Academics

Location
Undergrads
1,817
Tuition
$46,574
Admission Difficulty
Very Hard
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Reviews

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5 College Freshman

Academics: Since Amherst has an open curriculum, all of its programs are very flexible. Even if you've already chosen a specific major, you'll never overburdened with work from that particular major-- in fact, for most majors, you'll never need to take more than 2 classes for that major per semester (out of 4).

2 people found this useful Report
5 College Freshman

Academics: It's one of the top liberal arts colleges in the U.S. What do you expect? The academics are terrific.

5 College Student

Academics: I have no doubt it is one of America's best. Professors are very passionate and knowledgeable about what they are doing. Amherst does seem to have a little more workload than other comparable colleges - it feels like high school at times. Facilities are great. Internship opportunities with professors are available, and if you are one of the ones to get one, you'll spend time with the professor a lot. Open curriculum leaves a wide range of choices which I have come to appreciate a lot more than I imagined I would. In the end, it's the professors who are the greatest. The grading is reasonable.

1 person found this useful Report
5 College Freshman

Academics: Amherst Professors consider themselves first and foremost as teachers rather than researchers. Professors encourage students to visit office hours and personally go beyond the call of duty to help students however best they can grasp material. Teaching is a passion that is common from the Chemistry Department to the Political Science department. Many if not most of our Professors hail from Harvard, Yale, Columbia or Princeton and it is truly delightful to observe how eager they are to share their knowledge to students.

1 person found this useful Report
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Rankings View more rankings . . .

  • 47th
    Most Flexible Curriculums
  • 83rd
    Smartest Professors
  • 105th
    Best Use of Teaching Assistants
  • 118th
    Professors Most Interested in Classes
  • 166th
    Most Caring Professors

Student Author OverviewWhat's This?

Lem Atanga McCormick
Hometown
Chicago, IL
Major
Pre-Med (Biology and French)
View all previous student authors

Amherst is a small school that allows for complete freedom of course selection. The academic atmosphere is much different from that of other schools because Amherst students have not been forced to take classes by a distribution requirement. Plus, there are no graduate students here to vie for the professors’ attention. The College actively seeks student involvement in its educational policies. When a teaching position opens up, the relevant department will ask majoring students to review candidates and give feedback to the selection committees; the same is true when a professor approaches tenure decision time.

The complete open curriculum, however, requires that students have a certain level of self-discipline because there is really no pressure to excel. You get out as much as you put into your Amherst experience. This can be said of many other institutions of higher learning, but it is especially applicable at Amherst College. The environment lends itself to diligent, high-achieving students, as well as the more lackadaisical students. If a student is passionate about a class and does all the work for it, he or she will assuredly enjoy a rewarding learning experience and perhaps even find a friend in the professor. On the other hand, students often get bored with a class they thought looked interesting in the course book. These cases are the bane of the teaching philosophy that Amherst supports, which, plainly put, is: “We’ll give you a world of opportunities, all you have to do is take your pick.” In short, if you genuinely want to learn and are willing to make an honest effort to do so, Amherst offers almost limitless opportunities for you. If, however, what you care about is going to a well-known school as a step toward a successful career of your choice, you’ll also find what you need at Amherst—but you will then miss out on the most exhilarating and rewarding parts of being a student here.

Facts & Statistics

Student-Faculty Ratio
8:1
Full-Time Instructional Faculty
199
Part-Time Instructional Faculty
24
Total FT Faculty
208
Faculty with Terminal Degree
93%
Average Faculty Salary
$103,909
Full-Time Retention Rate
98%
Transfer-Out Rate
2%
Graduation Rate
95%
Programs/Majors Offered
37
Academic/Career Counseling?
Yes
Remedial Services?
No
Class Sizes
  • Fewer than 20 students: 70%
  • 20 to 49 students: 27%
  • 50 or more students: 3%
Instructional Programs
Occupational: No
Academic: Yes
Continuing Professional: No
Recreational/Avocational: No
Adult Basic Remedial: No
Secondary (High School): No
Special Credit Opportunities
Advanced Placement (AP) Credits: No
Dual Credit: No
Life Experience Credits: No
Degrees Awarded
Bachelor's degree
Most Popular Majors
  • Economics and Econometrics: 6%
  • English Language Studies: 3%
  • History, General: 4%
  • Political Science and Government, General: 4%
Special Study Options
  • Study abroad
  • Teacher certification (below the postsecondary level)
Best Places to Study
  • Music Library
  • Q Center
Tips to Succeed
  • Be ready to live in an environment without any pressure-but with a lot of challenges.
  • Become independent and pro-active as quickly as possible.
  • Find and acknowledge the people who really respect who you are and what you like.
  • Guys: try not to be overly direct with the women.
  • Use your time here to figure out what it is you really want to do and what are the things you have the most fun doing.
Did You Know?
  • Amherst College sponsors an open curriculum, which literally means that there are absolutely no distribution requirements, and that students can take however many classes they want in any department. The only class that Amherst requires all students to take is the first-year seminar, which is a one-semester course taken in the first semester of freshman year. These classes are small, from 10 to 20 students, and they study a wide array of topics. They are aimed at giving students proper coaching in college-level writing and discussion. Before the school year starts, all freshmen choose what seminars they would like to attend, and the College does its best to satisfy everyone's wishes.
  • In cooperation with four nearby schools, Amherst has made it possible for students to take classes at each of these institutions at no extra cost. Amherst College neighbors four other schools: Smith, Holyoke, Hampshire, and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst (UMass), and together they formed the Five College Consortium. Some fields of study the other four schools offer are lacking or are found only on a small scale at Amherst. Thanks to this system, students can utilize the overall educational resources of the entire area. Some examples of areas in which students tend to find interest at other schools: exotic foreign languages or jazz and big band music courses at UMass, ecology at Holyoke, and English and political science at Smith.
  • You cannot minor in any subject at Amherst College.
  • Students have to take from eight to ten courses in a single department in order to major in it. An exception to this is the neuroscience program, which has 16 required courses for the major. Students usually declare their major by the end of sophomore year. Many students choose to double major, and a few even triple major. Students can make their major at Amherst. With faculty approval, they may build their own program of study, taking only classes that fit this program and not being constricted by departmental requirements.
  • Many students choose to culminate their studies at Amherst with a thesis, written during senior year. After a student has submitted the thesis, he or she must defend it in front of faculty who have similar research interests as the student. If the student has done so successfully, he or she will receive Latin honors upon graduation. Many students say that writing their thesis was their most rewarding experience at Amherst.

Student Polls

How strongly do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements?    Based on 11 responses

Strongly disagree
Strongly agree
  • The academic advisers are helpful.
  • It is easy to get the classes you want.
  • Grading is generally consistent and fair.
  • There are a variety of interesting courses to take.
  • Students are encouraged to explore a wide range of courses and topics.
  • My Gen-Ed requirements are worthwhile and meaningful.
  • The workload is easy to manage.
  • There are plenty of good online course options.
  • Teaching assistants (TAs) are used effectively.
  • The course scheduling/registration process is efficient and student-friendly.
  • Classrooms/labs are up-to-date and incorporate new technologies effectively.

How strongly do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements regarding the professors at this school?    Based on 11 responses

Strongly disagree
Strongly agree
  • Professors are approachable and helpful when needed
  • Professors are engaging and easy to understand.
  • Professors are experts in their field.
  • Professors are passionate about the topics they teach.
  • Professors care about their students' success.
  • Professors put a lot of effort into teaching their classes.
  • Professors use teaching assistants (TAs) effectively.
4
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