Amherst College looks, above all, for students 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 racial ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds 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, discipline and imagination that will allow them most fully to benefit from our 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 courses taken, the quality of grades and the consistency of a student’s work 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 students taught in very different secondary schools. Recommendations, the quality of a student’s writing, and extra- and co-curricular activities also guide us in drawing 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 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 either the Common Application, the Coalition Application or the QuestBridge Application, along with the associated Amherst supplement and other supporting materials. Applications must be submitted electronically through the online portal of the chosen application platform, accompanied by online 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 deadline corresponding to the selected admission decision plan.
Regular Decision. More than 90 percent of applicants choose our 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 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. Under this option, a student agrees not to be an ED candidate at any other college and if admitted, to withdraw all applications from other colleges and to enroll at Amherst. 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 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. We do not award credit toward the Amherst degree for any coursework completed during the deferral year.
A student may apply for transfer admission to Amherst after completing the equivalent of 32 semester hours of transferable liberal arts coursework at another college or university. (Courses in progress at the time of application are included in determining transferable credit.) 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 whose only college credit was completed as part of a program of early graduation from secondary school or other accelerated completion of secondary school.
Transfer applicants must submit either the Common Application or the Coalition Application, along with the associated Amherst supplement and other supporting materials. Applications must be submitted electronically through the online portal of the chosen application platform, , accompanied by online 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 submitted 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 submitted 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 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 www.amherst.edu/admission/apply/veterans. 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 and our Admission Committee is familiar with education systems around the world. Approximately 10 percent of our students are non-U.S. citizens; another 5 percent hold dual citizenship with the United States and another country and have lived or studied outside the U.S. 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: English proficiency testing 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 700 or above on the Critical Reading section (CR) of the old SAT (pre-March 2016), 730 or above on the Evidence-based Reading and Writing section (ERW) of the newly redesigned SAT (post-March 2016), or 32 or above on the Reading section of the ACT.
A limited number of places may be 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