Duke vs Amherst: A Comprehensive Look

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

a male college student looking at the camera

Duke vs Amherst: A Comprehensive Look

When it comes to choosing a university, there are many factors to consider. Two highly esteemed institutions in the United States are Duke University and Amherst College. In this article, we will be taking a deep dive into the similarities and differences and compare Duke vs Amherst regarding their location, admissions requirements, academic programs, student life, housing options, faculty and staff comparisons, and more. 

Location and Campus Overview: Duke vs Amherst

Duke University is located in Durham, North Carolina, while Amherst College is located in the small town of Amherst, Massachusetts. Duke University is situated on a 9,000-acre campus and has a slightly larger population than Amherst College. Both campuses are beautiful and offer a wide range of facilities, including libraries, gyms, cafes, and sports fields. However, Duke University has more modern buildings and state-of-the-art facilities compared to Amherst College.

In addition to their physical differences, Duke and Amherst also have distinct academic programs. Duke University is known for its strong programs in business, engineering, and medicine, while Amherst College is renowned for its liberal arts curriculum. Amherst College has a smaller student-to-faculty ratio, which allows for more personalized attention and mentorship opportunities for students.

Another notable difference between the two institutions is their athletic programs. Duke University is a Division I school and has a highly competitive sports program, particularly in basketball and football. Amherst College, on the other hand, is a Division III school and places a greater emphasis on intramural and club sports, as well as individual fitness and wellness activities.

Admissions Requirements: How Do Duke vs Amherst Compare?

Admission requirements for Duke and Amherst are both highly competitive and selective. Duke University requires SAT or ACT scores, high school transcripts, and essays. Amherst College, on the other hand, also requires SAT or ACT scores, teacher recommendations, and essays. Additionally, Amherst utilizes a need-blind admission policy while Duke continues to be need-sensitive, meaning that Duke will take your ability to pay into consideration when making admission decisions.

a student writing in her notes on a table with a white laptop

Despite the similarities in admission requirements, there are some notable differences between Duke and Amherst. For example, Duke offers early decision and early action options for applicants, while Amherst only offers early decisions. This means that Duke applicants have more flexibility in their application timeline and can potentially receive an admission decision earlier than Amherst applicants.

Another difference is the size of the two institutions. Duke has a much larger undergraduate population than Amherst, with over 6,000 students compared to Amherst’s approximately 1,800 students. This may impact the admissions process, as Duke has more resources to review and evaluate a larger pool of applicants.

Academic Programs: The Differences Between Duke vs Amherst

Duke University offers a broader range of academic programs, including 10 undergraduate and graduate schools, with over 80 majors and 60 minors available- from Accounting to Women’s Studies. Amherst College, on the other hand, boasts a smaller size and a more focused curriculum, being a liberal arts college with just over 40 majors across 17 departments. Both Duke and Amherst have highly respected academic programs, and the choice between larger, more diverse academic offerings or a snug, more focused curriculum depends entirely on one’s academic aspirations and preferences.

One of the unique aspects of Duke’s academic programs is its interdisciplinary approach. Many of the majors and minors offered at Duke allow students to combine different fields of study, such as the Program II major which allows students to design their interdisciplinary major. Amherst, on the other hand, has a strong emphasis on critical thinking and writing skills, with all students required to take a writing-intensive course in their first year.

Another difference between Duke and Amherst is the availability of research opportunities. Duke’s larger size and extensive resources allow for more research opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students. Amherst, however, offers a more intimate research experience, with faculty members often working closely with students on research projects.

Student Life: Duke vs Amherst Experiences

Both universities offer diverse and engaging student life experiences. Duke students can participate in various clubs, organizations, and social events, including Duke’s basketball program, which is an integral part of campus culture. Amherst students can participate in similar clubs, organizations, and social events, including a spectacular athletics program, with excellent sports facilities and numerous college events throughout the year. However, the social life at Amherst is more intimate, due largely to its small size, while Duke offers a more diverse range of opportunities to seek social connections, from Greek life to academic clubs.

Additionally, Duke and Amherst both offer unique opportunities for students to engage in community service and outreach programs. Duke’s DukeEngage program provides students with the chance to participate in immersive service projects both domestically and internationally, while Amherst’s Center for Community Engagement offers a variety of service opportunities in the local community. Both universities prioritize the importance of giving back and making a positive impact on the world, providing students with valuable experiences and skills that extend beyond the classroom.

Housing Options for Students at Duke and Amherst

Both Duke and Amherst provide comfortable dormitory accommodations for students. Duke has a priority for year-long on-campus housing, while Amherst offers multiple housing options, including singles, doubles, and suites, with first-year students generally living in doubles. While Duke provides an on-campus hotel that students can utilize for guests, Amherst offers off-campus housing options aimed at students in their senior year.

Two students keeping their dorm room clean.

Additionally, both universities offer housing options for students who prefer to live off-campus. Duke has a database of off-campus housing options that students can access, while Amherst has a program that assists students in finding off-campus housing. It is important to note that living off-campus may require additional responsibilities, such as paying rent and utilities, and transportation to and from campus.

Faculty and Staff Comparison: What Sets Duke and Amherst Apart?

Both universities have a student-centric approach in their approach, with top-notch faculties and experienced staff. However, the tenure track is different between Duke and Amherst. Duke University is a research university and has almost all the faculty on the tenure track. In contrast, Amherst College has a high number of tenure-line faculty, emphasizing undergraduate-focused research and teaching.

Another significant difference between Duke and Amherst is the size of their faculties. Duke University has a larger faculty with over 3,000 full-time and part-time faculty members, while Amherst College has a smaller faculty with around 200 full-time and part-time faculty members. This difference in size affects the student-to-faculty ratio, with Duke having a ratio of 6:1 and Amherst having a ratio of 7:1. Despite the difference in size, both universities maintain a high level of academic excellence and provide their students with a rigorous education.

Athletics Programs: A Look at the Sports Teams of Duke and Amherst

Both Duke and Amherst offer exceptional athletic programs and facilities. Duke University, with its Division I program, offers Athletics Scholarships, which Amherst College, an NCAA Division III university, does not. From men’s basketball games at Duke to squash or tennis games at Amherst, both universities offer incredible options for the sports enthusiast. As Amherst is a Division III school, there is no athletic scholarship, so focus is placed primarily on academics.

Despite the lack of athletic scholarships at Amherst, the college has a strong tradition of athletic excellence. Amherst has won more NCAA Division III championships than any other school in the country. The college’s sports teams, known as the Amherst Mammoths, compete in a variety of sports including football, soccer, lacrosse, and field hockey. The college also has a strong commitment to fitness and wellness, offering a variety of recreational sports and fitness classes for students and staff.

Alumni Networks: How Do Duke and Amherst Support Their Graduates?

Both universities have strong alumni networks with dedicated alumni associations worldwide. Duke boasts of a vast alumni network with more than 180,000 living alumni. Alternatively, Amherst has a smaller alumni network, owing to its size, but graduates of Amherst have access to dedicated alumni advisory support and several after-graduation career offices.

Additionally, both Duke and Amherst offer various opportunities for alumni to stay connected with their alma mater. Duke has a program called DukeEngage, which allows alumni to participate in service projects around the world. Amherst, on the other hand, has a program called Alumni-in-Residence, which invites alumni to return to campus and share their experiences with current students. These programs not only provide opportunities for alumni to give back but also allow them to stay connected with the university and its community.

Financial Aid Packages: Comparing the Cost of Attendance at Duke vs Amherst

Both institutions run comprehensive financial aid programs, including need-based grants and scholarships. Amherst College is known for its generous financial aid programs, making it accessible to a wider range of students despite the high cost of tuition and fees. Duke University meets 100% of demonstrated financial needs. Duke is generally considered more expensive than Amherst, but students from both schools graduate with around the same per capita debt, amid the generous financial aid plans offered.

It is important to note that the financial aid packages offered by Duke and Amherst differ in terms of the types of aid available. While both schools offer need-based grants and scholarships, Duke also offers merit-based scholarships to a select group of students. Additionally, Amherst has a no-loan policy, meaning that students are not required to take out loans to cover their education costs. This can be a significant advantage for students who may struggle with loan repayment after graduation. Overall, it is important for students to carefully consider the types of financial aid available at each institution when making their college decision.

Prestige, Rankings, and Reputation: Which University Comes Out on Top?

Both Duke University and Amherst College have a strong reputation in the academic community and beyond, but Duke is generally considered the more prestigious of the two due to its higher-profile affiliations and larger-scale research output. Duke has regularly ranked in the top 10 national universities, while Amherst often features highly among liberal arts colleges.

However, it is important to note that rankings and prestige are not the only factors to consider when choosing a university. Amherst College, for example, has a smaller student body and a more intimate learning environment, which may be preferable for some students. Additionally, Amherst has a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion, with a student body that is more racially and socioeconomically diverse than many other elite colleges.

Another factor to consider is the location of the university. Duke is located in Durham, North Carolina, which offers a vibrant college town atmosphere and easy access to nearby cities like Raleigh and Chapel Hill. Amherst, on the other hand, is located in a small town in western Massachusetts, which may be more appealing to students who prefer a quieter, more rural setting.

Job Placement Rates for Duke vs Amherst Graduates

Duke University and Amherst College manage excellent job placement rates for their graduates. Graduates of Duke earn an average starting salary of $73,000, compared to Amherst’s $59,300 salaries. It is worth noting that these averages cover different sectors. Duke typically places its graduates in business and finance, med & law whereas Amherst tends to see its graduates excel in academia, government, and sciences.

However, it is important to consider the size of the institutions when comparing job placement rates. Duke has a much larger student body and alumni network, which may contribute to its higher job placement rates. Amherst, on the other hand, has a smaller student body and a more intimate campus community, which may lead to more personalized career guidance and networking opportunities for its graduates. Ultimately, the choice between Duke and Amherst should be based on individual career goals and preferences.

Diversity and Inclusion Efforts at Duke vs Amherst

Both universities are working extensively to promote a diverse and inclusive environment. Duke has the Office for Institutional Equity, responsible for ensuring equity throughout the Duke community, while Amherst has the Center for Diversity and Student Leadership, offering a range of initiatives aimed at promoting cultural fluency and equipping students from minorities with the skills and resources needed for academic and professional opportunities.

multicultural students in class

Additionally, Duke has implemented a Bias and Hate Incident Reporting System, which allows students, faculty, and staff to report any incidents of bias or hate they experience or witness on campus. This system helps Duke to identify and address any issues related to discrimination or prejudice, and to create a safer and more inclusive environment for all members of the community.

Study Abroad Opportunities for Students at Duke and Amherst

Both Duke and Amherst Colleges offer various study-abroad opportunities as a way for students to broaden their horizons and global perspectives. Duke has over 100 study abroad program options across a wide range of countries, including its campus in China. Amherst College has numerous study-abroad options as well, including options in India and Jordan.

Furthermore, Duke and Amherst offer financial aid and scholarships to students who wish to study abroad. Duke’s Global Education Office provides need-based scholarships and grants to students who qualify, and Amherst offers a range of funding options, including scholarships and grants, to help students cover the costs of studying abroad.

In addition to traditional study abroad programs, both Duke and Amherst offer unique opportunities for students to engage in service learning and community-based projects abroad. Duke’s DukeEngage program allows students to work on projects in various countries, such as building schools in Ghana or working with refugees in Greece. Amherst’s Global Learning Opportunities through Balanced Education (GLOBE) program offers students the chance to participate in community-based projects in countries like Ecuador and South Africa.

Research Opportunities & Facilities Comparison between Duke & Amherst

Being a research university, Duke University has a vast number of research opportunities for its students. Research facilities include a supercomputing center and an aerodynamics lab, to name a few. Amherst College offers research opportunities to its undergraduates as well, but at a smaller scale, and with a clear emphasis on undergraduate-focused research and teaching. The college, however, has highly equipped research centers such as the Center for Humanistic Inquiry and the Center for Community Engagement, which provide resources and support for student research and community innovation projects.

One of the unique research opportunities at Duke University is the Duke Marine Lab, which is located in Beaufort, North Carolina. This lab provides students with hands-on experience in marine biology and oceanography, as well as access to state-of-the-art research facilities. Amherst College, on the other hand, offers a variety of research opportunities in the humanities and social sciences, with a focus on interdisciplinary research. The college’s Digital Humanities Center provides students with access to cutting-edge technology and resources for research in fields such as history, literature, and philosophy.

In addition to research opportunities, both Duke University and Amherst College offer a range of facilities and resources to support student learning and development. Duke University has a comprehensive career center that provides students with career counseling, job search assistance, and networking opportunities. Amherst College has a similar career center, as well as a robust internship program that connects students with opportunities in a variety of fields. Both universities also offer extensive libraries, athletic facilities, and student organizations to help students get involved and make the most of their college experience.

There you have it- a comprehensive guide and comparison between Duke University and Amherst College. Both universities are different in their ways, but they both provide remarkable educational programs and experiences for students.


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