Amherst College Requirements and Campus Guide

School Name: Amherst College

School Location: Amherst, MA

School Type: Liberal Arts

Class of 2025

(Early/Regular Split not released yet)

  • Applications: 13,930
  • Admitted: 1,120
  • Acceptance Rate: 8%
  • Percentage of ED Admit Rate: 25%

General Info


  • Mean SAT scores (reported SAT scores are March 2016 and after):
    • Evidence-based Reading & Writing: 722
    • Math: 737
  • Mean ACT scores: Composite 32, English 34,
    Math 31


  • High Reach


  • Early Decision: November 1
  • Early Results: By December 15
  • Regular Deadline: January 1
  • Regular Results: Mid-April

School Info

  • Schedule: Semesters
  • Curriculum Type: Open Curriculum
  • Greek Life: No
  • Athletics: NESCAC

Amherst Requirements and Campus Guide
Here’s everything you should know before you apply to Amherst College

What is Amherst’s Acceptance Rate?

9,723 students applied for the class of 2022, and Amherst accepted 13% of those students. In the end, 39% of admitted students matriculated. I’ll save you the mental math and tell you that the class of 2022 ended up with 492 students. Therefore, it is an Amherst College requirement to have an excellent application in order to be accepted. If you have made up your mind that Amherst is your top choice school, you should consider applying Early Decision. 35% of the class of 2022 enrolled through Early Decision. 

What is Amherst known for?

Amherst is known as “The Writing College” thanks to its many alumni who went on to become award-winning novelists, poets, journalists and critics. They are also responsible for producing world-renowned literary publications. While it is not an Amherst College requirement to want to be a novelist, you will certainly be supported as a writer on campus. The college is home to thousands of Emily Dickinson’s manuscripts, letters and personal objects, showcasing their love of literature. Additionally, Amherst has one of the largest theater collections in the world and administers the Folger Shakespeare Library. 

How diverse is Amherst?

In the class of 2022, 47% of students at Amherst College identify as people of color—16% Asian, 14% Latinx, 10% multiracial, 11% Black or African American, and less than 1% American Indian or Alaskan Native. The students come from 48 states plus DC and Puerto Rico, and represent 54 countries. 9% of this class’s student body are international students, and 11% are first generation college students. The student body is 48% male, 49% female.

Can I afford Amherst?

Like other private colleges, at first glance Amherst appears outlandishly expensive. The school’s comprehensive fee for 2019-2020, which consists of tuition, room, and board, is $72,950. Amherst estimates the actual cost of attendance to be $78,872–81,322 depending on how far you have to travel to school, how much you spend on books, etc. Fortunately, last year 56% of Amherst students received scholarship aid from the college. Financial aid is also available to non-US citizens and transfer students. If you want a better idea of what tuition would cost you before you go through the application process, you can calculate what you’ll need to pay on their website. Keep in mind that need (as opposed to merit) is the only criterion for receiving financial aid from Amherst, and the college’s goal is to meet your “full demonstrated need” so that there’s no gap in their financial aid awards. Parent PLUS loans and monthly payment plans are available to those who don’t receive as generous of a financial aid package, but also can’t afford to pay the entire tuition at the beginning of each year.

What is “Open Curriculum”?

Unlike many liberal arts colleges, Amherst doesn’t have any general education requirements. Instead, they have an “open curriculum” which means nono distribution requirements and no core curriculum. That gives you the freedom to take a wide variety of courses in any subjects that interest you. Additionally, the open curriculum system makes it easier to double major and still have enough time to explore other disciplines, because you aren’t busy fulfilling requirements in fields that don’t interest you.

How is campus life?

Housing: Almost all Amherst students live on campus, and the college guarantees housing for students all four years. As a first-year student, you will live in a dorm in the first-year quad, located in the heart of campus. There are 34 residence halls total, seven of which are reserved for first-year students. Living in such close quarters with your classmates makes it easier to make lasting friendships early on in your college experience. After you’ve bonded with new friends, you can choose your favorite dorm to live in for sophomore, junior, and senior year.
Food: Students eat in Valentine Dining Hall, which accommodates most dietary needs with locally-sourced food. Amherst has its own farm, Book & Plow Farm. The online tool, ACNutrition, helps students identify well-balanced meals, find options for special diets, and manage allergens and intolerances.

Do they have any STEM programs?

Even though Amherst is a liberal arts college most known for its humanities departments, students interested in STEM can also find a home here. Amherst boasts of a faculty that researches “topics ranging from the quantum behavior of molecular nanomagnets, to brain circuitry, to fish evolution, to disease transmission and genomics.” Indeed, you might have even more opportunities to shine in a STEM major at Amherst, because many students are listed as co-authors of scientific articles and/or present their findings at national conferences. Plus, you get to work directly with faculty—rather than with grad students or PIs— on research projects.
The Being Human in Stem (HSTEM) Initiative is only offered by Amherst and Yale, and aims to foster a more inclusive STEM community. Its goal is to understand and incorporate diverse identities in scientific spaces from the classroom to the lab and beyond.

Do I have to submit supplemental materials with my application?

When you apply to Amherst either through the Common Application, the Coalition Application or the QuestBridge Application, you will have an option to submit supplemental materials. There is one mandatory supplement, the Amherst Writing Supplement, which is either a 300 word paper, or a previously graded assignment from your junior or senior year of high school. You can also submit optional supplemental pieces.
If you have any special talents or accomplishments related to the arts, you can submit relevant material through SlideRoom. On the SlideRoom website, you’ll find additional instructions for each category of submission, whether music, theater, dance, or visual art. If you’ve participated in significant research in any field (natural sciences, mathematics, computer science, social sciences or humanities) independently of your high school curriculum, you can include a brief description of your progress in the “Optional Research Questions” section of Amherst’s Writing Supplement.

What is the city of Amherst like?

Amherst is part of a five college consortium including Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke and Smith Colleges, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. This results in a city home to 30,000 college students during the academic year. Additionally, 40% of the local population has a graduate degree. In addition to regular events at each of the nearby colleges, you can find things to do of campus as well. There are hiking trails, fishing streams, and boating on Connecticut River. Amherst itself has a 500-acre Wildlife sanctuary to which you can escape when the libraries and classrooms become too claustrophobic. Getting to (or out of) Amherst couldn’t be easier; Bradley International Airport near Hartford, Conn., is about an hour from campus, and Boston’s Logan Airport is about two and a half hours away. Amherst provides shuttle transportation from either airport to campus.