Today, Vanderbilt University is home to 16 national fraternities and 12 national sororities, representing chapters from the National Association of Latino Fraternal Organizations, National Pan-Hellenic Council, Inc., the National Panhellenic Conference, and the North-American Interfraternity Conference.
Greek Life at Vanderbilt dates back before the institution’s founding in 1873. The establishment of the third chapter of Delta Kappa Epsilon Fraternity in 1847 marked the beginning of Greek Life in Nashville. At the time, the University of Nashville hosted the chapter of Deke, and ten years later Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity joined the community, followed by Phi Kappa Psi in 1870. Following the establishment of Vanderbilt University in 1873, seven more fraternities joined the community: Phi Delta Theta, Kappa Sigma, Chi Phi, Sigma Nu, Delta Tau Delta, Alpha Tau Omega, and Sigma Chi.
Sororities joined the Greek community soon after the university began admitting women in 1892. Out of a need for housing and close friendships, these new female students established two local sororities: Phi Kappa Upsilon and Theta Delta Theta. Within ten years, these two groups affiliated with the national organizations of Kappa Alpha Theta and Delta Delta Delta. Since that time 12 more National Panhellenic Conference organizations have established chapters at the institution.
Historically African American Greek organizations joined the Vanderbilt community in 1971 with the founding of a chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. By 1975 Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. joined the Greek community. In 1990, these organizations, with the help of the men of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., formed the Black Greek Council to govern the affairs of these five groups. In 1999, the Council formalized its operations and became a chartered council under the National Pan-Hellenic Council, Inc. During that period of time, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. also established chapters at Vanderbilt.