Amherst College looks, above all, for men and women of intellectual promise who have demonstrated qualities of mind and character that will enable them to take full advantage of our curriculum. We seek qualified applicants from different races, classes and ethnic groups—students whose several perspectives might contribute significantly to a process of mutual education within and beyond the curriculum.
We aim to select from among the many qualified applicants those possessing the intellectual talent, mental discipline and imagination that will allow them most fully to benefit from the curriculum and contribute to the life of the college and society. Grades, standardized test scores, essays, recommendations, independent work, the quality of the secondary school program and achievements outside the classroom are among the factors used to evaluate this promise, but no one of these measures is considered determinative.
THE ADMISSION PROCESS
We take great care to give every application a thorough review. Each application is read by at least two admission deans before being presented to the Admission Committee for discussion. We pay closest attention to a student’s:
- secondary school (or college) transcript;
- standardized tests: the SAT and two SAT subject exams or the ACT (writing test recommended for both the ACT and the redesigned SAT);
- teacher and counselor recommendations;
- quality of writing as demonstrated in essays, testing and recommendations;
- extra- and co-curricular involvements and talents.
We give the greatest weight to the academic transcript. The rigor of the courses taken, the quality of grades and the consistency with which a student has worked over four years give us the clearest indication of how well a student will do at Amherst. Standardized tests also play an important role in helping us evaluate a student in comparison to students taught in very different secondary schools. Recommendations, the quality of a student’s writing, and extra- and co-curricular talents also help the Admission Committee draw fine distinctions among very talented applicants.
While no precise list of secondary school courses is required for admission, we strongly recommend the following as minimal preparation for a liberal arts education at Amherst, with the understanding that content and availability will vary from school to school and that most successful applicants will have taken a course of study well beyond this minimum: English—four years; Mathematics—through pre-calculus; three or four years of one Foreign Language; two years of History and Social Science; at least three years of Natural Science, including one year of Laboratory Science.
Applying. First-year applicants must submit the Common Application and the Amherst College Common Application Supplement, along with other supporting materials. Applications must be submitted electronically through the Common Application website (www.commonapp.org), accompanied by on-line payment of the $60 non-refundable application fee or by a fee-waiver request. Additional information about the application process and required application materials is available at the Admission Office website (www.amherst.edu/admission). Applications must be received at our Admission Office by the appropriate deadline.
Regular Decision. More than 90 percent of applicants choose the Regular Decision option. Applications must be submitted by January 1. Applicants will receive notice of our decision by early April and, if admitted, must reply to our offer by May 1.
Early Decision. About 10 percent of Amherst applicants choose our binding Early Decision (ED) program. This is a good option only for those who have decided early in the college search process that Amherst is their clear and definite first choice. As an Early Decision applicant, a student agrees not to be an ED candidate at any other college. The student also agrees, if admitted, to withdraw all applications from other colleges and to enroll at Amherst in the fall. Early Decision applications must be submitted by November 15. Applicants will receive notice of our decision by December 15.
IB, AP and College Courses. If a student has taken International Baccalaureate, Advanced Placement or college courses during secondary school, we view this as significant evidence of academic accomplishment and preparation. In addition, some Amherst departments will allow a student to forego introductory-level courses in areas in which rigorous work has already been completed. However, we do not accept such courses for credit toward the Amherst degree.
Deferred Admission. An admitted first-year student may, with the permission of the Dean of Admission, defer matriculation for a year without reapplying. The student should confirm his or her intent to enroll at Amherst by submitting the admission response form and required deposit along with a written request for the deferral by May 1. Deferred students wishing to receive credit for academic work completed during the year between high school and their enrollment at Amherst would be required to reapply for admission to the College as transfer student applicants.
A student may apply for transfer admission to Amherst after completing one year of transferable liberal arts course work (minimum of 32 credit equivalencies) as a full-time student at another college or university. With the exception of students applying through our special Japanese scholars programs, we do not accept applications from individuals who have already earned an undergraduate degree. Nor do we accept transfer applications from students who have completed college coursework as part of a program of early graduation from secondary school or other accelerated completion of secondary school.
Transfer applicants must submit the Common Application for Transfer Students and the Amherst College Supplement to the Common Application for Transfer Students, along with supporting materials. Applications must be submitted electronically through the Common Application website (www.commonapp.org), accompanied by on-line payment of the $60 non-refundable application fee or by a fee-waiver request. Additional information about the admission process and application materials is available at the Admission Office website (www.amherst.edu/admission). Unlike our first-year application process, standardized testing is optional for transfer applicants (with the exception of English proficiency testing for international applicants). Applications for fall semester transfer must be received at our Admission Office by March 1. Applicants will receive notice of our decision by mid May and, if admitted, must reply to our offer by late May. Applications for spring semester transfer must be received at our Admission Office by November 1. Applicants will receive notice of our decision by mid December and, if admitted, must respond to our offer promptly.
Amherst actively seeks to enroll qualified men and women who are veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces. Since the creation of our Veterans Scholarship Fund, most veterans who have enrolled at Amherst began their academic careers at community colleges or other educational institutions, but qualified U.S. veterans may also apply to Amherst as first-year students. The College provides an application fee waiver to any U.S. veteran applicant.
In general, U.S. veterans follow the same first-year or transfer application process as other applicants, but there are some exceptions to the general process that apply selectively to U.S. veteran applicants. Additional details are available at the Admission Office website. As part of our commitment to enrolling U.S. veterans, Amherst College participates in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Yellow Ribbon Program. For qualifying admitted students, Amherst does not cap Yellow Ribbon spaces and offers an uncapped maximum school contribution per student.
We welcome applications from international students. Currently, more than ten percent of our students are international—nine percent are non-U.S. citizens and another two percent are a combination of U.S. dual citizens, U.S. permanent residents, and U.S. citizens living or raised abroad. Our Admission Committee is familiar with various education systems around the world.
Regardless of citizenship or geographic location, international students should follow the same first-year or transfer application process required of any other student. Amherst College practices “need-blind” admission for all international applicants, in addition to U.S. and Canadian citizens and permanent residents.
Amherst requires any applicant whose first language is not English to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or similar English-proficiency test (MELAB or IELTS) with the following exceptions: The TOEFL is not required of international applicants who have conducted their entire secondary education in a school with English as the primary language of instruction or who have scored at least 700 on the Critical Reading section of the SAT.
A limited number of places are available in the spring semester for full-time visiting students. A student is eligible for visitor status if the student is currently enrolled in college and has completed at least one year of full-time college work. Individuals enrolled at Amherst as Visiting Students or Twelve College Exchange Students are not eligible for transfer to the college. Students interested in visiting student status should use the Amherst College Visiting Student Application, available at the Admission Office website (www.amherst.edu/admission). Applications must be received at the Admission Office by December 1. Applicants will receive notice of our decision in late December and, if admitted, must respond to our offer promptly.
For further information please contact:
Office of Admission
P.O. Box 5000
Amherst, MA 01002-5000 413-542-2328