The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Competitive Majors


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.