Southern Methodist University

The Ivy Scholars guide to SMU’s culture, admissions, and other essential information for prospective students and their families.

Location: Dallas, Texas

Mascot: Peruna the Shetland Pony

Type: Private Research Institution

Population: 11,649 (6,479 undergrads)

About SMU

With 131 buildings on 234 acres just five miles north of Downtown Dallas, Southern Methodist University is a nationally ranked private university dedicated to educating students to have an impact on their communities. In their words – “World Changers Shaped Here.” 

SMU prioritizes sustainability and is committed to eco-friendly, LEED-certified buildings. They are a distinguished center for global research with a liberal arts tradition. Southern Methodist University offers over 100 majors and 85 minors to choose from, as well as double and triple significant opportunities and accelerated degree programs. 

Southern Methodist University has an 11:1 student-to-faculty ratio. The total enrollment for Fall 2018 was 11,649, with 6,479 undergraduate students and 5,170 graduate students. Of the undergraduate student population, 49% were female, and 51% were male. Of the graduate student population, 53% were male, and 47% were female.

University Culture

Southern Methodist University’s Values

Southern Methodist University embraces excellence, integrity, intellectual freedom, open dialogue, diversity, and inclusion.

Excellence: We cultivate an enduring spirit of inquiry, innovation, and creativity, fostering impactful research, inspired teaching, and life-long learning. 

Integrity: We value truth and conduct ourselves with honesty and strong moral and ethical principles.

Intellectual freedom: We embrace the freedom of ideas and expression.

Open dialogue: We welcome opportunities to exchange diverse perspectives and pledge ourselves to civil discourse.

Diversity and Inclusion: We are all strengthened by different perspectives based on our varied identities and life experiences, and embrace the worth and dignity of all people. SMU students say it well: Every Mustang is valued.


Southern Methodist University is a private research university with a legacy of scholarly impact, creating knowledge and leaders through research and graduate education. As a testament to this, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching classifies SMU as a university with “high research activity.”

Diversity breakdown from fall 2019 freshman class

Total Fall 2018 Identified Diversity Enrollment – 3,319

  • Hispanic – 1,356 
  • Asian – 795 
  • Black/African American – 725 
  • American Indian/Alaska Native – 33 
  • Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander – 13 
  • Two or more races – 397 
  • Minority percentage of total enrollment – 28.5%

Southern Methodist University undergraduate minority enrollment averages approximately 27%, with an additional 7% from international countries.

SMU Essay Topics

  • SMU appeals to students for a variety of reasons. Briefly describe why you are interested in attending SMU and what specific factors have led you to apply. 
  • SMU is a diverse learning environment shaped by the convergence of ideas and cultures. How will your unique experiences or background enhance the University, and how will you benefit from this community?


What are the minimum requirements for admission?

  • There are no absolute minimum requirements, but SMU considers GPA, grade pattern, standardized test scores, the rigor of high school curriculum, counselor recommendation, extracurricular activities, essay, talents, life experiences, and personal qualities.
  • SMU’s acceptance rate in 2019 was 49%.

What majors is Southern Methodist University known for?

  • Southern Methodist University is research-focused, and the most popular majors are as follows:
  • Business
  • Social sciences
  • Engineering
  • Communications
  • Visual and performing arts

What ACT and SAT score is needed for Southern Methodist University?

  • The average ACT score was 29
  • The average SAT score was 1370

Does Southern Methodist University grant college credit for AP, IB, and Dual Enrollment courses?

  • SMU grants credit and placement for scores of 4 or 5 on most AP examinations taken in high school. Six to eight credits will be awarded for scores of 5, 6 or 7 on International Baccalaureate higher-level exams, with a maximum award of 32 credits.
  • First-year students may request college credit for coursework taken during high school. In order for this credit to be transferable to Southern Methodist University, the course(s) must meet all regular transfer requirements:
  1. The course(s) must be completed at an accredited school;
  2. The course(s) must be grades of C- or better in comparison to SMU courses;
  3. The course(s) must be submitted on an official college/university transcript; and
  4. The course(s) must NOT be a correspondence course.

What is the Test-Optional Policy for Dual Admit Applicants to Southern Methodist University Meadows School of the Arts?

An SAT or ACT score report is not required for admission consideration from applicants who are seeking admission to Dual Admit programs in the Meadows School of the Arts (Music, Theatre, Dance, Art, Film-BFA).

Tuition, Financial Aid & Scholarships

As of the 2020-21 school year, the total tuition cost for attending Southern Methodist University is $79,126. This price includes tuition ($51,958), fees ($6,582), room and board ($17,110), books ($876), transportation ($1,000), and personal expenses ($1,600).

SMU Available Scholarships

Competitive academic scholarship programs 

  • President’s Scholars
  • Nancy Ann and Ray L. Hunt Leadership Scholars (separate essay required)
  • Academic achievement scholarships
  • Academic school and departmental scholarships
  • National Merit Scholarships
  • International Baccalaureate Scholars

November 1 for Early Decision I and Early Action or January 15 for Early Decision II and Regular Decision – will be automatically considered for Southern Methodist University academic awards.

Southern Methodist University also offers grants, loans, and work-study awards.

National Rankings of Southern Methodist University

According to U.S News’ 2020 Collegiate Rankings, Southern Methodist University stands at: 

  • #64 in National Universities 
  • #37 in Best Colleges for Veterans 
  • #151 in Best Value Schools
  • #360 in Top Performers on Social Mobility 
  • #108 in Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs

According to Southern Methodist University, their school stands at:

  • #6 Best College for Dance Performance in the U.S.
  • #2 SMU 2nd in Texas in its comparison of 310 colleges and universities.
  • #11 for Best Quality of Life.
  • #14 Nation’s most beautiful campuses
  • #2 In the best graduate game-design program.
  •  #6 for internship opportunities and #13 for alumni network
  • # 73 in Kiplinger’s Best Value

SMU Admissions Statistics

Socioeconomic – Three out of four SMU students receive scholarships and/or financial aid, including academic and need-based.

National – More than half of undergraduates come from outside Texas, with students from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Following Texas, the leading home states for first-year students are California, Illinois, Florida, and Connecticut.

International – International enrollment of 1,596 students (14% of total enrollment) from 83 foreign countries. The largest international groups are from China, India, and Mexico.

Religious – Among students reporting a religious preference, 28% are Catholic, and 14% are Methodist; 46% are from other Protestant denominations; and 11% represent other religions (including Judaism, Islam, and Hinduism). Diverse Campus Ministries organizations support and nurture students in the development of faith and ethics.

  • SMU’s acceptance rate in 2019 was 49% 
  • For the class of 2023, out of 13,250 applicants, SMU admitted 6,482 
  • The acceptance rate at SMU is 47.3%. For every 100 applicants, 47 are admitted.

Southern Methodist University Acceptance Rate

In the fall of 2019, the acceptance rate was 49%. For the class of 2023 – 13,250 students applied to SMU’s undergraduate program. Of those applicants, 6,482 were admitted. 


Reading & Writing 

  • 25th percentile 640
  • 75th percentile 720


  • 25th percentile 660
  • 75th percentile 760


  • 3.64

ACT Composite

  • 25th percentile = 29
  • 75th percentile = 32

Admissions Deadlines

When applying to Southern Methodist University, students must commit to one of the seven specific academic schools. However, one does not need to declare a major until the second semester of sophomore year.

The early decision deadline to apply to Southern Methodist University is November 1. Students who identify SMU as their top choice college prior to November 1 are encouraged to apply Early Decision I. If admitted, students are expected to enroll and immediately withdraw all other applications.

The regular decision deadline is January 15

Transfer Student’s deadline for regular decision is June 1. 

Some schools within the University have specific deadlines, auditions, and portfolios needed to apply. 

Music, Theatre, Dance, Art and Film and Media Arts (B.F.A. only) are Dual Admit Programs.

In order to pursue these majors, students must be admitted both to the Meadows School of the Arts (via audition or portfolio review), as well as to Southern Methodist University (via the undergraduate application for admission).