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Everything About Amherst College

Everything About Amherst College

Total Undergraduate Enrollment: 1,855

Curricular Flexibility: Very Flexible

Academic Rating: 4.5

Institutional Type: Private

Top Programs

  • Biochemistry and Biophysics
  • Computer Science
  • Economics
  • English
  • History
  • Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought
  • Mathematics
  • Statistics

Who Recruits

  1. Hulu
  2. Fiscal Note
  3. T. Rowe Price
  4. RBC Capital
  5. Fox Sports

Notable Internships

  1. National Center for Health Research
  2. U.S. House of Representatives
  3. NY State Division of Human Rights

Top Industries

  1. Business
  2. Education
  3. Research
  4. Media
  5. Legal

Top Employers

1. Google

2. Goldman Sachs

3. JP Morgan

4. Massachusetts General Hospital

5. Citi

Where Alumni Work

1. New York City

2. Boston

3. San Francisco

4. Washington, DC

5. Springfield, MA

Median Earnings

College Scorecard (Early Career): $65,000

EOP (Early Career): $69,300

Pay Scale (Mid-Career): $116,500

Inside the Classroom

One of the premier liberal arts colleges in the US—and one the most selective—Amherst College is an Ivy-equivalent institution that offers its brilliant student body a one-of-a-kind academic experience. A mere 1,850 undergraduates grace this picturesque rural campus located seventy-five miles west of Boston. Yet, a small-town location is not at all indicative of an isolated existence. If the forty majors and 850 course offerings on campus aren’t enough, Amherst belongs to the Five College Consortium that allows students to take any course offered at Mount Holyoke, Smith, Hampshire College, or UMass-Amherst.

Similar to Brown’s “New Curriculum,” Amherst operates its “Open Curriculum” that requires no specific courses or distribution of credits. Students have the flexibility to pursue their areas of passion and interest from the very start of their collegiate experience. With no burdensome requirements, double majoring is commonplace with over 30 percent of the student body electing to study at least one additional discipline. The college encourages students to “take full responsibility for their intellectual growth, in the same way they will take responsibility for important choices later in life.”

If you crave facetime with your professors, Amherst delivers. A 7-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio allows for 71 percent of courses to have fewer than twenty students and 30 percent to have single-digit enrollments. That level of intimacy pays off with the forging of student-faculty relationships. By senior year, 98 percent of seniors report feeling close enough to a faculty member to ask for a letter of recommendation. The eight-to-ten-week Summer Science Undergraduate Research Program is available for students as are plenty of grants aimed at funding original student research projects. 43% of students study abroad, in countries as diverse as Namibia and Trinidad. The school’s student body has become increasingly diverse in recent years, now boasting double-digit percentages of African-American, Latino, and first-generation students.

A true liberal arts college, Amherst possesses strong offerings across the board, most notably in economics, English, history, mathematics, and law (through its one-of-a-kind major in Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought). Amherst also boasts of one of the most esteemed (and highest paid) liberal arts faculties in the country. Students are always competitive for postgraduate awards and fellowships.

Outside the Classroom

Amherst is the rare school where 98 percent of undergraduates reside in school-owned housing. There are no Greek organizations, but a colossal 37 percent of Amherst students are rostered on one of the college’s twenty-seven NCAA Division III sports teams, which means that many are dedicating a good portion of their time to athletics. For everyone else, over 150 student organizations are operating on campus. The school's six a cappella groups and four-ensemble Choral Society play a notable enough role to have earned the school the nickname “The Singing College.” Membership in the Five College Consortium opens the door to a variety of other clubs and activities within close proximity. However, it is important to note that the other four campuses are not adjoining—UMass and Hampshire are about a ten-minute drive, and Smith and Mount Holyoke take twenty minutes to reach by car. Guest speakers are regularly on campus. Each year, the Amherst Leads organization brings up to twenty-five well known athletes, business leaders, and writers/journalists to speak on campus. Dorms, food, and other amenities generally receive positive reviews. For students who want to be in touch with nature, a 500-acre wildlife preserve is located on campus, and it can be freely hiked and explored.

Career Services

Unlike at just about every other institution of higher education, the vast majority of the Amherst student body actually takes advantage of the Career Center’s offerings. In fact, the Loeb Center for Career Exploration and Planning advises more than 1,400 students and alumni each year for a total of more than 6,000 sessions. That prodigious output comes from the office’s thirteen full-time staff members who focus on either career advising or employer relations. Loeb’s 142:1 student-to-advisor ratio is among the best of any school featured in this guide.

Amherst does a superb job recruiting companies to campus with more than 175 visiting per year and close to 450 interviews taking place on campus, which is roughly the size of the graduating class. There were fifty-nine days last year on which interviews were taking place on campus. Other programs, such as Career Treks, involve organized trips to Boston, New York City, and Los Angeles. Those trips allow students the chance to meet with alumni in the areas of finance, government, entertainment, education, and philanthropy. The Pathways program facilitates hundreds of additional mentoring relationships between alumni and current students each year. Nearly one-quarter of freshmen are enrolled in the Amherst Select Internship Program, which allows first-year students to jump directly into a hands-on learning opportunity.

Professional Outcomes

Whether you are interested in going directly into the workforce or continuing to graduate school, Amherst’s reputation and connected alumni network will open doors. A few months after graduation, 98 percent of last year's batch had already found its way into the world of employment, graduate school, or a volunteer organization. The highest number of recent grads went into finance (37 percent), with education (21 percent) and science/technology (11 percent) next in popularity. Recent graduates found jobs everywhere from Bain Capital to the United Talent Agency to the US Department of State. By sheer volume, the largest employers of Amherst grads is a high-end list including Google, Deloitte, Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs. The average starting salary for Amherst graduates is around $60k, making them among the highest-paid liberal arts grads in the country. That is even more impressive when you consider that Amherst doesn’t even have an engineering program, the profession that usually bolsters starting salary figures.

Amherst grads fare well at gaining acceptance to elite schools. It regularly sees 50 percent or more applicants get into law schools like those at Georgetown, Columbia, Harvard, Berkeley, and Stanford, more than twice those schools’ overall acceptance rates. In total, the schools where the highest number of Amherst grads can be found pursuing advanced degrees includes University of Cambridge (UK), MIT, Dartmouth, and the University of Pennsylvania. Fifty to sixty Amherst grads apply to medical school each year, and the acceptance rate hovers around 75-80 percent. As with law schools, students attend many of the finest medical institutions in the world. The greatest number of alumni settle in New York City, Boston, San Francisco, and Washington, DC.

Students' Voice: Pros and Cons of Location

Pros of Amherst, MA

•     “You’re in the center of a community of five colleges because there’s the Five College Consortium. There are always academic and social events going on there and you can take a bus to them.”

•     “There’s a lot of good food and bars in the area. I think the town of Amherst is pretty nice.”

•     “It’s a small town so everything’s really accessible.”

•     “You’re in a quiet town so you don’t have the busy and distracting city life.”

Cons of Amherst, MA

•     “There isn’t a ton of interaction between the five schools, so, because the school is so small and the town is so small, you can feel isolated in that way. I actually spent the summer here and when there aren’t a lot of students on campus it can feel really lonely and isolated.”

•     “Amherst is kind of small and it’s just one little street. There’s not much going on there and it gets repetitive.”

•     “It gets really cold spending the whole winter in Amherst, MA.”

•     “It’s pretty isolated. The closest city is Boston which is about two hours away.”

Students' Voice: Reasons to attend and not to attend

To Attend

•     “It has brilliant professors, excellent instruction, and brilliant classmates. Anybody who graduates from Amherst will have learned so much, not just information but also how to think and how to make decisions. Intellectually, I think Amherst has been the best experience in my life.”

•     “There are a lot of opportunities outside of sports, like investment clubs, consulting clubs, outing clubs, etc.”

•     “The alumni network is very dense. There are alumni in every sector you might want, so it’s not hard to find someone from Amherst who has had similar experiences as you.”

•     “A lot of one-on-one opportunities with professors and easy accessibility.”

To Not Attend

•     “Don’t come here if you’re looking for a party scene and for the stereotypical college time, because that’s just not what it is.”

•     “It doesn’t seem as small as you think. But, after 4 years you keep running into the same people and it can get repetitive socially and academically – even professors get old sometimes. I went to a really small high school and after 3 years at Amherst, I thought it was getting small.”

•     “The farther your background is removed from the White, New England, private school, jock atmosphere, the harder your transition to Amherst will be. I would encourage students to compare their background to the typical student at Amherst and think about the challenges they may face that other Amherst students won’t be facing, and think about how they’ll cope with those challenges.”

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