Amherst College has several unique qualities that attract students from around the nation and world. For example, Amherst College requires students to take only a few general requirements, a process known as open curriculum. Students are only required to complete credits for their major and a freshmen seminar. Most classes at Amherst College average 15 students. As a result, professors are more accessible to students.
Students have plenty of opportunity to socialize and mingle at Amherst College since there are over 100 student organizations on campus. Starting new clubs at Amherst College is simple and available to all students. Most students live on campus, so it’s also easy to make new friends at Amherst College.
Higher education is expensive; however, Amherst College is dedicated to making college affordable for admitted students. Scholarships, loans, and federal grants are available for students relying on financial assistance.
Amherst College adheres to needs-blind admissions. Every applicant, regardless of their socio-economic status, is considered solely on academic merit and potential for success. In other words, even students without the ability to pay for school will be considered for admittance at Amherst College.
Amherst belongs to the Five College Consortium, comprised of four liberal arts colleges and one university, which include Amherst, Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. While each member of the consortium are independent they work together to provide mutually beneficial programs for their students. Students enrolled at any one of the institutions belonging to the consortium can often take courses offered at other member institutions.
Suprisingly, Amherst has a close relationship with its archrivals Williams College and Wesleyan University. Together these three colleges form an unofficial athletic conference known as the “Little Three”.
AcademicsAmherst College offers accredited Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degrees in over 36 fields of study which comprise over 850 individual courses. Amherst offers programs in the arts, sciences, social sciences, classics, mathematical sciences, computer sciences, humanities, foreign languages and various multi-/interdisciplinary fields, including premedicine. Unlike most other undergraduate liberal arts colleges and unversities, Amherst employs an open curriculum model. Students are not required to take any core curriculum courses and in many cases are able to design their entire major from start to finish. Many classes include a distribution of both freshmen and seniors, as Amherst students are free to take any course offering they choose–irregardless of level.
The only universal academic requirement is that freshmen participate in one of about twenty “First-Year Seminars” that are offered throughout the year. The seminars are small (typically no more than 15 students) and address a number of topics and focus on helping student develop critical analysis, writing and verbal communication skills. The remaining 31 courses required for graduation are chosen by the students themselves. While students are not required to fulfill any core curriculum requirements, they are still require to complete the departmental course requirements for their major, and pass all exams at a satisfactory level.
Each major department employs faculty advisors that focus on helping students through the process of selecting and organizing their major courses. Advisors are assigned to no more than 5 freshmen students at a time to ensure each student receives adequate attention. Students are able to turn to their advisor for advice and counsel throughout their undergraduate education at Amherst.
Many of the students at Amherst complete double majors. In fact, over 33% of the graduating class in 2007 were double majors. A few students even triple major and others work with their advisors to develop unique interdisciplinary majors. Over half of Amherst students write a thesis during their senior year. Each student who writes a these is assigned an additional advisor (faculty member) who has expertise in the area addressed by the selected thesis topic. Nearly 80% of Amherst students go on to attend graduate school sometime after graduation.
Intensive writing is a skill stressed at Amherst College. In fact, intensive writing is a priority at all levels of instruction and is integrated into courses taught in all majors across campus. Undergraduate students at Amherst can expected to develop and enhance the form, depth, substance and logic of their writing throughout their undergraduate education. Second only to intensive writing, quantitative analysis is another skill faculty and professors stress in their classes and curriculum.
As students are open to develop their own unique curriculum, Amherst has a relatively high number of students that pursue degrees in interdisciplinary fields. Amherst was the first undergraduate college to have interdisciplinary majors in Neuroscience; American Studies; and Law, Jursiprudence and Social Thought. It also offers several up-and-coming interdisciplinary majors in Asian Languages and Civilizations.
AdmissionAmherst is one of the most selective undergraduate liberal arts colleges in the nation. For the entering class of 2016, Amherst received about 8,500 applications. From that pool of applicants it accepted just over 1,100–about thirteen percent. Most entering freshmen have entrance test scores that place them in the top fifth of those for freshman applying to bachelor degree granting institutions nationwide. About half (49%) of entering freshman are male and the remaining are female. Over 80% of entering freshmen are in the top 10% of their graduating class in high school and nearly all rank in the top 25% of their high school class. The median SAT score for entering freshmen at Amherst falls between 670 and 770 for critical reading, 670 and 760 for writing, and 670 and 760 for math. The median ACT composite for entering freshman falls between 30 and 34.
For transfer students, the admissions process is even more selective. For 2012, the admission rate for transfer students was just over 4%. Of the roughly 500 transfer students that applied to Amhersts College only 21 were admitted.
RankingsSince U.S. News and World Report started ranking colleges many years ago, Amherst College has been ranked the No.1 liberal arts college in the nation more than ten times. As recent as 2013, U.S. News ranked Amherst second overall out of 266 liberal arts colleges, outranked only by Williams College.
Just a few years ago Forbes ranked Amherst College No.13 on its list of best colleges and universities in the United States. That same year Amherst was ranked No.4 by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance publication on its list of best value liberal ars colleges in the country.
The National Collegiate Scouting Association which ranks colleges based on various factors relating to student-athlete academic performance (e.g., graduation rate, GPA/academic strength, etc.) ranked Amherst College No.2 in the nation among peer institutions.
In several rankings produced by The Princeton Review, including “Top 10 Best Value Private Schools”, Amherst College has been ranked among the top 20 higher education institutions in the nation. The Washington Monthly ranked Amherst No.7 in the nation based on the amount of research the college performs, grants awarded to the school, percent of students who attend graduate school after graduation, and for the level of public service the school provides.
Amherst is one of a growing number of colleges and universities across the U.S. that participates in the University and College Accountability Network (U-CAN), a system that provides students and their parents with comparative information on colleges and universities nationwide. Students can compare different higher education institutions based on a number of criteria such as cost of tuition, majors/programs, financial assistance, admission rates, campus safety, etc. U-CAN was developed by the National Association of Independent Colleges and University (NAICU).
Commitment to Excellence in TeachingAmherst College serves a shining example of excellence in higher education teaching. The college facilitates a very high level of interaction between its students and professors and is recognized by most in higher education academia for its superior quality of teaching. Other top institutions, including Columbia and Harvard University, have reviewed Amherst’s teaching model when reviewing their own teaching models.
Amherst maintains a very low student-to-faculty ratio of 8:1 and a class size that averages no more then 15 students, whereby ensuring that each students receives the individual attention they need to excel academically. Amherst recognized that the highest level of teaching and learning occurs when the time students and professors interact is maximized. Where many institutions of “higher learning” rate their professors based on scholarly work and research, Amherst gauges the quality of its professors by the scholarly work they perform as well as the success of the student they teach. Amherst professor strive to help their students learn, explore and create by finding new teaching methods that are engaging and innovative.
PO Box 5000
Amherst, MA 01002-5000
Fax: (413) 542-2040
Contact: Katharine Fretwell
Director of Admission & Senior Associate Dean of Admission
PO Box 5000
Amherst, MA 01002-5000
Total undergrads: 1,697
First-time degree-seeking freshmen: 439
Degree-seeking undergrads: 1,697
Large town (10,000 – 49,999)
Tuition & Fees
|Estimated Annual Expenses||2008-’09||2009-’10||2010-’11||2011-’12||% change 2010-’12|
|Tuition and fees||$36,884||$38,310||$38,928||$40,862||+4.97%|
|Books and Supplies||$1,000||$1,000||$1,000||$1,000||0.00%|
|Living Arrangement – On Campus|
|Room and Board||$9,420||$9,790||$10,150||$10,660||+5.02%|
|Living Arrangement – Off Campus|
|Room and Board||$0||$0||$0||$0||0.00%|
|Total Expenses||2008-’09||2009-’10||2010-’11||2011-’12||% change 2010-’12|
|In-state On Campus||$49,004||$50,900||$51,878||$54,322||+4.71%|
|In-state Off Campus||$37,884||$39,310||$39,928||$41,862||+4.84%|
|In-state with Family||$37,884||$39,310||$39,928||$41,862||+4.84%|
|Full-time Beginning Undergraduate Students|
|Type of Aid||Students||Percent||Amount||Average Per Student|
|All students financial aid||305||70%|
|Grant or scholarship aid||221||50%||$7,822,195||$35,395|
|• Federal grants||74||17%||$351,277||$4,747|
|• Pell grants||57||13%||$217,277||$3,812|
|• Other federal grants||69||16%||$134,000||$1,942|
|State/local government grant or scholarships||17||4%||$34,196||$2,012|
|Institutional grants or scholarships||221||50%||$7,436,722||$33,650|
|Student loan aid||73||17%||$393,861||$5,395|
|• Federal student loans||56||13%||$244,136||$4,360|
|• Other student loans||25||6%||$149,725||$5,989|
All Degrees and Programs
|Total of All Education Programs||514||–||–||–||–|
|Area, Gender, Cultural, Ethnic, and Group Studies||37||–||–||–||–|
|American/united States Studies/civilization||5||–||–||–||–|
|Biology and Biomedical Sciences||34||–||–||–||–|
|Biology and Biological Sciences, General||20||–||–||–||–|
|Computing and Information Sciences||9||–||–||–||–|
|English Language, Composition and Literature/letters||52||–||–||–||–|
|English Language and Literature||52||–||–||–||–|
|Foreign Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics||54||–||–||–||–|
|Classics and Classical Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics||4||–||–||–||–|
|Classics and Classical Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics, Other||–||–||–||–||–|
|French Language and Literature||26||–||–||–||–|
|German Language and Literature||2||–||–||–||–|
|Latin Language and Literature||–||–||–||–||–|
|Russian Language and Literature||4||–||–||–||–|
|Spanish Language and Literature||18||–||–||–||–|
|Mathematics and Statistics||21||–||–||–||–|
|Multi-/interdisciplinary Studies, Other||6||–||–||–||–|
|Natural Resources and Conservation||10||–||–||–||–|
|Geology and Earth Science||12||–||–||–||–|
|Political Science and Government||56||–||–||–||–|
|Visual and Performing Arts||30||–||–||–||–|
|Drama and Dramatics/theatre Arts||5||–||–||–||–|
Above data represents first majors only.
(-) Indicates that a program is not offered at this level.
College has an application fee: Yes
Regular application fee: $60
Online application fee: $60
Percent applicants admitted: 13%
Secondary school GPA: Recommended
Secondary school rank: Recommended
Secondary school record: Required
College-prepartory program: Recommended
Demonstration of competencies: Recommended
Admission test scores (SAT/ACT): Required
Undergraduate Admissions Fall 2011
Number of Applicants: 8,460
Percent Admitted: 13%
Percented Admitted Who Enrolled: 41%
Test Scores: Fall 2011
SAT Critical Reading
Undergraduate Attendance Status
Undergraduate Student Gender
Undergraduate Student Age
Undergraduate Student Residence
Retention and Graduation Rates
Retention Rates for First-Time Students Pursuing Bachelor’s Degrees
Overall Graduation and Transfer-Out Rates for Students
Graduation Rates for Students Pursuing Bachelor’s Degrees
6-Year Graduation Rate by Gender for Students Pursuing Bachelor’s Degrees
6-Year Graduation Rate by Race/Ethnicity for Students Pursuing Bachelor’s Degrees
Area, Ethnic, Cultural, & Gender Studies
African Studies B
African-American Studies B
American Studies B
Asian Studies B
Central/Eastern European Studies B
European Studies B
Western European Studies B
Women’s Studies B
Arts, Visual & Performing
Drama/Theater Arts B
Fine/Studio Arts B
Music – General B
Biological & Biomedical Sciences
Computer & Information Sciences
Computer Science B
English Language & Literature
English Language & Literature – General B
Foreign Language & Literature
Greek, Ancient B
History – General B
Law & Legal Studies
Law & Legal Studies – General B
Mathematics – General B
Mathematics/Computer Science B
Philosophy & Religion
Religion/Religious Studies B
Psychology – General B
Political Science/Government B
Degree levels for each major are designated by the following letters:
B = Bachelor’s degree
C = Certificate or diploma