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Williams College

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 includes Amherst College and Wesleyan University. The 25 academic departments at Williams College are grouped within one of the following divisions: Social Studies, Science and Mathematics, and Language and Arts.

Students at Williams College have 35 undergraduate majors to choose from. Williams College also offers some graduate programs, including renowned art history and economic policy programs. 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 art 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 33 bachelor degree programs and 2 master's degrees through its 24 departments. The college also offers adult education programs in 12 additional areas of study in addition to those covered via its bachelor and master 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 freshman 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 by Princeton University alone.

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 William's 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 analysis 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 analysis 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 the college's 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 analysis to be critiqued by the professor and the other students.

Over eighty percent of student who have participated in tutorial-style programs report that the program was one of the most valuable education experiencing they had while attending Williams College.

College Campus

Williams College is locate on an expansive 450-acre campus in Williamstown, Massachusetts, in the northwest corner of 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 observatory in the country. Williams College is 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 Keck Foundation and 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 ministries 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 various other social events.

Another popular facility at Williams is the Chaplin Library which includes over 55,000 volumes and an additional 100,000 artifcats, including maps, microfiche, maps, bookplates, prints and photographs. Students within the College of Arts at Williams College rely heavily on the Chaplin Library as it provides them readily available access to a comprehensive selection of rare manuscript, 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 (One the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres) by Nicolaus Copernicus (the famous Renaissance astronomer and mathematician) as well as books by other well known figures including Sire 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 Witt (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 area.

General Information

Admission Office
33 Stetson Court
Williamstown, MA 01267
(413) 597-2211
Fax: (413) 597-4052
Contact: Richard Nesbitt
Director of Admissions
Main Address
Williams College
Williamstown, MA 01267
(413) 597-3131
Total undergrads: 1,997
First-time degree-seeking freshmen: 540
Degree-seeking undergrads: 1,970
Graduate enrollment: 48

Rural setting
Small town (2,500 - 9,999)
Residential campus
Degrees offered:

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%
Other $1,700 $1,757 $1,781 $1,781 0.00%
Living Arrangement - Off Campus
Room and Board $0 $0 $0 $0 0.00%
Other $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
Out-of-state Fees $0

Financial Aid

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 - - - -
Asian Studies/civilization 6 - - - -
Near and Middle Eastern Studies 8 - - - -
Women's Studies 4 - - - -
Biology and Biomedical Sciences 67 - - - -
Biology and Biological Sciences, General 67 - - - -
Computing and Information Sciences 13 - - - -
Computer Science 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 - - - -
Comparative Literature 5 - - - -
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 - - - -
History 56 - - - -
History 56 - - - -
Mathematics and Statistics 55 - - - -
Mathematics 55 - - - -
Multi-/interdisciplinary Studies 2 - - - -
Multi-/interdisciplinary Studies, Other 2 - - - -
Natural Resources and Conservation 1 - - - -
Environmental Studies 1 - - - -
Physical Sciences 55 - - - -
Astronomy - - - - -
Astrophysics 6 - - - -
Chemistry 29 - - - -
Geology and Earth Science 8 - - - -
Physics 12 - - - -
Psychology 57 - - - -
Psychology 57 - - - -
Social Sciences 175 30 - - -
Anthropology 10 - - - -
Development Economics and International Development - 30 - - -
Economics 78 - - - -
Political Science and Government 61 - - - -
Social Sciences, Other 19 - - - -
Sociology 7 - - - -
Visual and Performing Arts 75 14 - - -
Art History, Criticism and Conservation - 14 - - -
Art/art Studies 60 - - - -
Drama and Dramatics/theatre Arts 9 - - - -
Music 6 - - - -
Above data represents first majors only.
(-) Indicates that a program is not offered at this level.

Admissions Information

Application Fee
College has an application fee: Yes
Regular application fee: $60
Online application fee: $60
Enrollment Rates
Percent applicants admitted: 17%
Admissions Considerations
Secondary school rank: Recommended
Secondary school record: Required
Completion of college-prep program: Recommended
Recommendations: Required
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
  • 660 (25th Percentile)
  • 770 (75th Percentile)
SAT Math
  • 650 (25th Percentile)
  • 760 (75th Percentile)
ACT Composite
  • 29 (25th Percentile)
  • 34 (75th Percentile)

Enrollment Statistics

Undergraduate Attendance Status

Undergraduate Student Gender

Undergraduate Student Age

Undergraduate Student Residence

Graduate Attendance Status

Undergraduate Race/Ethnicity

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

Undergraduate Majors

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
Biology B

Computer & Information Sciences
Computer Science B

English Language & Literature
English Language & Literature - General B

Foreign Language & Literature
Chinese B
Classics B
Comparative Literature B
French B
German B
Japanese B
Russian B
Spanish B

History - General B

Mathematics - General B

Philosophy & Religion
Philosophy B
Religion/Religious Studies B

Physical Sciences
Astronomy B
Astrophysics B
Chemistry B
Geology B
Physics B

Psychology - General B

Social Sciences
Anthropology B
Economics B
Political Science/Government B
Sociology B

Degree levels for each major are designated by the following letters:
    A = Associate degree
    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.