Is UMass Amherst a Good School?

The University of Massachusetts – Amherst or UMass Amherst is a member of a university system and a prestigious consortium of institutions for higher education, too. Because of this, you think that it must be a good school worthy of a nice spot on your college list.

UMass Amherst is a good school in that it’s a high-ranking public land-grant research university in the state of Massachusetts. It is the flagship school of the University of Massachusetts system. So, in other words, UMass Amherst is a prominent institution that provides top-level higher education.

Don’t shortlist the University of Massachusetts – Amherst without reading the entirety of this article first.

Below, we will discuss an assortment of things you need to know about this school, from its rankings, selectivity level, admissions requirements, cost of attendance to how it fares against other colleges and universities.

After checking out this article, you will have a better idea of whether or not UMass Amherst is a good school for you.

UMass Amherst

What is UMass Amherst Known For?

The University of Massachusetts – Amherst is known for being one of the members of the University of Massachusetts system, which consists of five campuses (the other four being Boston, Dartmouth, Lowell and Worcester). UMass Amherst is also a part of what’s known as the Five College Consortium.

UMass Amherst was nicknamed “ZooMass” for a long time in the past because of excessive partying.

With almost 250 registered student organizations, ranging from national competitions, cultural showcases to local and global service projects, running out of extracurricular activities to partake in should be the least of your worries while trying to complete your program on a 1,463-acre campus that houses over 170 buildings.

The University of Massachusetts system consists of five different campuses, and UMass Amherst is the flagship school. It is a member of the Five College Consortium, too.

Also known as the Five Colleges, the group, which is considered one of the oldest and most highly regarded consortiums in the history of higher education in the US, consists of four liberal arts colleges and one major university. The different members are all within 10 miles of one another. They are:

Some of the best programs UMass Amherst is known to offer include Agricultural Sciences, Environmental Science, Public Health, Architecture, Accounting, Finance, Psychology, Kinesiology, Physical Therapy, Economics, Math, Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Nursing and Computer Science.

Related Article: What is the University of Massachusetts – Amherst Known For?

UMass Amherst Rankings

The University of Massachusetts – Amherst is #68 in National Universities and #26 in Top Public Universities by US News. On the other hand, it is #34 in Top Public Colleges in America and #1 in Top Party Schools in Massachusetts by Niche. UMass Amherst is #246 in QS World University Rankings.

If you want to fill your college list with nothing but some of the most prestigious US colleges and universities, checking out college ranking sites can help make the process less time- and energy-consuming.

Here are some other UMass Amherst rankings by US News:

  • #37 in Best Colleges for Veterans
  • #71 in Best Undergraduate Teaching
  • #114 in Best Value Schools
  • #169 in Top Performers on Social Mobility

Let’s now take a look at a few other UMass Amherst rankings by Niche:

  • #1 in Best Greek Life Colleges in Massachusetts
  • #40 in Top Party Schools in America
  • #62 in Most Liberal Colleges in America
  • #132 in Best College Campuses in America

And now, the following are some UMass Amherst rankings by Forbes:

  • #141 in Top Colleges
  • #59 in The Northeast
  • #64 in Public Colleges
  • #100 in Research Universities

Acceptance Rate at UMass Amherst

The acceptance rate at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst is 63.8%. With a little more than half of all applicants gaining admission into it, the institution has a moderate selectivity level. In the US, there are many different public colleges and universities with low acceptance rates.

Refrain from assuming that just because UMass Amherst is a public school means that everyone who applies to it gets accepted. While it has a relatively high acceptance rate, not every applicant receives an acceptance letter.

Check out the top 10 public US colleges and universities that are more selective than UMass Amherst:

University of California – Los Angeles14%
University of California – Berkeley15%
University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill22%
Georgia Institute of Technology23%
University of Michigan – Ann Arbor23%
University of Virginia26%
University of California – Irvine29%
University of California – San Diego30%
University of California – Santa Barbara32%
San Diego State University34%

UMass Amherst Early Decision Options

Early Decision is a decision plan that the University of Massachusetts – Amherst does not offer. However, it offers a similar plan in the form of Early Action, which is recommended for applicants whose top-choice school is UMass Amherst. Unlike Early Decision, Early Action is not binding.

If you can complete your application faster than everybody else and UMass Amherst is on the top of your college list, you may apply without waiting for the early part of January to arrive.

That’s because the University of Massachusetts – Amherst offers Early Action.

Related Article: Early Decision Strategy for Getting Admitted to Best College

According to the school itself, its Early Action acceptance rate is higher because applicants tend to have a strong academic record. However, when you check out the school’s Common Data Set, you will learn that demonstrated interest is an important non-academic admissions factor — applying Early Action is one form of demonstrated interest.

Make sure that you won’t miss any deadlines when applying to UMass Amherst by checking out the following:

Early Action5-NovMid-January
Regular Decision15-JanEarly March
Application Deadlines and Notifications

What GPA Do You Need to Get Into UMass Amherst?

Like the majority of colleges and universities, the University of Massachusetts – Amherst considers the GPA as a very important academic admissions factor. The average GPA of first-year students accepted into the school is 3.75. Being an A- student at least is important for UMass Amherst applicants.

When adding match and safety schools to your college list, it’s a must to check that your academic profile is pretty much the same academic profiles of students admitted into the college or university.

To give you a much better idea of what kind of high school student you will have to be in order to have increased chances of getting an acceptance letter from UMass Amherst, check out this table:

A+97% to 100%4Excellent
A93% to 96%4Excellent
A-90% to 92%3.7Excellent

But just because your GPA is lower doesn’t mean that you should forget about applying to the University of Massachusetts – Amherst.

It’s important to note that the public school has a holistic admissions policy. So, in other words, its admissions officers consider many things other than just the GPA when evaluating applicants.

Related Article: Getting Into College With High GPA But Low SAT/ACT

Is UMass Amherst Test-Optional?

The University of Massachusetts – Amherst is a test-optional school. This means that its admissions officers will only consider SAT or ACT scores when submitted by applicants. Those who do not submit theirs will neither be asked to explain themselves nor be disadvantaged in the admissions process.

No matter if you are unhappy with your standardized test score or were unable to take the SAT or ACT, worry not that your application will not be considered by UMass Amherst’s admissions officers.

Because of its test-optional admissions policy, applicants may or may not submit their standardized test scores.

However, if you have taken the SAT or ACT and you are pleased with your composite score, it’s a good idea to submit it in order to strengthen your application.

Despite knowing the fact that the University of Massachusetts – Amherst is test-optional, 88% of admitted students submitted their SAT scores, and 18% submitted their ACT scores.

The composite SAT scores of accepted first-year students range from 1210 to 1370. On the other hand, the composite ACT scores of accepted first-year students range from 27 to 32.

By the way, UMass Amherst does not consider both the SAT Essay and ACT Writing sections.

Related Article: What Do Test-Optional Schools Look For In College Application

What are the Requirements to Get Into UMass Amherst?

UMass Amherst

The University of Massachusetts – Amherst requires applicants to submit a number of documents. However, they are fewer than usual. For instance, an applicant is required to submit one letter of recommendation and two admissions essays only. Some programs require applicants to meet other requirements.

It’s not enough that you fill out your application correctly and submit it on time.

Making sure that you submit other materials UMass Amherst requires is also a must. What’s more, according to the admissions officers themselves, applicants should avoid submitting anything that is not required. Awards and commendations, for instance, may be talked about in the admissions essays instead.

Applicants should submit the following to the admissions office on or before the deadline:

  • Completed application. Besides the Common App, you may also use the Coalition App when applying to the University of Massachusetts – Amherst. The school does not prefer one over the other.
  • Official high school transcript. The school’s admissions officers use the official high school transcript for getting an overview of an applicant’s academic performance.
  • Recommendation letter. Some colleges and universities require applicants to submit multiple recommendation letters. UMass Amherst, on the other hand, requires only one — preferably from a teacher.
  • Admissions essay. Similarly, the University of Massachusetts – Amherst does not require applicants to submit several different essays. The institution only requires two admissions essays.
  • SAT or ACT. Because UMass Amherst has a test-optional admissions policy, it is completely up to you to decide whether or not you will submit your standardized test score.
  • Additional submissions. Some programs require applicants to submit additional materials. For instance, applicants for Architecture, Art, Dance, and Music majors need to submit portfolios or audition.

The admissions officers at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst evaluate applicants based on an assortment of factors, both academic and non-academic ones. Each one has a different relative importance, too. There are admissions factors considered at other colleges and universities but not at UMass Amherst.

Here are the different academic factors at the public school and how important they are:

  • GPA – very important
  • Academic rigor – very important
  • Class rank – important
  • Application Essay – important
  • Recommendation letters – important
  • Standardized test scores – important

And now, the following are the various non-academic factors and their relative importance:

  • Extracurricular activities – important
  • Talent or ability – important
  • Personal qualities – important
  • First-generation – important
  • Work experience – important
  • Demonstrated interest – important
  • Alumni member relation – considered
  • State residency – considered
  • Volunteer work – considered

Related Article: Best Way to Show Demonstrated Interest In Your Dream College

How Much Does It Cost to Attend UMass Amherst?

Because the University of Massachusetts – Amherst is a public school, the cost of attendance for Massachusetts residents is lower than for those living elsewhere. For the academic year 2021 to 2022, the in-state tuition and fees cost $16,439, while the out-of-state tuition and fees cost $36,964.

Let’s take a look at the breakdown of the estimated cost of attending UMass Amherst for a year:

Tuition and fees$16,439$36,964
Room and board$14,217$14,217
Books and supplies$1,000$1,000
UMass Cost of attendance

Earning a degree from a public institution such as the University of Massachusetts – Amherst is usually cheaper than obtaining one from a private college or university. To help bring down the cost of higher education, the Amherst, Massachusetts-based school offers an assortment of need-based and merit-based financial aid.

About 82% of first-year students receive some type of financial aid from UMass Amherst. The average amount of money each awardee gets is equivalent to $17,628.

Related Article: Is the University of Massachusetts – Amherst Hard to Get Into?

Famous People Who Went to UMass Amherst

Many people whose names ring a bell were once students at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst. Some of them are politicians and appointed officials. There are also scientists and award-winning authors and poets. Many CEOs, professional athletes, actors and singers attended UMass Amherst, too.

To have an idea of where higher education from the institution on your college list could take you, consider checking out the school’s alumni members and their accomplishments.

Some of the most notable UMass Amherst members include:

  • Kenneth Feinberg – Special Master of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund
  • Madeleine Kunin – 77th Governor of Vermont (1985 to 1991)
  • Hina Rabbani Khar – 21st Foreign Minister of Pakistan (2011 to 2013)
  • James Kallstrom – Former New York FBI chief
  • Catherine Coleman – Scientist and former NASA astronaut
  • Paul Harding – Author and Pulitzer Prize winner
  • Natasha Trethewey – Poet and Pulitzer Prize winner
  • Ed Shirley – Former president and CEO of Bacardi Ltd.
  • Jack Welch – Former chairman and CEO of General Electric
  • Jack Smith – Former CEO of General Motors
  • George “Trigger” Burke – Former National Basketball Association (NBA) player
  • Gary DiSarcina – Former Major League Baseball (MLB) player
  • Richard Gere – Actor
  • Bill Pullman – Actor
  • Natalie Cole – Singer

How Does UMass Amherst Fare Against Others?

The University of Massachusetts – Amherst is a high-ranking public institution in the nation. However, while it is better than many US colleges and universities, it is eclipsed by some schools in certain aspects. Still, UMass Amherst makes for a wonderful addition to just about any college list.

You can shortlist and apply to only a limited number of institutions for higher education.

Because of this, it’s a good idea to compare the schools you wish to apply to with each other to narrow down your choices, thus allowing you to come up with a sensible college list.

You can also have a more focused college list by taking into account your academic profile, checking out the school’s admissions history and using a college chances calculator.

Here’s a quick comparison between the University of Massachusetts – Amherst and some other well-known colleges and universities also located in The Bay State:

  • UMass Amherst vs. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. UMass Amherst is a public institution, and it’s known for liberal arts. On the other hand, MIT is a public school, and it’s known for its STEM programs.
  • UMass Amherst vs. the University of Massachusetts – Lowell. UMass Amherst is larger than UMass Lowell in terms of campus size and population — 1,463 acres and 31,642 students vs. 142 acres and 18,355 students.
  • UMass Amherst vs. Clark University. Both UMass Amherst and Clark are liberal arts schools. However, Clark is so much smaller in terms of campus size (50 acres), population (3,425) and majors (32).
  • UMass Amherst vs. Williams College. While UMass Amherst is a good school, Williams is a prestigious institution. As a matter of fact, its acceptance rate is 12.6% and is considered a Little Ivy and Hidden Ivy, too.
  • UMass Amherst vs. Amherst College. Compared to UMass Amherst, Amherst College is usually higher on rankings. For instance, it is #2 in National Liberal Arts Colleges by US News.
  • UMass Amherst vs. Wellesley College. Wellesley is a member of the prestigious Seven Sisters schools. However, the school accepts female students only. The tuition at UMass Amherst is lower — $16,439 vs. $60,424.

Did you like the things you have learned about the University of Massachusetts – Amherst?

If so, feel free to add it to your college list. With UMass Amherst’s high acceptance rate of 63.8% and your strong application, you are on your way to earning a degree from one of the best public institutions in the US.

Read Also: What Are the Best Liberal Arts Colleges For B Students?

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.

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