Graduate School Application Process

Application Requirements

To ensure you are prepared to submit your Graduate School application, we recommend you review the following requirements. Once you begin your application, you can pause it and come back to it at any time so you can gather the required information. Below are the requirements for submitting your application. 

Applications are open August 1.

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Section Contents


  • The Fall application deadlines are different for each academic department. Deadlines range from December 1 to January 15. Be sure to confirm with your program of interest since deadlines may vary.  
  • Most programs release initial Fall admission offers by March 31 with a response due by April 15. The timing of admission offers varies by program, and programs may continue to extend offers after that date. 

Application Fee

The Graduate School application fee is $95.00 and can be paid online after you submit your application. If you submit applications to more than one program (maximum of two per year), only a single fee will be charged.  

You also may be eligible for an application fee waiver: 

  • U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents1 are eligible for all categories of fee waivers.  
  • In most cases, international students are only eligible to receive a discretionary fee waiver.  
  • Requesting a fee waiver does not impact your admission eligibility. 
  • There is no waiver request form for you to complete. You must start and submit your application to confirm your eligibility and receive a fee waiver.  
  • Documentable fee waivers

    To verify your demonstrated financial need or military service, you must upload one of the following documents:  

    • A letter or memo from the financial aid office of your current or previous school confirming that you are a current Pell Grant recipient or received one the previous year. 
    • An unemployment benefits statement dated within the previous six months. 
    • A GRE fee reduction certificate from the Educational Testing Service (ETS). 
    • A brief but well-reasoned explanation of how the application fee presents a financial hardship for you. Relevant factors include unemployment or underemployment, the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) from a recent FAFSA, economic conditions in your home country, etc. You can type your explanation on the fee waiver request page of the application form. 
    • Documentation showing current of former status of United States Armed Forces. 

    Please do not upload tax return documents or any other confidential personal information such as your social security number. Upon review, we will contact you to confirm if a documentable fee waiver has been granted. 

  • Discretionary fee waivers

    Only a small number of waivers are granted at the discretion of the program you are applying to based on recruitment priorities and other circumstances. 

    • You may request a fee waiver directly from the program you are applying to only after you have submitted your application and confirmed that a fee is due.  
    • You must submit your request prior to the application deadline and include documentation to support the reason for the request.  
    • Contact the program that you are applying to for more information.  
  • Automatic fee waivers

    Automatic fee waivers are granted to applicants that have successfully submitted an application AND participated in either a Vanderbilt-sponsored program/event or a fellowship, research, or training program that is officially registered in our system. 

     US permanent residents must be able to document this status upon request, such as a copy of a Green Card - Permanent Resident Card. 

    Vanderbilt Sponsored Programs 

    Students that are members of the following VU-sponsored programs are eligible for a fee waiver. 

    • Vanderbilt NSF REU in Nanoscale Science and Engineering 
    • Vanderbilt NSF REU in Physics 
    • Vanderbilt REU in Chemical Biology 
    • Vanderbilt NSF REU in Biophotonics 
    • Fisk-Vanderbilt Master’s-to-PhD Bridge Program 
    • Vanderbilt Summer Science Academy 
    • Vanderbilt National Name Exchange (NNE) Diversity Fair 

    Fellowship, Research, and Training Programs 

    Students that are members of the following Fellowship, Research, and Training Programs are eligible for a fee waiver. You must submit documentation in your application demonstrating your participation. Contact your program director/coordinator to request a letter of verification if needed.  

    National Level: 

    • AmeriCorps, Teach for America, or the Peace Corps 
    • Gates Millennium Scholars Program (GMSP) 
    • Institute for Recruitment of Teachers (IRT) 
    • Initiative to Maximize Student Development (IMSD) 
    • Leadership Alliance Summer Research Early Identification Program (SR-EIP) 
    • Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) 
    • Mellon Mays Minority Undergraduate Fellowship Program (MMUF) 
    • National Consortium for Graduate Degrees in Minorities in Engineering and Sciences (GEM) 
    • NIH Postbaccalaureate Research Training Program (PREP) 
    • NIH Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement Program (RISE) 
    • NIH/NIGMS Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC) 
    • NIH-Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD) Initiative 
    • NSF Historically Black Colleges and University – Undergraduate Programs (HBCU-UP) 
    • Ronald McNair Scholars Program 
    • UNCF Mellon Program 

    Institutional Level: 

    • California Polytechnic State University, Pomona Undergraduate Research Program 
    • Dozoretz National Institute for Mathematics and Applied Sciences (DNIMAS) 
    • Penn State Millennium Scholars Program 
    • University of Baltimore Maryland County Meyerhoff Scholars Program 
    • University of Central Florida Academic Advancement Programs 

GRE requirements

Submitting your GRE scores 

  • Have Educational Testing Service send an official copy of the scores to The Graduate School. Use institution code 1871. You do not need a department code. If ETS requires a department code, select any one of the department codes listed on its site. Regardless of the department code entered, the scores will come to The Graduate School as long as you use institution code 1871
  • Scores are valid if earned within five years to the month of your intended first term at Vanderbilt. (For example, no earlier than August 1 five years prior if applying for the fall term). Applicants should aim to take the GRE by November to have scores for Fall admissions deadlines. 
  • We do not accept expired scores, personal copies of scores, or attested or notarized score reports
  • Be sure to take the GRE in time for official scores to reach The Graduate School by the application deadline. It will take 2-3 business days (Monday-Friday) for your test scores to link to your application after submission
  • If you have taken the GRE more than once, please enter the date and scores for each test date
  • Refer to your program of interest to learn about GRE score requirements and average acceptance scores.-

View GRE Requirement status by academic program. 

Language Proficiency

  • Language Proficiency Requirements

    Proficiency in written and oral English is required for enrollment in an academic program. This proof can be obtained by submitted scores from one of the following exams:

    • Test of English as a Foreign Language
    • International English Language Testing System
    • Duolingo (not all programs accept this test, check with department of interest)

    Applicants to the Graduate School, regardless of citizenship, must either meet our waiver criteria (below) or submit proof of English language proficiency. The online application will not require you to submit a language score if you meet the criteria for an exemption: you (will) have an equivalent degree from an English-language university in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Singapore, or the United Kingdom. 

    This policy applies to all graduate programs; the score level required for admission varies by program. 

    Please note:

    • U.S. citizenship does not automatically exempt you from taking a language test if your first language is not English. 
    • International students transferring from unfinished degree programs of other universities in the United States should present a language test score.  
    • If you have received (or will receive) an undergraduate degree from a college or university where English is the primary language of instruction, and if you have studied in residence at that institution for at least three years, you are exempt from the English Language Test requirement and are not required to submit a language test score. 
    • No exemptions are made based on an advanced degree (e.g., M.A./M.S. or Ph.D.) from any institution. 

    Minimum Acceptable Score 

    • The minimum acceptable score on the TOEFL iBT (internet- based test) is 88. Some departments list minimum recommendations or requirements on their departmental websites and may require a higher level of proficiency. Please contact your program of interest to confirm. 
    • For IELTS, the minimum acceptable score will vary by program. In many cases, a score of at least 7.0 is desirable.  
    • Many departments will accept Duolingo language test scores. Please contact your program of interest to confirm. 
  • English Language Instruction

    Students wishing to focus on improving their English language use for the context of the U.S. academic setting may take courses and participate in programming at the . Some students may be required to take these courses concurrently during the year. The ELC’s courses include: 

    • Academic Writing 
    • Academic Speaking 
    • Pronunciation
    • International Teaching Assistant Communication

Application Requirements by Program

Application requirements and deadlines vary by academic program. You can view a list of GRE requirements, language proficiency, and fall application deadlines by program. 

Under no circumstances can any application materials submitted to the office of Graduate Admissions and Enrollment be returned to the applicant or forwarded to another college, university, or third party. All records submitted in support of an application for admission become property of Vanderbilt University’s Graduate School, Office of Admissions and Enrollment.

Letters of Recommendation

The Graduate School application requires three recommendation letters from people best qualified to attest to your capacity for graduate work. We prefer to have academic references representing your major field, We recommend that your recommenders can comment on qualities that will be relevant to your academic pursuits, particularly research.

Statement of Purpose

Along with your application, you must submit a Statement of Purpose that is an essay that outlines why you are applying to the program, how you have prepared to pursue this degree and what you hope to accomplish both during and after your training. You may find other school/program-specific requirements that are listed on the application.

In general, the statement should be 1-5 pages and only contain information pertinent to the application you are submitting. There are not any word count requirements. Some programs have more specific requirements for the statement of purpose. These requirements will be listed on the Statement of Purpose page of the application.

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Transcript Requirements

Below are directions for submitting your transcript to the Graduate School:

Unofficial Transcripts

You must upload one copy of the scanned unofficial transcript from each undergraduate and graduate institution where you

  • Earned (or will earn) a degree;
  • Studied for one semester or more;
  • Earned 12 or more hours of credit; or
  • Took classes that relate to your graduate study interests.

If you took classes at a college or university while in high school, do not list the college or university as a separate school in your application unless the credits you earned applied to your bachelor’s or associate’s degree.

You do not have to provide a separate transcript for study abroad credits, as long as the credits are listed on the transcript from your home educational institution. If you list a study abroad institution in the Academic History section of your online application, the system will require you to upload a document. If the study abroad credits are listed on the transcript from your home educational institution, upload a document stating that fact. If they are not listed, you must upload a transcript from the study abroad institution.

Do not mail paper copies of your transcripts before receiving an offer of admission. 

If you are unable to upload your transcripts to the application because your educational institution does not issue transcripts directly to students, please visit this page or email us for help.

If you are admitted, you will be asked to request an official transcript from each institution listed in the Education section of your application, regardless of the number of credits earned.

Vanderbilt University reserves the right to rescind any offer of admission if any discrepancies are found between your uploaded and official transcripts.

Transcript Requirements

  • Each transcript must provide a year-by-year listing of all courses taken and the grade or mark received for each. 
  • The transcript must list your name and the name of the school.
  • If your school provides transcripts in English, please provide the English-language transcript. If your school does not provide transcripts in English, you must provide a transcript in the original language AND an English translation from a professional translation service.
  • If your Social Security number appears on your transcripts, mark out all except the last four digits of the number before uploading the transcripts to your application.
  • If the grading scale of the institution is available, be sure to include that information.
  • Before uploading an electronic transcript issued by your school, make sure it can be opened without passwords or other security information.
  • We do not accept web page screenshots from a student information system in place of transcripts. Uploading screenshots instead of transcripts will delay the processing of your application.
  • You may submit a credential evaluation from a third party (e.g. WES or ECE), but if you do so, you must also submit the transcript from your institution.

Acceptable Transcript Formats

  • Scanned copies of paper transcripts produced by the institution
  • Electronic transcripts produced by the institution

Official Transcripts
Official transcripts are required only after an offer of admission is made and accepted. A document is considered official only if it is sent directly to Vanderbilt from your institution. Your admission is contingent upon Vanderbilt’s Centralized Document Management (CDM) receiving an official transcript directly from the institution attended no later than August 31 of your entry year. Official transcripts can be sent either via the postal service or via secure electronic delivery to Your checklist on the Application Status page will indicate if you need to submit an official transcript.

International Transcripts
Official academic records listing all courses and grades and including a graduation certificate in the native language must be submitted with a complete English translation certified by an official translator. All records must be certified by the issuing institution or appropriate government official. Find information about non-required credential evaluations at NACES. Information about specific documents required from each country is also available.


Transcript Submission

How to Submit

Upload electronic copies of your unofficial transcripts via the online application.

If you are having trouble uploading your transcript, the following tips may help:

  • Make sure your file is in PDF format and does not exceed 1.5 MB (1,500 kb) in size.
  • Once you have uploaded your file, click the "Preview Upload" button to ensure that these document you uploaded is legible throughout. If your document is not legible, the processing of your application will be delayed.
  • The system will not allow you to submit your online application unless you upload a document for every school listed in the Academic History section.

If you have followed the above guidelines and still cannot upload your transcript, upload a statement instead explaining why you cannot upload the transcript. You will then submit a PDF copy of each transcript individually to

  • Do not e-mail your transcripts unless you have exhausted all options for uploading the transcripts to the academic History section of the application.
  • E-mailed transcripts must be in PDF format; do not send Microsoft Word documents or JPEG files.
  • In the body of the e-mail, include your name and the name of the department to which you are applying.

Mailing instructions
If you have been directed to mail your transcript ,address transcripts sent via postal service to:

Center for Data Management
Vanderbilt University
PMB 407833
2301 Vanderbilt Place
Nashville, TN 37240-7833

Please do NOT mail transcripts to the department office, Graduate School or Office of the University Registrar. Mailing of transcripts is very uncommon.


You are required to provide an undergraduate grade point average (UGPA) in the Additional Academic Information section of your application.

How to Calculate Your UGPA

If you graduated or will graduate from a U.S. college or university and earned all of your degree credits in the United States, you should report the cumulative GPA and GPA grade scale that is stated on the degree-conferring transcript unless you are required to re-calculate your GPA based on the criteria below.

We require that you self-calculate your UGPA on a 4.0 scale if you have:

  • Attended a college or university outside of the United States for all or part of your undergraduate degree program (not including study abroad);
  • Submitted a transcript with any transfer credits; or
  • Failed a course that appears on your transcript but is not included in your school’s calculation of GPA.
  • Attended multiple undergraduate institutions.

Self Calculation Instructions

To self-calculate your GPA, please utilize the GPA Calculator from Scholaro Reports to create a line-by-line assessment of your UGPA.  

About UGPA Calculations:

  • It is not necessary to pay for a credential evaluation when using the Scholaro Reports GPA Calculator.
  • The UGPA should include all undergraduate course work completed at the time of submission of the application.
  • If you attended more than one school, you must include the grades from all undergraduate schools in calculating your UGPA. If your schools are in different countries, please run the Scholaro Reports GPA Calculator for each school. To arrive at a cumulative GPA, use the example below:
    • School 1:  20 credits x 3.9 GPA = 78
    • School 2: 123 credits x 3.5 GPA = 431 (rounded)
    • Cumulative GPA = (78+431)/(20+123) = 509/143 = 3.6 (rounded)
  • Do not include courses that were dropped or courses that did not award letter grades (e.g. satisfactory/unsatisfactory, pass/fail, credit only).
  • If you repeated a course, include both grades for the course in your UGPA calculation. If you did not pass a course (e.g. received an F or E grade), you must still include the course grade in your UGPA calculation.
  • Do not include graduate-level courses that you have completed unless they counted toward your undergraduate degree requirements. There is a separate place on the application for you to provide your graduate grade point average.
  • If you do not find a grade scale that exactly matches your undergraduate institution’s scale, please use the scale that matches it most closely (e.g., applicants who have attended an Indian university that use a 70-100 point scale may use the United Kingdom scale).  
  • You do not need to include study abroad classes.