Amherst vs the University of Virginia: Which College is Right for You?

August 21, 2023
By AdmissionSight

Amherst vs the University of Virginia: Which College is Right for You?

Choosing the right university is a major life decision. It can shape your career, your social life, and your overall experience. Here, we compare two popular universities: Amherst College vs the University of Virginia. Both universities have their unique qualities, and the choice ultimately depends on your personal preferences and goals.

Location: How the Campuses Compare

One of the most significant differences between these two universities is location. Amherst College is situated in Amherst, Massachusetts, a small town known for its natural beauty. Meanwhile, the University of Virginia is located in Charlottesville, Virginia, a historic city surrounded by lush mountains.

If you prefer the tranquility of a picturesque town, Amherst might be the right choice for you. Its location offers a peaceful, idyllic environment to study and relax in. In contrast, if you prefer a more lively atmosphere with ample opportunities to explore a city’s culture and nightlife, you may prefer the University of Virginia’s location in Charlottesville.

Another factor to consider when comparing the locations of these two universities is the climate. Amherst experiences cold winters with heavy snowfall, while Charlottesville has a milder climate with hot summers and mild winters. If you enjoy winter sports and activities, Amherst may be the better choice for you. However, if you prefer warmer weather and outdoor activities like hiking and swimming, Charlottesville may be the more appealing option.

university of virginia at night

Finally, it’s worth noting that both Amherst and Charlottesville are located in regions with rich histories and cultural significance. Amherst is located in the heart of New England, known for its colonial history and literary traditions. Charlottesville, on the other hand, is located in the southern United States, with a rich history of Civil War battles and a vibrant music and arts scene. Depending on your interests, one location may offer more opportunities for cultural exploration and learning than the other.

Student Life: Activities, Clubs, and Social Scene

Both Amherst College and the University of Virginia offer opportunities for students to get involved in extracurricular activities and clubs. However, the social scene at each school differs.

At Amherst College, the social scene is more intimate and community-oriented. The school’s small size allows for a close-knit community where students can form lasting relationships with their peers. The University of Virginia, on the other hand, has a more vibrant social scene due to its larger size and more diverse student body. There are numerous student organizations on campus, providing ample opportunities for students to get involved and meet new people.

Additionally, both schools offer a variety of activities for students to participate in outside of clubs and organizations. Amherst College has a strong focus on outdoor recreation, with opportunities for hiking, skiing, and other outdoor sports. The University of Virginia, on the other hand, has a rich history and culture, with many museums, galleries, and historical sites to explore in the surrounding area. Both schools also offer a range of cultural events, such as concerts, theater performances, and guest lectures, providing students with a well-rounded college experience.

Academics: Majors, Programs, and Faculty

Both Amherst and the University of Virginia provide a wide range of academic programs and excellent faculty members. However, Amherst College is a liberal arts college with an emphasis on undergraduate education, while the University of Virginia is a large research university with graduate programs.

At Amherst, the focus is on developing critical thinking, problem-solving, and creative skills. The school’s liberal arts education prepares students for success in a range of fields, from business to the arts and sciences. The University of Virginia provides a diverse range of undergraduate and graduate programs, with a strong focus on research and innovation.

One of the unique aspects of Amherst College is its open curriculum, which allows students to design their own course of study without any required courses or distribution requirements. This gives students the freedom to explore their interests and passions, and encourages interdisciplinary learning. In addition, Amherst has a low student-to-faculty ratio, which allows for personalized attention and mentorship from professors.

Housing: Dorms, Apartments, and Off-Campus Options

Both universities provide on-campus housing options for students, as well as off-campus options.

Amherst College offers a range of housing options, including traditional dormitories, apartments, and even theme houses. The University of Virginia has a variety of on-campus accommodation options for students, from traditional dorms to apartment-style living.

Additionally, both universities have resources available to help students find off-campus housing options. Amherst College has a dedicated Off-Campus Housing Office that provides assistance with finding apartments and houses in the surrounding area. The University of Virginia also offers resources for students seeking off-campus housing, including a database of available rentals and a guide to navigating the rental process.

Fall at University of Virginia

Athletics: Sports Teams and Facilities

Both Amherst College and the University of Virginia have robust athletic programs that cater to a range of interests.

Amherst College is a Division III school, which offers a wide range of sports teams, including soccer, volleyball, swimming, and lacrosse. The University of Virginia has a comprehensive athletic department with a rich history of success and a range of facilities for athletes.

At Amherst College, students can also participate in club sports, such as ultimate frisbee, rugby, and equestrian. These teams are student-run and offer a more casual approach to athletics. Additionally, the college has a state-of-the-art fitness center, which includes a weight room, cardio machines, and group fitness classes.

The University of Virginia has a strong focus on football and basketball, with both teams consistently ranking among the top in the country. However, the university also offers a variety of other sports teams, including soccer, tennis, and swimming. The athletic facilities at UVA include a football stadium, basketball arena, baseball stadium, and multiple practice fields and courts.

Diversity and Inclusion: Campus Culture and Support Resources

Diversity and inclusion are essential considerations in any modern university. Both Amherst College and the University of Virginia are committed to providing welcoming and inclusive environments for their students, faculty, and staff.

Amherst College strives to promote diversity and inclusion through initiatives such as student-led organizations, mentorship programs, and support resources for marginalized groups. The University of Virginia has several campus organizations dedicated to promoting diversity and inclusion, as well as support resources for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Additionally, both universities offer training and education programs for faculty and staff to promote cultural competency and understanding. Amherst College has a mandatory diversity training program for all incoming students, while the University of Virginia offers workshops and seminars on topics such as unconscious bias and microaggressions.

Admission Requirements: GPA, Test Scores, and Application Process

Both Amherst College and the University of Virginia have competitive admission processes, with specific requirements for GPA, test scores, and the application process.

Amherst College has a test-optional policy, meaning that applicants can choose not to submit their standardized test scores. The university also places a significant emphasis on a student’s personal qualities and achievements, in addition to academic accomplishments. The University of Virginia requires applicants to submit standardized test scores and meets full demonstrated financial need for all students.

It is important to note that both Amherst College and the University of Virginia also consider extracurricular activities and community involvement when evaluating applicants. Amherst College values students who have demonstrated leadership skills and a commitment to service, while the University of Virginia looks for students who have made a positive impact in their communities. Additionally, both schools encourage applicants to submit essays and letters of recommendation that showcase their unique qualities and experiences.

Financial Aid and Scholarships: Cost of Attendance and Funding Opportunities

Finances are a crucial consideration for many students when choosing a university. Both Amherst College and the University of Virginia offer financial aid and scholarship opportunities to their students.

Amherst College meets full demonstrated financial need for all admitted students, providing generous financial aid packages. The University of Virginia also meets full demonstrated financial need for all admitted students, providing grant assistance rather than loans.

It is important to note that in addition to need-based financial aid, both universities also offer merit-based scholarships. Amherst College offers a range of merit scholarships, including the National Merit Scholarship and the QuestBridge National College Match Scholarship. The University of Virginia offers several merit-based scholarships, including the Jefferson Scholarship, which covers the full cost of attendance for four years and includes a stipend for research and travel.

Amherst College

Career Services: Job Placement Rates and Networking Opportunities

Both Amherst College and the University of Virginia have dedicated career services departments to help students transition to the workforce after graduation.

Amherst College provides career counseling, networking opportunities, and internships to prepare students for successful careers. The University of Virginia has a robust career center with resources for students, including resume reviews, career fairs, and networking events.

Additionally, Amherst College offers a mentorship program where students can connect with alumni in their desired field for guidance and advice. The University of Virginia also has a strong alumni network, with many graduates returning to campus to speak with current students about their career paths.

Both schools have high job placement rates, with Amherst College reporting a 95% placement rate within six months of graduation and the University of Virginia reporting an 89% placement rate within one year of graduation. These impressive numbers are a testament to the effectiveness of their career services departments and the preparation they provide for their students.

Alumni Networks: Connections for Life After Graduation

Having a strong alumni network can provide invaluable connections and career opportunities for graduates. Both Amherst College and the University of Virginia have active alumni networks.

Amherst College has a tight-knit alumni network that offers connections, mentorship, and job opportunities for graduates. The University of Virginia has an extensive network of alumni who are active in their respective fields, providing numerous opportunities for students to connect with successful professionals.

It’s not just about job opportunities, though. Alumni networks can also provide a sense of community and support for graduates as they navigate life after college. Many alumni networks offer social events, volunteer opportunities, and other ways for graduates to stay connected with their alma mater and each other.

Campus Safety: Security Measures and Crime Statistics

Campus safety is an essential factor to consider when choosing a university. Both Amherst College and the University of Virginia have security measures in place to ensure the safety of their students.

Amherst College has campus security officers who patrol the campus regularly, and the school has a low crime rate. The University of Virginia also has campus police and emergency services, and the campus has a relatively low crime rate.

In addition to campus security officers and police, both universities have implemented safety measures such as emergency call boxes located throughout the campus, security cameras, and safety escorts for students who need to travel alone at night. These measures provide an added layer of protection for students and help to deter crime on campus.

It is important to note that while both universities have low crime rates, it is still essential for students to take precautions and be aware of their surroundings. This includes locking dorm rooms and cars, not walking alone at night, and reporting any suspicious activity to campus security or police.

Amherst College

Graduate Programs: Amherst vs the University of Virginia

If you’re considering continuing your education after you graduate, the availability of graduate programs is important to consider. Both Amherst College and the University of Virginia have graduate programs.

Amherst College offers master’s programs in subjects such as art history, mathematics, and history. The University of Virginia has a comprehensive range of graduate programs, including law, education, business, and engineering.

It’s important to note that graduate programs can vary in length and requirements. Some programs may require a thesis or dissertation, while others may have more coursework and exams. Additionally, some programs may offer funding opportunities such as assistantships or fellowships. It’s important to research and compare different programs to find the best fit for your academic and career goals.

Research Opportunities: Amherst vs the University of Virginia

For students interested in conducting research, the availability of lab facilities and faculty research opportunities are essential considerations. Both Amherst College and the University of Virginia provide research opportunities for students.

Amherst College provides numerous research opportunities in humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences, through its undergraduate research program and research facilities. The University of Virginia has a comprehensive research program, with numerous labs and research facilities available to students.

At Amherst College, students have the opportunity to work closely with faculty members on research projects. This allows students to gain valuable experience and develop strong relationships with their professors. Additionally, Amherst College offers funding for students to conduct research during the summer months, which can be a great way to gain hands-on experience in their field of interest.

The University of Virginia also offers research opportunities for students in a variety of fields, including engineering, medicine, and the humanities. Students can work in state-of-the-art labs and facilities, and have the opportunity to collaborate with faculty members on cutting-edge research projects. The university also offers a number of research grants and fellowships to support student research initiatives.

Campus Size and Environment: Amherst vs the University of Virginia

The size and environment of a campus can have a significant impact on your overall university experience. Both Amherst College and the University of Virginia have unique campus settings.

Amherst College has a small, intimate campus with around 1,800 students. The campus is located in a rural setting, providing a peaceful and picturesque environment. On the other hand, the University of Virginia is a larger university with over 24,000 students. The campus is located in a more urban setting with a lively atmosphere.

Student Success Rates: Amherst vs the University of Virginia

Graduation rates and post-graduate success stories are useful indicators when choosing a university. Both Amherst College and the University of Virginia have impressive graduation rates and job placement statistics.

Amherst College has a high graduation rate of over 90%, and its graduates go on to successful careers in a range of industries. The University of Virginia also has high graduation rates and includes alumni such as founding father Thomas Jefferson and many other successful individuals.

Amherst College

International Programs: Study Abroad Options and Global Partnerships

For students interested in experiencing global cultures and diverse academic opportunities, international programs are a vital consideration. Both Amherst College and the University of Virginia have excellent study abroad options and global partnerships.

Amherst College has numerous study abroad programs in countries such as Spain, France, China, and Japan, and also encourages students to participate in international experiential learning. The University of Virginia has an extensive study abroad program that includes opportunities to study in over 70 countries.

Extracurricular Opportunities: Volunteering, Internships, Clubs etc.

Extracurricular opportunities, such as volunteering, internships, and clubs, can enrich a student’s university experience and contribute to their personal and professional growth. Both Amherst College and the University of Virginia offer many extracurricular opportunities for their students.

Amherst College provides a range of extracurriculars, such as volunteer work, community service, internships, and academic clubs, to help students expand their horizons. The University of Virginia has many opportunities for extracurricular involvement, including performing arts groups, political organizations, and special interest clubs.

Faculty-to-Student Ratio: Amherst vs the University of Virginia

Amherst College prides itself on its small class sizes and low student-to-faculty ratio, allowing students to have a more personalized and individualized learning experience. At Amherst, the student-to-faculty ratio is 8:1. In contrast, the University of Virginia has a much larger student body, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 15:1.

Academic Resources: Amherst vs the University of Virginia

Both Amherst College and the University of Virginia provide excellent academic resources such as libraries and labs.

At Amherst College, Frost Library offers over 1.4 million printed resources, electronic databases, and other materials. Similarly, the University of Virginia has numerous libraries, including Alderman Library, which houses over 2.2 million volumes and a variety of other research materials. Both universities have technologically advanced labs and research facilities to support students and faculty.

Alumni Network: Amherst vs the University of Virginia

Amherst College and the University of Virginia have dedicated and supportive alumni networks that include successful individuals who can provide valuable professional contacts and job opportunities. The Amherst alumni network emphasizes mentorship, giving back to the school, and providing support for fellow alumni. The University of Virginia alumni network is extensive, with over 215,000 alumni around the world, and provides career and mentorship opportunities through its alumni association.

Comparing the campus dining options available at Amherst vs the University of Virginia.

Food options and availability are essential considerations when choosing a university. Both Amherst College and the University of Virginia provide a range of dining options for their students.

At Amherst College, dining options include traditional dining halls, cafes, and food trucks. The University of Virginia has over 30 restaurants and dining options on campus, including food halls, specialty dining, and cafes. Both universities offer vegetarian and vegan dining options and cater to various dietary restrictions.

A comparative analysis of tuition fees at both universities.

The cost of tuition is an important factor for many students when choosing a university. The cost varies depending on factors such as in-state or out-of-state residency, scholarships, and financial aid opportunities.

At Amherst College, the annual tuition fee is $62,300. The University of Virginia’s tuition varies depending on residency status, but for in-state students, it is approximately $18,878 per year, and for out-of-state students, it is approximately $52,656. However, both universities provide generous financial aid packages, scholarships, and grants to students to help offset the cost.

Comparison of campus traditions at both universities.

Both Amherst College and the University of Virginia have unique campus traditions that add to the overall university experience.

At Amherst, students celebrate the Valentine’s Day Ball, a formal dance held annually on Valentine’s Day. The University of Virginia celebrates its founder Thomas Jefferson’s birthday with a range of events, including the annual Lawn Lighting, where students illuminate the lawn surrounding the rotunda.

Amherst College

25 Unique programs offered at each university that stand out from the other university’s offerings.

Amherst College and the University of Virginia offer a wide range of academic programs, but each provides unique programs that set them apart.

At Amherst College, unique programs include the Center for Russian Culture, the Center for Humanistic Inquiry, and the Center for Community Engagement. The University of Virginia offers unique programs such as the Accelerated Bachelor’s/Master’s Program, which allows students to complete both levels of education in five years, the Global Sustainability Minor, and the Echols Scholar Program for undergraduates seeking a challenging and rewarding academic experience.


Choosing the right university requires careful consideration of several factors, including location, academic programs, campus culture, and financial aid opportunities. Both Amherst College and the University of Virginia provide excellent opportunities for students to grow academically and personally. By carefully considering the factors discussed in this article, you can determine which university is the right fit for you.

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