Getting to Know Belmont University (TN)
Belmont University is located in Nashville, one of America’s fastest growing cities and entertainment capitals. It has attracted attention out my way for music and music business, so I was motivated to learn more. I gathered a few photos of Belmont University from Pinterest so you can see some of this beautiful campus for yourself. You should also check out the aerial at the top of the page.
Brooke Brannin, Director of University Admissions at Belmont University and Chris Gage, Associate Provost and Dean of Enrollment Services granted me an interview. I invite you to listen now.
Belmont University has 6,700 undergrads and over 1,500 grad students. Seventy-three percent of the undergrads come from out of state. Founded in 1890 as a college for women, Belmont women outnumber the men in the undergraduate student body by a margin of 2 to 1.
Eighty-three percent of the applicants for the Class of 2024 were accepted. The average SAT (1210), ACT (26) and high school GPA (3.8) are about the same as they would be for a freshman class at the University of Tennessee. Admissions were not exceptionally selective for most majors, though several will be talent based, requiring auditions or portfolios. The health related majors and architecture will have higher admissions standards, as they do at other schools.
The school offers over 100 undergraduate majors, more than many larger schools.
Belmont is a true “go-to” school for people who are serious about all aspects of music. There’s a BBA in Music Business, a BA in Music or Musical Theatre and a BS in Audio Engineering Technology. Bachelor of Music degrees are offered in Composition, Performance, Therapy, Education, Technology, Theatre and Theory. Music Business is the more popular major at Belmont. That’s no surprise to me, given the school’s size and location.
Belmont University offers several other majors that are hard to find elsewhere. Applied Mathematics, Architecture, Creative and Entertainment Industries, Emerging Media, Fashion Design, Fashion Merchandising, Interior Design and Pharmaceutical Sciences are just a few. You have to go to a larger, less personal state university or a specialized school to find most of these options. The facilities that support most of these programs are among the cleanest and nicest that you will find on any college campus anywhere, based on what I saw online.
Belmont also loses just under a fifth of a freshman class, more than some larger schools that offer a less personal experience.
The four-year graduation rate has topped 60 percent, beginning with the class that arrived in 2013. But at the same time, Belmont is one of the fastest growing colleges in the country. Full-time undergraduate enrollment was 4,600 in 2011. It’s grown by 46 percent since then. The university has added new housing to support it. More than half of Belmont students live on campus, including all of the freshmen. There is some really nice housing at this school, including apartments. Being close to downtown Nashville, off-campus housing could be more expensive than some families would like.
Belmont can get expensive versus other schools that have the same majors.
Direct charges (tuition and fees, room and board) will be just under $52,000 for next year. Add in essentials and the cost of attendance will approach $60,000. Average student loan debt for borrowers who graduated two years ago approached $33,000. About a third of the freshmen who entered in 2019 received merit scholarships. But these averaged only $9,300. Yet Belmont could be price competitive with non-resident charges at several flagship state universities, including Clemson, the University of Alabama or the University of South Carolina. However, admissions to a nursing program, among others at these schools, will be more competitive. Nursing is the second most popular major at Belmont with good reason. Outside of the choice of curricula at the university, Nashville has a huge health care industry.
Belmont is a Christian school. But it does not require entering students to sign a declaration of faith.
However, there are rules that you will also find at Christian schools that do. The university places limits on the hours when members of the opposite sex can visit in the residence halls. The university allowed no visitation hours at all during the current academic year due to COVID. Belmont also has strict rules against drinking, drugs and smoking on campus. From the reviews that I read on Niche, these rules are enforced quite seriously.
This school also requires two courses in Religion, within a choice of two paths. One path includes courses in the Old and New Testament. The other path is a course in the Bible, plus a choice of one class from a set of elective signature courses. Aside from wellness courses, the other general education requirements are similar to most other public and private universities.
Belmont also requires non-academic credits.
I have been to Christian schools that are strict about chapel attendance, Belmont is not. However, students must participate for 60 hours over four years in programs and events that cover each of six dimensions (my word, not the school’s): intellectual, occupational/financial, cultural, spiritual, interpersonal/emotional/physical and community well-being through service. Some of these programs and events might be related to your major, others showcase your friend’s talents, others bond students together. Failure to meet this requirement can actually be a reason to deny a diploma.
The intention of these programs and events is to help every student become a better person through each dimension and form their own belief systems. Motivated students would likely attend the academic and professionally related events on their own. But the 60-hour requirement makes me ask if the students would ignore some dimensions without it. One suggestion if you are considering Belmont: get a list of the events and programs that would be offered under each of the six dimensions. If you seriously mind being told that you must devote 10 or more hours to things you would not otherwise do, then consider another college.
Belmont is a “basketball school” that deserves more support.
The men’s basketball program has qualified for the NCAA Tournament nine times since 2006, including last season when it was cancelled. This past year the Bruins might have been one of the best teams not to get in. They went 26-4 and won their conference title. I found a Nashville Post story about this. After reading it I felt that they were robbed. The Bruin women were also conference champions and got into the NCAA Tournament as a 12th seed, upsetting fifth seeded Gonzaga in the first round. But they were knocked out of the tournament by Indiana in the next one. However, attendance for both programs–they play in a venue that has over 5,000 seats–is not what it could be. The men averaged 2,300 per home game in 2020 according to the NCAA. The women averaged just over 1,200.
I watched more YouTubes about Belmont University than I have for most other schools. The campus looks like a place where students can feel safe, educated and happy, if they find their major, make friends quickly, and are willing to live by the rules..But while Belmont does not require all students to be Christian, it asks them to follow stricter rules that are common to schools that require a declaration of Christian faith. If you like what you see, hear and read about Belmont you must abide by them no questions asked.
You’re only two miles from downtown Nashville, a city that offers more than most college students could ever do over four years. And among the more than 33,000 Belmont alumni registered on LinkedIn.com, over 19,000 are based in or near Nashville. That says a lot for a university as well as a city. The students might come from afar, but they don’t stray far after they graduate.
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