The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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About UMass Amherst

Video Transcript:

UMass Amherst, we are the flagship campus of all the universities in Massachusets. We're the largest, coming in around 23,000 undergraduate students and about 6,000 graduate students. We pride ourselves on being a large university with endless amounts of opportunity, but still to have that small homey feel when you need it to. We are a research institution, so we get a lot of grants and funding to do research, and you can do research as early as your freshman year here on campus.

Located in Amherst, Massachusets, which is a great, small, quaint New England town with lots of shops and restaurants. It's a really great place to be as a college student, a lot of the businesses cater to college students and we have a really great relationship with the town of Amherst. We're consistently voted among the top college towns in the country, and I think one of the biggest reasons for that is it's not just our students in the area.

So as I said, we have 23,000 understand students, but there are four other small schools in the area, Smith College, Mount Holyoke College, Amherst College, and Hampshire College, so their students are also in town and in surrounding towns, so it's not just Amherst, but the surrounding towns as well, have so many college students everywhere you turn. And I think it's a really great thing to be in a place where there are just college students all over and you can meet new people, even that doesn't go to the same school as you, every day.


Video Transcript:

I think the advantages of a large university versus a small college, is just the opportunity to sort of explore more. A large university like UMass for instance, there is so much to do, so many options that you sort of can really define and make your own way. The opportunity just isn't there for smaller colleges.

UMass definitely holds lots of workshops for students from across all backgrounds, but to really sort of help the experience of those first-gen students who are interested. And like I'm the first one in my family, this place is huge. I don't know what I'm doing. I didn't know what I was doing when I got here, help me figure it out. And UMass really does them the resources to sort of find their voice and help them sorta succeed.


Video Transcript:

One of the coolest things about being here in Amherst is the Five College Consortium. So we are right down the street from Amherst College, Hampshire College, Smith College, and Mount Holyoke College. Each of which, as you might already know, is a small, private, liberal arts college, each very unique in their own ways. So the five of us commonly referred to as the Five College Consortium, together have about 30,000 undergraduate students right here. We work closely together so that we can all share the benefits of the combination of a big university and small colleges, with funding for more programs than any school could afford just on its own. From research to athletics, to the arts, to pursue your intellectual interests, some quite obscure, you're gonna have more opportunities than you can even count.

Over the years, the Five College Consortium has allowed Five College students to take classes at each of the other colleges, and each college has saved spots in our classes for other students from the other colleges. So it works out really well. And yes, you might be wondering whether students who identify as male can take classes at the women's colleges? And the answer is yes. Students can always take the free bus to each of the other colleges. It's really convenient. We can arrange to eat at the other schools' dining halls. We can use each of the libraries, of course. We can participate in clubs at each of the colleges, even in non-varsity sports at the other colleges, and so much more.

The Five College Consortium was definitely one of my favorite things about being a student here, and I hope it would be yours too. It actually opens up more opportunities than you can even imagine with regards to your course choices, and your social life, and your networking opportunities. So we really hope you check it out and love it.


Video Transcript:

Good afternoon. Thank you so much for tuning in. My name is Sarah and I'm a senior assistant director of admission at UMass Amherst. And I'm here today to answer the question of how do students individualize their UMass academic experience? In many ways is the short answer. But to expand on that a little bit more, students at UMass are very creative. They have lots of different interests and they want to be able to build that into their academic career. No two UMass students are exactly the same and we love that. So we love when students double major or the major and minor, or the major, minor and have a certificate, or they have a concentration in something. We have students that are studying in the sciences and also in the arts at the same time. I have students that work for me that are in political science and anthropology or public health and studying kinesiology while also having a double major in Spanish. So the opportunities and the combinations are actually endless.

So you can feel confident that you're going to be able to find your groove and find your passions and be able to follow those at UMass. A couple of ways our students do that, one is really simple. We have a design your own major program at UMass. And it's called BDIC, which stands for a bachelor's degree in individual concentration. That's where students at UMass take the things in different academic disciplines that they love and combine it to make one major. I had a student last year graduate with a music business degree. And so he combined the two things that he loved most that he knew would help him be successful in his next steps into conquering the music world and that was by creating a music business BDIC major. So that is a wonderful program that has been very successful at UMass really helping students create, craft, and individualize their academic experience.

The other way that might be outside the classroom that students can individualize their academic experience is by participating in research, or internships, or the five college consortium. Research is available to students at UMass as early as their first year. So find something that you're interested in and a faculty member that's participating in that and jump right in, get involved in research early. You can do more than one research project in your four years at UMass. That's a way for you to find scholarly research to help you individualize your academic experience.

The other way is through internships. So finding organizations, whether they be corporations or nonprofits or local groups that are working in the areas that you want to work in and get right in there, utilize the career services to help you do that in your department, but you will have the opportunity to work outside the classroom in the things that you love that will also shape and help you individualize.

The third is to study in the five college consortium. The five college consortium has four small selective liberal arts colleges that partner with us that allow students to cross-register. So that's a way for you to take classes at those schools that might not be offered at UMass. And you can, again, individualize that experience. So those are very easy to do. Those are very easy ways for students to individualize your experience at UMass.

So those are my tips, get involved in your academics, seek out the different programs that we have, talk to your advisors, and think about those other ways outside of the academics like research, internships, and the five college consortium to help you figure out what you want to do for your four years. Because like I said, no two UMass students are alike and we want you to be able to follow the passions that'll help you reach your goals. Thanks again for tuning in, have a great day.


Video Transcript:

UMass spends over $200 million a year for student research projects. We work in conjunction with academic, government, and private partners to assure that our students have access and opportunities in research. So the easiest way, I'm going to give you some tips to get involved in the research.

And my biggest tip is when you come to campus, start talking to people. Talk to your RA, talk to peer advisors, talk to academic advisors, go to office hours of your faculty members, talk and listen a lot. If they are working on a project, offer to get involved. If they know someone in their department or in another department that's doing work that you're interested in, ask them to connect you. It's very easy to get involved in research here at UMass. And sometimes all it takes is opening up what seems like pretty simple conversations about your interests and listening what's out there to be offered.

The second way which is also very easy is to go to our, we call it our OURS office, which is an acronym for the Office of Undergraduate Research Study. That office is located in our library, so you can find it easily and you can go there and get matched up with research in an area that you're interested in. So many, many students find research with this office. It is their sole purpose on campus, is to help you find research. So please also go visit the Office of Undergraduate Research Studies. And then a third way that students often get engaged in research is by listening and paying attention in classes because sometimes faculty members will just ask and they're looking for students to be engaged in their project. So that's another great way.

And then a final way is by taking courses that might be research-based. I know a student that wrote a graphic novel for an anthropology class last year, and it was a great project and research-based, but it was part of his coursework. So being able to weave in your interests right into your academic courses, keep an eye out for research-based courses as well. So I get the pleasure of working with about 60 tour guides every day. So I know students in every discipline that have participated in the research. I know a student in animal science working on a project now, a student who was a nursing major last year who just graduated but was published and presented his findings of research at a national conference. I know students in public health and engineering, political science, all across the campus who are engaging in research and doing it very early on just by those simple tips of having a conversation with people, visiting the office that supports research for you.

It's easy to get involved in research, and it's a great way for you to personalize your UMass experience, to get great skills. Because while you're doing research, you are learning how to synthesize and analyze large amounts of data, you're learning how to work collaboratively and you're learning how to communicate those findings. And those are all things employers and graduate schools want to see these days. So absolutely get engaged in research, find something that you're interested in, dive right in.

Your Application


Video Transcript:

The documents you need to apply to UMass Amherst start with the Common Application. We're a Common App exclusive school, so that's the only application that we take. The Common App is a really great resource. Lots and lots of schools are members of the Common App, and then you just have to fill out one application. You can send it to a wide variety of schools. All schools have their own section of the Common App, so we have a UMass Amherst specific section where you fill out questions specific to UMass Amherst. So we have two short answer questions, why do you wanna come to UMass, and why did you choose the majors you chose, and then we ask you other questions like what's your first choice major, what's your second choice major, et cetera.

We also require an essay. It's just the essay that's on the Common App, so you can use the Common App prompts, and you can go online really at any point and see those prompts and get started on your essay. We also require the activities section, which everybody who fills out the Common App has to do, but once again, you just have to fill it out once. And this is a really great opportunity for us to see what you're doing, what commitment, and what passion you have outside of the classroom. They ask you how many hours of the week you do it, how many weeks a year, so we really get to see a variety of things that you do as well as how much commitment you have in those activities.

If the activities section is not big enough or there's just more to the story, you can also submit a resume. The only thing that I would say is for the resume, I would also fill out the activities section. So even if some of the information overlaps, it's still good to fill it out.

The next step that we require is your academic information, so that's your transcript and your test scores. For your transcript, we look at the school you went to, the classes you've taken, the rigor of your schedule, and obviously your grades. We're really looking at where you fall within the context of your school, so what opportunities did your school provide you, and what did you take advantage of, and then how successful were you within that environment.

Test scores are a little bit trickier right now within the pandemic. As of right now, we're requiring them, but with the limited access that students will most likely have to these tests and had had this past spring, there's a good chance that things might change. So, you just wanna keep an eye out. We'll definitely have that on our social media, on our website. We're in discussions right now to decide what that's gonna look like, so keep an eye out for that. Note: UMass has adopted a test-optional policy through spring 2023.

The last thing I wanted to mention is that if you're applying to music or dance, you will also be required to have an audition that you can set up through those departments. And if you're art or architecture, you also have to submit a portfolio. And all of those requirements are on their websites. You can see exactly what you need to do.


Video Transcript:

So the Common App is technically called, The Common Application Online. There is a paper version but UMass Amherst specifically uses the Common Application Online, we just call it, The Common App. And that's a way for students to submit the same information to multiple different colleges that they might be applying to.

Their extracurriculars list, their essay, the Common App will ask like five or six different options for essay topics that students can choose from. Or, typically you can choose your own so you can really write your Common App essay about anything that you want.

And then, your general demographic information. So, your parents' information, where you go to high school, what classes you're taking in your senior year and stuff like that. And that just kind of prevents students from having to type in the same exact information over and over, and over again if they're applying to many different schools. They can just fill it out once and send the Common App to a bunch of different schools.

So not all colleges and universities use the Common Application, but many of them do. UMass Amherst is actually Common App exclusive so you have to apply using the Common Application Online. Some schools might offer Common App or their own application. And some would just offer their own application specific to that school. But, here at UMass it's just the Common App. We know that admissions is very complicated already and we wanna try to streamline that process as much as possible for students.


Video Transcript:

So, the common application has a ton of essay topics that students can choose from. They actually list eight kinds of specific topics, and then a 9th topic that's wide open. I would encourage students to start there to really take that as a first way to start brainstorming and see if maybe something kind of comes off of those options that they can write about as well. But I wouldn't encourage a student to really stress too much about it. Again, just talking about themselves and why they wanna come to UMass, or what they wanna study, or maybe knowing that they don't know what they wanna study, and all the options that they can kind of try out to decide what is the best fit for them. I think the biggest tip that I've been giving, especially in the last four years, is for students to involve their families in their process.

Maybe pick one day a week where they sit down and talk about where they are in the process, what new news they have so that it doesn't kind of consume their whole day every day for months on end. That's when people start to get a little edgy and kind of at each other about it. The other thing that I would remind people, and I am a parent myself, is that parents need to kind of be a copilot on this, rather than the driver. They're more than welcome to call and ask us questions. We're more than happy to help them along the way, but students really need to lead this charge, and so having them log into their portal to make sure that we have everything, that they're calling our office or emailing, is super important.

If the student wants to come to our campus we need to know that they wanna be here. So advocating for themselves is going to be huge on our campus. It is a medium-sized school, and so if they can't self-advocate, it's going to be really tough for them during the semester when your parents can't come down and talk to a professor about a grade, or help them get tutoring at the library. So it's really important for them to kind of lead the charge and has their parent or guardian there as support. The most memorable admissions essays that I've read are usually when students take the time to talk about themselves rather than a person outside of their individual experience.

We don't do interviews here at UMass Amherst, and so the opportunity for them to tell who they are in that space is really the best opportunity for them to really tell us who they are, what they stand for, what they'd like to do on our campus. So the most memorable essay in the last 11 years that I've read was in my 2nd year where a student wrote about how their parents wouldn't allow them to have Cocoa Pebbles as part of their breakfast cereal options, and how that kind of set off a chain reaction over their lifetime on how it kind of set them out to where they are today. And it was really creative in that they brought in all the areas of growth that they had throughout their life experience.


Video Transcript:

Some of the activities that we do like to see, could be associated with a major that you're applying to. So if you are into the STEM field and you are part of a robotics club, or you're doing STEM activities at school, that's a great way to indicate that you truly have a passion for that subject. If you have no extracurriculars associated with what you're interested in studying, then we might wanna dig deeper into your application to know why you would be a good fit for that major at all. Maybe you write about it in your essay or elsewhere, but activities is a good place that we look to see your passion. Sometimes we'll see students will say members of the senior class, or they'll list, just basic things that they're doing in their academics that we expect them to already be doing. Students in history class, we really wanna know what your extracurriculars are. What do you do once the last bell of the day rings?

One other thing that's important to know about extracurriculars is to explain the extracurricular if it's not immediately obvious as to what it is. So I used to work at a high school that had a club called, the Blue Key club, and those were our school tour guides. So if someone came to visit the school, if they were thinking about going there, or if we had important guests come, they would show them around the school. It was a position that you had to be nominated for and it had a lot of responsibility. So it was very important to be part of that group. But if you just wrote Blue Key club and I didn't happen to know what that meant, then I wouldn't understand what it was that you were doing. So explaining what the activity is if it's not immediately obvious from the name and letting us know things like if you have to be nominated or elected to be part of that group, or if you received some kind of like leadership role within that group or an award, admissions are really the time to brag about yourself. So let us know about those accomplishments that you've earned and just shine that light on everything that you've been working so hard for throughout your high school career.


Video Transcript:

So, here at UMass, we require one academic recommendation as part of your overall application to UMass. So that typically would be from your school counselor. So again, some high schools call them a guidance counselor, some it would be an advisor, but basically, it's the person at your high school that you work with that will help you build your college list, and apply to college. So they are typically the best person to write your main recommendation for a couple of different reasons. One is that they are the experts in this field. They know exactly what kind of information we're looking for and they have a lot of experience working with colleges, and can really be a great resource in that area.

The other thing is that typically the can provide kind of that bird's-eye view about you as a candidate. So across many different subject disciplines, and over many different years. As opposed to an academic teacher, where that's gonna be a little bit more focused on one subject, or maybe they taught you for one particular grade level. So, again, generally speaking, the school counselor would write that main academic recommendation that's required for UMass Amherst. If for whatever reason, you feel that your school counselor isn't the right person to write that recommendation, as long as it does come from an academic source, that's totally fine. So, a subject teacher can write your main academic recommendation if that's a better fit for you. Ultimately, it just needs to come from the school.

Then we'll accept up to two additional recommendations. So these are optional, but most students do submit at least one other recommendation, if not two. And those can be academic or nonacademic. So, you could do a boss, a coach, a mentor, another adult in your life who can provide perspective as to what you're gonna bring to the classroom, and the qualities that you have to offer the university. So again, one academic recommendation required. Up to two more accepted that can be academic or nonacademic.

Recommendations hopefully will supplement the information that we're already kind of gleaning about you from the other parts of the application. So, ideally, the recommendation would not have any surprises where we're like, "Oh, we thought this was a really good student, but this teacher's saying that they don't do their homework, or they don't focus in class." Hopefully, it's gonna support and kinda flesh out what we already see about you in other areas of your application, and typically what they can add-in is a real sense of your qualities as a student, and as a learner, but they are just part of the holistic review.

If we had three really scary red-flag recommendations, we might be concerned. If we had two really strong, and one that was a little bit, "Eh," that's okay. Nobody's perfect. Typically, people who write recommendations will agree to do so only if they feel that they can write a strong recommendation for you. So it's fairly unusual for us to read a recommendation that isn't good. So that's something at least that you can not worry too, too much about. But it has some weight, but it's typically not gonna be a make-it-or-break-it when it comes to the application process unless there was something that was a real red flag. In which case, we'd contact the writer of the recommendation directly to get some more information about that, and really make sure that we truly understand the big picture of what they may be talking about.

Admissions Information


Video Transcript:

So here at UMass Amherst, we use something called a holistic review process. This is probably a term that you'll hear a lot throughout the college search process if you haven't already, and it can be a little bit confusing, so hopefully, I can break that down a little bit and explain what a holistic review actually means. And what that means is that we never make admissions decisions just based on grades and test scores alone.

Your GPA, so the grades from high school, as well as your standardized test scores are both important factors when it comes to deciding if you're gonna be an academic fit for admission to UMass Amherst, but we're never just gonna look at the GPA and say, "Oh, they're definitely in. "No need to read the rest of their application," or "Oh, no, their GPA isn't a fit "so we're not gonna read this. "It's just gonna get put in the rejection pile," thankfully, because we know that you're more than just a set of numbers, and there's a lot of different factors that can influence how those numbers actually come out. So what we wanna do is look for students who are going to be an academic fit for UMass Amherst, but also have a lot of other things going for them that show us that they're gonna be a good community member, they're gonna take advantage of the opportunities that we have here at UMass Amherst, and that they're gonna thrive in our competitive academic environment.

So what we'll basically do is start by looking at the quantitative items like your GPA and your standardized test scores and then look to see if the other information that you're providing us like your essay, your extracurricular list, and your recommendations are really lining up with what we expect to see based on the academics. So a holistic review means that we look at everything that you send us, and I think that that's kind of refreshing to hear because we know that you're gonna spend a lot of time working on your application, and it's nice to know at least that, on the other side of the screen so to speak, that we're gonna spend that time as well looking at everything that you sent us and really trying to get a big picture of who you are as a person, not just as a set of numbers on a page.

It's important for students to remember that everything that they submit to us is gonna is considered in the holistic review. So that means that we're gonna be considering what school you go to, what opportunities have been available to you, where your time and energy is being spent. You know, if you're a student, again, who works outside the classroom or may have family responsibilities or is even helping to financially support your family, we're gonna take that into context when we're looking at your grades, your activities. That also means that if your school offers a lot of different opportunities like test prep, AP and Honors classes and you're doing well, we'd like to see you take advantage of some those things.

So we're gonna look at what's been available to you and what you took advantage of as appropriate for you. Goes the other way 'round as well. You know, I always give the example, I went to the smallest public high school in Massachusetts, and my high school only offered two AP classes. One was in Spanish, and I studied French in high school, and one was in chemistry, and that's just really not my jam. I'm more of an art and history type of girl. So I didn't take any AP classes in high school, but it wasn't because I was the type of student who didn't wanna take a challenge or who just wanted to coast along. It was because only one was an option for me, and I knew it wasn't an area of strength and it wouldn't be the right choice for me.

But we would look at that and say, "Oh, this high school only offers two APs, "and she wasn't eligible for one," which is totally different than a school that offers 17 AP classes at all different levels that are offered in multiple sections and you're getting straight As and just choose not to enroll in one. So we do look at the context and what's available to you when we're really evaluating your grades, your test scores, your extracurriculars, and all of that good stuff.


Video Transcript:

Generally speaking, your high school transcript and GPA are going to be some of the most valuable pieces of information that we have when we're completing an overall holistic review of your application. Ultimately our job in the admissions office is to bring in students who are going to be successful in our particular academic environment and the GPA has actually been shown to be the best predictor of student success in college, so it's something that we take really seriously. We do wait and recalculate your GPA based on standards that are given to us by the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education. I'll go into those a little bit further, but essentially what that means is that what you consider your GPA to be based on the way that your high school calculates your GPA might actually be a little bit different than what we consider your GPA to be after doing that waiting and recalculating process.

The first thing to know is that we consider all of your core classes plus one academic elective per year. So what that means is that classes like gym, health, SAT prep, peer mentorship something like that would typically not be considered in the GPA. If you have more than one academic elective that you've taken that year, then we will choose the one that has the better grade. We're always helping you put your best foot forward and want to look at the best that you're capable of. So once we figure out what classes are going to be included in the GPA, then we add the weight. So we add weight for classes that are taken at a higher level than could be an honors-level class, IB level class, AP level class, or dual enrollment or college-level class.

So let me give a quick example. Let's say you took us history in 10th grade and you've got to B. The GPA for a B is a 3.0. If you would take in that U.S. history class at the honors level, that 3.0 would be weighted as a 3.5. If you take an AP U.S. history, that 3.0 would be weighted as a 4.0, which is an A. So in that case, it would actually jump up a full letter grade because of the fact that it was taken AP level. It's going to be harder to earn those As and Bs in the higher-level courses and we want to reflect that by adding weight to the GPA. So when you hear an average GPA, UMass Amherst, keep in mind that it has been weighted and recalculated according to those standards.

The Massachusetts Board of Higher Education standards is searchable online. If you do a Google search for MBHE admissions standards within the first few routes sets of results, you should find a PDF that will layout exactly what classes we want to see you haven't taken in high school, the classes that are included in the GPA and how we weight and this isn't something that's specific to UMass Amherst, all of the state colleges and universities in Massachusetts do this process is exactly the same way. So it is really standardized. And every high school is also a little bit different as I sat in how they weight and in the rigor of their classes and the classes that are offered. So you may be at a school that doesn't offer higher-level classes or that offers them, but there's a limit to how many you can take.

So rest assured that every school, every high school shares a school profile with the colleges that their students are applying to. We have access to that information and we take that into consideration as part of the review of your GPA. So we're not just comparing two students to each other and choosing the one with a higher GPA, we're looking at what was available to you. What else is apparent in your application to help us understand who you are as a student overall, but that GPA is something that's very valuable to us in moving you forward in the application process.

I also want to take a moment to acknowledge the fact that most students will have transcripts and GPAs that were impacted by changes to grading policies during online and remote learning because of Covid-19. Lots of high schools went to a pass/fail system. Some call it credit or no credit and some schools continued with the traditional grading system and even within that, there's nuance and there are all types of different ways of evaluating material on given the changes to the traditional teaching and learning. So, going into this next admission cycle and beyond, we will be working really closely with students and with high schools to understand what the learning environment was like, what the grading policies were and how we can fairly and accurately evaluate your transcript and grades, even if we don't have those traditional letter or number grades.

Video Transcript:

UMass Amherst breaks up their academic programs into 10 schools and colleges. So when you're applying to UMass, we wanna place you in one of those schools and colleges. So in order for us to do that, we ask you to either select a major or, if you don't know what you want your major to be, if you're undecided, then we still ask you to choose a school or college. And our version of undecided here, or undeclared, as some schools may call it, is the exploratory track. So if you're not sure what you wanna do, we still want you to narrow down an area of interest.

So perhaps it's the sciences. You may not know if you wanna study biology or microbiology or molecular biology and biochemistry, which are all subjects that we have here, so you can explore the College of Natural Science, and that's essentially being undecided in the School of Natural Science. So we ask you to kind of think about where you wanna be, and then once you get here, you do have the flexibility to move around, but we will ask you for a major or a school, and you won't see undecided or undeclared on the common application.


Video Transcript:

So, UMass Amherst academics are divided into 10 different schools or colleges and four of those schools and colleges are considered competitive. So, in order of their selectivity, the first is Nursing. So, Nursing has around a 10% acceptance rate here at UMass Amherst. It's an extremely small college. We only have room for 64 students per year and that's out of a freshman class of over 5,000 so you can see, with those numbers and it is a strong program, why it's very selective. I often say that Nursing is kind of its own little world so if you're thinking about applying to Nursing at UMass Amherst, it's really important to communicate with us about that. Talk to the Nursing department and talk to Admissions to make sure that you have all the information about what that process looks like because, again, it is just a little bit different.

Then we have the College of Information and Computer Sciences. That typically has around a 25% acceptance rate and these rates can vary year to year depending on how much room we have, how many students are graduating, and how many students are coming in, but that's just to give you a general sense.

Then we have the Isenberg School of Management and the College of Engineering. Those typically have around a 30% acceptance rate. And many of these schools and colleges have more than one major within them. Engineering has seven different types of engineering you can study and the Isenberg School of Management, which is our business school, has many different majors in it, as well. All of the majors that fall within a selective school or college are going to be considered selective or competitive and, again, maybe a little bit more difficult to be admitted into than something in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences or the College of Natural Sciences, which have open majors.

On the UMass Amherst Common Application, as it stands right now, you're going to be asked to choose a first-choice major and a second-choice major. So, for students who are applying to an open major- like, let's say History or even something smaller like Japanese- you're really not going to have to worry too much, generally speaking, about the second-choice major. You need to put something in but, essentially, if it's an open major that you're applying to and you're admissible, odds are that you're just going to be put in your first-choice major. If your first-choice major is something within a competitive program, then you really wanna give yourself a strong backup option by putting an open major as your second-choice major.

So, for example, I would not recommend that a student put Computer Science as their first-choice major and Computer Systems Engineering as their second-choice major. They're in two different schools and colleges, but both schools and colleges are competitive and difficult to be admitted into. So, if you're not admitted into Computer Science, the odds are not that great that you're going to be admissible into Computer Systems Engineering since they're both competitive. So, the same thing goes for applying to two different majors within the same competitive school or college. So, I wouldn't recommend putting first choice Finance and second choice Accounting because they're both within the Isenberg School of Management, which is a competitive program. So, a better option in those situations might be putting your first choice as Computer Science and your second choice as Math. Math is in the College of Natural Sciences and is considered an open major.

So, if we feel that you're admissible to UMass Amherst and we'd like to have you here and give you a yes but you don't meet the selective academic requirements for Computer Science, then we at least have another option as to where to put you and can admit you into your second-choice major. So, for the Isenberg example, a good second choice option could also be Math or maybe something like Economics, which is in the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences. So, you always just wanna cover your bases. I always say that if you want to be here, we wanna make it possible for you to be here, so you wanna give yourself options and not limit yourself by putting two competitive majors as your first and second choice. So, there are several different majors within the UMass academic system that are considered competitive or selective and that may be a little bit more difficult to be admitted into than some of the other majors.

But I also wanna emphasize that just because a major is not considered competitive or selective in the admissions process doesn't mean that it's not a strong, well resourced, excellent major here at UMass Amherst. It simply means that those majors that are considered open majors have enough room to accommodate all the students who are interested in studying that major whereas some of the competitive or selective programs.


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Every student who applies to the University of Massachusetts Amherst is automatically considered for an invitation to join the Commonwealth Honors College, or CHC, during their first year here at UMass Amherst. So as a student applying to UMass, there's nothing additional that you need to submit, no boxes that you need to check, or extra essay that you need to write in order to be considered for a spot in the Commonwealth Honors College. It happens through the regular holistic review process when we're evaluating applications.

Typically we are looking for students who have strong academics. Generally speaking, we look for students who are at or above our average academic profile to be admitted into the Commonwealth Honors College, but there's not a GPA minimum or cutoff that you need to have in order to be considered for a spot. In addition to those strong academics, we're looking for things like leadership, community service, demonstrated interest in your field of study if you know what it is that you want to study in college, just those students that really wow us and really stand out to us through the application process. So although it is competitive, with only around 10% of our students, incoming students being invited to the honors college, you do have the opportunity to apply to the honors college once you're already here at UMass Amherst.

In fact, 90% of students who apply to the honors college during their first year here at UMass are admitted to the program. So that means that the odds are really good that if you want to be part of the Commonwealth Honors College at UMass Amherst, you're going to be able to do so. It's just a question of whether or not you'll be invited to join the program in your first year, or if you'll apply to the program during your first year to start in your second year.

Generally speaking, it can be helpful to have that first year of college under your belt and get used to the new academic system and time management and living on campus and connecting with professors before you add in that higher level of the academic component of the honors classes. But again, that being said, we will invite around 10% of our incoming students to join the honors college just by virtue of their regular UMass Amherst application.

For International Students


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If you are a U.S. citizen, you will be applying as a U.S. citizen, no matter where you have been living. You will also have to submit TOEFL or IELTS to demonstrate your English language proficiency, if English is not your first language and your school is not following the American or British curriculum. As for the transcript or credentials, you will submit whatever your school's curriculum offers. For example, if you are a U.S. citizen living in India, following the CBSE curriculum, you will have to submit your TOEFL or IELTS, along with your official class 10 marks statement and your 11th grade transcript.


Video Transcript:

If you are a non-native English speaker applying to the University of Massachusetts Amherst. There are four ways that you can show us your English proficiency. You can submit a TOEFL exam. UMass Amherst requires at least an 80 on the TOEFL with at least 20 in each subsection. So listening, reading, we require a 20 in each of those sections. You can submit the IELTS exam. UMass Amherst has a 6.5 minimum for the IELTS exam with at least a 6 in each subsection. If you attended all four years of high school in English under an American or British curriculum, then that's a way to prove your English proficiency. And last but not least, you are welcome to do an interview with an outside company like InitialView, and that company will send us your results and we can evaluate your English through watching your interview. Either of those ways work for us. And, because of COVID-19, these unprecedented times, there are some additional ways that you can prove your English proficiency temporarily. For Chinese students in China, you can take the TOEFL ITP, and we require at least a 550. For others, you can take the TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition, and we require a minimum of 80. And lastly, Duolingo has a Duolingo English test and on that test, we require a minimum score of 105. Any of those ways will work to show your English proficiency. And if you have any questions, you can reach out to International Admissions.


Video Transcript:

When you are applying to UMass Amherst with an Indian state board examination, such as a CBSE or ICSE, we will require the official class 10 marks statement along with your 11th grade transcript. The official class 10 marks statement is a document that is issued by the exam board. However, if you have completed class 12 at the time of application, the official class 10 marks statement and class 12 Higher Secondary School Certificate are both required.

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