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Boltwood Avenue
Amherst, MA 01002-5000
p. 413-542-2000
w. www.amherst.edu

Amherst College

Amherst College Rating: 3.8/5 (12 votes)

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Introduction

Within the Pioneer Valley of western Massachusetts sits the 1,000-acre campus of Amherst College.According to the school’s mission statement:

Amherst College educates men and women of exceptional potential from all backgrounds so that they may seek, value, and advance knowledge, engage the world around them, and lead principled lives of consequence. Amherst brings together the most promising students, whatever their financial need, in order to promote diversity of experience and ideas within a purposefully small residential community. Working with faculty, staff, and administrators dedicated to intellectual freedom and the highest standards of instruction in the liberal arts, Amherst undergraduates assume substantial responsibility for undertaking inquiry and for shaping their education within and beyond the curriculum.

The college is committed to learning through close colloquy and to expanding the realm of knowledge through scholarly research and artistic creation at the highest level. Its graduates link learning with leadership—in service to the college, to their communities, and to the world beyond.

Of those who come in as first-year students, ninety-seven percent remain to graduate. Many graduates stay to work here, and some even come back as professors. Each year, more than sixty percent of alumni donate to their college, and hundreds return to campus for Homecoming and Reunion.

Academics

Academics are challenging here. Each class requires hours of reading, writing, problem-solving, and conversation—and discussions often spill over from the classroom into the professors’ offices, dining hall, and dorms. Help is available from Academic Peer Mentors, The Writing Center, and the Moss Quantitative Center. There is a two-week Add/Drop period at the start of each semester, so students can shop around for the right courses before committing.

Professors and the Advisor System

The average class size is seventeen students. Every professor holds regularoffice hours so that students may come in to get clarification on ideas and assignments. Many professors hire student research assistants. A program called TYPO (Take Your Professor Out) lets students invite favorite professors to dinner at local restaurants. Some students suggest choosing courses based not on their topics, but on their teachers.

Each incoming student is assigned a faculty advisor—a particular professor who helps him or her choose each semester’s course load based on interests, goals, and the ideal of a well-rounded liberal arts education. Once a student declares a major, he or she gets an advisor in that department. A student who chooses to do a senior honors project gets at least one special thesis advisor whose area of expertise most closely reflects the topic of the project.

Courses

To graduate, a student must complete four courses per semester over eight semesters—thirty-two courses in all. Unlike most colleges, Amherst has no core curriculum. Other than the courses necessary for one’s major, the only required course is a First-Year Seminar, and there are dozens of these to choose from.

Majors

Students may major in any of thirty-two different subjects or design an interdisciplinary major. Many choose to double-major in combinations of any two subjects. The most popular majors (in varying order) are economics, English, psychology, and political science.Depending on the department, a major will involve anywhere from eight to fourteen required courses and perhaps a comprehensive final exam or a senior project. It’s not only allowed but common for a student to change majors once or twice over four years.

Interterm

Interterm is the three-week period in January, between the fall and spring semesters. Students may stay home for Interterm, or they may return to campus to take noncredit courses or do research. Some also do urban education “Winternships” or other volunteer work. And every Interterm includes at least one colloquium in the new Amherst College Colloquium Series, in which well-known experts are invited to teach classes and debate divergent viewpoints on important and controversial topics. Past colloquium guests (for Interterm and during the spring and fall semesters) have included columnists David Brooks and E. J. Dionne, General Wesley Clark,and former New Jersey GovernorChristine Todd Whitman.

Senior Honors

Roughly half of all students take on ambitious thesis projects—usually research papers; reports on lab experiments; or original works of art, literature, music, or drama—to serve as capstones for their college careers and earn them Latin honors. Any student who completes a thesis of acceptable quality may graduate cum laude; thesis writers whose GPAs are in the top twenty-five percent of the class might graduate magna or summa cum laude. All whose grades are in the top quarter, with or without a thesis, get English honors—they graduate “With Distinction.” Amherst also has chapters of the national honors societies Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi.

The Five College Consortium

Amherst works in partnership with the nearby University of Massachusetts Amherst, Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, and Smith College. Students can go to any of the other four campuses to take courses for credit; complete certificate programs in, for example, logic or international relations; audition for performances; or attend sporting events and concerts. There is a free bus connecting the campuses.

Most Popular Fields of Study

Admissions

Amherst is one of the most competitive liberal arts colleges in America. While academic achievement is the most important factor for admission, it is not the only one. Nor is there any set formula—staffers do not sit around plugging your test scores, extracurriculars, or class rank into a computer to determine a winning applicant. Instead, they read through each application looking at the whole profile.

Of course there are some general requirements: the SAT and SAT Subject tests or the ACT. There are also some recommendations: four years of English, math through precalculus, three or four years of a foreign language, two years of history and social science, at least two years of natural science (including a laboratory science).

Realizing that students bring to the table different backgrounds and experiences, and that each student has been presented with various opportunities that others haven’t, admissions officers look at how students made use of where they were and what they were offered. The college seeks multifaceted students who will not only give their intellects, energies, and talents to the school, but who will also gain the most from their education and experience.

Financial Aid

Insufficient family income will never be an impediment to a qualified student, as the college maintains a need blind admissions policy. In fact, Amherst is now one of very few schools to be need-blind for international students as well as Americans. The college has also replaced all loans with scholarships in its financial aid packages, so that no student need ever graduate with debt. If a student is on financial aid, that aid also applies to studying abroad as well.

More than half of students take part-time jobs on campus, whether or not work-study is part of their financial aid packages. Jobs are available in Valentine Dining Hall, Frost Library, Keefe Campus Center, the Physical Plant, and elsewhere. Many students spend at least one summer working on campus in an office internship or a research fellowship. The Center for Community Engagement also offers Fellowships for Action to support students who wish to spend the summer doing community outreach work, domestically or abroad.

Student Financial Aid Details

Ranks 4205th for the average student loan amount.
Secrets to getting the best scholarships and financial aid in Massachusetts.

Students

The campus boasts more than 100 student organizations and a rich calendar of popular entertainers. Every weekend,a student group called FLICS screens a different film free in Keefe Campus Center. Frost Library hosts a weekly Community Tea, Valentine Dining Hall periodically puts on a festive Luau, and every year, there’s a Casino night to raise money for local charities. There is a rich social life on campus and no Greek system.

There’s plenty of fun and enrichment off-campus, too. The New York Times has called The Pioneer Valley “arguably the most author-saturated, book-cherishing, literature-celebrating place in the nation.” Community theater, amateur and professional music, and social dancing all thrive in the area.

Student Enrollment Demographics

Student Graduation Demographics

Athletics

Amherst is an NCAA Division III school and a charter member of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC), with thirteen varsity sports teams for women and fourteen for men. There are also six intramural sports for women and six for men, including rugby and Ultimate Frisbee. About one-third of the student body are varsity athletes, and as many as eighty percent play on the intramural teams. Athletic facilities include Pratt Pool, Orr Rink, indoor and outdoor tracks, thirty-three tennis courts, baseball and softball diamonds, and a nine-hole golf course. More casual fitness buffs can simply work out in the Wolff Fitness Center, go for a walk in the bird sanctuary, or take any of several free, noncredit physical education classes.

Alumni

Amherst has a long roster of well-known alumni, including:

  • Henry Ward Beecher, 1834, preacher and abolitionist
  • Joseph Hardy Neesima, 1870, first Japanese graduate of a Western college and founder of Doshisha University
  • Melvil Dewey, 1874, inventor of the Dewey Decimal System
  • Calvin Coolidge, 1895, thirtieth President of the United States
  • Charles Drew, 1926, surgeon and inventor of blood banking
  • Richard Wilbur, 1942, U.S. Poet Laureate and winner of two Pulitzer Prizes
  • Joseph Stiglitz, 1964, Nobel Prizewinning economist
  • Teller, 1969, illusionist (of Penn & Teller)
  • Patrick Fitzgerald, 1982, U.S. District Attorney
  • David Foster Wallace, 1985, author
  • Jeffrey Wright, 1987, stage and screen actor
  • Debby Applegate, 1989, Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer
  • Lauren Groff, 2001, bestselling author
  • Kimmie Weeks, 2005, founder of Youth Action International

Information Summary

Ranks 2nd in Massachusetts and 6th overall
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Contributed Photos

Campus Building :: Amherst College Campus Center :: Amherst College New Life Sciences Building :: Amherst College Williston Hall :: Amherst College

Campus Crime Statistics

Ranks 0th in Massachusetts and 315th overall on StateUniversity.com‘s Safe School Index
  Incidents per 100 Students
Aggravated assault 1 0.06
Murder & Non-Negligent Manslaughter N/A N/A
Rape 16 0.89
Robbery N/A N/A
Arson N/A N/A
Burglary 13 0.73
Larceny N/A N/A
Vehicle theft N/A N/A
Arrest 24 1.34

Local Crime Statistics

  Incidents per 100 People
Aggravated assault 59 0.16
Murder & Non-Negligent Manslaughter N/A N/A
Forcible Rape 19 0.05
Robbery 4 0.01
Arson N/A N/A
Burglary 179 0.47
Larceny 187 0.49
Vehicle theft 18 0.05

Demographics – Main Campus and Surrounding Areas

Reported area around or near Amherst, MA 01002-5000
Surrounding communityLarge suburb (inside urban area but outside city, pop. over 250,000)
Total Population36,794 (33,731 urban / 3,063 rural)
Households9,906 (2.46 people per house)
Median Household Income$42,567
Families5,077 (2.97 people per family)

Carnegie Foundation Classification

Baccalaureate Colleges — Arts & Sciences
UndergraduateArts & sciences focus, no graduate coexistence
GraduateN/A
Undergraduate PopulationFull-time four-year, more selective, lower transfer-in
EnrollmentExclusively undergraduate four-year
Size & SettingSmall four-year, highly residential

General Characteristics

Title IV EligibilityParticipates in Title IV federal financial aid programs
Highest offeringBachelor's degree
Calendar SystemSemester
Years of college work requiredN/A
Variable Tuition
Religious AffiliationN/A
Congressional District2502

Special Learning Opportunities

Distance LearningN/A
ROTC — Army / Navy / Air Force  —   /   / 
Study Abroad
Weekend College
Teacher Certification

Student Tuition Costs and Fees


Ranks 33rd for total cost of attendance
  In District In State Out of State
Effective as of 2014-09-19
FT Undergraduate Tuition $45,800 $45,800 $45,800
FT Undergraduate Required Fees $774 $774 $774
PT Undergraduate per Credit Hour N/A N/A N/A
FT Graduate Tuition N/A N/A N/A
FT Graduate Required Fees N/A N/A N/A
PT Graduate per Credit Hour N/A N/A N/A
Total Cost of Attendance — On-Campus $61,544 $61,544 $61,544
Total Cost of Attendance — Off-Campus w/out Family $61,544 $61,544 $61,544
Total Cost of Attendance — Off-Campus with Family $49,374 $49,374 $49,374

Student Tuition Cost History and Trends

Prior year cost comparison
  In District In State Out of State
Published Tuition & Fees $42,898 $44,610 $42,898 $44,610 $42,898 $44,610
  Cost (regardless of residency)
Effective as of 2014-09-19
Books & Supplies $1,000(N/C)
On-Campus – Room & Board $11,200 $11,650
On-Campus – Other Expenses $1,800(N/C)
Off-Campus w/out Family – Room & Board $11,200 $11,650
Off-Campus w/out Family – Other Expenses $1,800(N/C)
Off-Campus with Family – Room & Board $1,800(N/C)

Admission Details

Effective as of 2014-09-19
Application Fee RequiredN/A
Undergraduate Application Fee$60
Graduate Application FeeN/A
First Professional Application FeeN/A
Applicants 7,927 (3,601 male / 4,326 female)
Admitted 1,132 (536 male / 596 female)
Admission rate 14%
First-time Enrollment 466 (231 male / 235 female)
FT Enrollment 466 (231 male / 235 female)
PT Enrollment N/A (N/A male / N/A female)
Total Enrollment1,785

Admission Criteria

 = Required,   = Recommended,   = Neither required nor recommended
Open Admissions
Secondary School GPA / Rank / Record  /   / 
College Prep. Completion
Recommendations
Formal competency demo
Admission test scores
TOEFL
Other testsN/A

Admission Credits Accepted

Dual Credit
Life Experience
Advanced Placement (AP)

Athletics - Association Memberships

Sports / Athletic Conference Memberships NCAA
NCAA Football Conference New England Small College Ath Conf
NCAA Basketball Conference New England Small College Ath Conf
NCAA Baseball Conference New England Small College Ath Conf
NCAA Track & Field Conference New England Small College Ath Conf

ACT Test Admission

16th for 75pctl scores
Applicants submitting ACT results 41%
Verbal scores (25/75 %ile) 31 / 35
Math scores (25/75 %ile) 29 / 34
Cumulative scores (25/75 %ile) 30 / 34

SAT Test Admission

22nd for 75pctl scores
Applicants submitting SAT results 63%
Verbal scores (25/75 %ile) 670 / 760
Math scores (25/75 %ile) 680 / 770
Cumulative scores (25/75 %ile) 1350 / 1530

Student Services

Remedial Services
Academic / Career Counseling
PT Cost-defraying Employment
Career Placement
On-Campus Day Care
Library Facility

Student Living

First-time Room / Board Required
Dorm Capacity1,897
Meals per Week21
Room Fee$6,590
Board Fee$5,580

Student Completion / Graduation Demographics

 
Total 75 62 60 64 228 88 625
African-American/Black Studies 4 10 3 1 1 20
American/United States Studies/Civilization 2 1 2 1 6
Ancient/Classical Greek Language and Literature
Anthropology 4 4 3 4 17
Architectural History and Criticism, General 1 1 2
Art/Art Studies, General 2 1 3 2 1 11
Asian Studies/Civilization 2 2 1 4 5 18
Astronomy 1
Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology, Other 5 2 7
Biology/Biological Sciences, General 3 3 3 8 12 3 36
Chemistry, General 3 2 3 5 2 16
Classics and Classical Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics, General 2 2
Computer Science 1 1 3 9 2 16
Drama and Dramatics/Theatre Arts, General 1 1 3 5
Economics, General 15 5 2 9 23 11 70
English Language and Literature, General 4 4 5 24 2 42
Environmental Studies 2 1 3 9 2 17
European Studies/Civilization 2 2 4
Film/Cinema/Video Studies 1 2 3
French Language and Literature 6 1 3 1 5 3 20
Geology/Earth Science, General 3 3 1 9
German Language and Literature 1 1
History, General 4 2 2 1 31 11 53
Latin Language and Literature
Legal Studies, General 1 3 1 6 2 14
Mathematics, General 6 3 1 5 10 7 35
Multi-/Interdisciplinary Studies, Other 1 1 1 3 6
Music, General 2 2 2 7 5 20
Neuroscience 3 1 2 5 6 2 19
Philosophy 1 1 1 7 3 15
Physics, General 3 1 1 5 1 12
Political Science and Government, General 6 1 6 4 20 6 47
Psychology, General 3 3 8 1 13 5 36
Religion/Religious Studies 1 1 2 1 3 8
Russian Language and Literature 1 1 1 3
Sociology 2 6 7 1 1 19
Spanish Language and Literature 1 5 3 1 11
Women's Studies 1 1 1 4

Faculty Compensation / Salaries

Ranks 164th for the average full-time faculty salary.
Effective as of 2014-09-20
Tenure system N/A
Average FT Salary $105,212 ($112,444 male / $96,629 female)
Number of FT Faculty 219 (112 male / 107 female)
Number of PT Faculty 239
FT Faculty Ratio 0.9 : 1
Total Benefits $7,304,284
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Elisabeth Bailey+

Elisabeth Bailey is a freelance writer and editor with particular interests in academics, food,and sustainability . She is also the author of A Taste of the Maritimes: Local, Seasonal Recipes the Whole Year Round and writes regularly for Canadian Farmers’ Almanac and the National Wildlife Federation. Elisabeth and her family live and enjoy great local food in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.

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