Emory University: One of America’s “New” Ivies

emory-universityEmory University is a top liberal arts research university located in Atlanta, Georgia. Founded on December 10, 1836, and affiliated with the Methodist Episcopal Church, Emory’s mission is to create, preserve, teach, and apply knowledge in the service of humanity. It is recognized internationally for its outstanding liberal arts college, superb professional schools, and one of the Southeast’s leading health care systems. The university has been named both a “Hidden Ivy” and a “New Ivy.”

The 180-year-old university, originally named Emory College, was named after John Emory, an influential Methodist bishop who had died before the school’s opening. It was rechartered in 1915 as Emory University after accepting a land grant from Asa Griggs Candler, founder of the The Coca-Cola Company. From the 1920s through the 1970s, Emory University established its reputation as a regional institution that offered a solid education in medicine, law, theology, business, and the liberal arts.

Emory is divided into nine schools and colleges: Emory College of Arts and Sciences, Oxford College, Emory University School of Medicine, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, Candler School of Theology, Emory University School of Law, Laney Graduate School, Goizueta Business School, and Rollins School of Public Health. Faculty and students work collaboratively for positive transformation in the world through courageous leadership in teaching, research, scholarship, health care, and social action.

The main campus of Emory University is located in the suburb of Druid Hills near downtown Atlanta. The university campus is heavily forested with pine, maples, oak, and magnolias, and Peavine Creek, a branch of the Peachtree Creek, runs through the campus. The Arbor Day Foundation named Emory a Tree Campus USA school in 2015.

The Candler Mansion on Emory’s Briarcliff Campus was once the aristocratic estate of Coca-Cola heir Asa Candler, Jr.  Built in 1920, the home includes a grand ballroom, solarium and gardens, where the eccentric Candler’s exotic pets once roamed. Boarded up since the 1990s, the mansion now sits empty, occasionally serving as the backdrop for supernatural film projects.

Coca Cola

Emory University is colloquially referred to as “Coca-Cola University.” In 1979, Emory was presented with a gift of $105 million in Coca-Cola stock. At the time this was the largest single gift to any institution of higher education in American history, and it made a profound impact on Emory’s direction in the next two decades, boosting the university to the top ranks of American research universities. Emory also has a partnership with Coca-Cola in which they pledged 3 million dollars over a 5-year period for “Service for Learning” projects that Emory student volunteers participate in to help preserve nature trails, create urban farms, and restore neighborhood parks.


Emory University is a diverse community whose members come from a wide variety of religious, ethnic, and geographic backgrounds. Emory students come from all 50 states, 6 territories of the United States, and over 100 foreign countries. Emory has many Black student organizations, including the Black Student Alliance, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and Voices of Inner Strength Gospel Choir (VOIS). In addition to being one of the leading universities in the Southeastern United States in the promotion of racial equality, many of the school’s faculty and administrators have been outspoken advocates of global human rights.

However, in another example of political correctness hindering free speech on college campuses, some students complained that they felt threatened and intimidated by “Trump 2016” chalk graffiti on Emory sidewalks earlier this year. Amelia Sims, chair of the College Republicans at Emory, responded by telling The Washington Post, “Part of being in college is having experiences where you question your values, question what you believe. College is meant to be a time when you have diversity. Not just diversity of race but diversity of opinion, diversity of culture.” Surely the single most important kind of diversity to foster on a college campus should be the diversity of ideas.

Liberal Arts

The Emory College of Arts and Sciences offers the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and the Bachelor of Science (B.S) undergraduate academic degrees. Academic Departments include: African American Studies, African Studies, American Studies, Ancient Mediterranean Studies, Anthropology, Art History, Biology, Chemistry, Classics, Comparative Literature, East Asian Studies, Economics, English, Environmental Sciences, Film & Media Studies, French and Italian Studies, German Studies, Global Health, Culture, and Society, History, Human Health, Jewish Studies, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Linguistics, Mathematics and Computer Science, Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies, Music, Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology, Philosophy, Physics, Political Science, Psychology, Quantitative Theory and Methods, Religion, Russian and East Asian Languages and Cultures, Sociology, Spanish and Portuguese, Theater and Dance, and Women’s Studies.

Oxford College is a smaller two-year residential college at Emory that offers an Associate degree (A.A.) in liberal arts. Oxford has just 650 students and its own faculty. Some students start at Oxford College, and after successfully completing Oxford’s curriculum they then continue on to the larger Emory College of Arts and Sciences for their junior and senior years. Oxford College is located on Emory University’s original campus in Oxford, Georgia, which is 38 miles east of Emory’s Atlanta campus.


As one of the fastest-growing research universities in the United States in the 21st century, Emory University has established a national reputation on the strength of the scholarly achievements of its faculty and students, its highly ranked professional schools, and the presence of more than seventy cutting-edge research centers that are addressing major social problems. The latest additions to the campus include buildings for cancer research, biomedical research, vaccine research, scientific computation, mathematics and science.

Emory University research is heavily funded by the United States Department of Health and Human Services’ National Institutes of Health. The university has a strong partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 1947, Emory donated 15 acres of land to the United States Department of Health and Human Services for the construction of the CDC headquarters. In 2015, Emory received a three-year, $2.2 million grant from the CDC to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, including Ebola, in health-care facilities.

Emory and the Georgia Institute of Technology also have a strong research partnership. Emory University offers a five-year dual degree program in engineering, in collaboration with the Georgia Institute of Technology. In 2015, Emory and Georgia Tech were awarded a five-year, $2.9 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to create new bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs and concentrations in healthcare robotics, which will be the first program of its kind in the Southeastern United States.

Awards & Honors

  • Emory University is ranked 20th among national universities in the U.S. by U.S. News & World Report.
  • Business Insider named Emory among the “50 smartest colleges in America.”
  • Emory ranked 1st on the list of best colleges and universities for writers by The Huffington Post and USA Today.
  • Emory University is ranked as the 16th best college for veterans among national universities in the U.S.
  • The Emory University School of Law is ranked 19th among Law Schools in the U.S. by U.S. News & World Report.
  • Emory University’s Goizueta Business School is ranked 20th among Business Schools in the U.S. by U.S. News & World Report.
  • The Best Colleges educational ranking service named Emory one of the top ten “Most Amazing College Campuses.”
  • In 2012, the Princeton Review ranked the Robert W. Woodruff Library at Emory University among the top 10 “Best College Libraries” in the U.S.
  • In 2013, the Pitts Theology Library of the Candler School of Theology was named as one of “Most Beautiful College Libraries in the World.”
  • The Princeton Review named the Emory University School of Law as one of the best 169 law schools in the U.S. in 2014.
  • Bloomberg Businessweek ranked Goizueta Business School’s BBA Program 9th in the nation in 2014.
  • The Economist ranked Goizueta Business School’s MBA program 13th in the nation in 2014.
  • In 2015, the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering Program was ranked 2nd in the U.S. for the ninth consecutive year.
  • The Emory University School of Medicine was ranked the 23rd Best Medical Research School in the U.S. in 2015.
  • Rollins School of Public Health was ranked 7th among public health schools in the U.S. in 2015.
  • The Emory University School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program was ranked 3rd among physician assistant programs in the U.S. in 2015.
  • Emory University’s Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing was ranked 10th among Nursing Schools in the U.S. in 2015.
  • Emory University’s programs consistently rank among the most competitive in their fields by U.S. News & World Report.

Student Life

First- and second-year students are required to live on campus, but a majority of students choose to remain on campus for all four years. Hundreds of student clubs and organizations operate on Emory’s campus. These include numerous special interest, student government, and service organizations. A popular organization among students is Volunteer Emory, which oversees community service activities. There is also a thriving Greek community with a number of fraternity and sorority chapters, but they are not totally exclusive as different sororities and fraternities regularly socialize.

The Emory Eagles have nearly 20 NCAA Division III varsity teams and are well known for their successful swimming and diving team. In addition to varsity athletics, all students are required to take two courses in physical education. Emory has numerous club sports and a variety of recreational and competitive intramural teams. The Outdoor Emory Organization sponsors weekend trips of outdoor activities such as rafting, rock climbing, and hiking.

Homeschool Applicants

The Emory Admission Committee “is happy to receive applications from homeschooled students.” Emory’s willingness to support homeschoolers is evidenced in the Emory University Museum outreach programs. The Michael C. Carlos Museum hosts Homeschool Days and welcomes homeschool school groups to explore the Museum’s collections and special exhibitions. You can join the Homeschool Email List to keep informed of homeschool programs and events at the Museum.

Applying to Emory University is done online through the Common Application or the Coalition Application. Emory seeks outstanding students in much the same way that other highly selective colleges and universities do, so curriculum and grades are important. (Emory University’s average GPA for incoming freshman is a 3.70-3.97.) But they are also looking for students whose personal statements and essays show that they have a voice, are intellectually curious, have demonstrated an engagement with the world around them, and aspire to be lifelong learners. Emory University told HSLDA that in general, “homeschoolers write fabulous essays! Very creative!”

Homeschooled applicants will have quite a few tests to take, though. In addition to submitting SAT or ACT results, Emory requests that students who have been schooled at home submit results from three SAT II subject tests—one in mathematics and two of the student’s choosing. All students are encouraged to submit SAT subject exam scores for academic areas of strength and/or interest. They also encourage homeschooled students to submit a comprehensive explanation of their curriculum.

Like most colleges, Emory requires at least one letter of recommendation from someone other than a family member. All students are welcome to submit up to two additional letters of recommendation beyond the one required. Again, they are looking for students who will make a positive contribution to the university community. So if you took a more rigorous course load and overcame the challenges, they want to hear about it from the teachers and mentors who know you best.

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