Dallas & SMU: The Power of Partnership (2012)

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SMU Today: A Leading National University

The University's national emergence has been largely driven by its increasing success in attracting top students and faculty and in improving its academic programs and the student learning experience.

Academically Talented Students

SMU has 11,000 talented students – 6,200 undergraduate students and 4,800 students who are pursuing graduate and professional degrees.

SMU is a private, comprehensive university located near the heart of Dallas. The University was founded in 1911 by what is now The United Methodist Church, in partnership with civic leaders. SMU is nonsectarian in its teaching and committed to academic freedom and open inquiry.

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Nationally Competitive Student Recruitment

SMU successfully competes with top tier universities throughout the nation for high-achieving students. SMU's academic reputation, small class sizes, student-faculty ratio of 11:1 and its location in the Metroplex have made it especially attractive to these students. As a result, SMU's undergraduate applications have risen sharply from 8,600 in 2007 to 13,500 in 2012. By the same token, admission into SMU has become increasingly more competitive over the last decade. The average SAT score for entering first-year students has risen 129 points over the past 15 years – from 1140 to 1269. In 2007, the University set a goal of having an SAT average of 1300 by 2015.

The University recruits top students from more than 3,000 public and private high schools located across the nation. Toward that end, SMU admission officers are focused on recruitment in key regions, including Southern California, Florida, the Midwest and Northeast. In addition, SMU works with area community colleges on the admission of their students, including providing scholarships to the best transfer students.

To become more competitive in attracting top students, SMU's current capital campaign has to date raised $123 million toward a goal of $200 million for new scholarships. The University has added 404 new endowed scholarships since 1995.

Diverse Student Profile

As SMU's student academic quality has risen, so has the diversity of its enrollment, enhancing the learning experience for all.


Minority undergraduate and graduate students constitute 25 percent of SMU's student population.


Seventy percent of SMU students receive some form of financial assistance from the University, including merit- or need-based aid. Forty percent of students qualify for financial aid based on federal guidelines. Each year, approximately 1,000 undergraduates (17 percent) qualify to receive federal Pell Grants, based on low family income.


Approximately 50 percent of SMU students come from outside Texas. With students from all 50 states, the leading home states (after Texas) for first-year students are, in descending order: California, Florida and Illinois. In addition, SMU attracts talented students from throughout Texas – about two-thirds of each first-year class comes from outside the Dallas area. This movement of intellectual capital to DFW meaningfully contributes to the intellectual strength of the region.


More than 1,100 SMU students (10 percent of the student population) come from 90 foreign countries, with China, India and Saudi Arabia the largest sources of international students.


Among students reporting a religious preference, 25 percent are Catholic and 17 percent are Methodist; 50 percent are from other Protestant denominations, and 8 percent represent other religious groups (including Judaism, Islam and Hinduism). SMU provides an opportunity for students to pursue their interests in religion and spirituality.


Women comprise 52 percent and men 48 percent of SMU's full-time undergraduate students. As a result of the University's priority to achieve gender equity in engineering enrollments, the percentage of women undergraduate majors in engineering has increased to 36 percent.

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Where Undergraduate Students Come From

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Distinguished Academic Programs

Seven Academic Schools

SMU's outstanding academic programs are housed in seven degree-granting schools. Five schools offer undergraduate programs as well as graduate programs, while two – Dedman School of Law and Perkins School of Theology – are dedicated exclusively to graduate study. The schools are:

  • Humanities and Sciences (Dedman College)
  • Arts (Meadows)
  • Business (Cox)
  • Education and Human Development (Simmons)
  • Engineering (Lyle)
  • Law (Dedman)
  • Theology (Perkins)

Broad Array of Outstanding Degree Programs

Today SMU students choose from a broad-based curriculum enhanced by opportunities to learn outside the classroom through research, public service, study abroad and leadership activities. The University has 103 undergraduate degree programs in 91 fields. At the graduate level, there are 104 Master's degrees in 101 fields, two graduate professional degrees (law and theology) and 27 doctoral programs.

Specialized Academic Programs

The University also has established special programs that focus on pressing issues facing the DFW community and society. These include centers and institutes in areas such as entrepreneurship, global markets and freedom, energy, dispute resolution, engineering leadership, human rights, religion and culture, and family issues.

Distinguished Faculty

Pre-eminent Scholars

SMU's academic reputation and location enable it to attract and retain distinguished faculty, currently numbering 705 scholar-teachers from throughout the world. SMU has 84 endowed faculty positions, with a goal of having more than 100 by 2015. SMU faculty members have been recognized for their expertise and academic contributions by being elected to prestigious national organizations, such as the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering, and by being the recipients of national and global honors such as the Pulitzer Prize, Fulbright Award and Guggenheim Fellowships.

Adjunct Faculty from DFW Region

SMU is able to enhance the student learning experience by tapping the expertise and experience of professionals in the DFW region as classroom lecturers and instructors. Most instrumental performance faculty members serve as principals or associate principals with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and experts from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas are frequent classroom lecturers on economic issues.

Faculty Impact in the Marketplace of Ideas

More than 150 faculty members, because of their nationally recognized expertise in specialized fields, are regularly called on by the local, national and international media to give their perspectives on current events and complex issues. Most recently, topics have included the cause of earthquakes, immigration, political trends and global energy issues.

University Research

SMU is a private, comprehensive university located near the heart of Dallas. The University was founded in 1911 by what is now The United Methodist Church, in partnership with civic leaders. SMU is nonsectarian in its teaching and committed to academic freedom and open inquiry.

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U.S. Research Activities

SMU is one of 96 universities classified as High Research Activity Institutions by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. In the past five years, SMU has hired more than 30 new tenured or tenure-track faculty in research-intensive fields such as science and technology. To strengthen support for research, SMU has dramatically increased its supercomputing capability, supporting projects ranging from the sciences to business, and has plans for continued growth. Some of SMU's current U.S. research initiatives include:

  • Developing New Medicines

    Faculty in Dedman College's Biological Sciences and Chemistry departments have formed SMU's new Center for Drug Discovery, Design and Delivery to discover new drug therapies that can be developed into medicines.
  • Developing Artificial Limbs That "Feel"

    The Lyle School's Neurophotonics Research Center, funded through the U.S. Defense Department, involves developing two-way fiber optic communication between the human brain and artificial limbs.
  • Improving Primary and Secondary Education

    This initiative in the Simmons School of Education and Human Development involves the development of effective teaching methods, school leadership protocols and instruction strategies that lead to improved school performance.

Additionally, several SMU professors recently have received important National Science Foundation Early Career Development grants to support their research. Among them is an engineering professor who received a grant for research on improving wireless network design and a physicist who received a grant for her work with an international team searching for particles of dark matter.

Global Research Activities

SMU's faculty members also are active in research initiatives taking place outside the U.S., such as:

  • Locating Energy Resources

    Research funded by Google is being conducted at SMU's Geothermal Lab to identify new energy sources by mapping the world's geothermal resources.
  • Ensuring Water Quality

    SMU's study of the water quality at refugee camps in Africa and South Asia is supported by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees with the goal of building a global database and training workers to test the safety of water supplies.
  • Monitoring the Earth's Movement

    An SMU professor in the Huffington Department of Earth Sciences is working with the U.S. Geological Survey to create an infrasound monitoring network in the Northern Mariana Islands to detect signs of volcanic activity.
  • Studying Partner Violence

    An SMU anthropologist is studying the effects of violence in South America among related individuals and involving Spanish-speaking women immigrants in the United States. An SMU colleague is examining the impact of migration on family life in Mexico, while other SMU anthropologists study migration patterns in Europe.
  • Exploring the Origin of the Universe

    SMU faculty and students are participating in an initiative of the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Switzerland that involves experiments using the Large Hadron Collider to increase understanding of the basic forces that shape the universe.

Additionally, SMU is one of 10 U.S. universities, among them Yale, Dartmouth, Wake Forest and the University of Chicago, that is receiving funding from the Richter Foundation for undergraduate research projects, most of which are conducted abroad.

Collaborative Research Initiatives with DFW Partners

SMU is also an active research partner with other DFW institutions, such as UT Southwestern Medical Center, The University of Texas at Dallas and The University of Texas at Arlington. Current collaborative projects include:

  • Combating Parkinson's Disease

    Research into the use of new synthetic compounds to diminish the effects of nerve-degenerating diseases is being conducted in partnership with The University of Texas at Dallas.
  • Assessing Medical Treatments

    Studies on surgical outcomes involve faculty in SMU's Departments of Statistical Science and Economics in collaboration with scientists at UT Southwestern, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and The University of Texas at Arlington.

Global Education Initiatives

The global reach and presence of SMU and DFW have helped each other become stronger in their impact. Recognizing the importance of preparing students for the global marketplace, the University has established numerous international academic programs. And, to enhance sensitivity to global affairs, the University's governance policy provides that at least two members of the SMU Board of Trustees be residents of foreign countries. Currently, these two trustees are from Hong Kong and Mexico.

Academic Programs Abroad

SMU students have the opportunity to study abroad through 150 programs in 50 countries located throughout Europe, Asia, Australia, Latin America and Africa. The University's individual schools also sponsor studies abroad in their respective disciplines. For instance, the Cox School of Business was among the first business schools in the nation to implement a global immersion program. The American Airlines Global Leadership Program is a yearlong experience for all full-time MBA students, culminating in a two-week trip to different regions of the world to meet with business and government leaders as part of their research. The Perkins School of Theology Global Theological Education Program supports cultural studies in areas ranging from Central America to South Africa.

SMU's International Students

More than 1,100 students from other countries come to Dallas each year to enroll in SMU degree programs. They become active members of the campus, adding their perspectives and helping others to understand their respective cultures. When they return to their homelands to become successful business executives, political leaders and change agents, they take with them a greater understanding of our region and nation and often remain connected to SMU and DFW.

Underscoring the importance of educating international students is the Master of Laws program for international law school graduates, which began in 1950 and has become one of the nation's leading programs in comparative and international law.

The program has to date graduated more than 2,000 lawyers from 80 countries, many of whom have become important business and government leaders in their nations. For instance, the Hon. S.M. Krishna '59 is currently the External Affairs Minister of India, and Hideo Chikusa '62 is a Justice in the Supreme Court of Japan. Another noteworthy global program in Dedman School of Law is the Sohmen Scholarship Program, funded by SMU alumnus and trustee Helmut Sohmen '63. Started in 1998, this program provides scholarships for top law school graduates in China to study in SMU's international Master of Laws program. To date, 57 leading Chinese lawyers have completed this program.

View information on acreage, number of buildings and square footage of the SMU Main Campus, Plano Campus and Taos Campus.

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State-of-the-Art Campus Facilities

SMU's three campuses provide a first-class educational environment for students and faculty. Since 1995 the University has acquired nearly 59 acres of land for expansion on the main campus. More than 40 buildings and other facilities have been constructed or renovated since that time to provide additional first-rate facilities for academic and student life programs. New facilities have added more than 1.7 million square feet for academic and other uses.

Park Cities-Dallas Campus

SMU's main campus consists of 237 acres located primarily in University Park on the west side of North Central Expressway, five miles north of downtown Dallas. This campus provides a park-like setting, reflecting SMU's Collegiate Georgian architectural tradition, and serves as a resource for the community as well as students and faculty. Total acreage includes 19 acres with 11 buildings east of North Central Expressway in the city of Dallas. This east campus has potential for future construction and renovation of low-rise and high-rise buildings.

Plano Campus

The SMU-in-Plano campus consists of four buildings on 25 acres with capacity for future expansion. This campus offers degree and non-degree programs in areas such as business, counseling, dispute resolution and video game development, as well as summer programs for children and youth.

Taos, New Mexico, Campus

The 423-acre SMU-in-Taos campus, located at the site of historic Fort Burgwin near Taos, New Mexico, offers courses during summer and fall semesters ranging from archaeology and biology to music and business. SMU's nationally renowned archaeology field school draws students from across the country for excavations at Fort Burgwin.