Vanderbilt University

#155 / #53
Global Influence / U.S. Influence
Most Desirable School
Private research university in Nashville, Tennessee, United States

Vanderbilt University Featured Rankings

About Vanderbilt University

By James Barham, PhD

Vanderbilt University was founded in 1873 as the Central University of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South (known as Central University, for short).

The largest benefactor of the new university was the railroad and shipping magnate, Cornelius Vanderbilt, who contributed $1 million—the equivalent of roughly $20 million in today’s dollars. Vanderbilt died in 1877, and later the same year Central University was renamed in honor its main benefactor.

In 1914, the Methodist Church severed its ties to Vanderbilt.

Today, the university is organized into ten colleges and schools. The student body numbers more than 13,000 individuals.

Vanderbilt is associated with nine Nobel laureates, to wit:


  • Biochemist, Stanford Moore
  • Molecular biologist, Sidney Altman

Physiology or Medicine–

  • Molecular biologists, Salvador Luria and Max Delbrück
  • Biochemists, Stanley Cohen and Earl Sutherland
  • Neuroscientist, Paul Greengard


  • Bangladeshi economist and micro-banking pioneer, Muhammad Yunus
  • US Vice President and climate activist, Al Gore

Vanderbilt is also linked to the Fields Medalists—Vaughan Jones and Alain Connes.

Other prominent Vanderbilt-connected individuals include the following:

  • Mathematicians, D.M. Smith, Michael Plummer, Edward Saff, Mark Sapir, Guoliang Yu & Aleksandr Olshansky
  • Computer scientist, Paul Hudak
  • Philosophers, Richard M. Weaver, Sandra J. Rosenthal, John Lachs, John Heil, Tom Rockmore & Robert Arrington
  • Poets Allen Tate, John Crowe Ransom, Randall Jarrell, James Dickey & Diann Blakely
  • Poet and novelist, Robert Penn Warren
  • Novelist, Ellen Gilchrist
  • Short fiction author, Lorrie Moore
  • Non-fiction author, Michelle Alexander
  • Crime author, James Patterson
  • Playwright, William Inge
  • Literary scholar, Cleanth Brooks
  • Artist, Red Grooms
  • Bassoonist, Peter Kolkay
  • Classical composers, Michael Alec Rose & Evan Mack
  • Musicologist, George Pullen Jackson
  • Popular singer-songwriters, Amy Ray, Amy Grant & Chris Stapleton
  • Singer, actor, and TV personality, Dinah Shore
  • Film director, Delbert Mann
  • Film scholar, Sam Girgus
  • Film critic, Joe Bob Briggs (John Irving Bloom)
  • Astronomers, Edward Emerson Barnard, Carl Keenan Seyfert & J. Davy Kirkpatrick
  • Physicists, Joseph Melvin Reynolds & Kenneth Galloway
  • Space scientist, Herbert Gursky
  • Electrical engineers, Sokrates Pantelides & Kimberly Bryant
  • Chemists, Charles Baskerville, Charlotte Froese Fischer, Jens Meiler & Dorothy J. Phillips
  • Geologist, James Perrin Smith
  • Biophysicist, John Wikswo
  • Molecular biologists, Peter Walter, Tom Maniatis & Ghanshyam Swarup
  • Pathologist, Ernest Goodpasture
  • Neuroscientists, Mriganka Sur & Lisa Monteggia
  • Epidemiologist, Dorothy Horstmann
  • Pathologist and medical historian, William A. Pusey
  • Cardiothoracic surgeons, Norman Shumway & Levi Watkins
  • Biomedical engineer, Anita Mahadevan-Jansen
  • Psychologists, John Ridley Stroop, Logan Wright & Shirley Collado
  • Psychiatrists, Carol Tamminga, Jonathan Metzl & John Fryer
  • Historians, William Yandell Elliott, Sheldon Hackney, Louis R. Harlan, Mark A. Noll & Neil McMillen
  • Economists, Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen, Henry Manne, Herman Daly, Markus Brunnermeier, Martha Bailey, Myrna Wooders, Carolyn Heinrich & Faisal Basri
  • Political scientists, Cullen Gosnell, Lee Siegelman & Larry Bartels
  • Archaeologist, Edward Craig Morris
  • Journalist, political commentator, and biographer, David Maraniss
  • Political commentator and humorist, Roy Blount, Jr.
  • Journalist, Richard Quest
  • TV journalist, David Brinkley
  • Former US Supreme Court Justice, James Clark McReynolds
  • Present Kentucky Governor, Andy Beshear
  • Present Texas Governor, Greg Abbott
  • Former US Senator Jim Sasser
  • Former US Senator and actor, Fred Thompson
  • Current US Senators, Lamar Alexander & John N. Kennedy
  • Former US Vice President, John Nance Garner

According to Wikipedia, Vanderbilt University is a private research university in Nashville, Tennessee. Founded in 1873, it was named in honor of shipping and rail magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt, who provided the school its initial $1-million endowment; Vanderbilt hoped that his gift and the greater work of the university would help to heal the sectional wounds inflicted by the Civil War.

Vanderbilt University Admissions, Retention, and Graduation Information

Annual Applications Acceptance Graduation Rate Median SAT Score Median ACT Score
36,646 12% 93% 1510 34

How Much Does Vanderbilt University Cost To Attend?

Tuition (in-state)
Price by Family Income
Income Average Net Cost
0 - 30K $3,156
30K - 48K $6,017
48K - 75K $8,086
75K - 110K $14,890
110K+ $36,667

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

How Much Do Vanderbilt University Graduates Make?

If you graduate from Vanderbilt University, then you can expect to earn an average of $86,200 per year. You also have a 91% chance of being employed after 10 years.

Vanderbilt University's Demographics

Demographic data is for full-time, on-campus students.

Student Body Under-Grads Graduates
10,960 6,777 4,183

Where is Vanderbilt University?

Vanderbilt University is located at 2101 West End Avenue, Nashville TN 37240

How Safe is Vanderbilt University?

Vanderbilt University has a violent crime rate of less than .01% and a property crime rate of less than .01%.

What Is Vanderbilt University Known For?

Vanderbilt University is known for it's academic work in the following disciplines:

Vanderbilt University's Top Areas of Influence With Degrees Offered

Who Are Vanderbilt University's Most Influential Alumni?

Vanderbilt University's most influential alumni faculty include professors and professionals in the fields of Nursing, Medical, and Criminal Justice. Here are some of Vanderbilt University's most famous alumni:

Muhammad Yunus
Muhammad Yunus
A Bangladeshi banker, economist and Nobel Peace Prize recipient.
Herman Daly
Herman Daly
An American economist.
Cleanth Brooks
Cleanth Brooks
An American literary critic and academic.
Allen Tate
Allen Tate
An American poet, essayist and social commentator.
John Crowe Ransom
John Crowe Ransom
An American poet.
James Patterson
James Patterson
An American author.
Robert Penn Warren
Robert Penn Warren
An American poet, novelist, and literary critic .
Al Gore
Al Gore
A 45th vice president of the United States.
Norman Shumway
An American surgeon .
Bruce Henderson
Bruce Henderson
A Founder of the Boston Consulting Group.
David Brinkley
David Brinkley
An American journalist .
Michelle Alexander
Michelle Alexander
An American lawyer, civil rights activist and writer.

Image Attributions