Amherst vs Rice: A Side-by-Side Analysis

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Amherst campus from afar

Amherst vs Rice: A Side-by-Side Analysis

If you’re a high school student considering college, the decision of where to attend can be overwhelming. With so many options to choose from, it’s important to do your research and compare universities to find the best fit for you. In this article, we’ll be comparing Amherst College vs Rice University to help you make an informed decision.

Introduction to the Two Universities

Amherst College, located in western Massachusetts, is a private liberal arts college that ranks consistently as one of the top colleges in the country. With a student population of just over 1,800, Amherst offers small class sizes and a tight-knit community.

Rice University, on the other hand, is a private research university located in Houston, Texas. With just over 4,000 undergraduates, Rice offers a larger student body and a more diverse range of academic programs.

Despite their differences in size and location, both Amherst College and Rice University share a commitment to academic excellence and a dedication to providing their students with a well-rounded education. At Amherst, students are encouraged to explore a wide range of subjects and to engage in independent research projects, while at Rice, students have access to cutting-edge research facilities and a wealth of resources to support their academic pursuits.

Additionally, both universities offer a variety of extracurricular activities and opportunities for students to get involved in their communities. Amherst has a strong tradition of community service and social activism, while Rice boasts a vibrant arts scene and a thriving athletic program. No matter what their interests or passions may be, students at both Amherst and Rice are sure to find a supportive and engaging community that will help them thrive both academically and personally.

View of Rice University campus at daytime

Campus Life and Culture at Amherst and Rice

Amherst College is known for its strong academic community, where students are encouraged to engage in intellectual debates and discussions. The campus is small and picturesque, with a tight-knit community that fosters a sense of belonging.

At Rice University, campus life is more diverse and offers a variety of extracurricular activities. The campus is larger and more urban, located in the heart of Houston. With over 400 student organizations, there’s something for everyone at Rice.

Both Amherst and Rice have unique campus cultures that reflect their respective locations and histories. Amherst is located in a small town in western Massachusetts, surrounded by rolling hills and forests. The college has a strong tradition of intellectualism and a commitment to social justice, which is reflected in its curriculum and student organizations. Rice, on the other hand, is located in the fourth largest city in the United States, and has a more cosmopolitan feel. The university has a strong focus on research and innovation, and is home to several world-renowned research centers and institutes.

Academic Programs Offered by Amherst and Rice

Both Amherst College and Rice University offer a diverse range of academic programs. Amherst is a liberal arts college, meaning that it places an emphasis on a broad-based education in the arts, humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences.

Rice, on the other hand, offers a wider range of academic programs, including majors in engineering, natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, and more.

Additionally, both Amherst and Rice offer interdisciplinary programs that allow students to explore multiple fields of study. Amherst offers programs such as Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought, and Neuroscience, while Rice offers programs such as Energy and Environmental Systems, and Global Health Technologies. These interdisciplinary programs provide students with a unique and well-rounded education that prepares them for a variety of career paths.

Student Body Diversity at Amherst and Rice

Diversity is an important factor to consider when choosing a university. At Amherst College, the student body is predominantly white, with a small but growing population of students of color and international students.

Rice University, on the other hand, has a much more diverse student population, with a mix of students from all over the world and a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Despite the differences in diversity, both Amherst and Rice have made efforts to create inclusive environments for all students. Amherst has implemented programs and initiatives to support underrepresented students, such as the Multicultural Resource Center and the First-Generation Initiative. Rice has also established similar programs, including the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Center for Diversity and Inclusion.

Furthermore, both universities have active student organizations that celebrate diversity and promote cultural awareness. Amherst has a variety of clubs, such as the Asian Students Association and the Black Student Union, while Rice has organizations like the Hispanic Association for Cultural Enrichment at Rice and the Muslim Student Association.

Admission Process and Requirements at Amherst and Rice

Both Amherst College and Rice University are highly selective institutions, meaning that the admission process is competitive and rigorous.

Amherst places a strong emphasis on academic achievement and intellectual curiosity, as well as a commitment to extracurricular activities and community service.

Rice also values a strong academic record, but also considers factors such as leadership, community involvement, and diversity.

It is important to note that both Amherst and Rice have different application requirements. Amherst requires applicants to submit SAT or ACT scores, two teacher recommendations, and a secondary school report. Rice, on the other hand, allows applicants to submit either SAT or ACT scores, but also requires two teacher recommendations, a school report, and a mid-year report. Additionally, Rice offers the option for applicants to submit a supplemental essay or portfolio to showcase their talents and interests outside of academics.

View of Rice University sign

Faculty and Staff at Amherst and Rice: Amherst vs Rice

Both Amherst and Rice employ highly qualified faculty members who are experts in their fields.

Amherst boasts a student-to-faculty ratio of 7:1, meaning that students are able to build close relationships with their professors and receive personalized attention. Rice also has a low student-to-faculty ratio of 6:1, ensuring that students have ample opportunities to interact with their professors.

However, there are some differences in the faculty and staff at Amherst and Rice. Amherst has a higher percentage of tenured faculty members, with 85% of their faculty holding tenure positions. In contrast, Rice has a lower percentage of tenured faculty members, with only 60% of their faculty holding tenure positions. This may impact the level of job security and academic freedom that faculty members have at each institution.

Research Opportunities: Amherst vs Rice

Rice University is known for its strong research programs, with over 100 research centers and institutes on campus. Students are encouraged to engage in research projects and work with faculty members to conduct cutting-edge research.

While Amherst College may not have as many research centers, students have ample opportunities to engage in research projects and independent study. The college offers funding and support for student research projects, providing students with the resources they need to succeed.

At Rice University, students have access to state-of-the-art research facilities, including the Rice Quantum Institute and the Rice Space Institute. These institutes provide students with the opportunity to work on groundbreaking research projects in fields such as quantum computing and space exploration.

Similarly, Amherst College offers unique research opportunities, such as the Center for Humanistic Inquiry, which brings together scholars from different disciplines to collaborate on research projects. Additionally, the college’s Science Center houses cutting-edge research equipment, including a scanning electron microscope and a confocal microscope, which students can use for their research projects.

Athletics Programs: Amherst vs Rice

Both Amherst College and Rice University offer strong athletics programs, with a range of varsity sports and club teams available to students.

At Amherst, athletics are an important part of campus life, with a strong focus on teamwork and community. The college offers 27 varsity sports teams, as well as a variety of intramural and club sports.

Rice University also offers a variety of varsity and club sports, with a strong athletic program that emphasizes physical fitness and healthy living.

One key difference between the athletics programs at Amherst and Rice is the level of competition. Amherst is a Division III school, which means that their varsity teams compete at a lower level than Rice, which is a Division I school. This can be an important factor for student-athletes who are looking to compete at the highest level possible.

Another difference is the facilities available to athletes. Rice has a state-of-the-art athletic complex, which includes a football stadium, basketball arena, and swimming pool, among other amenities. Amherst, while still offering quality facilities, may not have the same level of resources available to their athletes.

Career Opportunities: Amherst vs Rice

Graduates of both Amherst College and Rice University are well-prepared for careers in a variety of fields.

Amherst emphasizes a broad-based education that prepares students for a wide range of careers, while Rice offers a more specialized education that prepares students for careers in specific fields.

Both universities have strong alumni networks, with Amherst boasting a large network of successful alumni in fields such as law, medicine, business, and more, while Rice’s alumni network is particularly strong in fields such as engineering, technology, and energy.

Additionally, both Amherst and Rice offer extensive career services to their students and alumni. These services include career counseling, job search assistance, resume and cover letter reviews, and networking events. Amherst’s Career Center offers a variety of resources and programs, including internships, externships, and job shadowing opportunities. Rice’s Center for Career Development provides similar services, as well as career fairs and employer information sessions. With the support of these career services, graduates of Amherst and Rice are well-equipped to pursue successful careers in their chosen fields.

Amherst vs Rice: Alumni Networks

Both Amherst College and Rice University have strong alumni networks that provide support and resources to current students and recent graduates.

At Amherst, alumni are highly engaged in the life of the college, providing mentorship and networking opportunities to current students. Rice’s alumni network is particularly strong in Houston, with many graduates working in the city’s thriving business and technology sectors.

Additionally, both Amherst and Rice offer various programs and events that allow alumni to stay connected with their alma mater. Amherst hosts an annual reunion weekend, where alumni can reconnect with classmates and attend lectures and performances. Rice’s alumni association organizes networking events and professional development workshops, as well as social gatherings like tailgates and happy hours. These events not only strengthen the bond between alumni and their respective institutions, but also provide valuable opportunities for career advancement and personal growth.

Amherst College

Financial Aid Options Available for Students at Amherst and Rice

Both Amherst College and Rice University offer generous financial aid packages to help students afford the cost of attendance.

Amherst offers need-based financial aid, covering 100% of demonstrated need for admitted students. The college also offers merit-based scholarships for exceptional students.

Rice offers a mix of need-based and merit-based financial aid, with over 60% of students receiving some form of financial aid.

Additionally, both Amherst and Rice have work-study programs that allow students to earn money while gaining valuable work experience. At Amherst, students can work on campus or in the local community, while Rice offers both on-campus and off-campus work-study opportunities. These programs not only provide financial support, but also help students develop important skills and connections for their future careers.

Location Comparison: Amherst vs Rice

When choosing a college, location is an important factor to consider. Amherst College is located in a small, New England town with a tight-knit community and easy access to outdoor recreation.

Rice University, on the other hand, is located in Houston, one of the largest cities in the country. Houston offers a wide range of cultural and recreational opportunities, as well as access to a thriving business community.

Living in Amherst provides a unique experience for students who enjoy a quieter, more intimate setting. The town is known for its charming architecture, picturesque landscapes, and friendly locals. Students can easily explore the town on foot or by bike, and there are plenty of hiking trails and parks nearby for outdoor enthusiasts.

On the other hand, living in Houston offers a bustling city experience with endless possibilities for entertainment and exploration. The city is home to world-class museums, theaters, and sports teams, as well as a diverse culinary scene. Students can also take advantage of internships and job opportunities in various industries, including energy, healthcare, and technology.

Student Support Services Offered by Amherst and Rice

Both Amherst College and Rice University offer a range of student support services to ensure that students are able to succeed academically and personally.

Amherst offers a variety of support services, including academic advising, counseling and mental health services, and disability services. Rice offers similar support services, as well as career services and student health services.

Additionally, both Amherst and Rice have programs in place to support first-generation college students, low-income students, and students from underrepresented backgrounds. These programs provide resources such as mentorship, academic support, and financial assistance to help these students succeed in college.

Amherst College


Choosing a college is an important decision that requires careful consideration. By comparing universities side-by-side, you can make an informed decision that best suits your needs and goals. Whether you choose Amherst College or Rice University, both institutions offer a world-class education and a supportive community of faculty, staff, and students.

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