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Brandeis vs Amherst: Which College Is Right for You?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Brandeis University Signage

Brandeis vs Amherst: Which College Is Right for You?

When it comes to choosing the right college that fits you best, there are many factors to consider. Prospective students often weigh academic programs, location, campus environment, student life, cost, and alumni networking opportunities before making a decision. In this article, we will compare two prestigious institutions, Brandeis University vs Amherst College, to help you determine which college is a better fit for you.

Location and Campus Environment of Brandeis and Amherst

Located in the suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts, Brandeis University is known for its picturesque campus and tight-knit community. The campus sits on 235-acres and is characterized by brick buildings with modern facilities and a sprawling athletic complex. In contrast, Amherst College is situated in the rural town of Amherst, Massachusetts. The campus is set among rolling hills with stunning architectural styles, including Georgian and Victorian-era buildings.

Both Brandeis and Amherst are located in the northeastern region of the United States, which provides ample opportunities for cultural experiences, internships, and networking. Brandeis is located just nine miles from downtown Boston, offering students access to internships, research opportunities, and cultural events. Amherst is a mere 90 miles from Boston, making it accessible for weekend getaways and cultural indulgences.

Despite their differences in location and campus environment, both Brandeis and Amherst offer a wide range of academic programs and extracurricular activities. Brandeis is known for its strong programs in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities, while Amherst is renowned for its liberal arts curriculum and emphasis on critical thinking and writing. Both universities offer a variety of clubs, organizations, and sports teams, providing students with opportunities to explore their interests and develop leadership skills.

Amherst campus from afar

Brandeis vs Amherst: Academic Programs

Brandeis University and Amherst College are highly regarded for their academic programs. Brandeis offers over 50 different majors and minors across four academic divisions: Creative Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences, and Science. Amherst College also offers an array of diverse programs of study with 38 majors and more than 850 courses to choose from across the arts, humanities, and sciences.

One major difference between the two institutions is that Amherst is an exclusively undergraduate institution, while Brandeis offers graduate degrees. Graduates can choose from a wide range of fields, including business, biomedical sciences, fine arts, and social policy, among others. Amherst, on the other hand, offers a host of post-graduation resources to help students transition into their careers, including an extensive alumni network, career counseling, and internships.

Another notable difference between Brandeis and Amherst is their approach to research. Brandeis is a research-focused institution, with a strong emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation. The university is home to several research centers and institutes, including the Rosenstiel Basic Medical Sciences Research Center and the Heller School for Social Policy and Management. Amherst, on the other hand, places a greater emphasis on undergraduate research opportunities, with many students participating in independent research projects and presenting their findings at academic conferences.

Admissions Process at Brandeis and Amherst

The admissions process at both Brandeis and Amherst is highly competitive, with selectivity rates below 25 percent. Brandeis uses a holistic admissions process, considering academic performance, extracurricular involvement, and personal characteristics. Similarly, Amherst considers a wide variety of application components, including academic performance, extracurricular activities, and personal qualities. The application process at both institutions requires standardized tests, letters of recommendation, and essays.

However, there are some differences in the admissions process between Brandeis and Amherst. Brandeis offers an optional interview for applicants, which can provide additional insight into their personal qualities and fit for the university. On the other hand, Amherst does not offer interviews and instead places a greater emphasis on the applicant’s essays and recommendations. Additionally, Amherst has a test-optional policy, allowing applicants to choose whether or not to submit standardized test scores. Brandeis, however, still requires standardized test scores as part of the application process.

Brandeis vs Amherst: Costs of Attendance

The cost of attending college can be one of the most significant factors in making a decision. Both Brandeis and Amherst are expensive schools with tuition exceeding $50,000 per year. However, both schools offer generous financial aid and scholarship options to qualified students. At Brandeis, 60 percent of students receive some form of financial aid, with an average award of $47,000 per year. Amherst College meets 100 percent of a student’s demonstrated financial need and offers a no-loan initiative for low-income students.

It is important to note that the costs of attendance go beyond just tuition and fees. Students should also consider the cost of living on or off campus, textbooks, transportation, and other personal expenses. Both Brandeis and Amherst offer resources and support to help students manage these additional costs. Brandeis provides a variety of on-campus employment opportunities, while Amherst offers a student employment program that allows students to earn money while gaining valuable work experience.

Brandeis vs Amherst: Campus Life

At both Brandeis and Amherst, there is a significant emphasis on extracurricular activities beyond academics. Brandeis offers more than 270 clubs and organizations, including intramural sports, club sports, and student government. Similarly, Amherst offers over 100 student clubs and organizations, including a variety of sports teams, music groups, and cultural clubs.

For sports enthusiasts, Brandeis is a Division III school, offering 19 varsity sports teams. Amherst College is also a Division III school and competes in a total of 27 sports with a focus on individual sports like cross country and swimming.

Both Brandeis and Amherst also offer a wide range of opportunities for students to get involved in community service and volunteer work. Brandeis has a dedicated community service center that connects students with local organizations and provides resources for service projects. Amherst has a similar center that offers volunteer opportunities both on and off campus, including tutoring programs and environmental initiatives. These programs not only allow students to give back to their communities, but also provide valuable experiences and skills that can be applied to future careers.

Housing Options Available at Brandeis and Amherst

Both Brandeis and Amherst offer a variety of housing options for students, including residence halls and apartment-style living. At Brandeis, the vast majority of students live on campus, with a few exceptions for upperclassmen who may choose to live off-campus. Similarly, at Amherst, the vast majority of students live on campus, with a few exceptions for seniors who may choose to live off-campus.

Additionally, both universities offer themed housing options for students who share common interests or identities. Brandeis has themed housing options such as the Global Living Experience, where students can live with others who are interested in international cultures and languages, and the Gender and Sexuality Center, which provides a safe and supportive living environment for LGBTQ+ students. Amherst offers similar themed housing options, including the Women’s and Gender Center and the Queer Resource Center. These themed housing options provide students with a unique opportunity to live with others who share their passions and identities, creating a strong sense of community and belonging on campus.

Student Diversity: Comparing the Demographics of Brandeis and Amherst

Both Brandeis and Amherst pride themselves on their diverse student populations. Brandeis has a higher percentage of students of color, with 51 percent of the undergraduate population identifying as a person of color. In contrast, Amherst has a slightly lower percentage, with 46 percent of students identifying as a person of color.

However, when it comes to international students, Amherst has a higher percentage with 11 percent of the undergraduate population being international students, while Brandeis has only 8 percent. This could be due to Amherst’s larger endowment, which allows them to offer more financial aid to international students.

Another aspect of diversity to consider is socioeconomic status. Brandeis has a higher percentage of students receiving financial aid, with 60 percent of the undergraduate population receiving some form of aid. Amherst, on the other hand, has a lower percentage with 55 percent of the undergraduate population receiving aid. This could be due to Amherst’s need-blind admissions policy, which means they do not consider a student’s ability to pay when making admissions decisions.

Alumni Network: Opportunities for Career Development After Graduation

Both institutions boast extensive alumni networks, and students benefit from a broad range of job and internship opportunities. Brandeis graduates are employed in various career fields, including consulting, healthcare, law, and technology. Similarly, Amherst graduates go on to careers in finance, healthcare, law, non-profit organizations, and education.

Additionally, both Brandeis and Amherst offer resources and support for alumni seeking career development opportunities. This includes job search assistance, networking events, and access to industry-specific resources. Alumni can also take advantage of mentorship programs, where they can connect with experienced professionals in their desired field. These resources and support systems help ensure that graduates from both institutions have the tools and connections they need to succeed in their chosen careers.

Faculty Profiles: Comparing the Teaching Styles of Professors at Brandeis and Amherst

Both Brandeis and Amherst have renowned faculties who are committed to teaching, research, and mentorship. At Brandeis, 85 percent of faculty members hold a Ph.D., and the student-to-faculty ratio is 10:1. Similarly, at Amherst, 91 percent of faculty members hold a Ph.D., and the student-to-faculty ratio is 7:1.

Despite the similarities in faculty credentials and student-to-faculty ratios, there are some differences in teaching styles between the two institutions. Brandeis professors tend to use more interactive teaching methods, such as group discussions and case studies, while Amherst professors often rely on traditional lecture-style teaching. However, both institutions prioritize small class sizes and individualized attention for students, ensuring that students receive a high-quality education regardless of teaching style.

Group of students walking in the stairs.

Research Opportunities Available at Brandeis and Amherst

Both institutions are renowned for their research programs and offer students opportunities to engage in cutting-edge research in various fields. At Brandeis, students participate in research in fields such as biotechnology, neuroscience, and environmental studies. Similarly, Amherst students have the opportunity to engage in research and internships across many fields of study, including public policy, global health, and environmental sustainability.

Additionally, both Brandeis and Amherst have established partnerships with local research institutions, providing students with even more opportunities to engage in research. Brandeis has partnerships with institutions such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, while Amherst has partnerships with institutions such as the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the Mount Holyoke College.

Campus Safety: Policies, Procedures, and Emergency Response Plans

Both institutions take campus safety seriously. Brandeis has a Campus Safety Advisory Council that oversees and advises all safety policies and procedures. Similarly, Amherst has its own campus police department and an emergency response team in case of any unforeseen crisis.

Brandeis has implemented a number of safety measures to ensure the well-being of its students, faculty, and staff. For instance, the university has installed security cameras in key locations across the campus, and has also implemented a campus-wide emergency notification system that can quickly alert the community in case of any emergency.

Amherst has also taken steps to enhance campus safety. The college has a comprehensive sexual assault prevention program that includes education, training, and support services for survivors. Additionally, the college has established a bias incident response team to address any incidents of hate or bias on campus.

Brandeis vs Amherst: Campus Resources

Both institutions offer students access to top-quality resources to support their academic and personal development. Brandeis has a modern and extensive library system, high-speed Wi-Fi networks, and various computer centers that offer access to software, hardware, and other digital resources. Similarly, Amherst has an extensive library system and robust technology support to help students navigate any technological challenges.

In addition to the libraries and technology centers, both Brandeis and Amherst offer comprehensive health services to their students. Brandeis has a health center that provides medical care, counseling services, and wellness programs to support students’ physical and mental health. Amherst also has a health center that offers medical care, mental health services, and health education programs to promote healthy living.

Furthermore, both institutions have a variety of extracurricular activities and clubs that students can participate in to enhance their college experience. Brandeis has over 250 student-run clubs and organizations, ranging from cultural groups to academic clubs to sports teams. Amherst also has a diverse range of student organizations, including clubs focused on community service, arts and culture, and social justice issues.

Brandeis vs Amherst: Graduate School Placement Success Rates

Graduate school placement rates are crucial factors that students consider when choosing a college. Both Brandeis and Amherst have a high percentage of students who go on to graduate or professional schools. According to Brandeis’s latest statistics, 69 percent of graduates go on to graduate or professional schools within five years of graduation. Similarly, at Amherst, 89 percent of graduates go on to graduate or professional schools.

It is worth noting that while Amherst has a higher percentage of graduates who go on to graduate or professional schools, Brandeis has a wider range of graduate programs available to its students. Brandeis offers over 40 graduate programs in fields such as business, education, and the arts, while Amherst primarily focuses on liberal arts and sciences. This means that Brandeis students have a greater variety of options when it comes to pursuing advanced degrees in their desired fields.

Group of students walking in the campus.

Brandeis vs Amherst: Social Responsibility Initiatives

Both institutions have social responsibility as a central tenet of their missions. Brandeis has a strong commitment to social justice, equity, and inclusion, and offers various programs that help students engage in community organizing, activism, and advocacy. Similarly, Amherst College has a reputation for being one of the most diverse and inclusive liberal arts colleges in the United States and offers various initiatives aimed at promoting civic engagement and service to the community.

One of the social responsibility initiatives at Brandeis is the Justice Brandeis Semester, which allows students to spend a semester working with a community organization on a social justice issue. Amherst College also offers a similar program called the Community Engagement and Service-Learning Program, which provides students with opportunities to engage in service projects and community-based research.

Both institutions also prioritize sustainability and environmental responsibility. Brandeis has a Sustainability Committee that works to reduce the university’s carbon footprint and promote sustainable practices on campus. Amherst College has a Climate Action Plan that outlines the college’s goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing sustainability efforts.

Brandeis vs Amherst: Study Abroad Programs Available

At both institutions, opportunities for studying abroad are available to students. Brandeis offers over 200 study abroad programs in more than 60 locations worldwide. Similarly, Amherst offers various study-abroad programs in more than 50 countries and encourages students to engage in cross-cultural experiences.

Overall, both Brandeis and Amherst are excellent institutions with many similarities and some differences. Ultimately, the decision of which college to attend will depend on your individual interests, priorities, and goals. By comparing the various factors discussed in this article, you will be able to make an informed decision that is right for you.

In addition to the study abroad programs, Brandeis and Amherst also offer various opportunities for students to engage in research and internships. Brandeis has a strong focus on undergraduate research, with opportunities to work with faculty members on projects in various fields. Amherst also offers research opportunities, as well as internships in a variety of industries and organizations.

Furthermore, both institutions have a strong commitment to community service and social justice. Brandeis has a Center for Social Justice that offers various programs and initiatives for students to get involved in social justice issues. Amherst has a Community Engagement Office that connects students with local organizations and provides opportunities for community service.

Diverse Students wearing Cap and Gown Holding Photo Frame Studio Portrait

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