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Amherst College


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We prepare students to use ideas to make a difference in the world. Since our 1821 founding, Amherst has demonstrated steadfast confidence in the value of the liberal arts and critical thinking. Today, our financial aid program is among the most substantial in the nation, and our student body is among the most diverse. Small classes, an open curriculum, and a singular focus on undergraduate education ensure that leading scholars engage daily with talented, curious students, equipping them for leadership in an increasingly global and complex world. Amherst College is deeply committed to issues surrounding inclusivity, a sense of belonging, diversity, environmental sustainability and impact, and responsible stewardship.
The town of Amherst combines breathtaking natural scenery with abundant cultural life. It is home to 35,000 politically engaged, culturally aware people. More than 40 percent of the local population has a graduate degree, and more than 30,000 college students live in Amherst during the academic year.
Diversity is a natural condition of the modern world. Moreover, not coincidentally, it is a foundational part of an Amherst education. We believe that a great intellectual community should look like the world, and with every incoming student, that community comes to life here.
Amherst is proud of its work to recruit, admit, and enroll a diverse student body. As part of these efforts, the Office of Admission hosts two-weekend Diversity Open Houses to introduce prospective applicants to Amherst's campus, student body, faculty, classes, and residence halls. Diversity Interns are current Amherst students who work with the Office of Admission to reach out to prospective students from different cultural, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Diversity Interns provide information and personal perspectives on what the Amherst College community has to offer.
We will continue to emphasize the inclusion within our student body, our faculty, and our staff of talented persons from groups that have experienced prejudice and disadvantage. We do so for the simplest, but most important reasons: because the best and the brightest people are found in many places, not few because our classrooms and residence halls are places of dialogue, not a monologue. After all, teaching and learning at their best are conversations with persons other than ourselves about ideas other than our own.
Amherst offers the Bachelor of Arts degree in 40 majors in the arts, sciences, social sciences, and humanities. Students can carry more than one major, create their interdisciplinary major, or engage in independent scholarship. Many students delve more deeply into their major field by undertaking honors theses as seniors. Often the equivalent of graduate-level work, theses have taken the form of a significant paper, scientific investigation, or creative work.
With faculty approval, a limited number of students may participate in the Independent Scholar Program, usually in the junior or senior year, instead of a traditional major program. Independent Scholars plan a personal program of study under the direction of a tutor. Students must be nominated for the program by a member of the faculty.
Amherst does not offer a major in creative writing. However, in conjunction with various departments, the Creative Writing Center provides courses in the writing of fiction, poetry, plays, non-fictional prose, and translation. Amherst participates in a variety of Five College programs, including 11 certificate programs, supervised independent and mentored language programs, and two shared departments.
Our school colors are purple and white. We are the Mammoths. We are Singing College. We are proud of our traditions, especially the unusual ones, like giving every graduate a cane. Moreover, we are #AmherstProud.
Your family's financial circumstances will never affect whether you are admitted or not. The majority of our students pay less—often far less—than the cost of attendance. Under our need-blind admission policy, 55 percent of our students receive financial aid.
Amherst College is proud of its efforts to achieve and sustain diversity in our community. Across many dimensions of diversity—geographic, racial/ethnic, socioeconomic, academic, extra-curricular—Amherst has assembled an exceptionally vibrant student body. It is one of the most diverse of all liberal arts colleges in the country.
Of course, the value of diversity at Amherst is best revealed not merely in the numbers, but in the students behind the numbers and what they bring to our community—the qualitative, not just quantitative aspects of diversity. No matter where you are from, no matter your background, at Amherst, you will meet some people who are like you and some who are not like you. This exposure to students from many different backgrounds, with unique experiences and perspectives, enriches education, and personal development in our classrooms, residence halls, and student organizations.
Amherst College is one of the world's premier writing colleges, with an enviable literary legacy. Our outstanding faculty and alumni include influential and award-winning novelists, poets, journalists, and critics, and our renowned literary publications are read around the world.
Throughout its 200-year history, Amherst has been closely associated with writers such as Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Richard Wilbur '42, James Merrill '47, David Foster Wallace '85, Dan Brown '86 Lauren Groff '01, among many others. Each year, we welcome distinguished campus authors of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry for readings, conversations, and masterclasses as part of the Visiting Writer's Series and LitFest, the College's annual literary festival.

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