Vanderbilt University (also known informally as Vandy) is a private research university located in Nashville, Tennessee, founded in 1873. The university is named in honor of shipping and rail magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt, who provided the school its initial $1 million endowments despite having never been to the South. Vanderbilt hoped that his gift and the greater work of the university would help to heal the sectional wounds inflicted by the Civil War.

Today, Vanderbilt enrolls approximately 12,000 students from all 50 U.S. states and over 90 foreign countries in four undergraduate and six graduate and professional schools. Several research centers and institutes are affiliated with the university, including the Vanderbilt Institute for Public Policy Studies, Freedom Forum First Amendment Centre, Dyer Observatory, and Vanderbilt University Medical Centre, the only Level I trauma center in Middle Tennessee. With the exception of the off-campus observatory and satellite medical clinics, all of the university’s facilities are situated on its 330-acre (1.3 km2) campus in the heart of Nashville, 1.5 miles (2.4 km) from downtown. Despite its urban surroundings, the campus itself is a national arboretum and features over 300 different species of trees and shrubs.

As of 2015, Vanderbilt had an enrolment of 6,851 undergraduate and 5,874 graduate and professional students, for a total of 12,725 students. Students from all 50 states and more than 90 countries attend Vanderbilt, with 66% of the total student body coming from outside the Southeast.

Vanderbilt lets undergraduates choose between 70 majors, or create their own, in its four undergraduate schools and colleges: the College of Arts and Science, the School of Engineering, Peabody College of Education and Human Development, and Blair School of Music. The university also has six graduate and professional schools, including the Divinity School, Graduate School, Law School, School of Medicine, School of Nursing, and Owen Graduate School of Management.

Vanderbilt investigators work in a broad range of disciplines, and the university consistently ranks among the top 20 research institutions in the United States. In 2013, Vanderbilt University was ranked 9th in the country in funding from the National Institutes of Health. Its Institute for Space and Defence Electronics, housed in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, includes the largest academic facility in the world involved in radiation-effects research.

In its 2016 edition, U.S. News & World Report ranked Vanderbilt 15th among all national universities. Additionally, U.S. News & World Report ranked Vanderbilt first in the nation in the fields of special education, educational administration, and audiology. The Academic Ranking of World Universities ranks Vanderbilt as the 49th-best university in the world.

The university recognizes nearly 500 student organizations, ranging from academic major societies and honoraries to recreational sports clubs, the oldest of which is the Vanderbilt Sailing Club.

Notable alumni and affiliates include two Vice Presidents of the United States, 25 Rhodes Scholars, seven Nobel Prize laureates, Fields Medal winners, Pulitzer Prize winners, Emmy Award winners, and Academy Award winners.