If you’re researching colleges and wondering whether Amherst College is a good option for you, you’ve come to the right place. In short, Amherst is an excellent liberal arts college with high-caliber academics, professors, and student life. But there’s much more to the story.

Read on as we take an in-depth look at Amherst’s history, academics, campus life, admissions selectivity, cost, financial aid, rankings, and more to help you determine if it’s a good fit for you.

In this approximately 3,000 word guide, we’ll provide a comprehensive overview of Amherst College to help you decide if it meets your needs and preferences as a prospective student. We’ll cover key factors like academics, student life, admissions stats, cost & financial aid, and rankings so you can get the full picture of what makes Amherst unique.

A Brief History of Amherst College

Amherst College, founded in 1821, is a highly respected liberal arts college located in Amherst, Massachusetts. With a rich history spanning over two centuries, the college has established itself as a leading institution for undergraduate education in the United States.

Founded in 1821 as a Liberal Arts College

Amherst College was established with a vision to provide students with a well-rounded education that emphasizes critical thinking, intellectual curiosity, and a deep understanding of the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences.

From its inception, the college has embraced a liberal arts curriculum, which encourages students to explore a wide range of disciplines and develop a broad base of knowledge.

The liberal arts education at Amherst College is designed to foster a holistic approach to learning, enabling students to make connections across various subjects and develop a well-rounded perspective on the world.

This interdisciplinary approach helps students develop essential skills such as analytical thinking, effective communication, and problem-solving abilities, which are highly valued in today’s rapidly changing global landscape.

Historical Significance and Notable Alumni

Throughout its history, Amherst College has played a significant role in shaping the intellectual and cultural landscape of the United States. The college has produced numerous notable alumni who have gone on to make significant contributions in various fields.

One such example is Emily Dickinson, the renowned American poet who attended Amherst College in the mid-19th century. Her poetry, characterized by its unique style and exploration of profound themes, continues to captivate readers to this day.

Dickinson’s time at Amherst College undoubtedly influenced her development as a poet and thinker.

Other notable alumni include former U.S. President Calvin Coolidge, Nobel laureate and economist Joseph Stiglitz, and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist David Foster Wallace. These individuals, along with many others, have left an indelible mark on their respective fields and serve as a testament to the quality of education offered by Amherst College.

For more information about Amherst College’s history and notable alumni, you can visit the college’s official websitehere.

Academics at Amherst

Amherst College is renowned for its rigorous academic programs and commitment to intellectual exploration. The college offers a wide range of majors and courses, ensuring that students have the opportunity to pursue their passions and interests.

The academic experience at Amherst is characterized by its innovative approaches to teaching and learning, fostering critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity.

Open Curriculum Approach

One of the unique features of Amherst College’s academic program is its open curriculum approach. Unlike many other colleges and universities, Amherst does not have any general education requirements. Instead, students have the freedom to design their own course of study based on their individual interests and goals.

This allows students to delve deeply into their chosen fields while also exploring other disciplines. The open curriculum encourages intellectual curiosity and provides students with the flexibility to chart their own academic path.


The faculty at Amherst College are highly accomplished scholars and experts in their respective fields. They are dedicated to teaching and mentoring students, providing them with personalized attention and guidance.

With a low student-to-faculty ratio, students have the opportunity to engage in meaningful discussions and receive individualized feedback. The faculty’s commitment to excellence in teaching ensures that students receive a high-quality education and are well-prepared for future endeavors.

Majors and Academics

Amherst College offers a wide range of majors across various disciplines, including humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and arts. The college’s academic programs are designed to provide students with a comprehensive and well-rounded education.

Students have the opportunity to explore their interests through a diverse array of courses and engage in research and independent study projects. The rigorous curriculum challenges students to think critically, analyze complex problems, and develop innovative solutions.

Hands-On Learning Opportunities

Amherst College provides students with numerous hands-on learning opportunities both inside and outside the classroom. Through internships, research fellowships, and study abroad programs, students can apply their knowledge and skills in real-world settings.

These experiential learning opportunities enhance students’ academic experience and prepare them for future career success. Amherst College also offers a variety of co-curricular activities and organizations, allowing students to pursue their interests and develop leadership skills.

Campus Life at Amherst

Amherst College offers a vibrant and engaging campus life that complements its rigorous academic programs. From a diverse student body to a picturesque location, Amherst provides an enriching experience both inside and outside the classroom.

Undergraduate Student Body

With a small undergraduate population of around 2,000 students, Amherst College fosters a close-knit community where students can truly connect with their peers. The college prides itself on its commitment to diversity, with students from all 50 states and over 60 countries.

This vibrant mix of cultures, backgrounds, and perspectives creates a dynamic environment where students can learn from one another and grow as individuals.

Location & Campus

Located in the charming town of Amherst, Massachusetts, the college is nestled in the picturesque Pioneer Valley. Surrounded by beautiful scenery and a vibrant arts and culture scene, students have plenty of opportunities to explore and engage with the local community.

The campus itself is known for its stunning architecture and well-maintained grounds, providing a welcoming and inspiring atmosphere for students to thrive.

Housing & Dining

Amherst College offers a variety of housing options to suit different preferences and needs. From traditional residence halls to apartment-style living, students can find a comfortable and supportive living environment.

The college also prioritizes providing nutritious and diverse dining options for its students. With a range of dining halls, cafes, and specialty food venues, students can enjoy delicious meals that cater to different dietary preferences and restrictions.

Extracurriculars & Athletics

Amherst College offers a wide range of extracurricular activities and athletics programs to cater to students’ diverse interests and passions. From clubs and organizations covering various academic, cultural, and recreational areas to a robust NCAA Division III athletics program, there is something for everyone.

These extracurricular opportunities not only enhance students’ college experience but also foster personal growth, leadership skills, and a sense of community.

Admissions and Cost

Acceptance Rate and Admissions Standards

When considering whether Amherst College is a good school, it’s important to look at its acceptance rate and admissions standards. Amherst College is highly selective, with an acceptance rate of around 11%. This means that out of thousands of applicants, only a small percentage are admitted.

The college looks for students who not only have outstanding academic records but also demonstrate strong leadership skills, extracurricular involvement, and a genuine passion for learning.

Amherst College takes a holistic approach to admissions, considering various factors such as GPA, standardized test scores, essays, recommendation letters, and interviews. While the academic profile of admitted students is impressive, it’s worth noting that Amherst values more than just grades.

They seek to build a diverse and well-rounded student body, so they take into account an applicant’s personal qualities and experiences.

For more detailed information on Amherst College’s admissions process and requirements, you can visit their official website here.

Tuition, Cost of Attendance, and Financial Aid

Another important aspect to consider when evaluating whether Amherst College is a good school is the cost of attendance and the availability of financial aid. As a private institution, Amherst’s tuition is higher than that of public universities.

However, the college is committed to making its education accessible to students from diverse backgrounds.

The total cost of attendance at Amherst College includes not only tuition but also fees, room and board, books, and personal expenses. It’s important to note that these costs are subject to change each year, so it’s best to refer to the college’s official website for the most up-to-date information.

Amherst College has a generous financial aid program and meets 100% of demonstrated financial need for admitted students. This means that if a student is admitted and demonstrates financial need, Amherst will provide the necessary financial assistance to make attending the college feasible.

The college offers a combination of grants, scholarships, work-study programs, and low-interest loans to meet students’ financial needs.

For more information on Amherst College’s tuition, cost of attendance, and financial aid options, you can visit their official website here.

Rankings and Reputation

When considering whether Amherst College is a good school, it’s important to look at its rankings and reputation. These factors can give insight into the quality of education and overall student experience at the institution.

College Rankings

Amherst College consistently ranks among the top liberal arts colleges in the United States. According to the U.S. News & World Report, it is currently ranked #2 in the nation for liberal arts colleges.

This prestigious ranking is a testament to the college’s commitment to academic excellence, rigorous curriculum, and exceptional faculty. In addition to the U.S. News & World Report, Amherst often receives high rankings from other reputable publications and organizations, further solidifying its standing as a top-tier institution.

Reputation and Selectivity

Amherst College has a long-standing reputation for its rigorous academic program and intellectual rigor. It is known for attracting some of the brightest and most talented students from around the world. Admission to Amherst is highly competitive, with an acceptance rate of around 11%.

This level of selectivity speaks to the college’s reputation for academic excellence and the high caliber of its student body.

Amherst College’s reputation extends beyond its academic rigor. The college is also well-regarded for its commitment to diversity, inclusion, and social responsibility. It has been recognized for its efforts in creating a welcoming and inclusive campus environment for students of all backgrounds.


In summary, Amherst College is widely considered one of the top liberal arts colleges in the nation, known for its open curriculum, strong academics, intelligent and engaged student body, accomplished faculty, beautiful campus, and active student life.

However, its highly selective admissions and high cost make it out of reach for many students.

While the college has many strengths, you should reflect on whether Amherst is a good personal fit based on your academic interests, extracurricular passions, financial situation, and college preferences.

We hope this detailed guide gave you a holistic understanding so you can determine if applying to Amherst College is right for you.

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