Amherst College
Overview
 
Amherst College is a private
Private university
Private universities are universities not operated by governments, although many receive public subsidies, especially in the form of tax breaks and public student loans and grants. Depending on their location, private universities may be subject to government regulation. Private universities are...

 liberal arts college
Liberal arts colleges in the United States
Liberal arts colleges in the United States are certain undergraduate institutions of higher education in the United States. The Encyclopædia Britannica Concise offers a definition of the liberal arts as a "college or university curriculum aimed at imparting general knowledge and developing general...

 located in Amherst
Amherst, Massachusetts
Amherst is a town in Hampshire County, Massachusetts, United States in the Connecticut River valley. As of the 2010 census, the population was 37,819, making it the largest community in Hampshire County . The town is home to Amherst College, Hampshire College, and the University of Massachusetts...

, Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

, United States. Amherst is an exclusively undergraduate four-year institution and enrolled 1,744 students in the fall of 2009. Students choose courses from 35 major programs in an unusually open curriculum.

Founded in 1821 as an attempt to relocate Williams College
Williams College
Williams College is a private liberal arts college located in Williamstown, Massachusetts, United States. It was established in 1793 with funds from the estate of Ephraim Williams. Originally a men's college, Williams became co-educational in 1970. Fraternities were also phased out during this...

 by its President Zephaniah Swift Moore
Zephaniah Swift Moore
Zephaniah Swift Moore was an American Congregational clergyman and educator. He taught at Dartmouth College during the early 1810s and had a house built in Hanover, New Hampshire that now serves as Dartmouth's Blunt Alumni Center...

, Amherst is the third oldest institution of higher education in Massachusetts.
Encyclopedia
Amherst College is a private
Private university
Private universities are universities not operated by governments, although many receive public subsidies, especially in the form of tax breaks and public student loans and grants. Depending on their location, private universities may be subject to government regulation. Private universities are...

 liberal arts college
Liberal arts colleges in the United States
Liberal arts colleges in the United States are certain undergraduate institutions of higher education in the United States. The Encyclopædia Britannica Concise offers a definition of the liberal arts as a "college or university curriculum aimed at imparting general knowledge and developing general...

 located in Amherst
Amherst, Massachusetts
Amherst is a town in Hampshire County, Massachusetts, United States in the Connecticut River valley. As of the 2010 census, the population was 37,819, making it the largest community in Hampshire County . The town is home to Amherst College, Hampshire College, and the University of Massachusetts...

, Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

, United States. Amherst is an exclusively undergraduate four-year institution and enrolled 1,744 students in the fall of 2009. Students choose courses from 35 major programs in an unusually open curriculum.

Founded in 1821 as an attempt to relocate Williams College
Williams College
Williams College is a private liberal arts college located in Williamstown, Massachusetts, United States. It was established in 1793 with funds from the estate of Ephraim Williams. Originally a men's college, Williams became co-educational in 1970. Fraternities were also phased out during this...

 by its President Zephaniah Swift Moore
Zephaniah Swift Moore
Zephaniah Swift Moore was an American Congregational clergyman and educator. He taught at Dartmouth College during the early 1810s and had a house built in Hanover, New Hampshire that now serves as Dartmouth's Blunt Alumni Center...

, Amherst is the third oldest institution of higher education in Massachusetts. Amherst remained a men's college
Men's college
Men's colleges in higher education are undergraduate, bachelor's degree-granting institutions whose students are exclusively men. Many are liberal arts colleges.-United States:...

 until becoming coeducation
Coeducation
Mixed-sex education, also known as coeducation or co-education, is the integrated education of male and female persons in the same institution. It is the opposite of single-sex education...

al in 1975.

Amherst has historically had close relationships and rivalries with Williams College and Wesleyan University
Wesleyan University
Wesleyan University is a private liberal arts college founded in 1831 and located in Middletown, Connecticut. According to the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Wesleyan is the only Baccalaureate College in the nation that emphasizes undergraduate instruction in the arts and...

 which form the Little Three
Little Three
The "Little Three" is an unofficial athletic conference of three elite liberal arts colleges in New England, United States. The "Little Three" are:* Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts* Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut...

 colleges. It is also a member of the Five College Consortium
Five Colleges (Massachusetts)
The Five Colleges comprises four liberal arts colleges and one university in the Connecticut River Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts, totaling approximately 28,000 students. The schools belong to a consortium called Five Colleges, Incorporated, established in 1965...

.

History

Founded in 1821, Amherst College developed out of the secondary school Amherst Academy. The college was originally suggested as an alternative to Williams College
Williams College
Williams College is a private liberal arts college located in Williamstown, Massachusetts, United States. It was established in 1793 with funds from the estate of Ephraim Williams. Originally a men's college, Williams became co-educational in 1970. Fraternities were also phased out during this...

, which was struggling to stay open. Although Williams remained open, Amherst was formed and diverged from its Williams roots into an individual institution.

Amherst Academy

In 1812, funds were raised in Amherst for a secondary school, Amherst Academy. The institution was named after the town, which in turn had been named after Jeffery Amherst, a veteran from the Seven Years' War
Seven Years' War
The Seven Years' War was a global military war between 1756 and 1763, involving most of the great powers of the time and affecting Europe, North America, Central America, the West African coast, India, and the Philippines...

 and later commanding general of the British forces in North America. On November 18, 1817, a project was adopted at the Academy to raise funds for the free instruction of "indigent young men of promising talents and hopeful piety, who shall manifest a desire to obtain a liberal education with a sole view to the Christian ministry." This required a substantial investment from benefactors.

During the fundraising for the project, it became clear that without larger designs, it would be impossible to raise sufficient funds. This led the committee overseeing the project to conclude that a new institution should be created. On August 18, 1818, the Amherst Academy board of trustees accepted this conclusion and began building a new college.

Williams College relocation debate

According to Tyler
William Seymour Tyler
William Seymour Tyler was the Amherst College, Massachusetts, historian during his tenure as professor of Latin, Greek, and Greek literature from 1832-1893.-Biography:...

, an Amherst historian
Historian
A historian is a person who studies and writes about the past and is regarded as an authority on it. Historians are concerned with the continuous, methodical narrative and research of past events as relating to the human race; as well as the study of all history in time. If the individual is...

:


As early as 1815, six years before the opening of Amherst College, the question of removing Williams College to some more central part of Massachusetts was agitated among its friends and in its board of trustees. At that time Williams College had two buildings and fifty-eight students, with two professors and two tutors. The library contained fourteen hundred volumes. The funds were reduced and the income fell short of the expenditures. Many of the friends and supporters of the college were fully persuaded that it could not be sustained in its present location. The chief ground of this persuasion was the extreme difficulty of the access to it.

At the same meeting of the board of trustees at which Professor Moore was elected president of Williams College, May 2, 1815, Dr. Packard of Shelburne introduced the following motion: "That a committee of six persons be appointed to take into consideration the removal of the college to some other part of the Commonwealth, to make all necessary inquiries which have a bearing on the subject, and report at the next meeting." The motion was adopted, and at the next meeting of the board in September, the committee reported that "a removal of Williams College from Williamstown is inexpedient at the present time, and under existing circumstances."

But the question of removal thus raised in the board of trustees and thus negatived only "at the present time and under existing circumstances," continued to be agitated. And at a meeting on November 10, 1818, influenced more or less doubtless by the action of the Franklin County Association of Congregational Ministers, and the Convention of Congregational and Presbyterian Ministers in Amherst, the board of trustees resolved that it was expedient to remove the college on certain conditions. President Moore advocated the removal, and even expressed his purpose to resign the office of president unless it could be effected, inasmuch as when he accepted the presidency he had no idea that the college was to remain at Williamstown, but was authorized to expect that it would be removed to Hampshire County. Nine out of twelve of the trustees voted for the resolutions, which were as follows:


"Resolved, that it is expedient to remove Williams College to some more central part of the State whenever sufficient funds can be obtained to defray the necessary expenses incurred and the losses sustained by removal, and to secure the prosperity of the college, and when a fair prospect shall be presented of obtaining for the institution the united support and patronage of the friends of literature and religion in the western part of the Commonwealth, and when the General Court shall give their assent to the measure."


In November, 1819, the trustees of Williams College voted to petition the Legislature for permission to remove the college to Northampton. To this application, Mr. Webster says, "the trustees of Amherst Academy made no opposition and took no measures to defeat it." In February, 1820, the petition was laid before the Legislature. The committee from both houses, to whom it was referred, after a careful examination of the whole subject, reported that it was neither lawful nor expedient to remove the college, and the Legislature, taking the same view, rejected the petition. ... Thus the long and exciting discussion touching the removal of Williams College and the location of a college in some more central town of old Hampshire County at length came to an end, and the contending parties now directed all their energies to building up the institutions of their choice. (William S. Tyler, A History of Amherst College (1895))

Opening of Amherst College

Moore
Zephaniah Swift Moore
Zephaniah Swift Moore was an American Congregational clergyman and educator. He taught at Dartmouth College during the early 1810s and had a house built in Hanover, New Hampshire that now serves as Dartmouth's Blunt Alumni Center...

, then President of Williams College, however, still believed that Williamstown
Williamstown, Massachusetts
Williamstown is a town in Berkshire County, in the northwest corner of Massachusetts. It shares a border with Vermont to the north and New York to the west. It is part of the Pittsfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 7,754 at the 2010 census...

 was an unsuitable location for a college, and with the advent of Amherst College was elected its first president on May 8, 1821. At its opening, Amherst had forty-seven students. Fifteen of these had followed Moore from Williams College. Those fifteen represented about one-third of the whole number at Amherst, and about one-fifth of the whole number in the three classes to which they belonged in Williams College. President Moore died on June 29, 1823, and was replaced with a Williams College trustee, Heman Humphrey. Williams alumni are fond of an apocryphal story ascribing the removal of books from the Williams College library to Amherst College, but there is no contemporaneous evidence to verify the story. In 1995, Williams president Harry C. Payne
Harry C. Payne
Harry C. "Hank" Payne was the 14th president of Williams College.-References:...

 declared the story false, but many still nurture the legend.

Amherst grew quickly, and for two years in the mid-1830s it was the second largest college in the United States, second only to Yale
Yale College
Yale College was the official name of Yale University from 1718 to 1887. The name now refers to the undergraduate part of the university. Each undergraduate student is assigned to one of 12 residential colleges.-Residential colleges:...

. In 1835, Amherst attempted to create a course of study parallel to the classical liberal arts education. This parallel course focused less on Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 and Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

, instead focusing on English
English studies
English studies is an academic discipline that includes the study of literatures written in the English language , English linguistics English studies is an academic discipline that includes the study of literatures written in the English language (including literatures from the U.K., U.S.,...

, French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

, Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

, chemistry
Chemistry
Chemistry is the science of matter, especially its chemical reactions, but also its composition, structure and properties. Chemistry is concerned with atoms and their interactions with other atoms, and particularly with the properties of chemical bonds....

, economics
Economics
Economics is the social science that analyzes the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. The term economics comes from the Ancient Greek from + , hence "rules of the house"...

, etc. The parallel course did not take hold, however, until the next century.

Amherst was founded as a non-sectarian institution "for the classical education of indigent young men of piety and talents for the Christian ministry." (Tyler, A History of Amherst College) One of the hallmarks of the new college was its Charity Fund, an early form of financial aid that paid the tuition of poorer students. Although officially non-denominational, the initial Amherst was widely seen as a religiously conservative institution with a strong connection to Calvinism, and as a result, there was considerable debate in the Massachusetts government over whether the new college should receive an official charter from the state, and a charter was not granted until February 21, 1825. As a result of the official charter being granted four years after the official founding of the college, the Amherst seal lists a date of 1825 (MDCCCXXV). A tradition of religious conservatism persisted at Amherst until the mid-nineteenth century; students who consumed alcohol or played cards were subject to expulsion, and there were a number of religious revivals at Amherst where mobs of righteous students would herd less religious students into the chapel and berate them for lack of piety. Towards the end of the twentieth century, however, the college began a transition towards secularism, culminating in the demolishing of the college church in 1949.

Academic hoods in the United States are traditionally lined with the official colors of the school, in theory so watchers can tell where the hood wearer earned his or her degree. Amherst's hoods are purple (Williams' official color) with a white stripe or chevron, said to signify that Amherst was born of Williams.

Amherst records one of the first uses of Latin honors
Latin honors
Latin honors are Latin phrases used to indicate the level of academic distinction with which an academic degree was earned. This system is primarily used in the United States, Canada, and in many countries of continental Europe, though some institutions also use the English translation of these...

 of any American college, dating back to 1881.

Presidents of the college

  1. Zephaniah Swift Moore
    Zephaniah Swift Moore
    Zephaniah Swift Moore was an American Congregational clergyman and educator. He taught at Dartmouth College during the early 1810s and had a house built in Hanover, New Hampshire that now serves as Dartmouth's Blunt Alumni Center...

    , 1821—1823
  2. Heman Humphrey
    Heman Humphrey
    Heman Humphrey was a 19th-century American author and clergyman who served as 2nd president of Amherst College for 22 years....

    , 1823—1845
  3. Edward Hitchcock
    Edward Hitchcock
    Edward Hitchcock was a noted American geologist and the third President of Amherst College .-Life:...

    , 1845—1854
  4. William Augustus Stearns
    William Augustus Stearns
    William Augustus Stearns was a 19th-century American Reformed minister and teacher who served as president of Amherst College from 1854 to 1876....

    , 1854—1876
  5. Julius Hawley Seelye
    Julius Hawley Seelye
    Julius Hawley Seelye was a missionary, author, United States Representative, and former president of Amherst College. The system of Latin Honors in use at many universities worldwide is said to have been created by him....

    , 1876—1890
  6. Merrill Edward Gates, 1890—1899
  7. George Harris
    George Harris (theologian)
    George Harris was an American College president. He was born at East Machias, Me., and graduated from Amherst College in 1866 and from Andover Theological Seminary in 1869...

    , 1899—1912
  8. Alexander Meiklejohn
    Alexander Meiklejohn
    Alexander Meiklejohn was a philosopher, university administrator, and free-speech advocate. He served as dean of Brown University and president of Amherst College.- Life and career:...

    , 1912—1924
  9. George Daniel Olds, 1924—1927
  10. Arthur Stanley Pease
    Arthur Stanley Pease
    Arthur Stanley Pease was a professor of Classics, a respected amateur botanist, and the tenth president of Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts...

    , 1927—1932
  11. Stanley King
    Stanley King
    Stanley King was the eleventh president of Amherst College. He held that position from 1932 to 1946.-Early life:...

    , 1932—1946
  12. Charles W. Cole
    Charles W. Cole
    Charles W. Cole was president of Amherst College from 1946 to 1960. Cole was also involved with the Committee on the National Security Organization, American Cancer Society, U.S. Air Force, Merrill Foundation for the Advancement of Financial Knowledge, Educational Testing Service, and Teachers...

    , 1946—1960
  13. Calvin Plimpton
    Calvin Plimpton
    Calvin Hastings Plimpton was an American physician and educator, who served as president of Amherst College and American University of Beirut...

    , 1960—1971
  14. John William Ward
    John William Ward (professor)
    John William Ward , was a Professor of English and History at Princeton University from 1952 to 1964 and a Professor of History and American Studies at Amherst College from 1964 to 1971. In 1971, Ward became the fourteenth President of Amherst College, a position he held until 1979...

    , 1971—1979
  15. Julian Gibbs
    Julian Gibbs
    Julian Howard Gibbs was an American educator and the fifteenth President of Amherst College.Gibbs graduated from Amherst College in 1947. He earned his master’s and Ph.D. degrees in 1949 and 1950 from Princeton University...

    , 1979—1983
  16. Peter R. Pouncey, 1984—1994
  17. Tom Gerety
    Tom Gerety
    Tom Gerety, a lawyer, philosopher, and self-proclaimed "60s radical", is the former president of both Trinity College and Amherst College . After leaving Amherst College, he became the executive director of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law...

    , 1994—2003
  18. Anthony Marx
    Anthony Marx
    Anthony W. Marx is the current president and CEO of the New York Public Library in July 2011, succeeding Paul LeClerc. Marx is the former president of Amherst College, in Amherst, Massachusetts....

    , 2003—2011
  19. Carolyn Martin
    Carolyn Martin
    Carolyn Arthur “Biddy” Martin is an American intellectual, author, and former Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She assumed office on September 1, 2008, succeeding John D. Wiley. She was the ninth graduate of UW–Madison to serve as its chancellor, and the first alumna to hold that...

    , 2011—

Academics and resources

Reputation

Since the inception of the U.S. News & World Report
U.S. News & World Report
U.S. News & World Report is an American news magazine published from Washington, D.C. Along with Time and Newsweek it was for many years a leading news weekly, focusing more than its counterparts on political, economic, health and education stories...

rankings, Amherst College has been ranked ten times as the first overall amongst 266 liberal arts colleges in the United States, and is currently ranked second, behind Williams
Williams College
Williams College is a private liberal arts college located in Williamstown, Massachusetts, United States. It was established in 1793 with funds from the estate of Ephraim Williams. Originally a men's college, Williams became co-educational in 1970. Fraternities were also phased out during this...

.

In 2010, Forbes ranked Amherst College as the third best college or university in the United States, ahead of MIT, Stanford University
Stanford University
The Leland Stanford Junior University, commonly referred to as Stanford University or Stanford, is a private research university on an campus located near Palo Alto, California. It is situated in the northwestern Santa Clara Valley on the San Francisco Peninsula, approximately northwest of San...

, Caltech and every Ivy League
Ivy League
The Ivy League is an athletic conference comprising eight private institutions of higher education in the Northeastern United States. The conference name is also commonly used to refer to those eight schools as a group...

 institution except Princeton University
Princeton University
Princeton University is a private research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. The school is one of the eight universities of the Ivy League, and is one of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution....

.

Amherst College ranked second overall in 2007, according to the fifth annual report by the National Collegiate Scouting Association, which ranks colleges based on student-athlete graduation rates, academic strength, and athletic prowess.

Amherst ranked as having the second-highest graduation rate of any institution in the United States, second only to Harvard
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

 according to a 2009 American Enterprise Institute Study.

Amherst ranks fifth in the 2010 Washington Monthly rankings, which focus on key research outputs, the quality level and total dollar amount of scientific (natural and social sciences) grants won, the number of graduates going on to earn Ph.D. degrees, and certain types of public service.

Amherst ranks ninth in a 2004 Wall Street Journal survey of the "feeder schools" to the top fifteen business, law, and medical schools in the country.

According to The Princeton Review
The Princeton Review
The Princeton Review is an American-based standardized test preparation and admissions consulting company. The Princeton Review operates in 41 states and 22 countries across the globe. It offers test preparation for standardized aptitude tests such as the SAT and advice regarding college...

, Amherst ranks in the top 20 among all colleges and universities in the nation for "Students Satisfied With Financial Aid," "School Runs Like Butter," and "Top 10 Best Value Private Schools."

The Carnegie Foundation
Carnegie Foundation
The Carnegie Foundation is an organization based in The Hague, Netherlands. It was founded in 1903 by Andrew Carnegie in order to manage his donation of US$1.5 million, which was used for the construction, management and maintenance of the Peace Palace...

 classifies Amherst as one of the "more selective" institutions whose first-year students’ test scores places these institutions in roughly the top fifth of baccalaureate institutions.

Amherst also participates in the University and College Accountability Network
University and College Accountability Network
The University and College Accountability Network provides information for prospective students and their parents to compare American private colleges and universities across a wide variety of characteristics. Users can search for participating institutions and compare important data and...

 (U-CAN) developed by the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities
National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities
Founded in 1976, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities is an organization of private US colleges and universities...

 (NAICU). Amherst’s sustainability efforts earned it an overall grade of “A-” on the College Sustainability Report Card 2010 published by the Sustainable Endowments Institute. No institution received an "A" or "A+."

Admission

In 2011, Amherst College set a new record low admittance rate of 12.8% when it received 8,438 applications and admitted only 1,077 from its regular decision application pool. The lower admissions rate was caused in part by over-enrollment in the previous year's class, higher than usual early decision acceptances and a larger number of admissions through QuestBridge
QuestBridge
QuestBridge is a venture of the Quest Scholars Program, a registered 501 non-profit organization, that links high-achieving low-income students with educational and scholarship opportunities at some of the nation’s best colleges and universities. QuestBridge provides the College Prep Scholarship...

. Admitted students had "average scores of 32 on the ACT, 728 on the critical reading section of the SAT, 726 on the math section and 729 on the writing section."

Academic program

Amherst College offers 36 fields of study (with 850 courses) in the sciences, arts, humanities, mathematics and computer sciences, social sciences, foreign languages, classics, and several interdisciplinary fields (including premedical studies) and provides an unusually open curriculum. Students are not required to study a core curriculum or fulfill any distribution requirements and may even design their own unique interdisciplinary major. Freshmen may take advanced courses, and seniors may take introductory ones.

Nonetheless, for freshmen, the only course requirement mandated by the course registrar is one of the roughly twenty First-Year Seminars, which are often limited to no more than 15 students and, despite having varying topics, shares a common focus on critical analysis and development of written and oral argument. Besides a first-year seminar course, the other 31 courses (usually four are taken per semester) required for graduation can be elected by the students themselves. Nevertheless, to complete their major, students must still adhere to departmental course requirements, including satisfactory performance on comprehensive examinations in their major field.

Faculty advisors are committed to guiding students through the process of majoring, and each faculty advisor works with no more than five first-year students to ensure a course of study that has breadth and depth, is integrated across disciplines, and is intellectually fulfilling. Faculty advising continues for the remainder of each student's undergraduate education.

Thirty-five percent of Amherst students in the class of 2007 were double majors. A small number triple major and many create, with faculty advice, an interdisciplinary major. Fifty percent write theses during their senior year, and those students who choose to write a senior thesis have additional faculty advisors whose areas of expertise mirror each thesis topic. Within five years of graduation, seventy-four percent of Amherst alumni attend graduate school.

Traditionally, Amherst has made intensive writing for students a priority for all four years of study at all levels of instruction, throughout the curricula, and across disciplines. As a result, over the course of their undergraduate careers, students are expected to refine the form, logic, depth, and substance of their writing for a variety of audiences (in the sciences, arts, social sciences, and humanities). Amherst also has as priorities an emphasis on quantitative analysis across the disciplines and fostering global comprehension.

Amherst College has been the first college to have undergraduate departments in the interdisciplinary fields of American Studies
American studies
American studies or American civilization is an interdisciplinary field dealing with the study of the United States. It traditionally incorporates the study of history, literature, and critical theory, but also includes fields as diverse as law, art, the media, film, religious studies, urban...

; Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought; and Neuroscience
Neuroscience
Neuroscience is the scientific study of the nervous system. Traditionally, neuroscience has been seen as a branch of biology. However, it is currently an interdisciplinary science that collaborates with other fields such as chemistry, computer science, engineering, linguistics, mathematics,...

 and has helped to pioneer other interdisciplinary programs, including Asian Languages and Civilizations.

Teaching

Amherst College is widely recognized for its commitment to quality teaching, with rigorous professor-student interaction, so much so that Harvard and Columbia University
Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

 looked to Amherst in 2007 when they were in the throes of reviewing their teaching program.

Maintaining a student-faculty ratio of 8:1 and an average class size of fifteen students, Amherst places a high priority on meaningful interaction between students and their professors. Faculty members are leading scholars and researchers in their fields, as well as effective teachers who strive to develop better and more innovative ways to teach their students to learn, discover, and create. The historic guiding principle at Amherst is dialogue between professor and student. Amherst classes are characterized by interchanges among students and faculty adept at asking challenging and probing questions and offering alternative points of view.

A substantial number of faculty members hold appointments in two departments, a traditional academic discipline, and one of the many interdisciplinary programs and are thus familiar with, and accessible to, their students (both inside and outside the classroom). Professors have also built face-to-face, professor-to-student learning into the campus culture. To this end, professors serve as mentors and advisors, as well as teachers.

Professors have also drawn students early into independent or small group research, or creative work, which results in an original scholarly product. Under the mentorship of faculty members, science students also commonly participate in sophisticated graduate-level research, using state-of-art equipment and facilities, and are regularly listed as co-authors on faculty articles. Amherst students also often present their work, whether it is self-directed or in collaboration with faculty, at regional or national conferences.

Notable faculty members include, among others, modern literature and poetry critic William H. Pritchard, Beowulf
Beowulf
Beowulf , but modern scholars agree in naming it after the hero whose life is its subject." of an Old English heroic epic poem consisting of 3182 alliterative long lines, set in Scandinavia, commonly cited as one of the most important works of Anglo-Saxon literature.It survives in a single...

 translator Howell Chickering, Jewish and Latino studies scholar Ilan Stavans
Ilan Stavans
Ilan Stavans is a Mexican-American, essayist, lexicographer, cultural commentator, translator, short-story author, TV personality, and teacher known for his insights into American, Hispanic, and Jewish cultures.- Life :Ilan Stavans was born in Mexico to a middle-class Jewish family from the Pale...

, novelist and legal scholar Lawrence Douglas
Lawrence Douglas
Lawrence Douglas is the James J. Grosfeld Professor of Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought at Amherst College. He received his A.B. in 1982 from Brown University, M.A. in 1986 from Columbia University, and J.D. in 1989 from Yale Law School. In 2005 he became honorary A.M. at Amherst College...

, physicist Arthur Zajonc, Pulitzer Prize
Pulitzer Prize
The Pulitzer Prize is a U.S. award for achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature and musical composition. It was established by American publisher Joseph Pulitzer and is administered by Columbia University in New York City...

-winning Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev led the Soviet Union during part of the Cold War. He served as First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964, and as Chairman of the Council of Ministers, or Premier, from 1958 to 1964...

 biographer William Taubman
William Taubman
William Chase Taubman is an American political scientist. His biography of Nikita Khrushchev won the Pulitzer Prize for biography in 2004 and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography in 2003....

, African art specialist Rowland Abiodun, Natural Law expert Hadley Arkes
Hadley Arkes
Hadley P. Arkes is a political scientist and the Edward N. Ney Professor of Jurisprudence and American Institutions at Amherst College, where he has taught since 1966.Arkes received a B.A. degree at the University of Illinois and a Ph.D...

, Mathematician Daniel Velleman, Biblical scholar Susan Niditch, law and society expert Austin Sarat
Austin Sarat
Austin Sarat is William Nelson Cromwell professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science at Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts. He is also a Five College Fortieth Anniversary Professor. He has written, co-written, or edited more than fifty books in the fields of law and political science. ...

, and Pulitzer Prize
Pulitzer Prize
The Pulitzer Prize is a U.S. award for achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature and musical composition. It was established by American publisher Joseph Pulitzer and is administered by Columbia University in New York City...

-winning composer Lewis Spratlan
Lewis Spratlan
M. Lewis Spratlan Jr. is an American music academic and composer of contemporary classical music.Born in Miami, Florida, Spratlan played the oboe as a youth. He attended Yale University and was a student of Mel Powell and Gunther Schuller...

, professor emeritus of the music faculty. (See List of Amherst College people.)

Students

Amherst's resources, faculty, and rigorous academic life allow the college to enroll students with a range of talents, interests, and commitments. Students represent all fifty states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and fifty countries. Ninety-seven percent of students live on campus. Ninety-seven percent of Amherst freshmen return for their sophomore year; ninety-six percent graduate, among the highest retention and graduation rates in the country.

Five College Consortium

Amherst is a member of the Five Colleges
Five Colleges (Massachusetts)
The Five Colleges comprises four liberal arts colleges and one university in the Connecticut River Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts, totaling approximately 28,000 students. The schools belong to a consortium called Five Colleges, Incorporated, established in 1965...

 consortium, which allows its students to attend classes at four other Pioneer Valley
Pioneer Valley
The Pioneer Valley is the colloquial name for the U.S. Commonwealth of Massachusetts's portion of the Connecticut River Valley. The Pioneer Valley consists of three counties in Massachusetts which collectively feature much of New England's most fertile farmland...

 institutions. These include Mount Holyoke College
Mount Holyoke College
Mount Holyoke College is a liberal arts college for women in South Hadley, Massachusetts. It was the first member of the Seven Sisters colleges, and served as a model for some of the others...

, Smith College
Smith College
Smith College is a private, independent women's liberal arts college located in Northampton, Massachusetts. It is the largest member of the Seven Sisters...

, Hampshire College
Hampshire College
Hampshire College is a private liberal arts college in Amherst, Massachusetts. It was founded in 1965 as an experiment in alternative education, in association with four other colleges in the Pioneer Valley: Amherst College, Smith College, Mount Holyoke College, and the University of Massachusetts...

, and the University of Massachusetts
University of Massachusetts
This article relates to the statewide university system. For the flagship campus often referred to as "UMass", see University of Massachusetts Amherst...

. In addition to the 850 courses available on campus, Amherst students have an additional 5,300 classes to consider through the Consortium (without paying additional tuition) and access to 8 million library volumes. The Five Colleges are geographically close to one another and are linked by buses that run between the campuses
Pioneer Valley Transit Authority
The Pioneer Valley Transit Authority oversees and coordinates public transportation in the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts. Currently the PVTA offers fixed-route bus service as well as paratransit service for the elderly and disabled. The PVTA was created by Chapter 161B of the...

. The Five Colleges share resources and develop common programs, including the Museums10
Museums10
Museums10 is a consortium of art, science, and history museums in Western Massachusetts. It is composed of museums from the Five Colleges and Historic Deerfield.-Art museums:*The Mead Art Museum...

 program. The Consortium has two joint academic departments, Astronomy and Dance. The Dance department is one of the largest in the nation. The Astronomy department is internationally renowned (See Five College Radio Astronomy Observatory
Five College Radio Astronomy Observatory
The Five College Radio Astronomical Observatory was an radio astronomy observatory located on a peninsula in the Quabbin Reservoir. It was sited in the town of New Salem, Massachusetts on land that was originally part of Prescott, Massachusetts...

). The Pioneer Valley schools' proximity to Amherst adds to its rich extracurricular and social life.

Five College Coastal and Marine Sciences Program

Among other common programs developed by the Consortium, Amherst students can take classes in The Five College Coastal & Marine Sciences Program. The program offers an interdisciplinary curriculum to undergraduate students in the Five Colleges
Five Colleges
Five Colleges may refer to:*Five Colleges *Five Colleges of Ohio* The Claremont Colleges in Claremont, California....

. Through active affiliations with some of the nation's centers for marine study, students engage in hands-on research to complement course work. Faculty from the natural and social sciences teach courses in the program. The disciplines represented include biology, botany, chemistry, ecology, geology, physics, wildlife management, and zoology in the sciences, and economics, government, and public policy in the social sciences. Many students in the program go on to advanced study or professional work in various areas of marine science.

Resources

Among the resources on the 1000 acres (4 km²) campus at Amherst College are more than 100 academic and residential buildings, athletic fields and facilities, a wildlife sanctuary, a forest for the study of ecology, and trails and areas for walking and cycling. Notable resources include the Mead Art Museum
Mead Art Museum
Mead Art Museum is an art museum associated with Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts and is a member of Museums10.The Mead Art Museum has a wide ranging collection of over 16,000 items, with a particular strength in American art, including notable works of the Hudson River School and woodcut...

 (with over 16,000 works); the Amherst Center for Russian Culture
Amherst Center for Russian Culture
The Amherst Center for Russian Culture was created by Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts after the gift of a major collection of Russian books, manuscripts, periodicals and ephemera by Thomas P. Whitney in 1991. The Center has a particularly strong collection of works by and relating to...

; four libraries (the main Robert Frost Library—having one million plus volumes, nearly 400,000 media materials, extensive Archives and Special Collections
Special collections
In library science, special collections is the name applied to a specific repository or department, usually within a library, which stores materials of a "special" nature, including rare books, archives, and collected manuscripts...

, and a media center and language lab, as well as separate libraries dedicated to science, math, and music); the Amherst College Museum of Natural History (including the Hitchcock Ichnological Cabinet
Hitchcock Ichnological Cabinet
The Hitchcock Ichnological Cabinet is a collection of fossil footmarks assembled between 1836 and 1865 by Edward Hitchcock , noted American geologist, state geologist of Massachusetts, USA, and President of Amherst College....

, the world's largest collection of dinosaur tracks); the Basset Planetarium; the Wilder Observatory
Wilder Observatory
Wilder Observatory is an astronomical observatory owned and operated by Amherst College. It is located in a building off Snell Street in Amherst, Massachusetts ....

; science facilities (including the Merrill Science Center, Beneski Earth Sciences Building, and McGuire Life Sciences Building); the Quantitative Skills Center; the Writing Center; the Career Center; art studios; rehearsal and performance facilities for music, theater, and dance (including the Arms Music Center named after Winifred and Robert Arms
Winifred E. Lefferts
Winifred Earl Lefferts , also known as Winifred Lefferts Arms, was a painter, designer and philanthropist. A member of the Lefferts family, early settlers of Brooklyn, she studied and exhibited art, and designed for New York book publishers prior to her 1937 marriage to Carleton Macy...

, the Kirby Memorial Theater, and the Holden Experimental Theater); the Center for Creative Writing; the Center for Community Engagement; and a student run radio station (WAMH
WAMH
WAMH is a radio station broadcasting an Alternative rock format. Licensed to Amherst, Massachusetts, USA. The station is currently owned by Amherst College. Programming includes news, college sports, and live local music....

 89.3 FM).

Internet access is available in all student residences (one connection for each student in every room), and wireless access is available almost everywhere on campus. There are thirty-seven residence buildings, nine theme houses, and two language houses (supporting four languages). Just off campus, Amherst is caretaker and owner of the Emily Dickinson Museum
Emily Dickinson Museum
The Emily Dickinson Museum is a historic house museum consisting of two houses: the Dickinson Homestead and the Evergreens...

 in downtown Amherst, in addition to about half of the poet's manuscripts. Amherst maintains a relationship with Doshisha University
Doshisha University
, or is a prestigious private university in Kyoto, Japan. The university has approximately 27,000 students on three campuses, in faculties of theology, letters, law, commerce, economics, policy, and engineering...

 in Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, which was founded by Amherst alumnus Joseph Hardy Neesima
Joseph Hardy Neesima
was a Japanese educator of the Meiji era, the founder of Doshisha University and Doshisha Women's College of Liberal Arts.Neesima was born in Edo , the son of a retainer of the Itakura clan of Annaka...

. In accordance with the will of Amherst alumnus Henry Clay Folger
Henry Clay Folger
Henry Clay Folger was president and later chairman of Standard Oil of New York, a collector of Shakespeareana, and founder of the Folger Shakespeare Library.-Early life:...

, Amherst College is charged with the governance of the Folger Shakespeare Library
Folger Shakespeare Library
The Folger Shakespeare Library is an independent research library on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., in the United States. It has the world's largest collection of the printed works of William Shakespeare, and is a primary repository for rare materials from the early modern period...

 in Washington, D.C.; Amherst maintains a close relationship with the Folger.

Sustainability

Amherst College is reducing its energy consumption through a computerized monitoring system for lighting and the use of an efficient cogeneration facility. The cogeneration facility features a gas turbine that generates electricity in addition to steam for heating the campus. Amherst also operates a composting program, in which a portion of the food waste from dining halls is sent to a farmer in Vermont.

Student groups

There are more than 140 student groups at Amherst. Students can pursue their interests through more than one hundred autonomous, student-led organizations funded by the student government, including a variety of student groups, cultural and religious groups, publications, fine and performing arts and political advocacy and service groups.

Particularly, numerous forms of community service exist at Amherst, and community service (locally - through the Center for Community Engagement, nationally, and internationally) is a priority at Amherst and for the current President of Amherst, Anthony Marx
Anthony Marx
Anthony W. Marx is the current president and CEO of the New York Public Library in July 2011, succeeding Paul LeClerc. Marx is the former president of Amherst College, in Amherst, Massachusetts....

, who helped start a secondary school for black students in apartheid South Africa.

Study abroad and off-campus

Forty-two percent of Amherst students, usually juniors, study abroad and can select from more than 260 study-abroad programs in countries including Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

, Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Costa Rica , officially the Republic of Costa Rica is a multilingual, multiethnic and multicultural country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean Sea to the east....

, Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, England, France, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

, Spain, and Senegal
Senegal
Senegal , officially the Republic of Senegal , is a country in western Africa. It owes its name to the Sénégal River that borders it to the east and north...

, as well as Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 where Amherst maintains a special relationship with Doshisha University
Doshisha University
, or is a prestigious private university in Kyoto, Japan. The university has approximately 27,000 students on three campuses, in faculties of theology, letters, law, commerce, economics, policy, and engineering...

, founded in 1875 by Amherst alumnus Joseph Hardy Neesima
Joseph Hardy Neesima
was a Japanese educator of the Meiji era, the founder of Doshisha University and Doshisha Women's College of Liberal Arts.Neesima was born in Edo , the son of a retainer of the Itakura clan of Annaka...

.

Off-campus, Amherst students have the opportunity to study at a number of institutions, from the National Theater Institute in Connecticut to Amherst's own Folger Shakespeare Library
Folger Shakespeare Library
The Folger Shakespeare Library is an independent research library on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., in the United States. It has the world's largest collection of the printed works of William Shakespeare, and is a primary repository for rare materials from the early modern period...

 in Washington, D.C. The Twelve College Exchange program, of which Amherst is a member, has special exchange arrangements with Bowdoin, Connecticut, Dartmouth, Mount Holyoke, Smith, Trinity, Vassar, Wellesley, Wheaton and Williams
Williams College
Williams College is a private liberal arts college located in Williamstown, Massachusetts, United States. It was established in 1793 with funds from the estate of Ephraim Williams. Originally a men's college, Williams became co-educational in 1970. Fraternities were also phased out during this...

 Colleges and Wesleyan University
Wesleyan University
Wesleyan University is a private liberal arts college founded in 1831 and located in Middletown, Connecticut. According to the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Wesleyan is the only Baccalaureate College in the nation that emphasizes undergraduate instruction in the arts and...

 for programs not available in the Five College area.

Folger Shakespeare Library

Amherst's relationship with the Folger Shakespeare Library
Folger Shakespeare Library
The Folger Shakespeare Library is an independent research library on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., in the United States. It has the world's largest collection of the printed works of William Shakespeare, and is a primary repository for rare materials from the early modern period...

 in Washington, D.C. offers various opportunities for students and faculty to study and learn and engage in cultural and arts programs. The Folger, a primary repository of rare materials from the modern period (1500–1750), holds the world's largest collection of the printed works of William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

, as well as collections of other rare Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 books and manuscripts. The Folger is an internationally recognized research library and center for scholarship and learning. The Folger is also an innovator in the preservation of rare materials and an award winning producer of cultural and arts programs, including theater, early music concerts (performed by the Folger Consort), poetry, exhibits, lectures, and family programs. Each year, more than 200,000 visitors attend events and exhibitions at the Folger. Millions visit its website (www.folger.edu), which includes event listings, virtual exhibitions, access to an on-line catalog of the collection, and teaching plans for educators. The Folger produces its own scholarly journal, "Shakespeare Quarterly," and the Library continues to publish the Folger Library Shakespeare editions, which outsell all other editions of the bard's plays.

Fellowships and internships

The Amherst Tom Gerety Fellowships for Action and the Winternship program allow more than 100 students to receive funding from the college each year to do public service work around the country and the world. Students also can select internships beginning as early as the first year, opting from among 15,000 opportunities nationwide through the Liberal Arts Center Network, as well as the "Amherst 100" internships that are sponsored by alumni. Internships are available with a variety of employers in the Pioneer Valley through the Center for Community Engagement; a campus-based literary magazine, The Common (Magazine)
The Common (Magazine)
The Common is a nonprofit biannual magazine based at Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts. The magazine publishes stories, poems, essays, and images centered around "a modern sense of place." - History :...

, also offers internships exclusively to Amherst College students.

In the spring 2008, the College's Center for Community Engagement launched the Active Citizen Summer Program. This opportunity allows rising freshmen, sophomores, and juniors to participate in a summer internship with a local, national, or international not-for-profit organization while receiving housing, food, and transportation funding, as well as a modest salary paid by the Center for Community Engagement.

Amherst students and alumni have also received external scholarships including Fulbright scholarships
Fulbright Program
The Fulbright Program, including the Fulbright-Hays Program, is a program of competitive, merit-based grants for international educational exchange for students, scholars, teachers, professionals, scientists and artists, founded by United States Senator J. William Fulbright in 1946. Under the...

, Goldwater scholarships, Rhodes scholarships
Rhodes Scholarship
The Rhodes Scholarship, named after Cecil Rhodes, is an international postgraduate award for study at the University of Oxford. It was the first large-scale programme of international scholarships, and is widely considered the "world's most prestigious scholarship" by many public sources such as...

, and Watson fellowships
Thomas J. Watson Fellowship
The Thomas J. Watson Fellowship is a grant that enables graduating seniors to pursue a year of independent study outside the United States. The Fellowship Program was established by the children of Thomas J. Watson, the founder of IBM....

.

Cost of attendance and financial aid

Amherst's comprehensive tuition, room, and board fee for the 2009-10 academic year is $48,400. Other miscellaneous expenses, including personal and travel expenditure, for the 2009-10 academic year could total up to $6,690. Therefore, the total cost of attending Amherst in the 2009-10 academic year amounted to $53,140-$55,090.

Despite its high cost of attendance, Amherst College meets the full demonstrated need of every admitted student. More than half (54%) of current students receive scholarship aid, and the average financial aid package amounts to $37,564.

In July 2007, Amherst announced that grants would replace loans in all financial aid packages beginning in the 2008-09 academic year. Amherst had already been the first school to eliminate loans for low-income students, and with this announcement it joined Princeton University
Princeton University
Princeton University is a private research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. The school is one of the eight universities of the Ivy League, and is one of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution....

, Cornell University
Cornell University
Cornell University is an Ivy League university located in Ithaca, New York, United States. It is a private land-grant university, receiving annual funding from the State of New York for certain educational missions...

 and Davidson College
Davidson College
Davidson College is a private liberal arts college in Davidson, North Carolina. The college has graduated 23 Rhodes Scholars and is consistently ranked in the top ten liberal arts colleges in the country by U.S. News and World Report magazine, although it has recently dropped to 11th in U.S. News...

, then the only colleges to completely eliminate loans from need-based financial aid packages. Increased rates of admission of highly qualified lower income students has resulted in greater equality of opportunity at Amherst than is usual at elite American colleges.

In the 2008-2009 academic year, Amherst College also extended its need-blind admission policy to international applicants. , Amherst remains the only liberal arts college
Liberal arts college
A liberal arts college is one with a primary emphasis on undergraduate study in the liberal arts and sciences.Students in the liberal arts generally major in a particular discipline while receiving exposure to a wide range of academic subjects, including sciences as well as the traditional...

 and one of the six higher education institutions, which include Harvard, Yale
YALE
RapidMiner, formerly YALE , is an environment for machine learning, data mining, text mining, predictive analytics, and business analytics. It is used for research, education, training, rapid prototyping, application development, and industrial applications...

, Princeton
Princeton University
Princeton University is a private research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. The school is one of the eight universities of the Ivy League, and is one of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution....

, MIT and Dartmouth College
Dartmouth College
Dartmouth College is a private, Ivy League university in Hanover, New Hampshire, United States. The institution comprises a liberal arts college, Dartmouth Medical School, Thayer School of Engineering, and the Tuck School of Business, as well as 19 graduate programs in the arts and sciences...

, in the United States with need-blind admission
Need-blind admission
Need-blind admission is a term in the United States denoting a college admission policy in which the admitting institution does not consider an applicant's financial situation when deciding admission...

 for both domestic and international applicants.

Varsity athletics

Amherst claims its athletics program as the oldest in the nation, pointing to its compulsory physical fitness regimen put in place in 1860. One-third of the student body participates in sports at the intercollegiate level, and eighty percent participate in intramural and club sports teams. The school's twenty-seven intercollegiate sports teams are known as the Lord Jeffs; women's teams are sometimes referred to as "Lady Jeffs", though the official title covers all teams.

The school participates in the NCAA's
National Collegiate Athletic Association
The National Collegiate Athletic Association is a semi-voluntary association of 1,281 institutions, conferences, organizations and individuals that organizes the athletic programs of many colleges and universities in the United States...

 Division III, the Eastern College Athletic Conference
Eastern College Athletic Conference
The Eastern College Athletic Conference is a college athletic conference comprising schools that compete in 21 sports . It has 317 member institutions in NCAA Divisions I, II, and III, ranging in location from Maine to North Carolina and west to Illinois...

, and the New England Small College Athletic Conference
New England Small College Athletic Conference
The New England Small College Athletic Conference is an NCAA Division III athletic conference, consisting of eleven highly selective liberal arts colleges and universities located in New England and New York...

 (NESCAC), which includes Bates
Bates College
Bates College is a highly selective, private liberal arts college located in Lewiston, Maine, in the United States. and was most recently ranked 21st in the nation in the 2011 US News Best Liberal Arts Colleges rankings. The college was founded in 1855 by abolitionists...

, Bowdoin
Bowdoin College
Bowdoin College , founded in 1794, is an elite private liberal arts college located in the coastal Maine town of Brunswick, Maine. As of 2011, U.S. News and World Report ranks Bowdoin 6th among liberal arts colleges in the United States. At times, it was ranked as high as 4th in the country. It is...

, Colby
Colby College
Colby College is a private liberal arts college located on Mayflower Hill in Waterville, Maine. Founded in 1813, it is the 12th-oldest independent liberal arts college in the United States...

, Connecticut College
Connecticut College
Connecticut College is a private liberal arts college located in New London, Connecticut.The college was founded in 1911, as Connecticut College for Women, in response to Wesleyan University closing its doors to women...

, Hamilton, Middlebury
Middlebury College
Middlebury College is a private liberal arts college located in Middlebury, Vermont, USA. Founded in 1800, it is one of the oldest liberal arts colleges in the United States. Drawing 2,400 undergraduates from all 50 United States and over 70 countries, Middlebury offers 44 majors in the arts,...

, Trinity
Trinity College (Connecticut)
Trinity College is a private, liberal arts college in Hartford, Connecticut. Founded in 1823, it is the second-oldest college in the state of Connecticut after Yale University. The college enrolls 2,300 students and has been coeducational since 1969. Trinity offers 38 majors and 26 minors, and has...

, Tufts
Tufts University
Tufts University is a private research university located in Medford/Somerville, near Boston, Massachusetts. It is organized into ten schools, including two undergraduate programs and eight graduate divisions, on four campuses in Massachusetts and on the eastern border of France...

, Wesleyan
Wesleyan University
Wesleyan University is a private liberal arts college founded in 1831 and located in Middletown, Connecticut. According to the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Wesleyan is the only Baccalaureate College in the nation that emphasizes undergraduate instruction in the arts and...

, and Williams College
Williams College
Williams College is a private liberal arts college located in Williamstown, Massachusetts, United States. It was established in 1793 with funds from the estate of Ephraim Williams. Originally a men's college, Williams became co-educational in 1970. Fraternities were also phased out during this...

.

Amherst is also one of the "Little Three
Little Three
The "Little Three" is an unofficial athletic conference of three elite liberal arts colleges in New England, United States. The "Little Three" are:* Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts* Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut...

", along with Williams and Wesleyan. This rivalry, over one hundred years old, can be considered the oldest athletic conference in the nation. A Little Three champion is informally recognized by most teams based on the head-to-head records of the three schools, but three-way competitions are held in some of the sports.

Amherst has placed in the top ten of the NACDA Director's Cup in the NCAA Division III in seven of the last ten years, including fourth in 2007 and 2008 and third in 2009. The 2007 "National Collegiate Scouting Association's Collegiate Power Ranking" ranked Amherst College
second "overall", ahead of Duke, University of California, San Diego (UCSD), Notre Dame, Stanford, Northwestern, Harvard, Princeton, Yale, and MIT.
  • The first intercollegiate baseball
    Baseball
    Baseball is a bat-and-ball sport played between two teams of nine players each. The aim is to score runs by hitting a thrown ball with a bat and touching a series of four bases arranged at the corners of a ninety-foot diamond...

     game was played between Williams and Amherst on July 1, 1859. Amherst won, 73-32.
  • The first Harvard College
    Harvard College
    Harvard College, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is one of two schools within Harvard University granting undergraduate degrees...

     loss on Soldiers Field was in 1903. They lost 6-0 to Amherst.
  • The last scoreless tie in an NCAA football game was on November 11, 1995, when Amherst and Williams tied 0-0 on Weston Field in Williamstown, Massachusetts.
  • In 1999, the Amherst women's tennis team won the Division III National Championship, by a score of 5-2, over arch-rival Williams College. It was Amherst's first team National Championship.
  • In 2003, the Amherst women's lacrosse team won the Division III National Championship, by a score of 11-9, over NESCAC rival Middlebury College.
  • In 2007, the Amherst men's basketball team won the Division III National Championship
    2007 NCAA Men's Division III Basketball Tournament
    The 2007 NCAA Men's Division III Basketball Tournament involved 59 schools playing in a single-elimination tournament to determine the national champion of men's NCAA Division III college basketball...

    , by a score of 80-67, over Virginia Wesleyan College
    Virginia Wesleyan College
    Virginia Wesleyan College is a small Methodist liberal arts college on the border of Virginia Beach and Norfolk, Virginia offering a Bachelor of Arts in many disciplines and has added Bachelor of Science programs as well...

    .
  • In 2007, the Amherst women's cross country team won the Division III Cross Country National Championship.
  • In 2009, the Amherst women's ice hockey team team won the Division III National Championship, by a score of 4-3 in OT over Elmira College
    Elmira College
    Elmira College is a coeducational private liberal arts college located in Elmira, in New York State's Southern Tier region.The college is noted as the oldest college still in existence which granted degrees to women that were the equivalent of those given to men...

    .
  • In 2010, the Amherst women's ice hockey team repeated and won the Division III National Championship, by a score of 7-2 over Norwich University
    Norwich University
    Norwich University is a private university located in Northfield, Vermont . The university was founded in 1819 at Norwich, Vermont, as the American Literary, Scientific and Military Academy. It is the oldest of six Senior Military Colleges, and is recognized by the United States Department of...

    . This was the first team in the school's history to repeat as national champions.
  • In 2011, the Amherst women's basketball team won the Division III National Championship for the first time in the program's history.
  • In 2011, the Amherst men's tennis team won the Division III National Championship for the first time in the program's history.


On May 3, 2009, Williams College and Amherst alumni played a game of vintage baseball at Wahconah Park
Wahconah Park
Wahconah Park is a city-owned baseball park located in Pittsfield, Massachusetts and nestled in a working class neighborhood. One of the last remaining ballparks in the United States with a wooden grandstand, it was constructed in 1919 and seats 4,500. The stadium is now currently home to the, yet...

 according to 1859 rules to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the first college baseball
College baseball
College baseball is baseball that is played on the intercollegiate level at institutions of higher education. Compared to football and basketball, college competition in the United States plays a less significant contribution to cultivating professional players, as the minor leagues primarily...

 game played on July 2, 1859, between the two schools.

Club and intramural athletics

Amherst fields several club athletic teams, including rugby union
Rugby union
Rugby union, often simply referred to as rugby, is a full contact team sport which originated in England in the early 19th century. One of the two codes of rugby football, it is based on running with the ball in hand...

, water polo
Water polo
Water polo is a team water sport. The playing team consists of six field players and one goalkeeper. The winner of the game is the team that scores more goals. Game play involves swimming, treading water , players passing the ball while being defended by opponents, and scoring by throwing into a...

, ultimate
Ultimate (sport)
Ultimate is a sport played with a 175 gram flying disc. The object of the game is to score points by passing the disc to a player in the opposing end zone, similar to an end zone in American football or rugby...

, equestrian
Equestrianism
Equestrianism more often known as riding, horseback riding or horse riding refers to the skill of riding, driving, or vaulting with horses...

, mountain biking
Mountain biking
Mountain biking is a sport which consists of riding bicycles off-road, often over rough terrain, using specially adapted mountain bikes. Mountain bikes share similarities with other bikes, but incorporate features designed to enhance durability and performance in rough terrain.Mountain biking can...

, crew
Sport rowing
Rowing is a sport in which athletes race against each other on rivers, on lakes or on the ocean, depending upon the type of race and the discipline. The boats are propelled by the reaction forces on the oar blades as they are pushed against the water...

, fencing
Fencing
Fencing, which is also known as modern fencing to distinguish it from historical fencing, is a family of combat sports using bladed weapons.Fencing is one of four sports which have been featured at every one of the modern Olympic Games...

, sailing
Sailing
Sailing is the propulsion of a vehicle and the control of its movement with large foils called sails. By changing the rigging, rudder, and sometimes the keel or centre board, a sailor manages the force of the wind on the sails in order to move the boat relative to its surrounding medium and...

 and skiing
Skiing
Skiing is a recreational activity using skis as equipment for traveling over snow. Skis are used in conjunction with boots that connect to the ski with use of a binding....

. Intramural sports
Intramural sports
Intramural sports or intramurals are recreational sports organized within a set geographic area. The term derives from the Latin words intra muros meaning "within walls", and was used to indicate sports matches and contests that took place among teams from "within the walls" of an ancient city...

 include soccer, tennis, golf, basketball, volleyball and softball.

The sport of Ultimate
Ultimate (sport)
Ultimate is a sport played with a 175 gram flying disc. The object of the game is to score points by passing the disc to a player in the opposing end zone, similar to an end zone in American football or rugby...

 was started at Amherst College in the late 1960s by Jared Kass '69.

Student life

Amherst has more than 150 officially recognized student groups, including a medieval sword-fighting club, a knitting club, and a club devoted to random acts of kindness.

Fraternities

Amherst banned on-campus fraternities in 1984, renaming the houses after prominent past members of those fraternities, though some fraternities maintain an off-campus presence. In February 2010, President Tony Marx banned membership in the off-campus Psi Upsilon fraternity because of an unexplained "serious violation involving the leadership and members."

Music

Nicknamed "the singing college," Amherst has many a cappella
Collegiate a cappella
Collegiate a cappella ensembles are student-run and -directed singing groups that perform entirely without instruments. Such groups can be found at many colleges and universities in the United States, and increasingly worldwide....

 and singing groups, some of them affiliated with the college music department, including the Concert Choir, the Madrigal Singers, the Women's Chorus, the Gospel Choir and the Glee Club
Amherst College Glee Club
The Amherst College Glee Club, founded in 1865, is a 40 voice all-male vocal ensemble, and is the oldest continuous musical organization at Amherst College. It is part of the Amherst College Choral Society, along with the Women's Chorus, the Concert Choir, and the Madrigal Singers. The club has a...

, which is the oldest singing group on the campus. The a cappella groups include the Zumbyes, the Bluestockings, Route 9, the Sabrinas, the DQ, and Terras Irradient (the co-ed Christian a cappella group). Amherst's symphony orchestra with more than 70 members and no hired professional musicians is the only one of its size among national liberal arts colleges. A variety of other instrumental groups also rehearse and perform regularly and include: Javanese gamelan, chamber music, South Indian, and jazz. The Amherst College Arms Music Center
Winifred E. Lefferts
Winifred Earl Lefferts , also known as Winifred Lefferts Arms, was a painter, designer and philanthropist. A member of the Lefferts family, early settlers of Brooklyn, she studied and exhibited art, and designed for New York book publishers prior to her 1937 marriage to Carleton Macy...

 has 25 listening and practice rooms (thirteen of which are equipped with pianos), an electronic and recording music studio, separate rehearsal space for instrumental and vocal groups, classrooms, a library, and a 500-seat recital hall that serves during the year as a performance venue for students and visiting artists.

Alumni

Although a relatively small college, Amherst has many accomplished alumni, including Nobel
Nobel Prize
The Nobel Prizes are annual international awards bestowed by Scandinavian committees in recognition of cultural and scientific advances. The will of the Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, established the prizes in 1895...

, Crafoord Prize
Crafoord Prize
The Crafoord Prize is an annual science prize established in 1980 by Holger Crafoord, a Swedish industrialist, and his wife Anna-Greta Crafoord...

 and Lasker Award
Lasker Award
The Lasker Awards have been awarded annually since 1946 to living persons who have made major contributions to medical science or who have performed public service on behalf of medicine. They are administered by the Lasker Foundation, founded by advertising pioneer Albert Lasker and his wife Mary...

 laureates, MacArthur Fellowship and Pulitzer Prize
Pulitzer Prize
The Pulitzer Prize is a U.S. award for achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature and musical composition. It was established by American publisher Joseph Pulitzer and is administered by Columbia University in New York City...

 winners, National Medal of Science
National Medal of Science
The National Medal of Science is an honor bestowed by the President of the United States to individuals in science and engineering who have made important contributions to the advancement of knowledge in the fields of behavioral and social sciences, biology, chemistry, engineering, mathematics and...

 and National Book Award
National Book Award
The National Book Awards are a set of American literary awards. Started in 1950, the Awards are presented annually to American authors for literature published in the current year. In 1989 the National Book Foundation, a nonprofit organization which now oversees and manages the National Book...

 recipients, and Academy, Tony
Tony Award
The Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Theatre, more commonly known as a Tony Award, recognizes achievement in live Broadway theatre. The awards are presented by the American Theatre Wing and The Broadway League at an annual ceremony in New York City. The awards are given for Broadway...

, Grammy Award
Grammy Award
A Grammy Award — or Grammy — is an accolade by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States to recognize outstanding achievement in the music industry...

 and Emmy Award
Emmy Award
An Emmy Award, often referred to simply as the Emmy, is a television production award, similar in nature to the Peabody Awards but more focused on entertainment, and is considered the television equivalent to the Academy Awards and the Grammy Awards .A majority of Emmys are presented in various...

 winners; a U.S. President, the current Sovereign Prince of Monaco, a Chief Justice of the United States
Chief Justice of the United States
The Chief Justice of the United States is the head of the United States federal court system and the chief judge of the Supreme Court of the United States. The Chief Justice is one of nine Supreme Court justices; the other eight are the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States...

, three Speakers of the U.S. House of Representatives, a U.S. Poet Laureate
Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress
The Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress—commonly referred to as the United States Poet Laureate—serves as the nation's official poet. During his or her term, the Poet Laureate seeks to raise the national consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of...

, legal architect of Brown v Board of Education, and inventor of the blood bank
Blood bank
A blood bank is a cache or bank of blood or blood components, gathered as a result of blood donation, stored and preserved for later use in blood transfusion. The term "blood bank" typically refers to a division of a hospital laboratory where the storage of blood product occurs and where proper...

; leaders in science, religion, politics, the Peace Corps, medicine, law, education, communications, and business; and acclaimed actors, architects, artists, astronauts, engineers, human rights activists, inventors, musicians, philanthropists, and writers.

There are approximately 20,000 living alumni, of which about 60% make a gift to Amherst each year—one of the highest alumni participation rates of any college in the country.

External links

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