Amherst College Profile

Founded in 1821 as a nonsectarian institution for “the education of indigent young men of piety and talents,” Amherst College is now widely regarded as one of the premier liberal arts colleges in the nation, enrolling a diverse group of approximately 1,800 young men and women. 

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 8, 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, defined in its broadest sense, is fundamental to Amherst’s mission. The college enrolls students from nearly every state and from more than 40 countries, and for the past several years more than 40 percent of Amherst's students have been 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 financial need. The College’s financial aid packages are consistently among the most generous in the nation, and among its peer universities and colleges Amherst has the most economic diversity. By any measure of accessibility and quality, Amherst is consistently ranked among the top schools in the country. Its 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 $2.19 billion as of June 30, 2015, 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 graduates, who are represented in almost every walk of life. Many are or have been prominent on the world scene (including four Nobel laureates, numerous Pulitzer Prize winners, the president of the National Urban League, a chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, several National Book Award winners and a U.S. president), and countless others contribute to society in important but less public ways. More than 60 percent of Amherst’s alumni make a gift to Amherst each year—among the highest alumni participation rates in the country.