Williams College

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School Overview

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.

College Campus

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.

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
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/Theater 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.

Williams College Highlights

School Information

Phone Number: (413) 597-3131
Website: https://www.williams.edu
Type of School: 4-year, Private non-profit
Apply Online: https://admission.williams.edu/apply
Address: 880 Main St, Williamstown, MA 01267
Setting: Town: Fringe
Campus Housing: Yes

Students & Programs

Student Population: 2,150
6-yr Graduation Rate (Bachelor's): 94%
Student-to-faculty Ratio: 6 to 1
Distance Learning Programs:
Distance Learning Students*: 2,150 (100% of total students)
Degree Levels Offered: Bachelor's, Master's

* Students taking at least 1 distance learning course

Tuition & Financial Aid*

In-state Tuition: $57,280
Out-of-state Tuition: $57,280
% of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 63%
Avg. Amount of Grant or Scholarship Aid Awarded: $55,897

* Full-time beginning undergraduate students. Financial aid is available to those who qualify.

Williams College Programs

See the degree programs that are offered at Williams College.

Degree Name Cert Assoc Bach Mast Doct
Area, Ethnic, Cultural, Gender, and Group Studies 4
Biological and Biomedical Sciences 1
Computer and Information Sciences and Support Services 1
English Language and Literature/Letters 1
Foreign Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics 8
History 1
Mathematics and Statistics 2
Multi/Interdisciplinary Studies 1
Natural Resources and Conservation 1
Philosophy and Religious Studies 2
Physical Sciences 5
Psychology 1
Social Sciences 51
Visual and Performing Arts 31
Grand total 362

* Based on programs that produced 2019-2020 graduates

Tuition & Financial Aid

See what it costs to enroll at Williams College and how many students are receiving scholarships, grants, or loans as financial aid to help cover the costs of tuition.

Undergraduate Student Tuition

Average tuition and fees for academic year:

Tuition and Fees 2019-2020
In-state $57,280
Out-of-state $57,280
Books and supplies $800

Graduate Student Tuition

Average tuition and fees for academic year:

Tuition and Fees 2019-2020
In-state $55,948
Out-of-state $55,948

Undergraduate Student Financial Aid, 2018-2019

Full-time Beginning Undergraduate Students

Type of Aid Number Receiving Aid % Receiving Aid Avg. Amt. of Aid
Any student financial aid 335 63%
Grant or scholarship aid 271 51% $55,897
Student loan aid 112 21% $4,163

All Undergraduate Students

Type of Aid Number Receiving Aid % Receiving Aid Avg. Amt. of Aid
Grant or scholarship aid 1,177 56% $51,496
Federal student loans 460 22% $4,227

Admissions & Enrollment

See the admission requirements for Williams College. Find out how many students apply and how many are accepted. View a graphical breakdown of the gender, age, and ethnicity of currently enrolled Williams College students.

Undergraduate Admissions, Fall 2020

Total Male Female
Number of applicants 9,715 4,478 5,237
Percent admitted 100% 13% 12%
Percent admitted who enrolled 6% 5% 6%

Admissions Considerations

Required Recommended Optional
Secondary school GPA
Secondary school rank
Secondary school record
Completion of college-preparatory program
Formal demonstration of competencies
Admission test scores
Other Test (Wonderlic, WISC-III, etc.)
TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language

Williams College Enrollment, Fall 2020

Total Enrollment 2,150
Undergraduate enrollment 2,094
Graduate enrollment 56

Undergraduate Attendance

Undergraduate Gender

Undergraduate Age

Undergraduate Race/Ethnicity

Undergraduate Distance Education

Undergraduates taking 100%, Some, or No Distance Education

Graduate Distance Education

Graduate students taking 100%, Some, or No Distance Education

Williams College Accreditation

This institution is accredited by New England Commission of Higher Education

Specialized institution accreditations:

*General information for this school has been gathered from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) database, a service provided by the U.S. Department of Education. CollegeAtlas.org does 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.

If you work for a school and would like to update your data please contact us.

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