Williams College is a prestigious school that offers excellent academic programs. It is classified as one of the “Little Three” — a group of prestigious liberal arts colleges that also include Amherst College and Wesleyan University. The 25 academic departments at Williams College are grouped within one of the following divisions: Arts and Humanities; Science and Mathematics; and Social Sciences.
Students at Williams College have 36 undergraduate majors to choose from. Williams also offers two outstanding master’s programs, one in art history and one in development economics. Many students enroll at Williams College because of its small class sizes, which makes professors more accessible to students. Many professors at Williams College are internationally-recognized for their research.
There are many opportunities to participate in extra-curricular activities at Williams College. Williams College sponsors more than 160 student organizations, and the school has money allocated to fund more student organizations. Most students live on-campus, making Williams College a lively and social environment.
Financial need is not considered during admission decisions. Admission decisions are based solely on merit, regardless of financial need. Williams College is very selective. It has a 20 percent average annual acceptance rate.
Williams Colleges offers scholarships and other forms of financial aid to admitted students. It does not provide merit-based scholarships; instead, scholarship awards are based on financial need.
With roughly 2,200 students, Williams College is a relatively small, liberal arts school that is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges to award bachelor’s and master’s degrees in various academic and career-oriented fields of study. Altogether, Williams offers 36 bachelor degree programs and 2 master’s degrees through its 25 departments. The college also offers adult education programs in 12 additional areas of study in addition to those covered via its bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. Some of the fields of study offered at Williams include Ethnic Studies, Biology, Computer Science, English, Foreign Languages, History, Multi-/Interdisciplinary Studies, Conservation, Social Sciences, Visual Arts, and Performing Arts, among others.
The academic year at Williams College is set up on a 4–1–4 schedule (a 4 course semester followed by a 1 course semester followed by another 4 course semester). The 1 course semester that is held in January is commonly referred to as “winter study”. During this semester it’s traditional for students to participate in a study abroad program or complete a research project.
With an undergraduate acceptance rate of about 16%, Williams College is a fairly selective college. The average critical reading and math SAT scores for entering freshmen are 730 and 720, respectively. About half of the entering students are ranked in the top 1% of their high school graduating class. Most students at Williams College come from New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, California, Texas, Connecticut, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.
Rankings and Recognitions
For three consecutive years (2010-12), Williams College was ranked the No.1 undergraduate college in the nation by Forbes Magazine – outranking all liberal arts colleges and Ivy League universities nationwide. In 2013, Williams College was ranked No.2 in the nation, outranked only by Princeton University.
Among nearly 270 liberal arts schools nationwide, U.S. News and World Report ranked Williams College No.1 from 2011 through 2013. Wall Street Journal ranked Williams No.5 in the nation among “feeder schools”, surpassed only by Princeton, Harvard, Yale and Stanford.
Based on various criteria relating to the academic strength of Williams’ student athletes (e.g., GPA, graduation rate, etc.), the National Collegiate Scouting Association (NCSA) ranked Williams College No.1 in the nation, outranking other top contenders, including Stanford University, Middlebury College, and Amherst College.
The Tutorial System
Education at Williams College is based on the Oxford-style “tutorial system”, a unique teaching and learning methodology employed by very few other universities in the United States. In the tutorial system students gather in small groups on a weekly basis and receive direct instruction from faculty fellows. The tutorial system is considered to be more academically challenging and effective than lecture/exam-based education formats employed at a majority of universities. In the tutorial system, students receive direct feedback from their professors on a regular basis, and are required to orally communicate their ideas, reactions, and analyses to their instructor and other students. Proponents of the tutorial system point out that one of the reasons the system is so effective is because it is difficult for students to “fake it” as they’re required to articulate their responses and analyses of issues and concepts in an open, public forum.
Originally, the tutorial system was employed only among upperclassmen (juniors and seniors), however, in 2001 the faculty and administration decided to expand the program to incorporate all academic levels across many fields of study and disciplines. As of 2010, there were 62 tutorial style programs offered through 21 departments. As the tutorial system is based on interaction among small groups of students, all tutorials are limited to 10 students. These 10 students are then paired into groups of two. Each pair meets with their instructor once a week where students take turns presenting papers, projects and analyses to be critiqued by the professor and the other student.
Over 80% of students who have participated in tutorial-style learning report that the program was one of the most valuable education experiences they had while attending Williams College.
Williams College is located in the northwest corner of Massachusetts, on an expansive 450-acre campus in Williamstown, Massachusetts. The campus has well over one hundred buildings, facilities, and structures.
Williams campus is home to several famous facilities including the Mehlin Museum of Astronomy – home to one of the first telescopes – the Milham Planetarium and its most well-known site, the Hopkins Observatory – the oldest extant observatory in the country. Williams College is also a member of the Keck Northeast Astronomy Consortium which includes Wesleyan College, Colgate University, Swarthmore College, Wellesley College, Vassar College and Middlebury College. The consortium is sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the Keck Foundation, which offers various research programs for students.
The Williams College campus is also home to a Newman Center (or Newman Club), a Catholic ministry center designed to provide pastor and ministry services to on-campus, Catholic communities (although Christians of other denominations frequently attend center sponsored activities and services). Some of the activities and services sponsored through the Newman Centers include baptisms, masses, weddings, funeral receptions, celebrations, and other various social events.
Another popular facility at Williams is the Chaplin Library which includes over 55,000 volumes and an additional 100,000 artifacts, including maps, microfiche, bookplates, prints, and photographs. Students within the College of Arts at Williams College rely heavily on the Chaplin Library as it readily provides them access to a comprehensive selection of rare manuscripts, books, and literary works. The Chaplin Library is home to several rare documents and collections including: the United States Constitution, Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, Articles of Confederation, and the Federalist Papers. The science college at Chaplin Library includes famous first edition books such as: De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres) by Nicolaus Copernicus – the famous Renaissance astronomer and mathematician; as well as books by other well-known figures including Sir Isaac Newton, Galileo, Tycho Brahe, and Johannes Kepler.
The Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA) is a teaching museum also located on the college’s main campus in Williamstown. The museum is open to the public but serves primarily as a teaching and learning resource for art history students. Currently the museum has over 12,000 works in its permanent collection and thousands more which are displayed from time to time through special showings and exhibits sponsored by other museums and organizations. Some of the library’s most popular works include a wall mural by Sol LeWitt – a famous American artist; Morning in a City – produced in 1944 by Edward Hopper; and Eyes – a marble sculpture by Louise Bourgeois which is on display directly outside the museum. While WCMA is by no means as large or comprehensive as the neighboring Sterling & Francine Clark Art Institute or Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MassMoCA), it is still one of the main attractions in the area.
33 Stetson Court
Williamstown, MA 01267
Fax: (413) 597-4052
Contact: Richard Nesbitt
Director of Admissions
Williamstown, MA 01267
Total undergrads: 1,997
First-time degree-seeking freshmen: 540
Degree-seeking undergrads: 1,970
Graduate enrollment: 48
Small town (2,500 – 9,999)
Tuition & Fees
|Estimated Annual Expenses||2008-’09||2009-’10||2010-’11||2011-’12||% change 2010-’12|
|Tuition and fees||$35,670||$37,640||$39,490||$41,434||+4.92%|
|Books and Supplies||$800||$800||$800||$800||0.00%|
|Living Arrangement – On Campus|
|Room and Board||$9,470||$9,890||$10,390||$10,906||+4.97%|
|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||$47,640||$50,087||$52,461||$54,921||+4.69%|
|In-state Off Campus||$36,470||$38,440||$40,290||$42,234||+4.83%|
|In-state with Family||$36,470||$38,440||$40,290||$42,234||+4.83%|
|Average Graduate Student Tuition & Fees|
|Tuition for In-state Students||$42,200|
|In-state Student Fees||$0|
|Tuition for Out-of-state Students||$42,200|
|Full-time Beginning Undergraduate Students|
|Type of Aid||Students||Percent||Amount||Average Per Student|
|All students financial aid||344||64%|
|Grant or scholarship aid||278||52%||$10,090,838||$36,298|
|• Federal grants||78||14%||$414,217||$5,310|
|• Pell grants||78||14%||$274,967||$3,525|
|• Other federal grants||44||8%||$139,250||$3,165|
|State/local government grant or scholarships||24||4%||$52,476||$2,187|
|Institutional grants or scholarships||270||50%||$9,624,145||$35,645|
|Student loan aid||79||15%||$352,330||$4,460|
|• Federal student loans||79||15%||$341,518||$4,323|
|• Other student loans||1||0%||$10,812||$10,812|
All Degrees and Programs
|Total of All Education Programs||692||44||–||–||–|
|Area, Gender, Cultural, Ethnic, and Group Studies||24||–||–||–||–|
|American/United States Studies/Civilization||6||–||–||–||–|
|Near and Middle Eastern Studies||8||–||–||–||–|
|Biology and Biomedical Sciences||67||–||–||–||–|
|Biology and Biological Sciences, General||67||–||–||–||–|
|Computing and Information Sciences||13||–||–||–||–|
|English Language, Composition and Literature/Letters||69||–||–||–||–|
|English Language and Literature||69||–||–||–||–|
|Foreign Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics||43||–||–||–||–|
|Chinese Language and Literature||15||–||–||–||–|
|Classics and Classical Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics||1||–||–||–||–|
|French Language and Literature||3||–||–||–||–|
|German Language and Literature||6||–||–||–||–|
|Japanese Language and Literature||2||–||–||–||–|
|Russian Language and Literature||3||–||–||–||–|
|Spanish Language and Literature||8||–||–||–||–|
|Mathematics and Statistics||55||–||–||–||–|
|Multi-/Interdisciplinary Studies, Other||2||–||–||–||–|
|Natural Resources and Conservation||1||–||–||–||–|
|Geology and Earth Science||8||–||–||–||–|
|Development Economics and International Development||–||30||–||–||–|
|Political Science and Government||61||–||–||–||–|
|Social Sciences, Other||19||–||–||–||–|
|Visual and Performing Arts||75||14||–||–||–|
|Art History, Criticism and Conservation||–||14||–||–||–|
|Drama and Dramatics/Theater Arts||9||–||–||–||–|
College has an application fee: Yes
Regular application fee: $60
Online application fee: $60
Percent applicants admitted: 17%
Secondary school rank: Recommended
Secondary school record: Required
Completion of college-prep program: Recommended
Admission test scores (SAT/ACT): Required
Undergraduate Admissions Fall 2011
Number of Applicants: 6,631
Percent Admitted: 19%
Percented Admitted Who Enrolled: 44%
Test Scores: Fall 2011
SAT Critical Reading
Undergraduate Attendance Status
Undergraduate Student Gender
Undergraduate Student Age
Undergraduate Student Residence
Graduate Attendance Status
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
American Studies B
Asian Studies B
Arts, Visual & Performing
Art History/Criticism/Conservation B
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
Comparative Literature B
History – General B
Mathematics – General 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
*We do not guarantee the accuracy of information on this page. All information is subject to change. You should confirm all information with a college admissions officer.