Carnegie Mellon vs Amherst: Which University is Right for You?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

View of a woman smiling at the camera.

Carnegie Mellon vs Amherst: Which University is Right for You?

If you’re considering colleges to attend, you may have come across Carnegie Mellon and Amherst as possible options. These two top-tier institutions offer different experiences when it comes to academics, campus life, and more. By comparing Carnegie Mellon vs Amherst, you can make an informed choice about which is the best fit for you.

Overview of Carnegie Mellon vs Amherst

Carnegie Mellon is a private research university located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with a focus on technology, business, and creative fields. It was founded in 1900 by Andrew Carnegie and has produced multiple Nobel laureates and Turing Award winners. Amherst, on the other hand, is a private liberal arts college located in Amherst, Massachusetts. It has been consistently ranked among the top liberal arts colleges in America and has a student population of approximately 1,800.

Despite their differences in size and focus, both Carnegie Mellon and Amherst share a commitment to academic excellence and innovation. Carnegie Mellon is known for its interdisciplinary approach to research and education, with programs that bridge the gap between technology and the arts.

Amherst, on the other hand, emphasizes a broad-based education in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences, with a focus on critical thinking and intellectual curiosity. Both institutions offer students a rigorous and challenging academic experience, as well as opportunities for research, internships, and extracurricular activities.

Location Comparison: Pittsburgh vs. Amherst

One of the most significant differences between the two universities is their locations. Carnegie Mellon is situated in the metropolitan city of Pittsburgh, which offers a range of cultural, entertainment, and internship opportunities for students. Comparatively, Amherst is in a rural setting, surrounded by scenic landscapes and small-town charm. The location of each campus means that students should consider which type of environment they feel most comfortable in.

Another factor to consider when comparing the locations of these two universities is the cost of living. Pittsburgh is a more affordable city to live in, with lower housing costs and a lower overall cost of living. On the other hand, Amherst is known for being an expensive area, with high housing costs and a higher cost of living. This is an important consideration for students who are on a tight budget.

Group of students walking in the campus.

Additionally, the location of each university can impact the types of extracurricular activities that are available to students. In Pittsburgh, students can take advantage of the city’s thriving arts and music scene, attend professional sports games, and explore the many museums and cultural institutions.

In Amherst, students can participate in outdoor activities like hiking and skiing, and enjoy the small-town community events that take place throughout the year. Ultimately, the location of each university offers unique opportunities for students to explore and engage with their surroundings.

Campus Life Comparison: Carnegie Mellon vs Amherst

In terms of campus life, each university offers a unique experience. Carnegie Mellon’s campus is situated in a bustling urban center, which provides students with opportunities to explore the city and participate in a wide range of extracurricular activities.

Amherst’s campus life, in contrast, is more focused on building community within the student body. Students participate in dorm activities, club events, and other on-campus activities, which creates a cohesive and inclusive environment.

Another factor to consider when comparing campus life in urban and rural settings is the availability of resources. Urban campuses often have access to a wider range of resources, such as research facilities, internship opportunities, and cultural events.

Rural campuses, on the other hand, may have more opportunities for outdoor activities and a closer connection to nature. It’s important to consider your personal preferences and goals when choosing a campus environment that will best support your academic and personal growth.

Admission Process Comparison: Carnegie Mellon vs Amherst

Both Carnegie Mellon and Amherst have selective admissions processes, but Amherst is considered highly selective, admitting only around 9% of applicants each year, while Carnegie Mellon admits around 14% of applicants. To get into either institution, students must have impressive academic records and extracurricular achievements. However, for those who do get in, the opportunities for growth and learning are immense.

It is important to note that the differences in admission rates between selective and highly selective institutions can have a significant impact on the application process. Highly selective schools often receive a much larger number of applications, making the competition even more intense.

Additionally, these schools may have more specific requirements or expectations for applicants, such as a higher standardized test score or a certain number of advanced courses. As a result, students applying to highly selective schools may need to put in even more effort and preparation to increase their chances of acceptance.

Academic Programs Comparison: Carnegie Mellon vs Amherst

Carnegie Mellon has a strong focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs, including computer science, robotics, and artificial intelligence. The university also has programs in business and public policy.

Amherst, in contrast, is dedicated to providing a liberal arts education and offers programs in humanities, social sciences, and fine arts. Students should carefully consider their academic interests when choosing between these two universities.

Students working with their teacher in the classroom.

It is important to note that while Carnegie Mellon is known for its STEM programs, the university also offers a variety of liberal arts courses. Similarly, while Amherst is dedicated to providing a liberal arts education, the college also offers STEM courses such as computer science and mathematics. Therefore, students who are interested in both STEM and liberal arts should not rule out either university and should instead carefully review the course offerings to determine which institution best aligns with their academic interests.

Faculty Comparison: Carnegie Mellon vs Amherst

Carnegie Mellon’s faculty is primarily composed of researchers and professors who are active in their respective fields. Students can expect to work alongside leading experts who are at the forefront of their disciplines.

Amherst, however, places a greater emphasis on teaching, with professors who are dedicated to educating their students and offering personalized mentorship. Students should consider which approach to learning is more appealing to them.

Research-based faculty members at Carnegie Mellon are often involved in cutting-edge research projects that have the potential to make significant contributions to their fields. This means that students have the opportunity to participate in research and gain valuable hands-on experience.

On the other hand, teaching-based faculty members at Amherst are known for their ability to create engaging and interactive classroom environments that foster critical thinking and intellectual curiosity.

It’s important to note that both approaches to teaching have their advantages and disadvantages. Research-based faculty members may be less available to students outside of class due to their research commitments, while teaching-based faculty members may have less time to devote to research. Ultimately, students should consider their learning styles and goals when deciding which type of faculty is the best fit for them.

Student Life Comparison: Carnegie Mellon vs Amherst

Both universities offer a range of extracurricular activities and clubs for students to get involved in. Carnegie Mellon has more than 300 student organizations, including sports teams, cultural groups, and academic clubs. Amherst has approximately 100 student organizations, including political groups, community service organizations, and sustainability initiatives. Regardless of where you attend, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to explore your interests and make connections with other students.

However, it’s worth noting that the size of the student organizations at each university can have an impact on the level of involvement and leadership opportunities available to students. With a larger number of organizations at Carnegie Mellon, students may have to compete more for leadership positions and may find it harder to make a significant impact within a particular group.

On the other hand, with fewer organizations at Amherst, students may have more opportunities to take on leadership roles and make a bigger impact within their chosen organization.

Sports and Athletics Comparison: Carnegie Mellon vs Amherst

Carnegie Mellon is a Division III school, meaning that the focus is on participation and recreational sports rather than competitive athletic programs. The university has a range of club sports, intramural teams, and fitness facilities for students to enjoy.

Amherst, on the other hand, is a Division I school and is known for its strong athletic programs, particularly in basketball and football. Depending on your interest in sports, this can be a significant factor in your college decision.

One advantage of attending a Division III school like Carnegie Mellon is that students have more time to focus on academics and extracurricular activities outside of sports. With less emphasis on athletics, students can explore other interests and pursue a wider range of opportunities. Additionally, Division III schools often have a more close-knit community, with athletes and non-athletes alike participating in sports and supporting each other.

View of different sports equipments.

On the other hand, attending a Division I school like Amherst can provide students with a unique college experience. Division I sports can create a strong sense of school spirit and pride, and attending games can be a fun and exciting way to connect with fellow students and alumni. Additionally, Division I schools often have more resources and funding for their athletic programs, which can lead to better facilities and more opportunities for athletes to compete at a high level.

Career Opportunities Comparison: Carnegie Mellon vs Amherst

Both Carnegie Mellon and Amherst provide excellent career opportunities for their graduates. Carnegie Mellon graduates are highly sought-after by top companies in their respective fields, with a job placement rate of over 90%. Amherst has a similarly impressive job placement rate and maintains a strong alumni network that provides job leads and mentorship opportunities for graduates.

Additionally, Carnegie Mellon offers a robust career services center that provides students with resources such as resume and cover letter reviews, interview preparation, and networking events. Amherst also has a career center that offers similar services, as well as career fairs and employer information sessions. Both universities prioritize preparing their students for successful careers after graduation.

Tuition and Financial Aid Comparison: Carnegie Mellon vs Amherst

As with any college decision, the cost is a significant factor to consider. Carnegie Mellon and Amherst both have high tuition costs, but they also offer generous financial aid programs to help students afford their education. Carnegie Mellon offers need-blind admissions and meets 100% of demonstrated needs for all admitted students. Similarly, Amherst’s financial aid program is need-based and meets 100% of demonstrated needs.

It’s important to note that the cost of attendance goes beyond just tuition. Students also need to consider the cost of housing, meals, textbooks, and other expenses. At Carnegie Mellon, the estimated cost of attendance for the 2021-2022 academic year is $78,032, while at Amherst it is $78,500. However, both schools offer various scholarships and grants to help offset these costs.

Additionally, students should also consider the potential return on investment in their education. Both Carnegie Mellon and Amherst have strong reputations and high job placement rates for their graduates. Carnegie Mellon’s School of Computer Science, for example, has a 98% job placement rate within six months of graduation. Amherst graduates also have a high job placement rate, with 95% of graduates employed or in graduate school within six months of graduation.

Student Body Diversity Comparison: Carnegie Mellon vs Amherst

Both universities have diverse student populations, with students from all 50 states and over 100 countries representing their communities. Carnegie Mellon has a higher percentage of international students, making up around 16% of the undergraduate population. In comparison, Amherst is more diverse in terms of ethnicity and gender, with students of color making up around 45% of the undergraduate population.

Group of students walking in the campus.

Furthermore, both universities have made efforts to increase diversity and inclusion on their campuses. Carnegie Mellon has implemented programs to support and recruit underrepresented minority students, while Amherst has established affinity groups and cultural centers to provide a sense of community and support for students of different backgrounds. Despite their different approaches, both universities are committed to creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for all students.

Campus Resources Comparison: Carnegie Mellon vs Amherst

Both universities have top-notch facilities and resources for their students. Carnegie Mellon has state-of-the-art laboratories and research facilities, including the Robotics Institute and the Tepper School of Business.

Amherst has extensive library collections, including rare manuscripts and archives, and offers students access to sophisticated scientific and technological equipment. Depending on your academic interests, one university may have more resources that are relevant to you.

Additionally, both universities offer a variety of facilities for students to engage in extracurricular activities. Carnegie Mellon has a large fitness center, multiple sports fields, and a student center with various clubs and organizations.

Amherst has a performing arts center, an art museum, and a student-run radio station. These facilities provide students with opportunities to explore their interests outside of the classroom and connect with like-minded individuals.

Alumni Outcomes Comparison: Carnegie Mellon vs Amherst

Both universities have impressive alumni outcomes, with graduates going on to secure top jobs and attend prestigious graduate programs. Carnegie Mellon has a high rate of acceptance to top graduate schools and is known for producing successful entrepreneurs and innovators. Amherst’s graduates go on to work in a range of fields, including academia, government, and the arts. Graduates of both institutions have opportunities to make an impact in their respective fields.

Furthermore, Carnegie Mellon’s alumni network is known for its strong connections in the tech industry, with many graduates going on to work for major companies such as Google, Apple, and Microsoft. This network provides valuable resources and opportunities for current students and recent graduates looking to break into the tech industry.

On the other hand, Amherst’s alumni network is known for its strong connections in the non-profit sector, with many graduates going on to work for organizations such as the United Nations, World Health Organization, and Amnesty International. This network provides valuable resources and opportunities for current students and recent graduates looking to make a difference in the world through non-profit work.

Conclusion: Which University is the Best Fit for You?

Choosing between Carnegie Mellon and Amherst ultimately depends on your individual preferences and academic goals. Carnegie Mellon is an excellent choice for students interested in STEM fields and who thrive in an urban environment, while Amherst is ideal for those who seek a liberal arts education and a tight-knit community-focused campus. Consider all of the factors discussed in this article to make an informed decision, and remember that both universities offer opportunities for academic and personal growth.

Group of students smiling at the camera.

It is also important to consider the location of each university. Carnegie Mellon is located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which offers a vibrant city life with numerous cultural and entertainment options. Amherst, on the other hand, is located in a small town in western Massachusetts, providing a more peaceful and rural environment. This may be a deciding factor for some students who have a preference for a certain type of lifestyle.

Additionally, it is worth noting that both universities have strong alumni networks and career services. Carnegie Mellon has a reputation for producing successful graduates in the tech industry, while Amherst has a strong track record of producing graduates who go on to pursue careers in law, medicine, and academia. Consider your career goals and how each university can help you achieve them.

If you’re set on getting into a world-class college but aren’t sure how to make it happen, we can help! AdmissionSight is a leading college entrance expert with over a decade of experience helping students just like you get into the schools of their dreams.

At AdmissionSight, we focus on offering a wide range of services, all aimed at helping students perfect their applications to catch the attention of admissions officers. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation to learn more about what we offer.

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