williams college

About Williams College

Williams College is a private liberal arts college located in Williamstown, Massachusetts, a small town in the Berkshires. Established in 1793, Williams is one of the oldest colleges in the country and has an enrollment of 2,061 undergraduate students. This year, Williams earned the #1 spot in the annual US News & World Report ranking of “Best Liberal Arts Colleges” and 1st among liberal arts colleges in the 2019 Forbes Magazine ranking of America’s Top Colleges. Although the school was originally founded as a men’s college, women were first admitted in 1971 and, in the 1960s, the college’s fraternities were abolished.

Williams has a number of unique opportunities within their curriculum like Winter Study, the Difference, Power, and Equity requirement, and a number of interdisciplinary opportunities available within the more than 50 areas of study across the humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences. It utilizes a 4-1-4-based academic calendar so that, each January, students can pursue a single subject on a pass/fail basis. The Winter Study offerings also include short-term trips and independent research as well as fieldwork and internships.

Williams prides itself on its small class sizes, with a student-teacher ratio of 7:1, and its Oxford-style tutorials, which rely heavily on student participation. Since almost all students are required to live on campus, there is a palpable sense of community both in the classroom and in the dormitories. Williams is a member of the Division III New England Small College Athletic Conference and, in addition to 32 varsity teams, it has an active club and intramural sports program. More than 60% of Williams’ students compete on at least one varsity, junior varsity, or club team.

Although Williams has a focus on undergraduate teaching, there are roughly 50 graduate students who are enrolled in one of the two graduate-level programs. The Center for Development Economics (CDE) at Williams offers an intensive, one-year master’s degree program designed for economists from low and middle-income countries who have some practical experience. The second program, the Williams Graduate Program in the History of Art, is administered in conjunction with the Clark Art Institute and has a two-year curriculum that combines academic course work, internships, workshops and international travel.

Applying to Williams

As one of the most selective colleges in the country, Williams admits fewer than one in five applicants. Williams accepts the Common Application, the Coalition Application, or the QuestBridge application. There is also an optional Williams Writing Supplement that requires an additional essay. While they claim there are no firm requirements for admission, competitive candidates typically study English, math, natural science, foreign language and social studies in four-year sequences and present a distinguished record throughout their secondary school career.

If Williams is your first-choice college, you may apply under the binding Early Decision program. Early Decision applicants may submit an Early Decision application to only one institution and if admitted under Early Decision are expected to withdraw all other college applications. You may also apply under the non-binding Regular Decision plan. If admitted, you have until May 1 to accept your place in the class.

Interested applicants are encouraged to visit the Williams campus, which is an hour’s drive from Albany International Airport/Rensselaer Train Station and three hours from Boston and New York City. Although there are no on-campus interviews offered, you can attend a campus tour and information session, attend a class, or stay overnight. If you cannot afford to visit Williams, you can apply for the Windows on Williams (WOW) program, which gives high school seniors the opportunity to spend three all-expenses-paid days at Williams. Preference is given to high-achieving students who couldn’t otherwise afford to visit Williams. This commitment to economic diversity is also seen in Williams’ financial aid program. Admission decisions are made without considering the U.S. students’ financial needs and the college provides grants and other assistance to meet 100% of the demonstrated financial need of every student, which alleviates debt levels for graduating seniors.

Williams College Admissions Wrap Up

Williams received a staggering number of applications in 2019-2020, consistent with previous years. Over 9,700 students applied, and only 1,205 were accepted into the class of 2023. Of those, about 550 are expected to enroll for the fall semester. This year’s 12.4% acceptance rate is comparable to last year’s 12.2% acceptance rate. In the early decision round, 688 students applied and 37% were offered admission. This marks a slight dip in the number of early applicants compared to previous years (a record of 728 applied ED in 2017). About 92% of accepted applicants, who represent 893 high schools, were in the top 10% of their high school graduation class. Their average scores on the SAT were 733 in evidence-based reading and writing and 749 in math. Their average super-scored ACT was 33.

Of those admitted, 134 are international students, representing 52 different nationalities. Among American students, 58% identify as students of color and 20% are first-generation college students. Williams also recorded gender diversity this year and noted that, of the admitted students, a total of 515 identify as men, 597 as women, three identify as trans or transgender, four as nonbinary, and six as another identity.