About Amherst College

About Amherst College


Amherst College

Amherst College

AMHERST COLLEGE looks, above all, for people of intellectual promise who have demonstrated qualities of mind and character that will enable them to take full advantage of the College’s curriculum. The College seeks qualified applicants from different racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds, stu­dents whose several perspectives might contribute significantly to a process of mutual education within and outside the curriculum. Admission decisions 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 the curriculum and to contribute to the life of the College and of society. Grades, standardized test scores, essays, recommendations, in­dependent work, the quality of the individual’s 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.

Founded in 1821 as a non-sectarian institution for “the education of indigent young men of piety and talents for the Christian ministry,” Amherst today is an independent liberal arts college for all genders. Its approximately 1800 students come from most of the fifty states and many foreign countries.

The campus is near the center of the town of Amherst, adjacent to the town common. A few miles away are four other institutions of higher learning—Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, and Smith Colleges, and the University of Massachusetts—with which Amherst engages in a number of cooperative educational programs.

The College offers the bachelor of arts degree and cooperates with the Uni­versity of Massachusetts in a Five College Ph.D. and a number of accelerated programs. The College cur­riculum involves study in the humanities, the social sciences, and the natural sciences and combines a broad education with knowledge of some field in depth. Students may construct an interdisciplinary program or participate in an Independent Scholar Program free of formal courses in their junior and senior years; honors work is encouraged and in recent years has been undertaken by more than forty percent of the graduating class.

Whatever the form of academic experience—lecture course, seminar, con­ference, studio, laboratory, independent study at various levels—intellectual competence and awareness of problems and methods are the goals of the Am­herst program, rather than the direct preparation for a profession. The curric­ulum enables students to arrange programs for their own educational needs within established guidelines. Faculty advisors, representing all academic de­partments, assist undergraduates in their course selections, but the ultimate responsibility for a thoughtful program of study rests with the individual student.

The College’s Faculty is engaged in two primary activities: first, the edu­cation of undergraduates; and, second, research and writing. Its 209 full-time members hold degrees from colleges and universities throughout this country and abroad. Classes range in size from a few courses of two students to several lecture courses of more than 100 students; more than 80 percent of the classes and sections have 25 students or fewer.

Amherst has extensive physical resources: libraries with more than 1,500,000 volumes, 483,000 e-books and 100,000 other media materials, science laboratories, a math­ematics and computer science building, theaters, gymnasium, swimming pool, skating rink, squash and tennis courts, playing fields, a museum of fine arts and another of natural history, a music center and concert hall, a dance studio, a central dining hall for all students, a campus social center that includes a snack bar and movie theater, dormitories, media center, and classroom build­ings. There are a wildlife sanctuary and a forest for the study of ecology, an observatory and a planetarium, and varied equipment for specialized scientific research. At Amherst, and at its neighboring institutions, there are extensive offerings of lectures, concerts, plays, films, and many other events.

The College provides a variety of services to support the academic work of students. In addition to the advising and teaching support provided by the Fac­ulty, the services include a tutorial program, reading and study skill classes, an Interterm pre-calculus course, a full-time writing counselor, and tutoring for students for whom English is a second language. For more details, please contact the Office of Student Affairs.

Amherst has a full schedule of intercollegiate athletics for men and women in most sports. About 80 percent of all students participate in the physical edu­cation program or in organized intramural athletics.

Undergraduates may also take part in a variety of other extracurricular ac­tivities: journalism, community service, publishing, broadcasting, music, dramatics, student government, College committees, and a wide assortment of specialized interests. Religious groups, working independently or through the religious advisors, maintain a program of worship services, Bible study, community ser­vice projects, and other activities.

Most graduates continue their formal education to enter such professions as teaching, medicine, law, business and public service. At Amherst, presumably they have only begun their life-long education at “commencement,” but have developed attitudes and values that will encourage them to participate thoughtfully and generously in the service of humanity.

Amherst College is pleased to provide the following information regarding our institution’s graduation rates in compliance with the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended. The rates reflect the graduation status of students who en­rolled during the 2011-112 school year and for whom 150% of the normal time-­to-completion has elapsed.   During the fall semester of 2011, 461 first-time, full-time, degree-seeking un­dergraduate students entered Amherst College. As of August 31, 2017, 95% of those students had graduated from our institution.

Questions related to this report should be directed to:  Office of the Registrar, Amherst College, Box 5000, Amherst, MA 01002-5000.


Amherst is joined with Hampshire, Mount Holyoke and Smith colleges, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, in a consortium that sponsors a variety of co­operative programs and enterprises. The goal of cooperation among the five colleges is to encourage the broad educational and cultural objectives of its member institutions by promoting and administering long-term forms of cooperation that benefit faculty and staff members and students.

Students are entitled to participate in a course interchange program which allows them to construct up to one half of their program from liberal arts courses at the four other in­stitutions without additional cost. Students may pursue a variety of 14 Five College Certificates, two Five College Majors, benefit from two Five College Departments and fully utilize the libraries of each in­stitution. The present and continuing emphasis of the Five College libraries is on the sharing and enhancement of total resources and services.  Campus museums and affiliated independents work together in the Museums10 collaboration.

A monthly calendar of lectures, concerts and other cultural events on all five campuses is available online to the Five College community. Access to classes, libraries, and extracurricular activities is made feasible by a free transportation system connecting all five campuses.

An FM radio station (WFCR 88.5) is supported by all five colleges. It is man­aged by the University with the advice of a board made up of representatives of the cooperating institutions. The five colleges also cooperate in sponsoring The Massachusetts Review, a quarterly of literature, the arts, and public affairs.

Academic cooperation includes two joint departments, Astronomy and Dance, as well as two Five College majors in Architectural Studies and Film Studies. Certificates are obtainable in African Studies; Asian/Pacific/American Studies; Buddhist Studies; Coastal and Marine Sciences, Culture, Health, and Science; Ethnomusicology; International Relations; Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino Studies; Logic; Middle Eastern Studies; Native American and Indigenous Studies; Queer and Sexuality Studies; Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies (REEES); and Sustainability.

There are three Five College Centers: Center for East Asian Studies (CEAS), Five College Center for the Study of World Languages and the Five College Women's Studies Research Center; as well as collaborative efforts among Five College Department Chairs in the areas of Anthropology, Geology, Physics, Music, and Theater. Other Five College coordinated programs include the following: Community-based Learning, Peace and World Security Studies, Statistics Program, Five College Opera, Early Music Program, Arabic Language Initiative, East Asian Language Program (EALP), History Graduate Program, and the Center for Crossroads in the Study of the Americas (CISA).

Joint faculty appointments make possible the presence of talented professors in highly specialized areas. Five College senior appointments bring to the area distinguished international figures. Additional information on Five College programs, opportunities and resources is available at www.fivecolleges.edu.

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Admission & Financial Aid

Admission & Financial Aid