The concept of "balance" permeates the undergraduate experience at Vanderbilt. Students balance academics, student activities, and social life in an environment that brings students, faculty, and staff from differing backgrounds, viewpoints, and life experiences together as one.
Because we believe so strongly that great ideas require more than one school of thought, students are encouraged to pursue academic interests in all four undergraduate colleges, even those outside of their main field of study. A significant number of students study abroad in one of the 120+ programs available in 36 countries on 6 continents.
When not engaged in learning, Vanderbilt students have plenty of choices off campus. Nashville is so much more than country music and Southern charm, despite how proud we are of the area's history. In fact, out of the more than 200 places to hear live music, less than a third play country. Nashville is also home to the Tennessee Titans NFL football team, Nashville Predators NHL hockey team, and the Nashville Sounds minor league baseball team. The Frist Center for the Visual Arts offers ever–changing exhibitions of classic and contemporary art, and the Tennessee Performing Arts Center brings many shows hot off of Broadway to town.
With so much to do, on campus and off, any student who can balance a serious pursuit of knowledge with endless possibilities for fun will feel right at home.
Learn more about Nashville in our Know Your City blog series.
At Vanderbilt, expect to meet people from many different regions, countries, cultures, experiences, and walks of life. Just take a look at the more than 430 student organizations students enjoy while they learn at one of the country’s most renowned universities.
Sports, philosophy, performing arts, hobbies, community service, sororities and fraternities, and professional development are just the start. Students are also encouraged to create their own student groups.
In 1987, four Vanderbilt University students did just that, combining their eagerness to do community service work with a desire to travel somewhere new for spring break. Today, Alternative Spring Break is a national organization that has grown from four students to thousands of students from across the country.
We also have a tradition of celebration around here throughout the academic year. Among the most popular events are Homecoming Weekend, the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Lecture Series, the National Pan–Hellenic Council Step Show, Quake, and Rites of Spring, our pre–finals music festival on Alumni Lawn. Ludacris, Nelly, The National, The Flaming Lips, Lady Antebellum - they’ve all had a good time with us here at Vanderbilt.
While Nashville draws some of the hottest musical acts around, it is also home to the Tennessee Titans, Nashville Predators, Country Music Hall of Fame, Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Tennessee Performing Arts Center, Grand Ole Opry, and the historic Ryman Auditorium. When you need to get away, there are plenty of outdoor adventures to be found.
As one of the world’s entertainment capitals, Nashville attracts concert headliners from all musical genres eager to play our city’s arenas and clubs. But it’s not all about music. You are just as likely to see Broadway shows, dance troupes, and other artistic pursuits. Click on the links below to discover the possibilities.
Enjoy @ VU
Create @ VU
Look and Listen to Nashville
Read It and Hear It
Continue to explore Nashville.
Vanderbilt has been participating in intercollegiate athletics for more than one hundred years. We field 16 varsity sports teams, all of which play at the NCAA Division I–A level. Our Commodores are proud to compete at the highest level every weekend. Varsity athletic events are free to undergraduates, and our students bring the Commodore Spirit to support their favorite teams every week.
Vanderbilt also fields 40 sport clubs, teams that play in intercollegiate competition under the NIRSA standard. These sports run the gamut from soccer to disc golf and Brazilian jujitsu. In addition, the more than 40 intramural sports offered each year give students of all skill and ability levels a chance to compete.
Visit the Vanderbilt Athletics site for more detailed information.
The Community Creed is a student-initiated statement of the values to which the Vanderbilt community aspires. Individuals who join this community embark on a lifelong journey toward greater intellectual enlightenment and personal growth. By fostering the Creed’s principles, we anchor ourselves to the University’s enduring tradition of excellence, united by a common set of values.
Academic – We strive to pursue intellectual knowledge with curiosity and humility. We engage in a partnership of learning and discovery, where the scholarly exploration of ideas is not only protected, but encouraged.
Neighborly – We strive to be ambassadors of goodwill within our campus and beyond. We serve, uplift, and empower the members of our global neighborhood.
Courageous – We strive to be courageous, acting with bold authenticity. We embrace taking risks, challenging assumptions, and persevering in the face of adversity.
Honest – We strive for honesty in our academic endeavors and relationships with others. We commit to integrity and accountability across all aspects of life—personally, professionally, and academically.
Open – We strive to openly engage with ideas, experiences, and with one another. We welcome every background and story through celebration of the diversity that enriches our common experience and active participation in constructive conversations about our differences.
Respectful – We strive to promote a culture of civility grounded in equity, inclusivity, and respect. We hold each other’s passions and perspectives in high regard, endeavoring to live a life of personal growth and service.
The Office of Active Citizenship and Service
The Office of Active Citizenship and Service exists to foster, facilitate, and support the efforts of those in the university community who engage in service at local, national, and international levels. The fundamental aim of OACS is to promote, through active citizenship and service work, the value of social justice, public awareness, service learning, and lifelong civic involvement.
Student Service Groups
Individual students and more than 30 registered Student Service Groups work throughout the Nashville area on a wide variety of social concerns. Student Service Group information may be obtained from the Office of Active Citizenship and Service and from the Office of the Dean of Students.
Vanderbilt celebrates a rich diversity of thought and identity. We believe a residential community provides the opportunity for a well-rounded academic and social experience. Our students, faculty, staff, programming, and community initiatives all demonstrate Vanderbilt's commitment to diversity. We strive each year to recruit a highly qualified first-year class from a variety of populations.
"We recognize that top students can be found among all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups, and our recruiters work hard to identify them and to make them aware of the opportunities available to Vanderbilt students," says Dr. Douglas Christiansen, Vice Provost for Enrollment Management and Dean of Admissions.
Diversity is nothing new to Vanderbilt, a school that opened its doors in 1875 to men and women, fielded the first black athlete in the SEC, and whose students created Alternative Spring Break and Project Head Start. Use the following links to see how we reach out to our community and beyond through extraordinary programs such as Project Dialogue, where we focus on societal issues with the help of guests that have included Naomi Wolf, Oliver Sacks, Al Franken, John Ashcroft, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Vanderbilt University provides more than room and board. Living on campus is integral to a Vanderbilt undergraduate education and supports the academic experience, furthering a student’s growth and development. Vanderbilt’s commitment to residential education is expressed in the residential requirement:
“All unmarried undergraduate students must live in residence halls on campus during the academic year, May session, and summer sessions. Authorization to live elsewhere is granted at the discretion of the Director of Housing Assignments in special situations or when space is unavailable on campus.” (Student Handbook)
To learn more about living on campus, visit the Office of Housing and Residential Education website.
Upon arriving on campus, first-year students join The Martha Rivers Ingram Commons, a living-learning residential community comprised of 10 houses, The Commons Center, and the dean of The Commons' house. This innovative approach to college life offers faculty and students more opportunities to share ideas with each other and with many of the world–renowned guests Vanderbilt attracts each year.
After the first year, students have many living options available on campus, including traditional dorm living, living/learning communities, and apartment style living. Architecture styles range from historic/traditional to modern and all residences provide students with wireless access and an array of other amenities.
Warren and Moore Colleges, Vanderbilt's newest residence halls, each house approximately 330 of sophomores, juniors and seniors. They are led by a faculty director and two graduate students in residence. Each college is organized into two halls in order to create unique neighborhoods within the larger college communities that foster a variety of student-led opportunities for engagement, enrichment and leadership.
When it comes to dining on campus, there are plenty of choices. Rand Dining Center and The Commons Center serve as campus' main dining facilities, but many other options are available that honor VU Meal Plans. Students can choose from a wide variety of restaurants, both on campus and immediately off campus. Grab something on the go or sit down for a relaxing meal with friends at any number of locations, including Carmichael Towers, Varsity Marketplace, Grins Vegetarian Café, Stonehenge, and Nectar, our natural food store. Off campus, many local restaurants participate in the Taste of Nashville program, which allows students to pay for meals with their Commodore Cards.
Come see why Vanderbilt was called a "Top 25 Healthiest College" by the popular health website Greatist.
Staffed by nurse practitioners and physicians, the Student Health Center at Vanderbilt is open Monday – Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to noon. Appointments are preferred, but a walk–in clinic is available on a first-come, first-served basis.
The UCC provides individual counseling for personal, social, academic, and emotional problems. Most counseling services are provided free of charge.
As a professional law enforcement agency, the VPD is dedicated to the protection and security of Vanderbilt University and its community. VPD services and programs include:
This complimentary shuttle service runs throughout the campus from 5:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m. Walking escorts are also available upon request.
The press of a button automatically dials the VPD Communications Center from more than 100 locations across campus. An officer will be sent to check on the caller, even if nothing is communicated to the dispatcher.
V-U Hand Sign – Extend your thumb, index, and middle fingers of the right hand (palm facing out) to form a "V" and "U".
Founder’s Walk – An annual event when incoming freshmen walk through the gates of Vanderbilt to begin their undergraduate careers. Students walk out of the gates to symbolize the completion of their undergraduate years during the graduation procession.
Honor Code Signing – At the beginning of each year, the incoming freshmen gather to sign the Honor Code which is then framed and displayed in the Sarratt Student center as a reminder of the commitment students have made. The honor code has been in existence since 1875, but the signing and framing tradition began with the class of 2002. Outside of graduation festivities, the Honor Code signing is the only time the entire class is gathered together.
Star Walk – Vandy students, fans, and the Spirit of Gold marching band line a sidewalk painted with stars, cheering for the football team as they enter and exit Dudley Field.
Alma Mater and Fight Song – Win or lose, Vanderbilt students and fans stand and sing the alma mater. Dynamite, the Vanderbilt fight song, was written by a Vanderbilt student, Francis Craig in 1924.
Commodore Quake – An annual concert for students in Memorial Gym that kicks off Homecoming weekend. Past headliners have included Ludacris, Chingy and Yin Yang Twins, and the Counting Crows.
Rites of Spring – An annual music festival held on alumni lawn the weekend before finals. Past performances include Spoon, Nelly, My Morning Jacket, Phoenix, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!, Kid Cubi, and Talib Kwali.
- The administration at Vanderbilt has cancelled classes only twice, once because a bull got loose on campus.
The Vanderbilt administration has cancelled classes multiple times over the past 130 years, although never because of a loose bull.
- There is no bell at the top of Kirkland Hall. Vanderbilt has an expensive stereo system that plays chimes every hour. After the original Kirkland burned down in 1905, Nashville schoolchildren collected pennies to pay for a new bell. That 2,000–pound bell still chimes from the Kirkland Tower on the hour, every hour.
- When Vanderbilt separated from the United Methodist Church, the Methodists founded Emory University.
We will give you half credit for this one. When Vanderbilt split from the United Methodist Church, they did found another university, but it was Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas.
- The Blair School of Music’s most famous alumnus is cellist Yo Yo Ma. Complete lore – Yo Yo Ma graduated from Harvard in 1976 and studied at the Julliard School. We have no clue how he has allegedly been tied to our Blair School of Music.
- There are three squirrels for every one student. While an exact count has never been conducted, let’s just say there are a lot of squirrels across our 330-acre campus.
- The teacher in Dead Poets Society is based on the popular Vanderbilt professor John Lachs. Tom Schulman, who wrote the screenplay for Dead Poets Society, is a Vanderbilt alumnus, but he based his story on experiences at a local private school, Montgomery Bell Academy. There is no evidence that Professor Keating is derived from any specific person at Vanderbilt.
- The Vanderbilt mascot once ran arch rival University of Tennessee’s mascot out of the stadium at a football game. At the 1964 meeting of Vanderbilt and Tennessee, a basset hound named George didn’t like the looks of the walking horse that served as the UT mascot at the time. George ran at the walking horse and it walked right out of the stadium. Vanderbilt defeated Tennessee 7-0 that day and George, the pet of a Vanderbilt student, became a beloved mascot on campus until George’s death in 1966.
Only minutes from downtown Nashville, Vanderbilt’s historic Kirkland Hall keeps watch over 330 acres of park–like campus. Ancient oaks and magnolias fill this official national arboretum and open onto sweeping lawns. A blend of architecture punctuates the landscape with buildings as varied as our academic pursuits—many part of Vanderbilt from our first days, others added in response to an ever–changing world.