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How to get into Vanderbilt – General Information

Vanderbilt University is a private university located in Nashville, Tennessee. The school was founded in 1873. The total Vanderbilt enrollment is over 13,000 students, and the Vanderbilt enrollment for undergraduates is just over 7,000 students. 

What we’ll cover in this How to Get into Vanderbilt guide: 

  • Vanderbilt GPA requirements
  • Average Vanderbilt SAT scores
  • Details on Vanderbilt enrollment
  • Vanderbilt Early Decision information
  • Vanderbilt application deadline 
  • Tips on writing the Vanderbilt supplemental essays
  • Vanderbilt interview, and more. 

When thinking about how to get into Vanderbilt, make sure each piece of your application is top-notch. This includes studying for standardized tests to ensure strong Vanderbilt SAT scores, getting grades that match the Vanderbilt GPA requirements, pursuing extracurriculars that highlight your passions, and bolstering your candidate profile. You should prepare well before the Vanderbilt Early Decision or Regular Decision Vanderbilt application deadline. 

Figuring out how to get into Vanderbilt takes strategy. We can help. CollegeAdvisor.com’s network of 300+ Admissions Experts (and former admissions officers) includes Vanderbilt graduates. Want to maximize your Vanderbilt admissions odds? Create your free account or schedule a free advising consultation by calling (844) 343-6272. 

How hard is it to get into Vanderbilt University?

According to U.S. News, Vanderbilt is considered a most selective school with an acceptance rate of 12%. U.S. News ranks Vanderbilt University as #14 in National Universities. Over 36,000 students applied for the Vanderbilt Class of 2024. Of those applicants, the Vanderbilt enrollment totaled almost 1,700 students. 

Although there are no specific Vanderbilt GPA requirements, the average GPA sits around 3.83. About 83% of admitted students have a 3.75+ GPA. The average Vanderbilt SAT scores also range from 1470-1570.

If you want to know how to get into Vanderbilt, understand that admission is highly competitive. Vanderbilt would be considered a “reach” for any student. Becoming a Vanderbilt Commodore will take much more than just meeting the Vanderbilt GPA requirements or Vanderbilt SAT scores. 

To increase your chances, prepare your materials well before the Vanderbilt Early Decision I, Vanderbilt Early Decision II, or regular Vanderbilt application deadline. Study for standardized tests, get high grades, and write thoughtful Vanderbilt supplemental essays. If you know that Vanderbilt is your top choice, consider applying by the Vanderbilt Early Decision I or Vanderbilt Early Decision II deadline.  

What GPA do I need for Vanderbilt University? 

No GPA will guarantee you admission to Vanderbilt. However, you should try to match the average Vanderbilt GPA requirements. The average GPA for the Vanderbilt Class of 2024 was 3.83. As Vanderbilt GPA requirements can change, it is important for you to aim for a high GPA. 

There are no formal Vanderbilt GPA requirements or required Vanderbilt SAT scores. Instead, Vanderbilt will evaluate your GPA as one factor in a holistic process. It is crucial that you do well in your high school classes, and that starts with choosing the right course load. Take advantage of all the resources that your high school has to offer. This will give you a better chance of meeting any Vanderbilt GPA requirements. 

Curious about how to get into Vanderbilt if you don’t match the average Vanderbilt GPA requirements? Then, check out our article here. You’ll find helpful tips to make your application stand out, even if you don’t meet the Vanderbilt GPA requirements or Vanderbilt SAT scores. 

What is in the Vanderbilt application? 

Every part of the Vanderbilt application is essential to your “how to get into Vanderbilt” strategy. This includes all Vanderbilt supplemental essays, optional test scores, and additional materials. Aim to submit your application well before the Vanderbilt Early Decision I, Vanderbilt Early Decision II, or regular Vanderbilt application deadline. 

The Vanderbilt Early Decision I application deadline is November 1st. Both the Vanderbilt Early Decision II deadline and the Vanderbilt application deadline for Regular Decision fall on January 1st

Applying to the Vanderbilt Early Decision I or Vanderbilt Early Decision II deadline is binding. This means students must attend Vanderbilt if admitted under either of these programs. Additionally, students admitted through Vanderbilt Early Decision I or Vanderbilt Early Decision II must withdraw all other applications. 

Applicants must submit: 

An important part of your “how to get into Vanderbilt” strategy is to plan early. Collect all these materials well before the Vanderbilt Early Decision I, Vanderbilt Early Decision II, or Regular Decision Vanderbilt application deadline. Need some help acing the Common App? Read our guide here

Like many other schools, Vanderbilt enacted a test-optional policy due to COVID-19. Students now do not have to provide ACT or SAT scores. Vanderbilt also implemented a self-reporting test policy, meaning that students can self-report their test scores. Official score reports are required for all enrolling students. 

Applicants also must submit the Vanderbilt supplemental essays. The Vanderbilt supplemental essays are designed to give the admissions team insight into what matters to you. We will expand on the Vanderbilt supplemental essays later in this guide. 

Visit the Vanderbilt Admissions website for more information. 

What extracurriculars does Vanderbilt prefer?

Do you want to know how to get into Vanderbilt? Start by finding your passions and interests. 

Beyond your academics, your candidate profile also articulates your extracurricular activities and interests. Your candidate profile is a 1-2 sentence description of who you are, what you do, and why colleges should admit you. A unique candidate profile is a key part of your “how to get into Vanderbilt” plan. 

Vanderbilt does not look for one specific activity. Instead, Vanderbilt wants to see that you have engaged in activities that have nurtured your growth. It is more about the depth of your involvement, rather than the breadth. 

Be sure to highlight any extracurriculars that show leadership, commitment, and impact. Don’t leave anything out! Vanderbilt values any activity that requires significant time and energy. This includes academic clubs as well as part-time jobs or family commitments. Provide as much context as possible so your readers understand the activity itself as well as your involvement. 

What is the acceptance rate at Vanderbilt University? 

The Vanderbilt acceptance rate is another key thing to consider in your “how to get into Vanderbilt” approach. Vanderbilt has an acceptance rate of 12%, making it a highly competitive school. This also ensures that the Vanderbilt enrollment remains small. 

Vanderbilt received 36,646 applications for the Class of 2024. Of those students, the Vanderbilt enrollment for the freshman class was just under 1,700. Additionally, the total Vanderbilt enrollment for the university at large is 13,537. 

Acceptance rates represent the ratio of the total number of applicants to the number of accepted students. Therefore, the Vanderbilt acceptance rate shifts each year and can be influenced by many factors. These include the total Vanderbilt enrollment or standardized test scores. 

Standardized testing

Even though Vanderbilt moved to a test-optional policy, we advise you to take standardized tests if you can. The average Vanderbilt SAT scores range from 1470-1570, and the average ACT scores range from 33-35. 

Want to match the average Vanderbilt SAT scores? Then, start studying well before the Vanderbilt Early Decision I, Vanderbilt Early Decision II, or regular Vanderbilt application deadline. You should take your first test during your junior year. This gives you plenty of time to retake the test if needed in order to meet the average Vanderbilt SAT scores. 

Want to know how acceptance rates can affect your Vanderbilt enrollment? Read our article here

Does Vanderbilt University require interviews? 

As you strategize about how to get into Vanderbilt, you might wonder about the Vanderbilt interview process. In short, Vanderbilt offers optional interviews to as many students as possible. 

However, keep in mind that the admissions team does not conduct Vanderbilt interviews. Instead, local alumni manage the Vanderbilt interview process. The Vanderbilt interview allows students to learn more about life on campus. Each optional Vanderbilt interview will take place virtually. 

Not all students will be able to participate in a Vanderbilt interview, as there are not enough alumni available. So, students who cannot complete a Vanderbilt interview will not be penalized. 

Students can opt into the Vanderbilt interview after applying through the Vanderbilt student profile. After the Vanderbilt interview, the interviewer will submit a report to the admissions team. This report is added to the student’s file and treated much like a letter of recommendation. 

For more details on the Vanderbilt interview process, visit their website

What does Vanderbilt look for in essays? 

In addition to the main essay prompt found in the 2021-2022 Common App or Coalition App, the Vanderbilt application requires Vanderbilt supplemental essays. The Vanderbilt supplemental essays can change each year. So, you should review this requirement as you finalize your “how to get into Vanderbilt” strategy. Currently, there is only one required essay with a length of 200-400 words. 

Be sure to write thoughtful Vanderbilt supplemental essays. Also, if your stats fall below the Vanderbilt GPA requirements or Vanderbilt SAT scores, the Vanderbilt supplemental essays could help you stand out. We suggest starting your Vanderbilt supplemental essays early. Try to have a draft well before the Vanderbilt Early Decision I, Early Decision II, or regular Vanderbilt application deadline. 

At its core, the Vanderbilt essay question lets you talk about what matters to you. It asks you to discuss an activity or experience in detail. So, instead of just focusing on what you have done, make sure to describe who you are in relation to what you do. This lets you highlight aspects of your profile that may not be present elsewhere in your application. 

Focus on the “why”

Since you only have 400 words, use your Vanderbilt supplemental essays to discuss why you chose to engage in this activity. Start by briefly describing the activity or experience. Then explain why this activity matters to you, including how it may have shaped aspects of your identity or point of view. 

The Vanderbilt supplemental essays allow the admissions team to understand how you would enrich the Vanderbilt community. Here are some helpful tips from the Vanderbilt website to consider as you write your Vanderbilt supplemental essays: 

  • Keep the “personal” in personal essay.
  • Don’t try to guess what we want to hear.
  • Tell us something we don’t already know. 
  • Ask for input – but not too much. 
  • Edit, proof, polish, and breathe. 

Be sure to include as many details as possible in your Vanderbilt supplemental essays. The more detailed you are in your Vanderbilt supplemental essays, the more likely it is that the admissions team will connect with you. 

The Vanderbilt supplemental essays assess who you are beyond your transcript and test scores. So, use the Vanderbilt supplemental essays to highlight what makes you unique. Additionally, showcase how you will add to campus life in your Vanderbilt supplemental essays. 

Want more tips on how to write the Vanderbilt supplemental essays? Read our Vanderbilt essay guide

How does Vanderbilt University review applications? 

When considering how to get into Vanderbilt, many students only care about the Vanderbilt GPA requirements, Vanderbilt SAT scores, Vanderbilt interview, or Vanderbilt enrollment. Although these are important factors, there are other things to think about in your “how to get into Vanderbilt” approach. 

After the Vanderbilt Early Decision I, Vanderbilt Early Decision II, and regular Vanderbilt application deadlines, the admissions team begins the holistic review process. In other words, they will review your entire application—not just your academic profile. Additionally, Vanderbilt works to understand your application “in the larger context of your circumstances.” This means looking at what opportunities are available at your high school and examining how other factors might impact your profile. 

The holistic review process aims to assess the following: 

  • Academic achievement
  • Standardized test scores, if submitted
  • Letters of recommendation 
  • Personal essay, including the Vanderbilt supplemental essays
  • Extracurricular activities, leadership, and engagement

Vanderbilt does not consider demonstrated interest in the review process. In addition, Vanderbilt trains their admissions team to find reasons to admit each applicant rather than reasons to deny them. 

It will take much more than just meeting the Vanderbilt GPA requirements or Vanderbilt SAT scores to perfect your “how to get into Vanderbilt” strategy. So, spend time strengthening your grades and extracurriculars. Additionally, build your candidate profile well before the Vanderbilt Early Decision I, Vanderbilt Early Decision II, or regular Vanderbilt application deadline. This will help with your “how to get into Vanderbilt” mindset. 

Want more information about how to get into Vanderbilt? Visit the Vanderbilt website for expert advice as you complete your “how to get into Vanderbilt” research. 

Will Vanderbilt University look at my social media accounts? 

As you think about how to get into Vanderbilt, you might wonder if your social media profile could affect the admissions process. Rest assured, it is not likely that your readers will have the time or energy to review your social media accounts. 

However, this doesn’t mean that you can or should post rude, hostile, or offensive content on your social media. While these kinds of posts might not directly affect your application, there are plenty of real-world situations in which your social media accounts can impact your life. For example, potential employers may review your social media presence when you apply for a job or internship. 

Most importantly, we recommend using social media responsibly. Although it is not likely that Vanderbilt will check your TikTok or Instagram accounts, there is always a chance. 

Is Vanderbilt a good school for me? 

As you explore how to get into Vanderbilt, ask yourself whether Vanderbilt is the right place for you. Yes, Vanderbilt is ranked #14 in National Universities, and students who attend Vanderbilt can benefit from an immersive learning environment with a 7:1 student-faculty ratio. However, this doesn’t mean that Vanderbilt is for everyone. 

As evidenced by the Vanderbilt GPA requirements, Vanderbilt SAT scores, and Vanderbilt enrollment, academics at Vanderbilt are outstanding. Additionally, all first-year students are required to participate in the Immersion Vanderbilt program, an experiential program that provides empowering learning opportunities that conclude with a final project. Examples include study abroad programs, field research, and professional exposure in a chosen career. 

Vanderbilt seeks students with strong academic skills and intellectual curiosity. Students who are ready to bring their perspectives to the campus to work, innovate, and create with others should consider Vanderbilt. 

Vanderbilt is need-blind, meaning that students will be admitted regardless of their family’s ability to pay. Vanderbilt offers a program called Opportunity Vanderbilt, which meets 100% of a student’s demonstrated financial need without the use of loans. 

Best Financial Aid

In 2021, The Princeton Review ranked Vanderbilt #1 for Best Financial Aid. Vanderbilt offers need-based and merit-based aid, with 64% of undergraduates receiving some type of financial support. Additionally, Vanderbilt is one of the few private universities that offers significant merit scholarships, regardless of a family’s financial status. These Vanderbilt merit scholarships are highly competitive, with less than 1% of students receiving aid. 

As you are thinking about how to get into Vanderbilt, ask yourself the following: 

  • Am I interested in an environment that promotes academic excellence through collaboration?
  • Does Vanderbilt offer the major I want to study? 
  • How can Vanderbilt help me achieve my future goals?

If you decide that Vanderbilt is for you, consider applying to the Vanderbilt Early Decision I or Vanderbilt Early Decision II deadline. Either way, be sure to submit your materials well before the Vanderbilt application deadline. 

Want some insider advice on how to get into Vanderbilt? Connect with a current Vanderbilt student to learn more. 

Additional tips to get into Vanderbilt

Build your candidate profile

As you construct your “how to get into Vanderbilt” approach, keep in mind that Vanderbilt looks for applicants that are ready to participate in a collaborative culture that values diverse perspectives. Seek out experiences that will strengthen your candidate profile well before the Vanderbilt application deadline. 

Write compelling Vanderbilt supplemental essays

The Vanderbilt supplemental essays are your opportunity to show who you are apart from your academic profile. Be thoughtful and authentic as you craft your responses. Be sure to highlight your unique achievements and future goals—Vanderbilt wants to know how you will add to the Vanderbilt community. 

Start early 

Don’t wait until the last minute to apply! Prepare your materials well in advance of the Vanderbilt application deadline. Remember, you want to build the strongest application possible, so give yourself plenty of time to do so. Be proactive about completing your Vanderbilt supplemental essays and scheduling your Vanderbilt interview, if applicable. 

Don’t let the Vanderbilt GPA requirements, Vanderbilt SAT scores, or Vanderbilt enrollment stop you from applying. Although there is no guarantee you will be admitted to Vanderbilt, following the tips and advice in our “how to get into Vanderbilt” guide will help you prepare the strongest application possible. Do your research on how to get into Vanderbilt, and don’t wait to get started. Good luck! 

Curious to learn more about how to get into Vanderbilt? Watch our Vanderbilt University Panel to hear insider perspectives about campus life, academic programs, and career opportunities.


This guide was written by Claire Babbs, UT Austin ’12. If you want to know how to get into Vanderbilt, we’ve got you covered. CollegeAdvisor.com’s network of 300+ Admissions Experts (and former admissions officers) includes Vanderbilt graduates. Create your free account or schedule a free advising consultation by calling (844) 343-6272.