a student applies, s/he will be sent information via email about how to request a local interview with an alumnus/a. Alumni interviews are completely optional and Vanderbilt cannot guarantee the availability of alumni to interview all students, particularly those living outside major metropolitan areas. In no way will it reflect poorly on students who cannot arrange an interview. Visit our CoRPs Interviewing page for more information.
Yes, Vanderbilt generally awards college credit for a score of 4 or 5 on an Advanced Placement exam or 6 or 7 on an International Baccalaureate exam, though required scores vary slightly depending on the exam.
No, Vanderbilt does not consider demonstrated interest. While we welcome students to visit campus, participate in virtual visit programs, and contact their admissions officers with any questions, we do not track these interactions for the purpose of the admissions review.
SAT Subject Tests are optional. If official scores are sent to Vanderbilt, they may be considered during the application review process. For students who enroll at Vanderbilt, some SAT Subject Test scores can be used to meet language proficiency requirements in the College of Arts and Science, and to meet mathematics requirements for some majors in Peabody College.
Vanderbilt strives to honor family and legacy connections to the university whenever possible, and admissions officers are keenly aware of the powerful emotional connection that is often behind those applications. However, the admissions office has received no mandate from the university administration to grant preference to the children or siblings of Vanderbilt alumni. When a student‘s record closely mirrors those of other students being offered admission, legacy status may be taken into consideration.
There are three ways to apply. You may apply through the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success; the Common Application; or QuestBridge*. Choose the application system that is right for you - we do not prefer one over the others. Do not submit an application through more than one system. Choose one application, and submit all required materials through that method. Please note that applicants to Blair must submit the Blair School of Music Application in addition to either the Coalition Application or the Common Application. Please visit blair.vanderbilt.edu/admissions/apply for all details regarding application requirements for Blair applicants.
*Because of Blair’s audition timeline, students applying through the QuestBridge National Match program may not select Blair as their first-choice school.
Requirements for first-year applicants:
- All required parts of either the Coalition Application, the Common Application, or the QuestBridge Application.
- $50 nonrefundable application fee, or fee waiver for qualified students
- Official high school transcript
- Counselor letter of recommendation
- Two academic teacher letters of recommendation
- Optional for students applying for fall 2021 entry: SAT or ACT scores (SAT code: 1871 / ACT code: 4036)
Visit our Admissions Counselor page to find your admissions counselor’s contact information.
Because Vanderbilt receives so many more applications from highly qualified and capable students than there are available positions in the class, some students in whom the admission committee is very interested will receive an offer to join the waitlist. Once it is known how many students have accepted Vanderbilt‘s initial offer of admission, the admissions office will use the waitlist to fill the remaining spots in the entering class. The waitlist is not ranked; the selection of waitlist students will be based on a variety of factors and remaining needs for the class.
One goal of the admissions process is to create a dynamic and active campus community, thus it is important that we evaluate how applicants’ have enriched and enlivened their communities through extracurricular activities. What matters most is not the volume of involvement or the number of leadership positions held, but rather the steady commitment to a handful of meaningful activities beyond your required academic coursework. We do make particular note of significant local, regional, and national achievements.
Extracurricular activities are also help us understand what is important to you and what you value, and to see more clearly how you might bring those values to the Vanderbilt community. The most effective applications are those that clearly and concisely communicate which activities have had the most meaning to a student. In addition, it’s important that applicants explain organizations and achievements with which the admissions officer might not be familiar.
The admissions office believes that the senior year of high school is critical to a student‘s preparation and readiness for the academic rigor of Vanderbilt coursework. We expect students to demonstrate their interest in learning by continuing to take a full complement of academic courses and maintaining a high level of performance.
Vanderbilt uses a context-based, holistic admissions process — we do not employ cutoffs for standardized testing or grade point averages. In our review process, we evaluate students’ academic records, looking for students who have performed well within the context of their high school’s most challenging academic programs. We evaluate activities outside the classroom in terms of depth of involvement, roles and responsibilities, and leadership. We also evaluate applicants’ writing through the application essay and short answer. Finally, we consider letters of recommendation — these often offer the admissions committee context about the applicant, both in the classroom and in the wider community.
Matriculation deposits may be waived based on the student’s financial need. Admitted students receiving a federal PELL grant as part of their need-based financial aid package automatically have their matriculation deposit waived. Students admitted through the QuestBridge College Match and Posse organizations automatically have their matriculation deposit waived. International students receiving a need-based aid award automatically have their matriculation deposit waived. All students who have matriculation deposits waived MUST STILL claim their spot on their MyAppVU portal to secure their place in the class.
Yes, Vanderbilt is need-blind when reviewing applications for all U.S. citizens and eligible non-citizens. Vanderbilt makes three important commitments regarding financial aid:
- We are need-blind in the admissions process (for U.S citizens and eligible non-citizens).
- We meet 100% of demonstrated financial need for all admitted students.
- Our financial aid packages do not include loans.
Our financial aid program does not involve income bands or income cutoffs that limit eligibility.
Class rank can be an illuminating measure of an applicant‘s academic performance relative to his/her peers and is considered thoughtfully in conjunction with other data the admissions office gathers about a given high school. Keep in mind that the most promising candidates for admission to Vanderbilt have typically earned grades in a high range when compared to their classmates, and class rank often confirms what we can otherwise surmise about a student‘s performance.
When evaluating a student attending a school that does not rank its students, the admissions office relies on data provided by the school to gain some sense of the student’s performance relative to his or her peers. Such information is always used responsibly. GPA ranges, distributions, and graphical displays are data sets we commonly use that provide contextual information for schools that do not release exact rank.
Vanderbilt‘s application asks students to provide basic and demographic information about their parents and family background. Students are welcome to provide more detailed information in the form of a supplemental statement written by themselves or their school counselor, which will be read and considered along with the rest of the application for admission.
Academic achievement can only be measured meaningfully when considered in conjunction with a student‘s context and environment. The Office of Undergraduate Admissions makes every effort to gather academic information about applicants’ high schools in order to better understand their performance, course selection, and access to academic and extracurricular opportunities. Our process recognizes that traits such as grading and course offerings are by no means standard across all secondary schools. Vanderbilt expects students to have distinguished themselves academically whatever their environment, and to have sampled extensively the most rigorous coursework offered by their high school in most core academic areas.
No. Vanderbilt considers every student individually and within the application pool as a whole, not simply in comparison to the other students applying from the same secondary school. Keep in mind that within one school‘s applicant group, students may be applying to different Vanderbilt colleges or under different decision plans. The number of students Vanderbilt will accept from any given school will be consistent with the quality of the school‘s applicants for that particular year.
One- or two-year deferrals of admission are granted on a case-by-case basis for entry into a subsequent fall term only. To request a deferral, you must send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org by June 15. State your full name and that you are requesting a deferral. Once we receive your email, we will send you a deferral request form to complete. Once you have submitted the deferral request form, we will notify you of our decision within two weeks.
To be granted a deferral, you must have claimed your spot in your entering class by paying the $400 matriculation deposit (or having it waived.) Deferral requests are often approved for students seeking additional educational or personal enrichment opportunities such as travel, internships, or service, or for students who have religious reasons or military obligations. Deferral requests from students planning to enroll in degree-seeking, full-time programs at another college will not be approved.
Vanderbilt does not prescribe a specific distribution of high school coursework requirements, but most competitive applicants will have completed four full years of coursework in the five core academic areas of English, math, social studies, science (3 lab sciences), and foreign language. It is acceptable for a student to drop one of these areas in the senior year in order to take a second course in an area of greater interest, but the admissions committee will likely question a record that falls significantly short of the above curriculum.
By far the best method of preparing for admission to Vanderbilt, or to any selective university, is to take a challenging curriculum and work hard to make the best grades possible. Remember that learning is worthwhile for its own sake, not merely as a vehicle for getting into a "good" college. The most compelling applications will demonstrate a genuine love of learning as opposed to the mechanical pursuit of good grades. Participate in extracurricular activities because they have meaning to you, not merely because they will be needed for your college application. Preparing for a selective university begins when you first enter high school, not sometime in the middle of your junior year. By following these guidelines and your own internal compass, you will arrive at the college admissions process as prepared and self-aware as you can possibly be.
When you apply to Vanderbilt through the Coalition Application or the Common Application, Vanderbilt requires one personal essay and one short answer. Applicants who apply through QuestBridge must answer additional short answer questions.
These writing samples allow us to gain a more complete understanding of a candidate for admission to Vanderbilt. We use these writing samples to assess not only effectiveness in written communication, but also to learn more fully who the student is and what he or she values. There is no secret method to writing an effective personal essay. The best essays are those written in a student‘s authentic voice and that convey the sense that, in formulating and composing the essay, the student achieved a greater sense of self-awareness and self-knowledge.
International students may apply for merit-based scholarships which can provide awards up to the full cost of tuition. The remaining costs not covered by the scholarship must be covered by personal funds or private sponsorship. For more information about merit-based scholarships and how to apply, please visit our Merit-Based Scholarships site.
Vanderbilt has a limited amount of need-based financial assistance for international students, and financial need will be considered when making admissions decisions. Students with a strong academic record and greater ability to finance their expenses will have a higher chance for admission. International students with demonstrated need who are admitted will have 100% of their demonstrated need met with grants and/or scholarships. Merit scholarship recipients with demonstrated need beyond the amount of the scholarship will have 100% of their need met with grant and/or scholarship assistance.
Students or counselors impacted by natural disasters should contact their admissions counselor with any concerns. We understand that during natural disasters, students may not be able to submit required materials by our published deadlines. We always try to offer as much flexibility as possible. There are times when students may need to apply Regular Decision because they are not able to submit required materials by Early Decision published deadlines. Most importantly, we will work with students and counselors on an individual basis during these times.
Early Decision is intended for students who, at the conclusion of a thoughtful college search, determine that Vanderbilt is their first-choice school. Early Decision is a binding admissions plan, meaning that students admitted Early Decision are expected to withdraw their applications to other schools and commit to enroll at Vanderbilt in the fall.
Vanderbilt offers two Early Decision plans, Early Decision I and II. Both Early Decision I and Early Decision II are binding admissions plans but they have different application deadlines and decision notification dates. Early Decision I has an application deadline of November 1 and admissions decisions are available by mid- December. The application deadline for Early Decision II is January 1 and admissions decisions are available by mid-February.
For students applying to Vanderbilt under Early Decision I (submission deadline November 1), the October administration of the SAT or ACT is the final opportunity to take the exam. For students applying under Early Decision II or Regular Decision (submission deadline January 1), the last opportunity to take the exam is the December administration.
The Writing section of the ACT and the Essay section of the New SAT are not required.
Vanderbilt seeks to enroll an entering class which closely reflects the diversity of society. To that end, we seek the very best students from all types of backgrounds. We consider ethnic, socioeconomic, geographic, religious, and lifestyle diversity as we build each incoming class.
Admissions decisions will be available by mid-December for Early Decision I, by mid-February for Early Decision II, and by late March for Regular Decision.
Most application materials should be submitted online through the Coalition Application, the Common Application, or the QuestBridge Application. If you must mail materials, use this address:
Office of Undergraduate Admissions
2305 West End Avenue
Nashville, Tennessee 37203
Note that it is not necessary to address the envelope to a specific person.