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5 College Freshman

Academics: Amherst is a better education than any ivy.

4 people found this useful Report
5 College Student

Academics: Professors are incredible - smart, supportive, loving human beings that you really want to get to know.

The open curriculum is the best thing that ever happened.

Workload is tough, but challenging in the best way.

5 people found this useful Report
5 College Student

Academics: Amherst's academics are awesome. I will probably major in Psychology, and so far I am loving my classes. Everything is fast-paced and very intense, everything is discussed, and classes are for thinking rather than for learning the material. We are expected to be prepared, and it's awesome to have such a high standard. That being said, there are so many support services available - The Q center, writing center, professors, study groups... Don't hesitate to go there; they are all great.

4 people found this useful Report
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).

3 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.

1 person found this useful Report

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Student Author OverviewWhat's this?

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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
Full-Time Instructional Faculty
Part-Time Instructional Faculty
Total FT Faculty
Faculty with Terminal Degree
Average Faculty Salary
Full-Time Retention Rate
Transfer-Out Rate
Graduation Rate
Programs/Majors Offered
Academic/Career Counseling?
Remedial Services?
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 18 responses

Strongly disagree
Strongly agree
  • My Gen-Ed requirements are worthwhile and meaningful.
  • It is easy to get the classes you want.
  • The academic advisers are helpful.
  • 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.
  • 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 often do you:    Based on 10 responses

  • Attend class (lectures and recitation)
  • Do all of your homework
  • Do all of your assigned reading
  • Adequately study
  • Take advantage of office hours/study sessions
  • Take notes

Where did this school rank in your list of potential schools when applying?    Based on 9 responses

  • 56% This was my dream school.
  • 33% This was one of my top choices.
  • 11% This was a school I settled for (safety school).
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