Amherst College Profile

Amherst College prepares students to use ideas to make a difference in the world. Since its founding, in 1821, in Western Massachusetts, Amherst has demonstrated steadfast confidence in the value of the liberal arts and the importance of critical thinking. Today, its financial aid program is among the most substantial in the nation, and its student body is among the most diverse. Small classes, an open curriculum and a singular focus on undergraduate education ensure that leading scholars engage daily with talented, curious students, equipping them for leadership in an increasingly global and complex world.

Renowned for its talented students, committed faculty and rigorous academic life, Amherst offers the B.A. degree in 40 majors. With a faculty-student ratio of 1 to 7, Amherst’s classes are characterized by spirited interchange among students and acclaimed faculty skilled at asking challenging questions. Students participate in sophisticated research, making use of state-of-the-art equipment and facilities. And Amherst’s open curriculum allows each student—with the help of faculty advisers—to chart an individual course through the more than 800 courses offered at the College; there are no distribution requirements. Honors work is encouraged and in recent years has been undertaken by nearly half of the graduating class.

Amherst is a member of the Five Colleges, a consortium with nearby Smith, Mount Holyoke and Hampshire Colleges and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Students may take courses at any of the colleges, and the schools’ proximity adds to Amherst’s rich social and extracurricular life.

Diversity, equity and inclusion are fundamental to Amherst’s mission. The College enrolls students from nearly every U.S. state and from more than 50 countries, and 45 percent of U.S. students self-identify as students of color. Amherst is one of the few truly need-blind colleges in the nation; students are admitted without regard to financial aid, and each admitted student is guaranteed financial aid equal to demonstrated financial need. The College’s financial aid packages are consistently among the most substantial in the nation. Amherst's outstanding resources, dedicated faculty and rigorous academic life allow the College to enroll students with an extraordinary range of talents, interests and commitments.

Amherst has an endowment of $2.473 billion, as well as extensive physical resources. The College’s scenic 1,000-acre campus is near the center of the Town of Amherst.

Amherst has a distinguished group of alumni. The College has more than 20,000 living alumni, who are represented in almost every walk of life. Many are or have been prominent on the world scene (including President Calvin Coolidge, five Nobel laureates, nine MacArthur fellows, numerous Pulitzer Prize winners and  a chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court), and countless others contribute to society in important but less public ways. Almost half of Amherst’s alumni make gifts to Amherst each year—among the highest alumni participation rates in the country.

Amherst celebrates its Bicentennial year in 2021.