Residency Requirement

Students and families who choose SMU are choosing a residential college experience during their first two years.

Discover the benefits of starting your SMU experience in the Residential Commons or of our offerings.

Student with parents moving into their commonsStudents and families who choose SMU are choosing a residential college experience. This experience supports students transitioning to SMU and supports their success at the university. SMU’s residential experience is founded on the Residential Commons system, established in 2014, as a method to improve and foster a more inclusive campus culture. To ensure students are receiving a robust and fulfilling experience, University leaders, including President R. Gerald Turner, instituted a two-year on-campus residency requirement for undergraduate students as a part of the Residential Commons system.

This decision to change SMU’s residential structure in 2014 was not made lightly, and came from a desire to foster an inclusive campus culture of support that would improve campus life and the lives of students who attend SMU. This decision was based on national and SMU-conducted research demonstrating students who live on-campus have higher GPAs their first and second-year along with higher retention rates. National data also demonstrates students experience an increase in student development outcomes, interpersonal self-esteem, satisfaction with their undergraduate experience, accessing campus resources, and campus community involvement.  

Since the establishment of the SMU Residential Commons, we have seen first-hand the incredible impact that this has had on our students. Overall, first-year retention increased by more than 1% with second-year retention increasing by almost 3%. Additionally, SMU on-campus students tend to complete courses at a higher rate without dropping classes and loosing valuable time toward graduation.

As detailed in SMU’s Undergraduate Catalogue: First-year students must live on campus for their first two years at SMU and are assigned to 1 of 11 Residential Commons. Within these diverse and dynamic communities, residents have access to peer-mentoring and form stronger relationships with other residents, helping them make campus home.

Beginning with the 2023-24 academic year, New transfer students are not required to live on campus but may apply and be assigned on a space-available basis.